A Minor Miracle

My serger is back in business! I placed an order for knives from two different places. The first set came last week and they weren’t cutting ($56). The second set from Euro-Pro ($76) came today and they are cutting!

I’ve already contacted Euro-Pro to exchange the crappy blades from 2007 (brilliant idea Michael!) and will get store credit (less 25 percent) from the other store. So, when all is said and done, I’ll have four sets of knives on hand. Apparently, they stopped making sergers back in 2005. But, the serger has a 15 year warranty and they said they will 1.) stock parts for at least the next 10 years 2.) My blades are kind of standard so they should not be too hard to replace.

Even better, they also emailed me a PDF on how to use my extra feet (elasticator, piping foot, beading foot, blind hem foot and ruffler). I lost the directions ages ago.

So, today, I LOVE MY SERGER!!

You would not believe how stressed out I was getting at having to buy a new one. I was literally sad about my serger. I talked to any and everyone about it. It was foremost on my mind for days!

I have two more ballet skirts I whipped up to show and incremental progress on my Hot Patterns Pyramid bag. More to come my friends!

I think I love my serger Part 3: The Blind Hem Foot

Ever since Christina at Assorted Notions sent me a link to Style.com pointing out that African and ethnic prints would be huge this year, I’ve been itching to cut into some of my Ghana wax prints.

So, with 39 degree temps and wind strong enough to whip off my grill over, I made a summer dress from the July 2007 BWOF.

#120, July 2007 Burda World of Fashion Magazine

For this dress, I skipped the lining and decided to try out the blind hem foot for my serger and put in bra cups. There’s a first time for everything, right?

So, first, the bra cups. I used a ‘deep plunge bikini’ for this dress, because, um, well, it’s got a deep plunge. Once pinned in place, I used a zig zag to secure the cups and attached the lower band to the hem allowance between the bodice and skirt.

Blind Hem Attachment for my serger

I’m ambivalent about the blind hem. First, you press up your hem allowance. Then, you create the ‘blind hem fold’. But rather than put it in your sewing machine, the serger attachment finishes off the raw edge. I’m doing a horrible job explaining this. Perhaps we should just take a look at how it comes out:

right side

wrong side

It looks like I’ve added a decorative band. Nothing wrong with that. But, not what I would call a blind hem. For this, it works out fine because the dress is long. It was superfast and very easy to do. Now, I just need to tackle a blind hem on my regular sewing machine.

I’ll take photos of the dress on this week. I’m really into maxi dresses this year. This will likely not be the last one.

Ahh, and I have finished the double-cuff blouse! I’ll take photos later this week too. But, in the meantime, here’s a sneak preview. There are no words for how much I love this color combination.

If you get a chance, take a look at the version Ann Rowley made. I am really feeling her classic styling.

I think I love my Serger Part 2: The Elasticator

Here’s what I’ve been ironing on the last three months. Yeah, just the thin poly batting on the ironing board. How did I get to this point? What happened to my cover? Well, let me tell you.

Last year I bought the European Ironing board (like the link but for way less and with a gift card ) from Target. I thought it would be great to have the increased pressing space, iron rest and the pull out sleeve board. European readers, are your ironing boards actually this big or have I fallen for an American marketing ploy? This one is about 18 inches wide and 55 inches long.

After a few months the ironing board cover was sticky with interfacing resin and yellow with waxy tailor’s chalk. I washed it and it promptly shrank in half — in addition to shredding. When I went online to look for a new cover, I saw they cost over $30. Pshaw.

I read in one of the Singer Sewing Reference Library books that wool batting was a great pressing surface because it retains heat and steam well. A quick search for wool batting took me to Stitcher’s Guild where I read this interesting post. One poster said an old wives’s trick was to use old Army or wool blankets as the padding for a pressing surface. (Ooooh!! The entire lot of Singer books on eBay right now and here.)

I first asked my mom The Colonel for her old blanket and she told me she had to turn it in at retirement or get charged for it. My dad still works on an Army post and he picked up a US Army blanket for me (new). 65 percent new wool, 35 percent reprocessed wool, olive green and made in Rhode Island for about $35 dollars. You can also get them at hunting and camping stores too or find them used.

I used the original thin poly batting as a guide and added about a one inch seam allowance. You’ll be shocked to know that even the batting had shrunk since the original purchase.

I then used the blanket to cut the cover, adding another inch, from some $1 a yard twill cotton from Joann.

Why do I think I love my serger? I used this foot called an elasticator. This foot applies pressure to the elastic — stretching it as it stitches.

So I was able to stitch the elastic to the cover and have a neat edge when I was done. This was my first time using it. I think I like it! Seems like this is what I would want for sewing up a swimsuit or lingerie.

Here it is on. It’s much thicker than my previous cover and quite frankly a lot prettier. Those Europeans really are on to something.

And here’s how it looks underneath.

I’m pretty pleased! I will be making another one eventually. The fabric I used isn’t the greatest quality. I’d like to use a sturdier canvas. But, this was perfectly fine for a test run.

All told, it took me about 30 mins. The wool is great. It’s already washed and kind of felted to it’s washing machine safe. Plus, I have enough wool left over for two more ironing board pads should the need arise.

I Think I Love My Serger Part I: Piping Foot

I think I love my serger — Part I

I’ve gone to Christmas brunch, come home and napped and now I am back to the sewing machine.

Photo courtesy of Amazon.com

I have a Euro-Pro 100-546 serger. From the first day, I have had a love/hate relationship with this machine. When it works, it works brilliantly. I bought the serger on a whim from the Home Shopping Network five years ago (hey, they broke up the payments over three months). The first night, I serged over needles and damaged the knives. HSN didn’t have knives and couldn’t tell me where to get them, no one I called had serger knives for Euro Pros. Finally, I found a number for Euro Pro headquarters in Quebec, Canada and called and ordered from them. I got the wrong blades three times in a row over two months. Finally, I mailed my old blades back to them with an IRATE letter and got two new sets. The last of that set died two weeks ago and I’ve ordered two new sets for $76. I’m still waiting for the blades.

At any rate, HSN was getting rid of serger attachments and I picked up five for $20 a few years ago. An elasticator, bead / sequin foot, ruffler / shirring, piping attachment and a blind stitch foot. I’ve honestly only used two in the last few years — the ruffler and piping foot.

5-2007-124 BWOF

I decided I wanted to pipe the waistband of the May 2007 BWOF dress to mimic the waistband middle line and the border of the skirt. But, not the bodice sections. So, out came the old piping foot.

Today, I love my serger.

The piping foot has a groove for the piping to pass through. You sandwich the piping between the two layers of fabric and pass it through your serger. Then, you adjust the width and length of the stitch.

It cleanly sews and finishes the piping in one step. Now, I go all out and don’t baste in the piping first. You probably should. But, that’s just how I roll.

I’m basting the skirt pleats tonight and hopefully assembling the skirt front and back. Tomorrow I should get the second part of piping done and assemble the lining over the weekend. I might pipe the top too, but I want to do a final fitting first. I have a feeling this one is going to be snug.

And, I keep a picture of the threading of my serger in my sewing room. Sometimes, the threads break and I’ve got to re-thread. Rather than *just* trial and error, I check out the photo for a quick reminder of what thread goes over what thread.