Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


Taking the plunge

Well, finally I have an overlocker! I know it seems a little strange that it has taken me so long to get round to purchasing one, especially as I have been seriously sewing all my clothes for nearly two years.

There are a few reasons for this. First of all, I have found the concept of the overlocker a little scary. Four threads to wind around the maze of hooks and discs, just seem overwhelming. However, I did attend an Overlocker Workshop last year, so this helped to demystify the machine somewhat. Secondly, I just like wovens. I have always found it hard to find clothes that fitted, I did spend many years just wearing t-shirts and jeans (I know that jeans they are made from wovens, but there are so many styles that there is always something that fits). So, when I started sewing I desperately wanted to make the clothes that I hadn’t been able to wear. Fitted blouses, for example and skirts without elastic waistbands. It has felt great to be able to have so much choice. I’d been so tied up with making garments in woven fabrics, I just didn’t feel the need for an overlocker. Thirdly, I had so many t-shirts and stretchy things filling me wardrobe, I didn’t need anymore! All my t-shirts needed a bit more wear on the clock. Now they are all at least two years old, that it more the case. And finally, there is just a tiny bit of me that loves doing things the old-fashioned way. My old Singer continues to serve me well, but it’s finally time to drag my sewing into the modern era!

I bought my new machine from Sewing Studio in Bath, where I’d attended the workshop. I thought they were very knowledgeable and assured me that they would guide me through threading the machine for the first time. They even said they’d thread it for me again whenever I needed it, if I brought the machine in. (Apparently, they have many customers who do just that, particularly when they need to change the colour of the thread).

Overlocker 3

I was very persuaded to buy the Easy Thread machine that I had used in the workshop. It seemed easy enough to thread. It didn’t seem to be the most expensive machine for my budget, and I did wonder whether there were better machines. The staff assured me that they felt this was the best-valued machine on the market at the moment. I went with their advice.

So far I am very pleased with my machine. However, I have just been using it to finish raw edges at the moment, and I haven’t plunged into full stretchy sewing. I did have to re-thread it and with the help of the manual it didn’t take me long to sort the threads out again.

Overlocker 2

Look it’s been used – look at all that fabric fluff!

If there is one thing that I’m disappointed with it is the carrying case. It’s functional, but it smells badly of plastic and is a horrid brown and cream with flowers on it. Would a camera or a power tool have such a carrying case? Absolutely not, so why does an overlocker?

Overlocker 1

Anyway, I don’t think I’ve really put my new machine completely through its paces yet. Next month is Indie Sewing month at the monthly stitch and I’ve decided to create some more woven creations, just to be on the safe side. But after that I’d like to start making a t-shirt or two, or perhaps rolled hems on some lingerie.

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Friend or Enemy?

Sorry, I haven’t managed to write about this earlier, but I did go away straight after the Overlocking course and haven’t had a moment to write this post.

I don’t actually have an overlocker at the moment, but I’m very much attracted to working with knit fabrics as I spend so much of my time in t-shirts. I decided therefore that I needed to see what an overlocker was like before I make a purchase. Although, I can see myself waiting until later in the year as I have so many good projects to do that don’t actually need one.

I chose to do a course at the Sewing Studio. My baby for the day is the Easythread 160 – an intimidating machine with four reels of thread on top!

My baby for today

The course started with “rainbow threading” the machine. A very helpful idea our teacher, Cherry, introduced for learning how to thread the machine. The machine is colour-coded, so we used a thread of each colour.

Overlocking 2

Here’s the green thread:

Overlocking 1

And here’s the red thread:

Red thread

That one was really difficult to thread!

 And finally the needle threads:

Overlocker 5

Our course led us through a booklet where we made lots of different samples with different stitch lengths, cutter widths and correcting for the fabric stretching on a variety of fabrics. We tried everything from t-shirt fabric to lycra, through to stretchy lace.

But to add spice to the whole business, just when we were getting comfortable with things we were advised to cut our threads and re-thread all over again!

By lunchtime I thought I had it sorted, but when I returned that pesky red thread was causing me no end of problems again. I just couldn’t get it to thread properly.

Overlocker 6

Eventually I got everything working again. I don’t think I was the only one to find the threading awkward. There was much hunting for specs and I got the distinct impression that everyone else who had come along had an overlocker that usually sat and gathered dust at home because it is such a pain to re-thread.

By the end of the daty I had a folder full of samples on different fabrics and had worked out the use of all the major controls. We also had tried our hands at rolled hems and consumed a lot of tea, cake and biscuits!

Would I buy an overlocker? Well, yes, I think it is a good purchase if I mean to take my sewing further. I felt reasonably confident on threading my machine, but of course all overlockers are different and apparently the one I used, the so-called “Easy Thread” is one of the easiest! I am though extremely glad I went on the course. The Sewing Studio is amazingly friendly and it was a delight to talk to other seamstresses.


Wall-to-wall sewing

Tomorrow, I’ve definitely got a full day of sewing. I’ve enrolled myself on an Overlocking course. I haven’t got an overlocker at the moment, I haven’t been able to justify spending money on one yet, when there are still so many projects I would like to do first on my sewing machine. But given that I do spend a lot of my time in T-shirts, I can’t really continue with making all my own clothes without either getting an overlocker or radically changing my dress sense.

I’m hoping this course will acquaint me with working with an overlocker and knit fabrics. I hope it will equip me with the skills to start using an overlocker from the moment I buy one this way. I’m also looking forward to meeting a few more seamstresses. After all, apart from my Mum and my niece, I don’t know any in real life and certainly no-one else my age.

T-shirts on washing line

Of course, to top off my sewing extravaganza the new series of The Great British Sewing Bee starts in the evening. Is anyone else looking forward to this?