Saturday, 22 January 2011

Sewing Jersey and other Stretchy Stuff

My birthday present has arrived! Of course there were several days when I did not have time to acquaintance myself with my new overlocker. My lovely husband and dad gave me my new toy.

I was really lucky, because trawling the net the price seemed to sit £50 under RRP everywhere. Then Elf Husband spotted a place with a further £50 reduction, because they were selling the display model. Hurrah! We did the purchasing in the New Year's weekend and got a phone call later in the week that unfortunately they had sold that display model, but if I could wait for their next stock delivery, they would give me a brand new one for the price, which I said "Yes Please" to.

I have never ever used an overlocker before, so everything is rather new and scary. I am getting a grip with it now, but I have a lot to learn.

The first project I decided to do was making a fleece for Elf son from my old fleece. I thought that even if it goes horribly wrong, I won't feel too bad as it is an old garment I never use. Elf son's favourite colour is red and he needs a new fleece, so that is how this project came to.

I had all sorts of "aha" moments. Many overlockers, mine included have a cutting knife to tidy up the edge you are sewing. In my model you can choose not to use it and indeed some stitches don't use it at all. For some odd reason I felt that the knife was preventing me to see what was happening there with the material and the needles and everything, so I whipped it up. (Being used to sewing machines I sort of needed the visual control, which you don't get with an overlocker). The picture is taken from the side, but if you imagine being on the front of the big white safety barrier and the rest of it...

At the same time my edge I was sewing wasn't perfectly cut and straight. I can tell you that the overlocker didn't like this. It got all muddled and then snapped a needle. I managed to snap one more by pulling the material, which is a no-no with an overlocker. In addition there is double the amount of thread tensions to consider and of course the same with correct threading.

I then proceeded to make a stripy long sleeved t-shirt for Elf son. I got the material from "marimekko" factory outlet in Helsinki when they had their great sale in last August. I was very lucky to find a big piece and could not have bought bad quality jersey for that price other places. It's not that important for me that it is marimekko fabric, but Elf son likes stripes and jerseys from marimekko wash really well, so I felt it was a brilliant find.

New favourite accessory for the normal sewing machine has been found due to this project: The twin needle. Hemming the sleeves and the hem the twin needle is lovely and pleasingly neat. I was using it also for the neck opening with the stretch stitch. At least in the hem and the sleeves the needed stretch is already there in the normal twin needle stitch, so it was quick and neat to sew. I am pondering now whether to cut out the neck opening strip and redo it with a normal twin needle top stitch...

Knits have been long on my list of "would like to do", but the slowness of the process when using a normal machine has put me off. Now I can run some stretchy seams with a steaming speed! The only speed hampering thing is that the knits of this type definitely need pinning before sewing, so I can see that the seam matches. It is totally impossible to tell as it rolls like mad. Even ironing won't stop it. (Believe me I tried. I do anything before I pin or horror of horrors stay stitch anything).

I must also say here that if you are thinking of buying an overlocker, because you already own a passable sewing machine, I would urge you to think again. As wonderful as it is to be able to do overlocking, you still need a sewing machine and a good one of those is such a fantastic thing to have and makes one's sewing really a lot easier. Of course you can get much swisher overlockers than mine and I am sure that they are equally "easier". (Not that mine is difficult at all). I am so happy that I chose first to upgrade my sewing machine, before getting an overlocker, but then majority of my sewing isn't knits. (As you might have guessed, I was actually thinking of first getting an overlocker as I had a machine...)

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