What is a Serger and Do I Need One?

I want you to close your eyes and remember what it was like to sit or even see a serger for the very first time. My experience was in 1981 when I was touring colleges. I walked into a classroom and it was filled with many different machines, including a small machine with 4 threads on it.  Of course I was curious and walked over to it. The instructor said sit down and try it. And just like you, I said, “Oh no thank you. I have no idea what it does or how it works!”

I’m sure some of you felt the same way when you first laid eyes on your very first serger and now you wonder what you ever did without it. Right?!?

Initially, most home sewers used the serger primarily for edge finishes or to create sturdy, fast seams. A regular sewing machine can do the same but the serger trims and finishes the edges at the same time giving the item a professional finish in less time.

Sergers have come a long way since they hit the consumer market. Today, there are so many specialty feet to make your serging less tedious. Some of you may still wonder if the investment is necessary.

Let’s take a look at how serging can help you no matter what type of sewing you do.

Quilting: piece using either a chain stitch or a 4 thread over lock and because the feed system is longer your fabric will not shift or move, the 4 thread over lock stitch will also compress a bulky quilt as you go seam Crafters will Love the narrow rolled hem and differential feed when making ruffles of any kind.

Use a narrow cover stitch for fixed gathers and an over lock for adjustable gathers.

Heirloom sewing has never been easier and there’s no need to stitch in the ditch, trim with a scissors and zig zag when inserting entredeux or bridging. Simply attach a clear foot set your stitch for a narrow 3 thread and serge in place the 3 step process is completed all at one time. Not to mention the beautiful pintucks that can be made with a narrow cover stitch.

New to sewing? Sewing knits or active wear will make your sewing experience a real pleasure and the versatility you have in working with decorative thread will bring your projects to the next level.

Don’t shy away from your machine. If you already own a serger, do something different or try a new pattern with serger detail stitching. If you are thinking about buying a serger, take advantage of classes and special events hosted in your area to learn about what a serger can do to make your sewing time fun, fast and productive. You will find the machine you thought only finished seams can do so much more.

About the Author: Pamela Mashie is the Education Manager for Baby Lock. www.babylock.com 

What Sewing Machine Needle Should I Use?

Does this question sound familiar?  With so many beautiful and luscious fabrics available in the marketplace, fabric selection has never been greater.  When sewing with wovens, knits, stretchy knits, sequin, oil cloth, tulle, batiks, velvets, you are bound to ask, “What needle do I use”?  With all of the needle types available for the home sewing machine, how does one choose which one to use?  Just as the name suggests, Universal is the most popular needle type because it works well with woven and knit fabrics.  BUT, stitch quality frequently improves with a more appropriate needle choice.  How do you know what needle to use?

The needle name is the first clue.  Quilting needles for piecing and quilting projects.  Denim needles for jeans and denim raggy quilts.  Jersey Ballpoint needles for jersey knit fabrics.  However, not all fabrics have a same name needle.  Rather than trying to remember what needle to use with what fabric, use technology to help you out! There are several mobile apps available that can assist you. Search your app store for needle selection, and find an app that can help you make these decisions.

Choosing the right needles is just the first step. Like so many other things, needles wear out, too! Yes, you really do have the change the needle, after all the needle is not a permanent machine part.  The needle is meant to be changed.  To tell when to change your needles, check out the “Change Your Needle” clues.  Use the needle too long, and you will see compromised stitches, shredded threads and damaged fabrics and hear the difference in clicks, pops and clunks!   Remember needles do not last forever!

By selecting the right needle and being sure to change it when needed, your projects are on their way to the sleek, smooth stitching you desire.

About the author: Rhonda Pierce is the spokesperson for SCHMETZneedles North America, www.schmetzneedles.com.