Friday, February 12, 2016

Who's afraid of the serger?


Do you own a serger/overlocker? Is it in the storeroom? Is it still in the box?

When I bought my serger a while ago, I pictured myself serging up a storm. Like every day. Or every week. Or every month.

None of that happened.

A serger is like the most complicated piece of machinery invented. Probably by a sadist. I want to say it's almost like rocket science but I won't. (because we all know rocket science is way easier) Have you tried threading a serger? Yes, just threading. Because without the thread, you can't serge. And if you can't serge, the machine is just freaking useless sitting there on the table, month after month after month.

The first time I threaded my machine was also the last time I threaded my machine. There are FOUR spools of thread to thread from. I "heard" you can use three spools but that's just too complicated for me at the moment.

My serger came with a video that teaches you everything you need to know. Mind you, I had a teacher come teach me everything I needed to know. Of course I completely forgot every single thing she taught me the minute she left. But she had set up the machine properly for me so I could use it right away. Unfortunately the machine came with poor quality thread and the teacher strongly advised me to buy better quality thread to sew with.

I went to Spotlight and bought 4 spools of white thread. I'm just thankful each spool is like a gigantic size so it's going to take a long time to run out. It took me one whole day to thread the serger successfully. Well, the whole operation was maybe an hour. But watching the video put me to sleep a couple of times. Also, the video was the stupid kind which doesn't come with a menu so if you want to re-watch anything or go to a specific topic, you have to do the forward/backward thing. Eventually, after watching the video a hundred times, I managed to thread everything successfully and the machine worked.

I forgot what were the first few things I serged. Possibly something for hubs, like shorten his jeans or something. Ugh, why can't he have longer legs? I was thinking of making myself a dress or some outfit but you know what happened to me last year right? I was practically dying. So I never got to use the serger. I even forgot I owned one.

Last Sunday, I suddenly had to use my serger. My girl who started school at a junior college recently had bought school uniforms and asked me to shorten her skirts. She asked for 4" off! Being the good mother, I said no problem. I left the alteration until Sunday when I realised I had better get it done because Monday and Tuesday we had Chinese New Year and you're not supposed to sew during Chinese New Year. I forgot why but I remember one of my primary school friend telling me this many times. Let's assume it's bad luck. Wednesday my girl needs to wear her shortened uniform to school.

I found all the parts of my serger and plugged them in. It still worked! Then I realised the white thread on my serger would clash with my girl's grey skirt. But I have 4 spools of grey serger thread. I cannot remember why I have them but since I have them, I should swap the white thread with the grey thread. Right? Right?

I watched the stupid video again. It put me to sleep a couple of times. Finally I managed to watch the whole video. Oh my god. I must be a genius or something because the threading is so complicated. I have no idea how I managed it the first time. I considered jumping in eyes closed and change the thread but I had limited time. On Sunday I had to attend the very important reunion dinner at my mother-in-laws. We were also going early to play mahjong. I had at most 2 hours to do everything. If I screw up the threading, I would have to shorten the skirt without serging and that would be so dumb since I own a very expensive serger. I considered asking hubs how angry his mother would be if I do not show up for the reunion dinner. But that's like poking the bear so I did the next best thing. I presented the problem to my daughter and it's a good thing she's not into sewing or anything because once she understood that the white serging would not be visible on the outside, she did not care what colour thread I used.

Problem solved. And I managed to alter all three of her skirts in under 2 hours. Still, I should really learn how to change the thread on my serger without watching the video.

This was me on the first day of Chinese New Year. I dare say this year I made the least effort for my outfit. For one thing, I did not buy new clothes for Chinese New Year. This year, we decided to wear whatever new clothing we already own. What? You thought I was going to wear old clothes? My MIL gave me a desigual blouse last year. Although it is a little big for me and isn't really flattering, I decided to wear it. It's a free blouse! My adidas track pants I had bought last year on a whim because we needed to buy x number of items to get a 30% discount. My red slippers I had bought a year ago when I was going through a low mood period. (I think I bought at least 8 pairs of footwear 2 of which have not been worn yet)  My MK bag was also gifted by my MIL. I have a generous MIL!

Honestly although I don't look super hot, in fact I'll even admit I look a little old-lady, I was happy with my outfit because it's soooo comfortable. Well, until I got on the train and my girl saw a hole in my brand new track pants! Luckily it was not at a awkward position. It was somewhere on the inner thigh and two of my fingers could go through the hole. Thankfully, I don't think anyone noticed the hole.

Well, after Chinese New Year, I decided to mend the hole in my track pants. On careful examination, I realised that whoever had sewn the pants had not aligned the two pieces of fabric properly which was why there was a gap. If I were to sew the hole up, it would be really weird, maybe even end up with a bulk. So I unpicked the serging threads until I could align both pieces of fabric properly. With that, I created an even larger gap, like 3 to 4 inches wide. I brought out my serger and stared once more at the 4 spools of white thread on the machine. I definitely couldn't get away with using white thread on my track pants. I loosely considered changing the thread but abandoned the plan immediately. What stopped me was that I might have to change the needles as well. My track pants are made of a lycra-like material. I have no idea what would happen if I send my track pants through the serger. Would it get shredded to pieces or get all scrunched up?

Finally, I decided it was best to close the hole by hand. I used backstitch and finished off with blanket stitches. It kinda looks like serging, doesn't it?

Yes, I know it's rather embarrassing not to be able to master my serger. I will put this down on my to-do list for 2016. I've always wanted to make myself a dress because it's hard to find dresses that will fit me in stores. So maybe I will sew me a dress and I will make it a grey dress or a black dress just to force myself to change the serger thread. What do you think?


Christel Goh said...

Yup, it does look like serging! :P All the best in making a dress for yourself, I'll check back regularly to see your dress! :D

Btw, 4 inches off your daughter's skirt?! Maybe it's because the school lengthened the skirts from my batch on. The old ones were much, much shorter.

Projects By Jane said...

@Christel, she's short.

Bethany said...

Haha--you're not alone with the threading-the-serger thing. It strikes fear into my heart. I was helping my sister with a project and got out the serger, and told her I was going to "real quick change the thread." She said--"Oh, OK, I'll jump in the shower and get ready now for (whatever it was), and maybe we can finish tomorrow?" Haha--she'd obviously seen me try to thread the bugger before.

I saw somewhere recently a self-threading serger, but I don't use mine enough (and don't really need to--it was an extravagant purchase sure) to justify it.

Jane McLellan said...

You make me glad I don't own a serger!

Suzee said...

I have a serger and have used sergers for years. But yes I agree if I have to change the thread I push it away and agree seams look ok with out serged lol .. Once I had it perfectly threaded and the tension was awesome...then Zoey played with the knobs..oh boy it sat untouched since lol.. Love your bag your MIL got you !!!

Suzee said...

I have a serger and have used sergers for years. But yes I agree if I have to change the thread I push it away and agree seams look ok with out serged lol .. Once I had it perfectly threaded and the tension was awesome...then Zoey played with the knobs..oh boy it sat untouched since lol.. Love your bag your MIL got you !!!

Anonymous said...

I love the part of your story where you said "Ugh, why can't he have longer legs?"
That cracked me up!
Have you tried tying the new thread to the thread on the machine and pulling it thru?
I have done that almost every time. But, I find that grey thread actually goes with a lot of colors.

Projects By Jane said...

Dear Anonymous, I've not tried the trick of tying the new thread and pulling it thru'. I will try it and I'll make my knot as tiny as possible because I don't want it to get snagged. Thanks for the tip! Who are you, by the way? If it works, I want to know who saved me hours and hours of pain. If it doesn't, I want to know who to blame too. Muah!

Anonymous said...

Now I must stay anonymous for sure!

Marie-Thérèse said...

Dear Jane, before you pull through the threads ONE AFTER THE OTHER, you have to loosen the tension too 0. Start from the right. And when you are at the two threads on the left (they are for the needles), you clip off the knot and use the tweezer that comes with your machine to needle the threads. I hope the four threads are colourcoded, so you use the right needle for the right thread😀. I so suffered to change colours, but now I just do it this way and I am fine. By the way DO NOT FORGET TO CHANGE THE TENSION SETTINGS BEFORE YOU SART TO SEW 😁

Good luck, you will do just fine and you will love your serger and wonder why you never steparted to use it earlier.

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