Tag Archives: Tutorial

Attaching lace to summer PJs or slinky undies!

Hello!   While I was making my second pair of Fifi Pjs I thought I’d take some photos of what I did to add the lace to the top of the cups & also to the shorts’ hems. This was really to remind me how I did it, but look, I can share and maybe it’ll be useful to you too?  Maybe you bought the Fifi boudoir set, or have another pattern to make summer PJs.  This method could also be used for a special camisole & french knicker set.

We will start with the shorts as they are arguably more complicated but will get you in the swing for the camisole top.

First of all press the hem allowance on the shorts with a single fold.

Attaching Lace to PJs 1

Open out the fold then pin lace right sides facing the right sides of the shorts with the edge of the lace 2mm across the fold – 2mm closer to the raw edge of the hem than the fold itself.  Does this diagram below help at all?  The lace is on top of everything, but I’m showing where the folded edge sits in relation to the top of the lace.

 

lace diagram

Join the lace before you attach it to the shorts. To do this you will need to just about pin your lace around the edge of your hems so that you can see how long it needs to be. When you get to the join, unpin a little each side and pin your lace together to join it, right sides of the lace facing each other. Play around with the pins to make sure that the seam you sew gives you the right size of lace circle to sit nicely around your shorts hem.

Stitch this seam  in your lace, trim the seam, then re pin the lace circle back to the 2mm from foldline of your shorts.

Time to attach the lace to the shorts!

Attaching lace to PJs 3

You should still be looking at the wrong side of the lace, it should be sitting on top of the shorts’ right side of fabric. Use a small narrow zig zag to attach the straight edge of the lace to the shorts’ hem allowance.  This will be a very narrow seam.

Attaching lace to PJs 5

Trim the seam allowance close to your zig zagged lace hem (maybe about 0.5cm).

Attaching lace to PJs  6

Refold the hem allowance along the original pressed hem fold & with a straight stitch on the right side of your shorts, edge stitch really close to your hem fold, making sure you catch the remaining trimmed zig zagged seam allowance – you don’t want the zig zagged edge to be visible through the lace hem.

attaching lace to PJs 7

That’s it! Repeat for the other side 🙂

Attaching lace to PJs 8

For the camisole top, you just need to get your edge stitching ready. I finished off the cups as per the instructions for making Fifi- with a narrow double hem. I then attached the lace so that its straight edge was about 2mm behind the rightside’s edge of the cups & edge stitched it to attach it. When you come to attach the cups to the bodice, you can see there is an overlap of the lace at the centre – all it needs is a little diagonal seam to join the two pieces of lace together neatly. Pin it until you are happy with it then stitch on your machine, right sides together.

Are you going to give it a go? Will you be spicing up your summer Pjs with some ooh la la lace?

Tutorial: Sewing a headband using jersey

I have been promising this for a while, but it was so wrapped up in all the marathon excitement I wonder if anyone even remembered?  Here is the headband.  A nice little weekend project?

Jersey Headband

 

Can you see that it doesn’t use elastic and is just made out of a single piece of jersey.  It can be scrunched up on your head to be as wide or as folded up as you need it to be- to keep the sun off your head, to keep pesky short haircuts under control and hopefully longer styles too (not that I would know about that).

This is me wearing it….it matches my top 😉 I needed it to be wide enough to keep my hair from poking out like a crazy person.  (Ironic)

What you need:

A piece of jersey fabric with some stretch that can wrap around your head where a headband would sit.  The fabric needs to have enough recovery so that your headband will stretch to stay on your head snugly but will easily return to its original size and not sag  once stretched!

Mine is about 46cm x 18cm.  You need to experiment to get a snug fit.  I guess you could try measuring your head & deducting 15% to get the long measurement but I have not tested this to know if it is a good idea!  Low tech method –  I wrapped the fabric around my head & stretched it a bit, holding the place I thought the seam joining the ends was needed with my fingers.  And then marked this with a pin before laying the fabric out flat & preparing my seam.

Headband 1

Sewing the tube to fit snugly around my head- you might need to make a few seams to get the fit right.

So prepare your seam by folding your fabric in half right sides together so that the shorter sides are together & sew where you think the seam needs to be.  Use a short zig zag stitch, an overlock stitch or your serger.

And then try on for size.  I had to sew another seam to make the tube of fabric small enough so that it felt a good snug fit like you would expect of your headband.

headband 2

Finishing the edges with my overlocker

Next finish the long now tubular edges of your headband with an overlocker or a zig zag stitch.  You might decide you don’t need to do this, maybe your jersey isn’t looking messy & jerseys don’t fray afterall, but as I have an overlocker it makes the edges look nice & neat.

headband 3

Darning in the ends

Darn the ends in if you have used an overlocker/ serger.

Next you are going to sew with a regular machine using the zig zag stitch to make pleats in the underneath of your headband so that the pleats reduce the fabric and makes it a lot more wearable underneath the back of your head.

You will be making three pleats with the centre back seam running at right angles down the middle of the pleats ( & the back of your head.)  Each line of stitching is 16cm long and parallel to each other.

headband

Three pleats sewn with a zig zag stitch make the headband narrower at the back

To do this …

First of all fold the headband in half, right sides together, centre back seam on top &  with the long edges matching.  Pin to secure.  Your stitching line will start 8 cm before the centre back seam and finish 8 cm beyond it and will be 1.5cm (or 5/8″) away from the folded edge.    Mark your start & finish points & start your zig zag seamed pleat.  Make sure you back tack at the start & the finish to ensure the seams do not unravel.

 

headband 4

Sewing the first pleat. The pin marks my finish point.

Now it’s time to make the next pleat.  I measured 3cm from the edge to make the fold for the next pleat, pinning to secure, and measuring the start and finish marks at 8cm either side of the centre back seam.

headband 5

Pinning the next pleat- on all these pleats it’s nice to match the centre back seam line through the layers with a pin.

Sew this with a zig zag stitch with a seam 1.5cm  from the folded edge.

headband 6

Sewing the side pleats

Do the same for the other side pleat.  And voila!  Nearly there.

headband 8

Admire your handiwork

It’s a good idea to control those side pleats underneath so that they lie flat while you wear it & don’t try to poke out .   Fold each pleat towards the centre & pin.  Topstitch over the folded pleat using a zig zag, right sides up, close to the seam.

headband 9

Top stitching the side pleats with a zig zag

You’re done!

headband 10

 

Wear it well, wear it happy!

headband 11

 

u badger

Gift idea? Kindle cover tutorial with extras!

Here’s another gift idea – a kindle or e-book reader cover – or as I like to call it, a Kindle Sleeping bag because it is padded & feels snug. I should really call it a “device” though, so therefore I will going forwards. This tutorial is of my own devising & I had a few ideas to incorporate into my design.

Kindle cover tutorial

This “device” sleeping bag has an optional glasses pocket for reading glasses. I have reading glasses all over my house & this pair lives by the side of my bed, in my device cover. It came about because I always tended to slot my reading glasses into the top of my previous kindle cover & was cautious I didn’t scratch its surface. Wouldn’t it be practical to have a pocket to keep glasses with device, I thought & so here it is. If you don’t want the glasses pocket, just leave out those steps. I’ve put my glasses pocket on the other side to the button & tab, but you may want to swap this around & have the pocket & button on the same side.

E book cover tab

I made a version without a glasses pocket as well. Both versions are padded with cotton batting or wadding & have a tab and button to secure the device inside.

E book cover

I’ve used ric rac to embellish the tops of my pocket and the cover itself (of course!)

You will need:

  • Some fabric – this is a great scrap buster;
  • Some wadding or batting
  • Ric Rac – I used very small ric rac, but I would recommend slightly larger ric rac as it would be easier to work with.
  • A button
  • Thread to match.
  • All your usual sewing tools: scissors, pins etc

Supplies

I am using a selection of fabrics that had been put into a lovely Fat Quarter bundles- clever things, those- someone’s already done all the hard work of putting fabrics together that coordinate. I loved the colours & combinations in this bundle. It’s Michael Miller, Deer Floral Navy using this fabric, a bit of this and then lined with this Kiss dot magenta, and the folk at Elephant in My Handbag gave me the FQs to have a play around with, & this tutorial is the result!

Have a think about what fabric combos you are aiming for – how you will mix up your fabrics. One of my cases has a back the same fabric as the lining (polka dots). The other uses three coordinating fabrics, with polka dots lining both the glasses pocket & the cover itself.

So let’s start

Cutting out

Trace around your device & add a good 1.5cm to account for a little ease to get your device inside, including a 1cm seam allowance.

step 1

Depending on how you combine your fabric you will need to end up with:

  • Two pieces to make up the outer front & back
  • Two pieces for the lining
  • A piece 7.5cm x 12cm for the tab
  • Two pieces of Batting or wadding the same size as the front/ back.

Optional glasses pocket:

One piece of fabric plus lining plus wadding – all the same size. The size of the fabric I used for my glasses case was about 12cm wide by 17cm long, but I would recommend layering fabric with wadding to wrap around your glasses to get an approximate size – remember to add 1cm for seam allowances around all four sides.  You fine tune the size you need later on as you sew it.

glasses pocket

Once you have cut your fabric and wadding, it’s time to get sewing.

Sewing

Optional glasses pocket:

To add ric rac to the top seam as scalloped piping, first of all mark the seam line by sewing a long straight machine stitch 1cm from the edge of the pocket (this is so quick & easy by machine, but you could mark it anyway you want to- chalk, with a ruler, as you go).

step 2

Then hand baste the ric rac to this line, on the right side, so that the centre of the ric rac covers this machine basted line.

step 3 Place the batting to the wrong side of the pocket lining & hand baste in place.

Place the pocket lining right sides facing the right side of the pocket and pin together through all layers (& ric rac).

step 4Looking at the pocket, with the wrong side of the outer fabric facing up, sew the left hand vertical seam and the top of the pocket through all layers with a 1cm seam allowance.  (This left hand seam is actually the right hand edge of the pocket that you see in the middle of the cover)

Clip corners, turn, then press (get your ric rac snappy & crisp away from the top). Remove basting stitches.

You might want to baste the as yet unsewn edges together – the left hand edge and the bottom edge, to keep all of the layers together in the right place.

Moving onto the cover.

These instructions are for the version with the pocket & button on different sides of the cover. Swap it around if you want to make it differently.

Button tab:

step 6

Fold the fabric in half right sides together, decide how wide you want your tab to be, then sew along the long edge & stitch along the long raw edge & then across the bottom edge – you could sew horizontally, or at a jaunty angle !

step 7

Turn it the right way out & press. Make a buttonhole on it that is the right size for your button.

Front cover:

To add ric rac to the top seam as scalloped piping, follow the same process as for the glasses pocket top – first of all mark the seam line by sewing a long straight machine stitch 1cm from the edge. Then hand baste the ric rac to this line, on the right side, so that the centre of the ric rac covers this machine basted line.

step 8

Place the batting to the wrong side of the lining & baste in place.  (I actually basted my batting to the cover fabric which is why the ric rac shows, but you have better sight of the ric rac basting lines as a guide for your top “piped” seam if you attach the batting to the lining.)

Place the front lining right sides facing the right side of the cover and pin together. Sew the top edge of the cover through all of the layers. Turn, then press, removing basting stitches.

Back cover:

Add ric rac in the same way as above, but once you have handbasted the ric rac to the back, mark the centre. Put the tab in place, using the marked centre to show where to locate it. The buttonhole should be at the bottom, the tab’s raw edge, at the top. Secure this with a couple of basting stitches or pin perpendicular to the edge.

step 9

Add the lining, right sides facing the right side of the back cover, pinning in place. Stitch along the seamline through all layers, catching the tab & the ric rac all in one go.

step 10

Turn to the right side and press, removing basting stitches.

Optional glasses pocket:

Work on the cover keeping the lining well out of the way, for all of this section. Place wrong side of pocket (ie lining) touching the right side of the cover, place the left hand corner & edge of the pocket onto the left hand & lower edge of the back cover & pin the left hand edge.

step 11

If you want, you can machine baste the left edge through all layers with a long stitch within the seam allowance, or keep the pins in like lazy me. Then get your glasses & place them inside the pocket to work out where the right hand edge of the pocket needs to be stitched. Create the right size pocket for your glasses to keep them snug. Pin this edge, take out your glasses & straighten it up to make sure it is at right angles to the bottom hem. Stitch the right hand pocket edge through all layers, keeping the lining out of the way – you don’t want to stitch through the cover’s lining.

You should now have a glasses “tube” attached to the cover, with two open ends.

step 12

Make a couple of pleats in this bottom edge to pin out the excess pocket width at this edge to the cover below. Baste this in place through the layers.

Device cover:

Give the pieces a bit of a press, pressing the seam allowances down towards the outer cover (ie away from the lining) but make sure the ric rac is facing away from the seam allowance, towards the lining (so that it sticks out like scallops when it’s all complete)

step 13

Right sides facing, place the linings together and cover front & back together, matching at the central seam.

step 14

This is an important seam to match, as it will be at the top of your device cover. You need to make sure that the seam allowance is pressed down towards the cover, not the lining and that the ric rac is positioned upwards towards the lining.

Leaving a 4 or 5” gap at the bottom of the lining to turn your cover through later, sew all around the edges of the device cover.

step 15

Clip corners and turn through the gap in the lining. Using a point turner get your corners as pointy as you can – there is a lot of padding in the cover, so you won’t get such sharp results as usual.

step 16

Remember to get your lining corners pointy too. Press the cover & lining, including the seam allowances for the gap in the lining.

step 17

Edge stitch the gap closed, then push the lining back inside the cover.

E book cover

Put your device inside then decide where you want your button sewn on. Mark it then sew it on.

Kindle cover

All done, your device now has a lovely new home.  OR you could make one for keeping someone else’s device safe & cosy!

Papa’s got a brand new Peg Bag

The title’s showing my age, but this is something that I made as a gift earlier this autumn, and thought to take photos as I did it, to make into a photo story tutorial.    I made it specifically for the friend who has everything…it seemed….except she was using a poly bag for her clothes pegs.  Inspiration struck & I sourced fabric that I thought she would like.  IMG_1994

So my design was heavily inspired by this peg bag & how to at Better Homes & Gardens.  There is even a downloadable template (which I ignored in my ignorance & need for speed- resulting in a peg bag that could do with a bit more depth – learn from my mistake!).

Peg bag back.

I was fully intent on following the instructions, but when I came to read them I got too lost, so just made it up as I went along, taking photos to record my process.

Peg bag suppliesFor my pegbag I gathered supplies: outer fabric (using this Robert Kaufman Owls fabric which I bought especially) and lining – I had some polka dot in my stash, which I thought might look like starry night sky peeping through the hole.  Of course I had to use ric rac too.   I think you can get away with half a metre of each fabric- lining & outer for making a peg bag.

You will need a clothes hanger as well.

Peg bag templateI drew my template out freestyle, using the coat hanger as a starting point for the top & width, making it symmetrical, adding seam allowances.  The back & the front are exactly the same, except the front has a hole in the centre for accessing your pegs.  But why not use the template already available at the link already mentioned.  Then your bag will be deep enough 😉

Fabric piecesCut out a front & a back for the outer fabric and the same for the lining.

Cutting the circleThis is how I cut the central circles out.

Basting seamlineUsing a long stitch length, sew around the circular hole at the seamline – this is to mark where you want to place your ric rac.  If you are not using ric rac, then ignore these next steps.

Ric rac placementBaste the ric rac around the hole over the top of your basting stitches.  At the ends (see at the top) bring them in to the inside with an overlap.

Sewing the lining to the outer Putting the lining front right sides together with the outer, pin then sew the two together at the circle, stitching on top of the stitches that are basting the ric rac to the outer fabric.

Clip curvesClip all around the curved edge.

PressTurn to the right side, admire a bit, take out the basting stitches, press, then admire some more.  Then get back to it.  You’re not finished yet.

Clip topAt the top of the back, in the centre, make a neatly finished hole for the hanger to poke through.  I made a hole in both the back lining & the back itself, to make it neat with no raw edges.

Backs togetherNext you need to treat the lining and the outer bag as two separate entities, even though they are joined at the ric rac circle.  Putting the lining back & front right sides together, stitch all around the outside,

GapBut leave a gap, about 5″ long at the bottom so that you can turn it later, and get the hanger in!  And you will also need to leave a small gap at the top.

HoleNote though that for the top of both the lining and the outer bag you need to leave a gap where you have already left access for the hanger.

StitchStitch the outer bag to front bag right sides together all around the outside – no need to leave a gap except for the top.

Insert hangerTime for some hanger gymnastics!  Insert the hanger, in between the lining & the outer fabric & get it into place.

Pin the gapWhen you are happy you’ve got the hanger in the right place, pin the gap in the bottom lining closed, then edge stitch by machine close to the seam edge, but making sure you keep the outer bag out of the way when you sew.

Closing the liningI found that my lining was at the mercy of gravity and wanted to bag out & not stay where it was supposed to!

Stitch the gapMoving the hanger out of the way, I attached the lining to the outer at the “shoulders” or the top of the peg bag by pinning them together at this seam & “stitching in the ditch”  (ie sewing a straight seam in the channel created by the existing seam) through the layers – both the outer fabric and the lining.  This keeps the lining in the right place, but also in an inconspicuous way.

Peg bagAdd clothes pegs & enjoy!

Maybe you know someone who has everything apart from a cheerful clothes peg bag?  Possible Christmas gift?

How to make a scarf using your overlocker / serger’s rolled hem

If you have got some lightweight fabric left over from a special make, have you ever thought about getting even more pleasure from it and make it into a scarf that you can use to spruce up an outfit?

How to make a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

You need fabric that is light & floaty – from silk, chiffon, satin, polyester, some viscose/ rayons – you will know whether it will behave well as a scarf or not!  I recently made a wonderful scarf back top for a work’s evening event & so loved the fabric I made it out of. But as it’s a bit of a posh top I won’t get to wear it very often.  Using remnants to make it up as a scarf brings it out in the open a bit more often & I can enjoy it in the day!

Now there are all sorts of tutorials for using rolled hem feet on standard machines (the By Hand girls’) (see this one too by Miss P) & even sewing rolled hems by hand (by Colette Patterns).    I like to use my overlocker which has a lovely neat & tidy rolled hem stitch- no special feet, just a few tweaks to the settings from using a normal overlocking stitch.   The benefits of using your overlocker?  That’s easy in my view – it produces the loveliest narrow hem that cuts the edge, rolls it under a narrow wrapping of thread that looks neat & professional.  All in one go.

The hardest part is turning the corners & getting neat right angles, but I’ll show you how I do it – & also give you a back up plan.  What I would advise is that you have a practice- corners & all first on some scrap fabric.  I find I need to try two or three test corners to get warmed up!

So let’s get started .

You’ve got your fabric – what size do you have and how does it compare to a scarf that you already have?  I would say that the smallest scarf I use is gents’ pocket square size – 45cm x 45cm so wouldn’t make a scarf smaller than this.  I tend to opt for a square shape, but have been known to make larger ones at whatever size my fabric is.

With using your overlocker you will lose a smidgeon off each edge- possibly 1/8 “ or so.  I would press your fabric once you have cut it to the size that you want it to be.

1 Rolled hem scarf

I use a three thread rolled hem – one of the standard stitches offered by my overlocker.  I have to set my machine up a bit differently to do this but it’s relatively easy- take out my left needle & twiddle a few dials – I always have to follow my quick thread guide!  It lives under my machine 🙂

2 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Three spools of thread – I am sure you can get different results using different types of threads, but I have not experimented much to feel in a position to advise on options!

Ready to roll it?  Start at one corner of your fabric, placing it so that your overlocker blade will be trimming away about 1/8”  (it doesn’t matter if you trim away more – it just means that your scarf will end up being smaller).

3 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Sew your first edge with a rolled hem

4 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hemSee the hem forming behind your foot?  Stop with your needle in the last thread of the fabric – ie before you run over the edge.

5 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Leaving your needle down. Lift the foot up, pulling the stitches that make up the final fraction of the rolled hem just sewn, backwards off the “stitch fingers” (but not too far back)  and pivot the fabric 90 degrees.

6 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem(I’m showing you this having taken my foot off so that you can see those stitch fingers – the two prongs at the back ) .  See this tutorial for another view of the stitch fingers.

I find you get a neater corner if you can balance the amount of “pulling back” off the stitch fingers with making a nice snug start to the beginning of the next rolled hem edge.  The further you pull your fabric back off the stitch fingers, the more loose threads there are hanging around at the beginning of the next corner.  The ideal is that you pull the hem back enough to pivot, but without adding excess threads through too much pulling back.  This is why I always practice first – to get a feel for the right amount of pulling back!

7 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Away you go & sew the next edge, stopping as you did for the first corner with your needle down in the very last thread of your edge.  Keep your needle down, lift your foot up & gently pull back off the stitch fingers & pivot.  Keep the corner nice & snug to the start of the next edge & carry on as above.  This is how you do the three corners.

9 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

By the time you reach the fourth corner, just keep going, running 90 degrees over the first edge that you hemmed & create a nice long chain.  You will have sealed off the corner & now have a chain to darn back into the rolled hem (on the underside of your scarf).

There you have done it!  Pleased with what you’ve just achieved?

10 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Back up plan: Finding the continuous corner approach a bit of a faff & giving you inconsistent unreliable results?  No problem!  All you have to do is to sew each edge separately, running over the end so that you have a chain and darning each chain into the four corners.

I hope you found this easy enough to follow!  Now enjoy wearing your lovely hand made scarf.

11 making a scarf using your sergers rolled hem

Do you think you will now try giving a new lease of life to some special fabrics or even to some of your outfits with swanky new accessorizing?  You could also use rolled hems for making napkins too.  Go ahead & try it – make a scarf using your overlocker’s rolled hem!

Overlocking / serger tips: finishing your seams

Something for the weekend! I’m so thrilled that some of you found my last tip on unpicking overlocker seams useful, but let’s hope that you don’t have to use it too often!!
Today I’ve collected three ways to finish overlocker seams, but this is by no means definitive! These are just the three that I am aware of…

20140308-102652.jpg

So the first method must be the most common way to finish serged hems: using a large needle (? Darning needle?) with a large eye to darn your chain back into the seam. It’s quick, effective and easy. But tedious don’t you think? All those hanging chains left after such a quick pass through the overlocker and you’ve got two ends to darn back in for every seam you sew ( or do you see thoughts later)

So another method I’m aware of ( but don’t practice) is to use fray check.

20140308-103007.jpg

Now Fray Check is a glue type stuff – thin and solventy. You can tie your chain as close to the seam as you can get. ( use a pin, needle in the middle of your knot as you tie it to position it close). Snip the ends then apply Fray Check.

The third approach requires some familiarity with your overlocker and a degree of comfort using it. You need to meet your ‘stitch fingers’. They are fiendishly difficult to photograph so I have taken off my machine’s foot to get in there for a peep.

20140308-103341.jpg

Ok. If you can ( squint through one eye if it helps) look at what’s in the circle. The stitch fingers are the two prongs, really thin, and about 1cm long. Now I am not au fait with the engineering and mechanics of sewing machines and reckon that sewing machines create stitches with a number of threads by *magic*. But I have worked out that the overlocker uses the stitch fingers as part of its magic to wrap the two, three or four threads around that then creates the chain which when around fabric becomes the miracle of the wonderfully secure, bound and neat set of serged stitching.

Ok, so you have now been introduced to the stitch fingers. These guys stay very close to your fabric when you are sewing. Remember that. And now let’s see how this knowledge is useful for finishing the start of your seam.

Get your seam ready to sew with your overlocker and sew very slowly until the needles take their first real stitch into your fabric. Use the hand wheel if you want and leave the needles down in the fabric.

20140308-104351.jpg
Lift your foot up and grab the chain at the beginning of the seam. Give the chain a little tug backwards to remove it from the stitch fingers, then bring it forward, in front and underneath the foot. You want the chain to be taught so that there is not any excess hanging around at the beginning of your seam.

20140308-104710.jpg
Lower your foot and sew the seam, and you will nicely finish the end in your seam. No darning! Kaboom!
So what about the other end of the seam? Well, ok. It’s got a different technique. Overlock your seam until you get close to the end.

20140308-105217.jpg

As soon as you reach the end of your seam stop and raise your foot, I’ve left my needles down.

20140308-105359.jpg

Ok, grasp your garment and pull it backwards off the stitch fingers. You want to create a small amount of slack in the threads to do this, but not too much otherwise you’ll end up with a whole load of thread spaghetti and it won’t look neat.

Flip the garment over so that the seam you’ve just sewn is on the right hand side and carefully slide this upside down seam underneath the foot of your machine and butt (?) the edge inside the cutting knife ( we don’t want or need to cut any more of this seam) and position it so that you can sew over your original seam, starting at the original seam’s end ( which is now the beginning!). If that sounds complicated it’s just words. All we are trying to do is to oversew – retrace our steps over the original seam.

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Over sew then, the flipped over side of this seam for a couple of centimetres then veer off to the right to end. Then snip. All done.

20140308-110220.jpg

Try it and see?

So what do I actually use most when I’m overlocking? I use a mixture of the first and the third method. I am trying to form a habit to use the third method more as it is the neatest and less faff ( and machine always wins over hand for me). But with the third method you’ll find that the neatness of your finish depends upon how snugly the loose chain is brought back into your finishing- too much excess and as I said above it becomes a spaghetti of birds’ nests.

And here’s the thing. Think about when you are sewing your garment using an overlocker. You do not have to finish every seam. Depending about the order of construction there are seams that you can just leave the chain hanging because that chain will get captured and finished off as it is incorporated into other seams. Eg think of a simple tee shirt.
Leave the chains on the Shoulder seams as both ends will be finished with either a sleeve or the neck band/ facing. Side seams now – depends on what the hem finish is going to be. If a hem band like the Renfrew, then the chain can hang, because there are other pieces to attach and capture those chain ends. If though you will be making a turned up and stitched hem, you need to finish the chains.

But why finish two when you can get away with one plus make it easier to hem? Want to hear another of my cheats? For any folded hem that I need to make on knits I tend to overlock the hem edge, thereby clearing off all of the dangly chains ( even more useful if you’ve made something with a number of different panels as it means even less darning in!). Once I’ve overlocked the hem edge I just have one chain to finish. But overlocking the hem also helps as you can make sure your seam allowances are set towards the back at this stage and also, the stitching sometimes provides a bit more structure for turning your hem. There might be reasons not to do it this way, but so far it’s suited me fine.

So any more finishing methods that anyone else uses? I’m interested to try more!

Overlocker tips: unpicking seams

I haven’t got loads of tips for using overlockers or sergers, but the are a couple of things that for some of you, you’ll think, ‘basic!’ and not read any further. But had I found a few of these things out when I started out my relationship with my overlocker I’m sure we would have had less rows.

So one of the worst things apart from inadvertent cutting through the body of your garment due to enthusiasm and misapplied attention to the wrong part of the seam you are serging is finding out your seam needs to be re sewn. Because that means you’ve already lost your seam allowance right? Now I haven’t got a solution for the lost seam allowance, but what about unpicking serged seams?  Sometimes we make mistakes.  All of us.

Unpicking overlocker or serger seams

Look familiar?? The numbers of times I’ve fought tooth and nail with those irritating threads when I’ve made a mistake. And ended up resorting to doing this

Unpicking overlocker or serger seams

Cheats way out! Desperate absolute last resort. But you never need to get that far if you know how. It just takes a bit of understanding which threads to focus on. So I threaded my overlocker with different colours to show you- orange thread for the left needle, white for the right needle and red woolly nylon for the loopers.  I’m showing you a four thread overlock stitch, but the same principle applies to a three thread stitch too.

And sewing a four thread overlock stitch it looks like this

Unpicking serger seams
This is the top side. You can see that the needle threads show up nicely as the horizontal stitches, whilst this below is the wrong side where the needle threads are not so visible

Unpicking serger seams.

So bearing this in mind, let’s aim to take out those needle threads. There is a way to identify the needle threads in the chain at the beginning or end of your stitching (they are usually the straighter threads whilst the looper threads are loopier, around these straight threads).  So if you can find the needle threads you just pull them together like this with the effect of  “ruffling” the looper threads around your needle threads as you pull them.

Unpicking overlocker seams
And it’s a bit like reluctant gathering ! You’re pulling firmly and hoping for dear life that the threads don’t snap all the while the fabric often resists. But you can see it worked in this instance

Unpicking overlocker seams
You can see that all that’s left once those needle threads are pulled are the remains of the looper threads. They have nothing to keep them attached though and are history.  Just brush them away & into the bin!

But it’s often hard to pick out the needle threads from the chain if you are using four threads the same colour. There is another easier way – the way that I do it. Concentrating only on the needle threads place your seam so that you are looking at the top of it.

Unpicking serger seams

And unpick as you would a normal seam but only focusing on the needle threads.  But keep away from the loopers – that’s where the trouble starts.  Easy if you know!!