Tiramisu Circus: Seam Finish Time Trials!

Welcome to the next-to-last night of the Tiramisu Circus!  Up to this point, we’ve covered some details behind Cake Patterns, Bodice Sizing for great fit, the design inspiration behind Tiramisu, the Red Stripe Tiramisu and Giveaway, Quick Start Knit Sewing for Beginners, Knit Stabilizers, and Stitches/Threads/Feet used for sewing knits.  Whew!

I haven’t spent much time on overlockers/sergers up to this point.  They’re not strictly necessary for sewing knits, but I consider mine indispensable.  Several people have written to ask me about whether they need an overlocker to sew with knits.  I thought I’d take this approach in talking about these machines rather than a regular “how-to.”  I’m afraid I can’t write about coverhem machines at the moment because I don’t have access to one.  Soon, perhaps!

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I used to work in an independent sewing shop.  They ship all over Australia, and if you’re in Brisbane and need a machine I can heartily recommend them for machine sales.  I only mention it because they’re a local independent dealer and they take customer service seriously, I’m not being paid to advertise.

Among other duties, I sold sewing machines and taught classes.  I’m out of practice with my overlocker knowledge, so the other day I sat down with my very good friend Janet- a very skilled, ethical and well trained machinist- and picked her brain for you.

Do I need a serger/overlocker to sew knits?

The short answer is no.  You do not, strictly speaking.  However, an overlocker speeds up the sewing process and creates a light, professional finish on garments made in the home.

An overlocker is not a replacement for a regular sewing machine; it is a complement.  In the garment industry, machines perform one or two functions as a general rule.  In “domestic” sewing, our machines are multi-purpose- after all, the home sewist doesn’t usually have space or money to set up a garment making factory.  An overlocker is more like an industrial machine in that it has limited functions, but it does them well and quickly.

I think about the price of an overlocker as a “cost per use” situation- I use mine heavily, so it is worth it to me.  If I stitched only one or two garments every blue moon, I might stick to only using my own sewing machine.

It’s also a question of the desired qualities of the finished garment.  It’s nearly impossible to tell from the outside how a garment is finished, but once I started using an overlocker to finish my seams I was excited!  My clothes looked like “real” clothes on the inside!

The time issue is important, too.  I like to sew quickly- not because I don’t love sewing, but because it’s efficient and means I can get on to more sewing.

These are all very individual preferences!

Time Trials- Best use of the sewing time

While Janet and I were discussing the relative virtues of various machine features, she pulled out an interesting statistic I’d not heard- apparently overlockers can save 40% of your sewing time.  My instinct said this is correct, but you know I like a good sewing experiment so I tried it myself.

I used three 10″ (25.4cm) pieces of badly-behaved linen jersey to carry out my time trials.  I kept my stopwatch app open and timed each seam finish- a triple stitch zig-zag, a sewing machine “overlocking” stitch, and the overlocker itself.  Each seam was finished with the pedal flat on the floor.

Experience tells me not to be so surprised at the time differences, but I am!  Aside from the rippling issues, an overlocker is more than 4 times as quick a seam finish as a triple-stitch zig-zag and more than 8 times faster than an overlocking stitch on a domestic machine.

I timed a regular “construction” stitch on the same length of fabric.  The lightning bolt stitch takes 29.2 seconds to cover 10″ of material.

The Tiramisu dress has four 24″ long skirt seams.  That’s 96″ total.   The construction seaming would take a base sewing time of 4.67 minutes.   An overlocker would zip the seams together in about 70 seconds.  A triple-stitch zig zag would take 4.78 minutes, and the domestic overlocking stitch 9.84 minutes to cover the same seam.

Total Seam Time (construction + finish):

Domestic Sewing Machine Only : 9.45 minutes

Sewing Machine + Overlocker: 5.77 minutes

5.77 / 9.45 = .61 X 100 = 61%

A seam + finish using an overlocker takes 61% as long as sewing a seam solely on a regular sewing machine.  This means that according to my sewing times, the overlocker shaves about 39% off my sewing time.  That’s not bad!

An Abrupt Conclusion!

After my chat with Janet the other day, I sat down and wrote the outlines for four more posts focusing on sergers/overlockers, coverhem machines, and a buyer’s guide.  It’s too much to fit in The Circus!

This post is by no means comprehensive, more like a foot-wetting exercise.  I’m quite happy to write more in depth about these machines as a part of a regular weekly series once The Circus leaves town.  If you’d like that, do let me know in the comments.  Don’t be shy about questions, if I don’t know the answer I’ll go find out.

And finally- a note on needles for overlockers.  Janet tells me that while most overlockers work best with ballpoints, it is not mandatory for all makes and models.  It’s best to check your manual.  However, using ballpoints doesn’t hurt, while sharps in a “ballpoints only” machine will absolutely result in skipped stitches and a general mess.

Click to visit the pre-sale! $11 pre-sale, $17 retail. Ends October 5th

We’ve broken 316 sales for the Tiramisu Pre-Sale on Etsy.  I’m so- just- THANK YOU!  I’m sure you’ll love your Tiras, and will have a great sewing experience.  There’s so much I *haven’t* shown you about the pattern, I can’t wait for you all to have them in your hot little hands.

Be sure, be sure, be sure to sign up for the Tiramisu Red Stripe And Red Dot Fabric Giveaway!  I’ll be sending out a few rolls of Steam a Seam and some twin needles to randomly chosen commenters, as well as the fabric!  I always wish everyone could win.

What do you think of the speed trials?  Do you own an overlocker/serger?  Are you looking for one?  Do you have questions about using the overlocker to sew knits?

Tomorrow: Last day of The Circus, the great big hemming finale!  Stephen and I are working hard on it, I hope you’re amused.


48 comments

  1. As an aside…my husband always laughs at me because I don’t do maths. “But you sew” he says…and he’s right.
    I have both an overlocker and a coverstitch machine (the first I’ve had for years, the second was a Christmas present from that lovely man of mine).
    Now I can’t claim to be an expert using either machine, but I can say that I love them both. I think your comment about “real clothes” speaks to why I love them so much. You achieve a finish that makes it so much harder to differentiate hand made from RTW, except, of course, for superior fit, fabric and overall construction.
    They are not inexpensive pieces of kit, but, if you use them regularly, they will repay you in terms of time saved alone. But you have to use them. They hold an awful lot of dust otherwise!

    • I always thought I was bad at math… But I’m not, I’m just careless sometimes…

      Yes! You know what’s funny, though? When you have the superior fit, fabric etc and the industrial finishes, while it’s less obvious that the clothes are made at home, there’s still “something” that people pick up on being different about them… :) But people who don’t sew don’t pick up on fit and fabric quality, so I think it reads as “expensive” clothes… Very interesting.

      You’re so right, Evie!

      • That’s it! Exactly! They can’t quite put their finger on it and are always surprised when you say “I made it”. I think that they expect it to be put together with a glue gun if its home made! ;-)

  2. Now you have confirmed my suspicions about overlocking. I know when I have had to run something together in a hurry I have used my overlocker flat to the board and it has saved so much time. I like the professional finish too. The overlocking stitch on my machine feels so slooowww in comparison. Now – if only I had a nice space I could keep both permanently set up in…

    • Yes! Me too! I just never tested it. And now I know for sure.. heheh.

      Space is an issue. I have a sort of half a room for my sewing, and it still ends up from one end of the house to the other… : /

  3. I have a serger that someone gave me that is in desperate need of a cleaning and tuneup. Maybe I’ll finally take it to the repair shop and get it in working order! I also have a monstrosity of a hemmer in about the same condition. Have you ever used a hemmer?

    • Yes! Do it! :D The biggest, biggest hurdle to sewing on a serger is to not be afraid of / loathe the threading… Once you’ve learned to thread (I recommend taking an hour or two to practice, then it becomes a non-issue) there’s not much else about serging to trip you up… Maybe a bit of adjusting the settings… :)

  4. I used to think I didn’t use/need my overlocker until I’ve had it in the shop for a service and I miss it so much! I’ve actually just gone and put a new one on layby (Brother 3034D), one that will have all its feet and its manual which is pretty exciting as the first one I had was an Elnalock from the 1980′s that I had to give back to my MIL (and only worked as a 3 thread), and the current Pfaff hobbylock 796 which I picked up secondhand and will sew all wovens but not knits *grrr* and is missing all its accessories and manual.
    Thanks for all these posts, I’ve really been enjoying the comparisons that you’ve been doing, its very interesting :)

    • Oooooh that is very exciting! New new shiny shiny! I’m all for secondhand, but not at the expense of the manual and working parts. :) And anyway, new is fun..

  5. I have a very cheap, mass produced sewing machine (my husband bought it for me at WalMart because I said I wanted to learn to sew). I’m still using it and it works just fine but it does some things much better than others.

    A year later, when I decided to get a serger, I went for the best one out there. It cost me 1700.00 (maybe more, I’ve blocked it out of my mind). And I use it, relatively, much less frequently than the sewing machine. But when I use it (which is to finish seams on many different projects, knit and woven) I am blown away by the quality of work it does.

    I think it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Makes me wonder how much better I might sew if I had a top of the line sewing machine :-)

    It makes my seams look lovely and professional.

    • You know, given a choice between a cheap sewing machine/expensive overlocker or an expensive sewing machine/cheap overlocker, I’d probably go with the first one. That’s about right. :)

      Hahhaha! I am saving my pennies (three of them so far!) to get a babylock coverhem machine. Space is an issue, too… But we don’t need a dining table to actually *eat* on, do we? (Yeah, ok, we do…)

      Top of the line machines are wonderful. They just are, mostly. The mechanisms are generally of a higher quality, the motors run smoother, and are usually more powerful. More features… Mmm… I’m really struggling with speed lately. My 4900 is *awesome* but soooo domestically slow. I find myself hankering after a semi-industrial or an industrial. But for now, slow is just fine.

      • Babylock sergers at the best out there! i paid a kings ransom for mine with every foot and attachment avail. its and 8 thread and i must have close to 20 feet ( probably 6000 worth of machine!) BUT it also has a lifetime warrenty and i have never been dissappointed with it! oh and bonus…..its air threaded, takes about just a couple minutes to thread it

  6. I have a confession–I bought my overlocker based on the fact that the entire front opens up so I can thread it. And yes, I know that you can buy machines that will thread themselves, but I keep thinking along the lines of –what if that function decides to not work? so instead, I bought a lower priced Husqvarna Viking that requires manual threading and does all the things I need without computer control. Mine was a $900 machine. Not the cheapest, but it does four-thread and finishing seams is sooo much faster than my old method of french-seaming everything, or zig-zagging the seams only to have them fray anyway. And obviously, it’s not the most expensive, either.

    • Mine does that too! It’s great! :) Do you have the Husq 905 like me? Great machine.

      Babylocks thread themselves, and Babylock has insanely clever magic elves that work for them… The machines work soooo well. It might actually be some kind of Martian technology that’s been brought to earth…

      • My grandma gave me her babylock machine, and I’ve yet to use it because the self-threader is broken! I think I’m going to ask for my mother to pay for a service of all my machines for christmas (a sewing machine and overlocker that get a lot of use, the babylock AND a coverstitch machine, also from my grandma, that I can’t use because the tension is borked). But that’s a ways off! And I have enough room to have sewing machine, overlocker, and maybe one other machine out, but that’s getting a bit squeezy. I might have to pass one one. I guess my regular overlocker, but I do love it so! It will be hard to part with. I’m not usually sentimental, I promise! But getting that machine really boosted my confidence in my ability to sew, and to create garments that I could actually wear with pride.

        • Oh! Go get it fixed right now! You have a Babylock! Run don’t walk! ;)

          I am so so so green with jealousy. GREEN. I am sure you make great use of your machines and space. :D

        • You inspired me to ring and find somewhere than can do it! At at least $100 I’m going to have to work it into the budget. But at least I’m on the right track! :)

  7. I am a new owner of an overlocker/serger, and am completely blown away with how much I love mine. I kept looking at one with jet-air threading, but the nearly $3,000 price tag was completely off-putting. Someone at a sewing guild meeting suggested a Brother 1034D serger – completely inexpensive, under $200 with free shipping on Amazon (I’m in the USA), and a great entry-level serger. Maybe I’ll move up to a deluxe machine one of these days, but so far, it’s done everything I’ve asked – rolled edge linen napkins, seams on knit fabric, and some gathering. It does 3 and 4 thread overlocking, and it’s really not hard to thread once you remember to rethread the needles AFTER rethreading the loopers (took me 20 minutes to solve that little mystery). There will be times when I do French seams which are my absolute favorite seam finish, but for go-to seams I’ll serge in a flash and smile. With a new grandson, I’m making all sorts of little knit baby clothes with my serger and they look so darned good, not to mention standing up to many trips through the washing machine.

    I am so excited about the Tiramisu. I pre-ordered it the first day and am hoping to have Tiramisus under the Christmas tree for both my dear daughters. One will be in polka dots and the other will be in a silk knit with a wild, wild print that has been mellowing in my stash, just waiting for the right pattern. That one will be a real challenge as it will require careful attention to print placement.

    • Well… I’m so so pleased you love your machine! Usually with sergers/overlockers, as you move up in price they become easier to use. Often the cheaper machines are temperamental (general) and more complicated to operate. But it sounds like you got a really good match! Awesome!

      Thank you for your pre-order. They’ll definitely be shipped well in time for that. :) It sounds just wonderful! :D

  8. Time trials aside, just looking at how much less wavy the seam with the serger is, has me sold. I’ve used the serger in sewing classes, but don’t have my own… yet. Christmas? fingers crossed. I’ll have to start dropping hints now. What are some good brands/models in the less expensive range (say $200 and under)? There is a used Speedy Lock 299/299D by WHITE on my local craigslist for $80, and we have a local service shop. Is that an decent model? Any brands/models to avoid?

    • I can’t say enough good things about my Brother 1034D. I bought it on Amazon – free shipping, no sales tax, and it’s currently $190.00. I belong to a local chapter of the American Sewing Guild, just joined, and wow, can some of those members SEW! Several of them own this inexpensive serger, and not one had a bad thing to say about it. Many of them own multiple sewing machines, embroidery machines, cover stitch machines, even free-arm quilting machines, so I respected their recommendation and am happy as a clam with my Brother 1034D. I’m not sure I’d risk buying a used serger unless it was in tiptop condition. A simple visit to the repair shop where I live runs $90 as a starting point. If the seller can show you how it the White works, show you that it does work, that it has all the accessories, and that it’s fairly clean inside, a Craigslist machine could be the way to go. Be sure it has sharp blades, too.

    • There you go- a resounding good recommendation. :)

      It’s a bit different for me because I live in Australia and the cost of living is so ridiculous sometimes it makes my brain explode. I’d never, ever, ever, ever recommend buying a machine here for $200. Usually, the cheap machines are difficult to use, hard to thread properly, the tensions are touchy, etc. I know because I wasted money on one years ago, and I’ve seen many waste-of-money machines. I haven’t lived in the US in five years, so I really can’t speak to the market there.

      I’d most recommend going to a reputable dealer who will be able to give you lessons on threading (you will want them, it’s so much easier than winging it) and who will let you test drive a bit. It’s probably more expensive, but you know what your hard earned/carefully saved money is buying…

  9. I thought I wanted an overlocker – now I know I do!!
    That time trial comparison is amazing to see (what a good idea!)… I like the fact it’s speedy, but to see how much neater it is just makes it win hands down! Which one do I buy though?!

    • Well. I can’t tell you that. :) I’ll post a buyer’s guide very shortly, a checklist of sorts for going shopping. It just did not did not did not fit in this post! Sadly. :)

      I’d suggest as a starting point to look for a reputable independent dealer. Please don’t go and waste $$ on a cheapie from a big box. An indie *cares* if you sew with your machine, they want you to love your machine and the sewing experience, they care. They’ll sit with you and let you test sew some samples, should be able to patiently answer your questions, and should offer after-purchase care. To me, that’s ethical selling.

      I don’t think it’s right to take someone’s money for a piece of machinery like this and not at least walk them through the functions and offer post-purchase usage lessons. Those lessons should be for free or quite cheap.

      If there’s no choice but to go to a big box, then try not to buy the cheapest machine. The lowest range machines of any line for most brands are usually pieces of garbage. There’s really no polite way to put it. :)

      Best of luck, keep your eyes open for the forthcoming posts on sergers/overlockers so you can be a savvy buyer.

      • Thanks for your advice, Steph :)

        I’m surprised to see so many of your readers rating the entry-level Brother- I’d avoid their sewing machines due to so many dodgy reviews, so I would have avoided their overlockers too!

        I’ll look forward to reading your buyer’s guide- so much choice often makes choosing difficult…!! :)

        • Well- usually I’d agree about Brother putting out some sh*te machines, but some of the higher end machines are exceptionally well thought out, and the button application foot is a tiny piece of genius. I haven’t spent time with this overlocker, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. It’s worth taking one for a spin, I might do next week and report back.

          Well- I’m hesitant to recommend one make or brand over another, so the guide will be more like a worksheet or a checklist to help you when you’re shopping… :)

          • I have a mid-range brother sewing machine (the PS-53), and I love it. It’s just a plain old mechanical one, and it has a limited range of stitches, but it always works and always does what it says it will, and if anything goes a bit iffy it’s easy to fix. I bought it on sale for less than $300. I wouldn’t buy it again for me, because now I know I sew and it’s worth spending more, but I don’t see myself replacing it any time soon.

  10. I sewed for decades with simply a basic home sewing machine, and indeed learned to sew knit fabrics on it as well (since the edges do not ravel, I didn’t do anything other than sew the seams with a narrow long zigzag, and left the seam allowances unfinished) I recently was give a serger as a birthday present ( Brother 1034D ) and it has made sewing knits a snap! I love how it runs soooo fast, but then, I have worn out two foot pedals on my regular machine over the years, from running them pedal to the metal. If my regular machine sewed as quickly as my serger there would be now stopping me….

    I have been very happy with the Brother 1034D, did a lot of research before the purchase/present and it has so far lived up to all the positive reviews. Yes it is an entry level machine, but it is a real workhorse, and threading it is not very difficult…

    I also want to say that this new “circus” of tips on sewing knits is fabulous, thank you Steph so much! I have definitely learned new things that will make my knit sewing much better.

    • Sergers are really something of a “game changer” in home sewn garments…

      I know! I wish my sewing machine would run as quickly as my overlocker! That’d be the day!

      Thanks for the rec on the machine, I haven’t spent much time with that one so it’s good to know that it’s the rare combination of hard-working/inexpensive.

      Thanks! I have some other ideas, I think The Circus will be a semi-regular event… Because it’s fun. :D I’m so pleased it’s been useful to you!

  11. I sewed for decades with simply a basic home sewing machine, and indeed learned to sew knit fabrics on it as well (since the edges do not ravel, I didn’t do anything other than sew the seams with a narrow long zigzag, and left the seam allowances unfinished) I recently was give a serger as a birthday present ( Brother 1034D ) and it has made sewing knits a snap! I love how it runs soooo fast, but then, I have worn out two foot pedals on my regular machine over the years, from running them pedal to the metal. If my regular machine sewed as quickly as my serger there would be now stopping me….

    I have been very happy with the Brother 1034D, did a lot of research before the purchase/present and it has so far lived up to all the positive reviews. Yes it is an entry level machine, but it is a real workhorse, and threading it is not very difficult…

    I also want to say that this new “circus” of tips on sewing knits is fabulous, thank you Steph so much! I have definitely learned new things that will make my knit sewing much better.

  12. We just made a whole merino dress in Master Class without using it BUT, using lightning bolt stitch (I’ve always done it but I love how it now has a cool name!) and the twin needle finish, which is has EVERYWHERE because we got carried away with how pretty it looks! Loving this awakened knowledge of knit fabric sewing, thank you maam!

  13. I bought my first serger about 10 years ago. I was absolutely thrilled with the finished seams, rolled hem, etc. About 2 years ago I started having problems with it, I took it to the shop and on the way home stopped at a dealer (where I had purchased two other sewing machines) and oogled at the top of the line serger/coverstitch machine. With barely a skipped beat, that baby was in my car. I could not be expected to go a whole week without a serger! Long story short, the old one had a minor injury and is now permanently threaded with dark thread, the new girl threaded with an off-white. I have not used the cover stitch function yet, I need to go back to the dealer, but I think I would purchase a separate cover stitch machine if I had it to do over again. I think probably one of the best purchases for a Sewist and prices are reasonable, just shop around.

    Great series Steph. Of course you timed sewing a 10 strip of fabric, 3 ways! Of course you calculated total seam construction for a 96 inch seam. I am just wondering here, but, did that include cutting the thread tails? You are fabulous!!!!

    • Oooooh, sounds great! I’m definitely waiting to be able to get a coverhem machine, I’ve worked on them plenty before so I know which brand I want and it means saving, saving saving.

      Thanks! Yes… I probably have a problem or some ocd or something… But I prefer to channel it than fight it, and it means you get to see my experiments!

      No, didn’t factor in cutting thread tails! Just the sewing. ;)

  14. What a fascinating test! I know that constructing a garment on an overlocker is quicker, but I really prefer to stitch with the lightning bolt stitch (I know it takes longer than a regular stitch, too). I have both an overlocker and a coverstitch, as I’ve mentioned before and I love the flexibility this gives me. I don’t finish the seams in a knit garment unless they are likely to roll an annoy me. When we all start making our Tiramisus there will be such a variety of construction styles that I am sure will be very informative. Do you know I learn something new here every time I read? Your commenters have a lot of really interesting things to say (as well as you, of course!). Thanks for giving me so much to think about.

    • I almost always use a construction stitch in conjunction with the finishing. It just makes a nicer garment in the long run.

      Every time? Aww, that’s such high praise! I really enjoy the comments section, too. :)

  15. I want to ask about how and when you finish – which you just mentioned in the comment above. I have a couple of skirt patterns, for example, that I know will fit me straight off, and that I just whip up on the overlocker. But I’m always unsure when and how I should finish things – I find it hard to get clarity because it’s something that ‘everyone knows’! For example, I’m making a dress at the moment, from a woven, and I knew I would have to adjust the fit. I ended up basting the pieces together, fitting it, then overlocking it together. Other times I’ve finished the pattern pieces, then sewn them together with a construction stitch, which it sounds like is what you do? But then if I have to adjust the fit, the serging might peek through, or there’ll be a huge seam allowance that can be hard to serge off…

    Basically, what do you do? My aim in the next year or so is to learn more finishing techniques to give myself more options, but I’d really like to work out what I’m doing with the basic finishing techniques first!

    • Well– The Tira pattern (and Cake Patterns in general) makes it very clear when to finish, when to press, etc. It’s always one of those “unwritten” things but it really trips up new sewists….

      My general, general rule of thumb is that you finish a seam when it will be in contact with your body. Enclosed seams, not so much. This is because the contact with your skin, the oils and the rubbing (even if it’s not chafing, it’s still rubbing) breaks down seam fibers. This is true on knits as well as wovens, even though knits don’t ravel.

      So if you’re wondering whether to finish or not, just pause a second and think “Is this going to touch my body” and there you have your answer. That said, I do occasionally finish an enclosed seam if it will have stress- like an in-seam pocket.

      I probably wouldn’t rely on basting to do the work of a sewn seam. It can pucker and break more easily. But I’m kind of picky about that. :)

      No, I usually sew the seam and then finish it. I like my seams to be overlocked together generally. I also don’t like marking my seamlines, and if I overlock the pieces ahead of time that means I might lose some of the fabric, the seams will be less accurate, etc.

      This is probably not helpful to you, but I’m pretty used to dressing my body. No surprises anymore with fit, or only very seldom. Sometimes I get halfway through an experimental garment and decide to change it radically. In that case, I serge/trim/overlock etc ruthlessly slicing into the fabric… I don’t watch Project Runway, but I do know how to make it work…. If you know what I mean…

      I think you’ll like the posts I have waiting on this topic. :D

      • No, that is excellently helpful. Fit is really important to me, so I think for fitted garments I’ll end up always making a muslin. I haven’t the last few times and then ended up using the first version as a muslin by accident! It’s tedious but worth it, in the end. That way I can get the general fit right, sew up the garment, try it on to test, then overlock the edges together. That’s what I’ve done with the last few things I’ve made because I like how neat it is and I have sensory issues that make it the nicest – well, enclosed seams would be the nicest but I haven’t got there yet!

        I don’t mark seamlines, either! I just get the sneaking feeling that I’m doing it All Wrong. But now that I think about it, while I would like to learn the ‘right’ ways of doing things, to give myself more options, I’m happy with whatever is working for me. Which is making things good enough. If I fuss too much on couture techniques I’ll never sew anything! Which is why I count my really starting to sew from when I got an overlocker – that was when ‘good enough’ was something I was still proud of.

        Looking forward to more posts like this! They are really helpful. Thank you for doing them. :)

  16. I have a Babylock serger, purchased early this year, and I LOVE it. It has completely changed my sewing – everything I make is more professional looking and I get so much more sewing completed. Plus, I now sew with knits all the time. The one issue I run into is that many/most sewing pattern instructions are written for regular sewing machines only. Therefore, I have to “convert” pattern instructions, usually changing the order of operations, in order to use my serger for the majority of sewing tasks. I don’t mind, just wish serger instructions were included in more patterns – especially patterns meant for knits.

    Which brings me to Tiramisu. I’ve pre-ordered and can’t wait to sew it. Given that you use a serger, do the Tiramisu pattern instructions include serger only or serger plus sewing machine instructions?

  17. I have my mum’s old mylock, and when I can be bothered to clear my sewing machine off the dining table and set up the overlocker, I love it. Changing threads is annoying because there’s so many of them, but using mum’s snip-and-tie trick its not too bad – though often I’ll just use whatever thread is in it, and use my sewing machine’s overlock stitch for the last inch or so if it has a chance of being seen. The only thing I really find tricky is lining it up.. I always forget how far I need to keep my stitching line from the blade, and it doesn’t have convenient markers like the plate on a sewing machine does.

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  21. There is so much useful information on your blog, I’m completely blown away!
    I have an over locker and a cover pro, both gifted by my lovely husband who was so pleased I had taken up my old pastime again. I’m very cautious (read nervous) when using them though, and would like to realise their full potential, so I would love you to do more pieces like this please.
    I can’t wait to get going on the Tiramisu sew along in the new year too, it’s the pattern I’ve been dreaming of for so long!


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