I’m sure y’all are familiar with the saying referring to the demise of Julius Caesar, “Beware the ides of March”. Well, I think we could update that and apply it, “Beware the unpredictable winter of 2018/2019”. Crazy weather cycles since last September, and I don’t think it’s just here in Texas, I think it’s been like that everywhere. I feel like hibernating for the next 6 weeks! But alas, life marches on and I must stay with it. So, “Top o’ the morning to ya”……….fingers crossed for a nice March on all fronts.
My long arm skills have steadily increased over the last 2 months and I am feeling fairly confident in my abilities with it. I continue to learn something new with each quilt I load onto the frame and quilt, I’ll be loading #14 today. ☺️ I appreciate y’all who have brought me quilts to quilt for you. I’m happy to have this service available for you.
The last couple of weeks I have seen fabric reps showing me the new releases for the months to come. Amazingly creative prints and blenders. More panels, more wide backs, more Christmas fabrics, more of everything! It boggles my mind to try to decide what y’all will want to see and what I will have space for here at the Cottage. (a Crystal ball would be lovely) Due to repeated requests, we recently received a full line of bias tapes, both single fold & extra wide double fold.
We are busy getting them all into the computer and out for you to choose from. We are also very excited to offer you sumptuous Dupioni Silk in 15 luxurious colors. It is so incredibly beautiful, almost iridescent, it glows! (and it rustles when you move it) It is 45” wide, sold by the yard. We also have some fat quarters in additional colors.
The only thing constant in life is change. And change is always hard to accept. After more than 5 years of doing the Grab Bag every month, we have decided to close that chapter in our shop. We will continue to create kits and samples for wonderful projects, but without the monthly deadline. We appreciate all of you, who have participated in the Monthly Grab Bag Club, for your loyalty and sharing with us your finished projects. Who knows, there could be something different around the next corner. Keep checking in with us for great inspiration.
We appreciate all our wonderful customers and look forward to seeing your smiling faces each day.
“Life is short, think outside the block”. 😉
Keep on Sewing, see you soon,
Warriors Heart Quilt Challenge
The quilts are stacking up. Thanks to all the wonderful ladies who are sharing their love through their work. It is so wonderful to see. We have decided to eliminate any kind of deadline and let this challenge go on year-round. So please won’t you give a little of yourself and share some love and appreciation for those who risk their lives and wellbeing for our safety. Kits will be available year round. Everyone’s lives are busy we realize, so whenever you can manage to get one done, just being it in and we will make a trip to donate them each time we have a good stack. Thank you for your generosity.
Each finished quilt returned to Little Cottage Quilt Shop will receive a 30% discount coupon for backing and batting for your next quilt.
All finished quilts will be donated to Warriors Heart.
(a full instruction sheet will be in each packet)
You can check Warriors Heart out on their website. www.WarriorsHeart.com
Getting To Know Your Serger
I am surprised at how many people have sergers and yet, don’t use. Mostly, I think it is because they aren’t familiar with that kind of sewing machine and threading, three to 8 different threads, depending on the type and age of your server. That can be a bit overwhelming. It’s a different kind of sewing machine, but it is a fantastic tool and addition to your sewing room. A serger gives your projects a professional finished look, not to mention saving the life of the project. (stops frying). I have several sergers and have actually worn out one of my oldest ones.
I hope to dispel the fear and inspire you to use your serger. If you don’t have one, consider looking into getting a used one to learn on.
Using your manual
As I say over and over again, your manual is your best friend especially when it comes to a new or different machine. Your manual will have the threading diagram, tension settings, cleaning recommendations, stitch settings and different stitch set up. Yes, your serger is capable of all kinds of stitches. The manual it will contain information specific to your serger. Each brand of serger used a specific needle, has a different threading configuration, etc. Also, there are many books written about using your serger that are very helpful with ideas and techniques.
Know your machine parts
A serger has many different parts than a regular domestic sewing machine. It is important to identify and become familiar with each parts name and function. A serger has a cutter that trims off the fabric as you sew. The presser foot is quite different. A serger has 2 “looper” arms that wrap the fabric with thread. Understanding how your serger works makes it easier for you to set the tensions correctly for the job you are doing.
Cleaning & oiling your machine
Sergers create a great deal of lint and dust due to the cutting and using multiple threads at once. Clean your serger often to keep the dust and threads to a minimum. I use a cleaning brush, compressed air and a vacuum cleaner to keep my sergers free from a huge buildup of dust and debris. Depending on the make and model of your serger, you can open it up to clean from the side or the bottom via a hinge or screw. You will also need to add a drop of oil to different moving parts of your serger. The age of your machine will make a difference on this. Again, each brand of serger is slightly different. Your manual will help you with where to lubricate your machine.
Some helpful tools for cleaning:
Lint brush, Cotton Swabs, Bamboo skewers or orange stick, vacuum, compressed air (use carefully) or an ear syringe, for blowing dust out, fine quality machine oil (DO NOT use 3 in 1 oil), Degreaser spray (use very carefully !!!!), long tweezers, old tooth brush
Serger take 2 needles of a different type than a regular sewing machine needle. There are certain stitches that use only 1 needle, but usually you will have 2 in the serger at the same time. You can make regular sewing machine needles work in a pinch, but as they are configured differently they can cause damage to your serger if used too much. Some models have the needle type inside the door that opens to the front of the serger. (ie: DC X 1 or BL x 1 or TYPE E, etc.) If you don’t find a number there, it will be in your manual. Each project you work on might require a different size needle, like your regular sewing machine, size 12, 14 or 16 etc. depending on the fabric, thread you are using and the project. Just like your regular sewing machine, change your needles with each project. Sergers do a lot of stitching. Those needles go through the fabric much more often than a regular sewing machine, much more wear and tear. Don’t neglect the needles, you know, an ounce of prevention etc.
Correct threading of the machine
Sergers require a large volume of thread. You will want to use cone thread for the most part, especially for the loopers. Occasionally I will use a regular spool of thread for the needles if I need to. The needles use the same amount of thread as your regular sewing machine does. Threading your serger is probably the most challenging part of owning and using a serger. But don’t despair, once you get the hang of it, it won’t seem so bad. One convenient way to change the thread is to “tie on”. Cut the thread at the cone, leaving yourself a bit of a leader. Place a cone of the new color on the spindle and “tie” the two different color ends together. Do this on all 3 or 4 cones of thread you wish to change. Lift the presser foot to release the tension springs. Gently pull all the thread ends at the presser foot until the knots with the new thread come through the loopers and the needles. You may have to rethread each needle if the knot won’t go through the eye. But all the other threading will be complete at that point. Lower your presser foot and you are ready to serge.
You can use many different kinds of threads in the serger for decorative or specialty seams. You can mix threads on the serger, different colors or textures & weights. If you want a special look for a rolled hem or a flat lock seam, you might use Pearle cotton or Wolly nylon in the upper looper. I’ve even used metallic thread on a rolled hem for a Christmas table cloth. Experiment and play with different stitches and threads for different effects. But always use the highest quality thread you can get. It saves wear and tear on your machine and less frustration for you.
There are 4 plus tension adjustments on your serger. The newer, more advanced models can have as many as 8. But for general purposes, I’ll refer to 4. Each tension knob is associated with a specific thread coming through the machine. Every stitch setting will have it’s own recommended setting for that thread & that stitch. Your manual should have diagrams for each. After you have selected the stitch and tension you want, always do a test on a scrap of fabric the same as you are using for the project. That way you will get a true reading on what it will look like on the finished project. Keep running tests & making minute adjustments until you have the look you are after.
I can’t emphasize using your manual enough. It is full of the information you will need to accomplish your goals. Keep it handy at all times. I agree that some manuals are poorly written and are difficult to understand. Look for tutorials on YouTube or the manufactures website to help clarify a technique or issue. Ask someone who is a regular serger user for help if you get stuck. Don’t be afraid to try something new.
Here are a few tips for using your serger:
Tools to assist with threading & operation:
Stiletto, keep your fingers away from the cutter blade
Long tweezers-great for grabbing that stray piece of cut off fabric
When using your Serger:
*Let your machine feed fabric through, no need to lift the presser foot every time you start or stop, serge on & serge off the fabric.
*Consider Decorative uses.
ie: rolled hems on table clothes, napkins, scarves. Flat lock seams on sweatshirts, fleece, non-fray fabrics. Pin tucking. Top stitching without the cutter (the cutting blade is easily disengaged)
*Adjust speed to match the task
*Always check for correct settings and make adjust
*Keep the serger insides clean for better function
Enjoy using your serger not only for practical seam finishing but for so many other helpful and fun uses.