|Source - Kestrel Makes|
I had a good read up about overlockers (Kestrel Makes blog post helped), and it seems this is just how they are. But it's also been about learning a new set of sewing skills - a new type of threading, a whole new area of fabrics to understand, how to use them in making garments, tensions and stitch types to become familiar with, and so on. The instruction manual didn't help, with it's terrible pictures and unclear diagrams, but with repetition I think I've finally got there.
Among other things, the the repetition has taken the form of making these 3 slash neck tops:
I love t-shirts, but in a bid to cut down on buying any clothes I wanted to start making my own. I saw this pattern hack from Heather B on Pattern Review using Grainline Studio's Lark Tee, but I think you could use any t-shirt pattern for the body. I myself used the Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top as it fits closer to the body at the waist. Go have a look at the tutorial - it's an ingenious way of doing facings, and super easy!
Anyway,as a way of becoming more confident with the overlocker and stretch fabrics, these tops were ideal learning experiences. Here's what I've come to realise:
- Tension is key. Use all of your scraps to test the tension before every new project, and with the change of every fabric. This particular machine seems to get 'upset' with every change of fabric, and behaves very differently between stretch and woven fabric.
|My first project - that's some BAD tension!|
|That's more like it - good tension.|
- Like anything, all stretch fabrics are different. The pink leopard fabric I would describe as 'hard' - it doesn't stretch in the way the other 2 do in that it doesn't seem to snap back. Maybe the Lycra content is low, or it doesn't have any? The overlocker certainly didn't like it as much as the red or pink fabric, especially where bulk was involved, where it just would snarl up - see below:
|Shoulder seam snarl up!|
- but the other 2 fabrics were lovely to sew with and went through the machine like a dream. I would describe the red as 'springy', as you can see in the twin needle hem I used below.
- I can't believe how much quicker everything is with an overlocker! I'm all for slow sewing, I have no problem with hand sewing, or generally 'taking the long way round' if it means a better result in a garment. But it's also nice being able to make a top in a couple of hours.
- Don't give up - if you get annoyed with it (you will!) either walk away and have a cup of tea, or put the machine away for a few hours, then approach it refreshed.
- Read the manual, but don't take everything it says as gospel. Other then the threading, I've found that not everything the manual recommends is exactly true - tensions differ fabric to fabric, and you can be creative with stitch uses and don't have to do exactly as they say.
- If all else fails, un-thread it, give it a brush/hoover/dust, and re-thread it. Who knew fluff was such a nuisance!
These are just my personal thoughts on working with the overlocker - there are lots of other resources out there if you need something more technical, but hopefully this will encourage those of you who are a bit nervous of approaching overlockers, or who have given up on an existing one. Keep going!
See you soon!