You may remember this post I wrote in November. Knives! Scary, scary knives! Well, I’m not becoming any sort of techy sewing machinery writer. But I’m writing this post today because it’s exactly the post I was looking for when I was making my next machinery decision. Also hopefully my last machinery decision for quite a while. If you’re not into talking about sewing machines and cover hems and what they do, then skip on down to whatever is next in your Google Reader. I’m sure Anna has something exciting today.
Since I got that serger I’ve been thinking of trying a cover hem machine. An overlock serger does a great job with interior seams and construction, and adds elements of drama and danger with its superfast KNIVES, but I don’t care as much for serged edges that show. I like it used as an occasional embellishment, but when I try to finish garments with it I feel they tend to just look… unfinished. I wanted a machine that can make finishing the garment as quick as constructing the garment with an overlock machine.
Why not get a combination machine? Some machines can do overlock and cover hem, right? Well, everything I’d read and heard about combination machines said that most people hardly ever bothered to switch between the functions because it was such a pain to do. And I already jump in-between projects a lot. Something else that slows me down is as likely to stop me entirely. (This sounds like a good post to take with me to therapy, doesn’t it?)
So I knew I wanted separate machines. But what kind? Well, there are “camps” in sewing machines. Those that know they’ll use a machine a lot and for a long time and see it as a long-term investment, and those who want to try something without such a big investment/commitment. That’s my camp. I’m not sure how much and how long I’ll use a specialty sewing machine– and I’m not ready to spend kids’ college money on one yet. The Bernina/etc. lovers make great arguments. I’m just not there yet. Maybe later? After all, I’m more the crafter than the sew-er of crafterhours.
So after making a pile of knitwear and being frustrated by adjusting equipment to try to achieve what I wanted, I read a lot of reviews and made a decision. I already have this sewing machine and this serger, and this cover hem seemed the appropriate companion to them. Three brothers.
Despite the fact that there was rampant sickness at my house when this thing arrived, I found the energy to open the box. There are a number of similarities between the new and old serger that I found comforting at first inspection. Colored wheels. Four tracks for threading. Makes sense.
A little different… this one has threeeee needles. Three separate needles, so that you can sew… umm… let me add them up…. with any of eight different needle scenarios. That sounds right. And this one only has one looper. That part is a relief. I learned quickly with this machine that with only one looper and without the “chaining” that happens with an overlock machine, re-threading is a whole lot easier because you don’t have to pay attention to the order in which you thread the threads. Threading the threads. That sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
Getting started checking it out… there’s already fabric under the needles. The last thing they do after manufacture is run a small piece of fabric through to make sure it’s sewing properly. When you open up your machine, you see a beautiful little sample and the threads are still in place. It’s helpful in that you know that the machine can work properly and you get to see how everything should look. After a while of fiddling with it I felt like it was also meant to say “look, lady. Whatever it’s doing or not doing now is entirely your fault. It was working fine when it left here. We’re done talking, goodbye.” (Yes, that’s a little melodramatic. But sewing machines push the melodrama buttons sometimes, don’t they?)
The differential feed thing-ys are similar to the overlock machine. I don’t really enjoy the term “differential feed”. It sounds algebraic, which brings up all sorts of painful high school memories. Arithmetic I can handle. Algebra not so much.
This is the only cover hem machine I’ve ever tried. If I were going to get a fancypants one I’d go to a specialty store and try them all out. Come to think of it, that might be on my to-do list anyway so that if I’m ready for a new one, I know what I want. But for now, my favorite part is the rainbow found in the middle of the threading diagram on the machine.
So enough about the machine, right? It’s the stitches that are important. Every single stitch this machine does is stretch-fabric-friendly. No snapping of stitches when exuberant 4yo tries on something new. And because of the differential feed, no stretching of fabric trying to shove it through with a “stretch stitch”.
Here I must sigh. All of the “white” fabric below looks different in these photos. I tried to fix it. I tried to make it all lovely. But if you’re still reading this you probably care more about the coverhem info than the beautiful photography, right? So let’s just look past it. As painful as it is.
And like this on the bottom. A chain stitch. I’m excited to use this one for embellishment. Although it’s a little tricky to sew looking at the wrong side of the fabric. I’m sure I’ll make it work.
and here’s the back
Which really adds some body to your fabric. Four threads’ll do that.
Here are the stitches, side by side from the front:
And from the reverse:
One last point. My overlock serger did come with instructional videos that were very helpful. Dated and somewhat comical, but helpful. This one doesn’t. So getting used to setting it up to sew took two evenings of trial and error. But now we’re old friends. And belting out t-shirt dresses.
And that’s it! Well, that’s all I have to say about it. Have a question? Bring it. I’m sure I forgot useful points as I was distracted by photography woes.
P.S. Have you seen Heather Bailey’s March of the Tools? I’m linking this and then checking in to see what others are writing about. Because I love reading about what others are using and how it works.