I purchased my overlocker (serger), when my kids were little; a Janome MyLock 203. It wasn't an expensive overlocker, but nor was it cheap. However, it was well worth the money. Back in those days, I did a lot of stretch sewing and so the overlocker was invaluable.
Fast forward many years and the overlocker was packed away with my regular machine, only to be brought out to hem jeans. There came a time when the kids no longer wanted handmade clothes, I was busy with other things, my interests changed and so sewing was rarely undertaken.
A couple of years ago, I left the workforce and found myself with spare time. My kids had left home, so my time was mine to do with as I pleased and so I began sewing again.
Until about 8 years ago, I sewed with the Lemair Helvetia I'd purchased when I was 19 years of age. It was a very basic machine, having only two stitches; straight stitch and zig zag, but that didn't stop me sewing everything I wanted to, including my wedding dress and three bridesmaids dresses. I then inherited my mother-in-law's Janome, which was still pretty basic. With all the sewing I'd done, I thought it was time to upgrade, and so two years ago, I bought myself a whiz bang Bernina.
My poor old overlocker was a little the worse for wear and no matter what I tried, I just couldn't get the tension right. I packed it away again and continued to sew without an overlocker. My first stretch garment on the new machine, turned out just fine.
And so I've been sewing almost everyday for the last two years, without an overlocker. There hasn't been one thing where I've needed an overlocker, which is exactly the same as when I was sewing with my old Lemair Helvetia pre overlocker days.
Recently, I came across a couple of articles on overlocker tension and thought... why not give it another try. I decided I would clean the machine first. On opening the cover, I thought I could see little pieces of broken needles. Hmmm... too many pieces and definitely not any broken needles. The shiny things I could see, were bits of thread from the numerous dance outfits I'd made over the years.
This was the first dancing costume I made for my daughter when she was just a tiny tot. Wasn't she cute!!! She still is!!! Over the years I made many, many costumes, as she continued to dance until she was an adult.
I can still clearly remember making those costumes. We would be given a hand drawn pattern with a few, vague instructions. Oh, sometimes there were tears as I'd try to work out how on earth to put it together. There was no Internet to search for how to's!!! In the end, they always came together and it was totally worth it to watch my little darling up on stage.
Well, the bits of dancing costumes, along with lots of other stuff, show that I really didn't clean my machine properly. It was about time I did. By the time I finished, the inside of the machine was spotless... well, no stray threads or fluff.
Before I set to fix the tension, I ran the machine to check that it was actually working and guess what? The tension was spot on!!! All it needed was a clean!!!
As you can imagine, I was thrilled. I am enjoying using the overlocker again. An overlocker is definitely quicker (than a regular machine using zig zag), to neaten seam edges, but I still often use the regular machine. It all depends on the project, how many edges need neatening and where the project will end up.
An overlocker is definitely not a necessity, even if you are sewing with stretch fabric. If you are lucky enough to own one, though, you'll find that it speeds up some things, neatens edges beautifully and it is great for stretch fabrics.
The following fabulous posts have all been linked to the Sewing Tips & Techniques link party, here at Threading My Way. If you have an overlocker, they are well worth a read...
- Sewing Essentials - Serger Tweezers
- How to Unpick Overlocker / Serger Stitches
- Threading a Serger Made Simple
- Are You Feeling Serger / Overlocker Tension?
- Relationship Rescue: You and Your Serger... a 9 part series
I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences about overlockers?