So I spent a few hours with my Brother 1034D yesterday. Readers, I serged, I serged, oh, how I serged!
By day's end I had a wastepaper basket full of fabric scraps, but I had de-mystified serging -- at least basic serging. And if I can do it, you can do it -- time permitting, of course.
Here's what I did:
I re-read the instruction manual. (Actually, this may have been the first read.)
I dug out the little packet of accessories that came with the Brother and discovered I had a blind hem foot. I actually put it on the machine and tested it!
I removed the stitch finger -- it took, what, 2 seconds? -- and discovered how the threads now looped around a narrow needle-like protrusion on the face plate (that metal plate beneath the presser foot), creating an altogether different-looking stitch (a narrow overlock or rolled edge stitch) I'd only read about before.
I played with all the various tensions and then successfully restored them to their original positions!
I changed stitch width, stitch length, and differential feed settings. I tried loose stitches and tight stitches, long stitches and short stitches.
I oiled it.
I even retracted the upper knife!
I sat down with Serger Secrets and picked up a secret or two. Following the directions in the book, I made a little V-neck tee muslin out of some stretch polyester (think dancewear) someone sent me a long time ago. I made a few mistakes, but it basically worked and I think I'm ready to try this with my blue cotton knit.
There are still things I have yet to do, which I hope to get to this week, including:
Change the needle for the first time ever. (Do you believe I haven't changed the needle (I use the right one only) in nearly a year and a half of serging? I've never had to.
Try some different quality threads.
Create a successful flatlock stitch (where you serge two pieces of fabric together and then pull them flat, creating a flat seam.
I know, based on yesterday's copious comments, that many of you are true serger-phobes. All I can say is, schedule in a few hours of quality time with your machine and get to know it. If you're scared to change the tension settings, write them down first or take a photo of them before making changes. Nothing is irrevocable.
It's normal to feel anxiety around an unknown machine, but don't let that stop you from using it. The only way to learn is by doing, making mistakes, and learning from them. And there are so many instructional videos on YouTube and tutorials on people's blogs.
Reading your recommendations yesterday, I may pick up an additional serger book myself. I noticed that you can view a good portion of The New Sewing With a Sergerbook, from the Singer series, on Amazon, if you "Click to Look Inside." There are so many popular serger books available and used copies can cost just a few dollars.
I think I'll still be using my serger primarily to finish seam allowances, as many of you do. But it's nice to know it's there for other things. Other than t-shirts, men don't wear a whole lot of knits -- or am I missing something?
Serger-phobes, what's one simple step you could take in the next few days to move forward? It's time to take that serger out of the box already!
Have a great day, everybody, and happy serging!
PS - I found this 7-part YouTube video to be extremely helpful. Here's a taste:
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!