Blind hem tutorial using your serger

To finish my newest maternity top, I want to try to make the most of my new serger.  I was pretty bummed to find out that the finish that I wanted to do for knits called the cover stitch needs special equipment.  This is the stitch you see on t-shirts (if you’re wearing one now, take a look) that has 2 parallel lines of top stitching on the right side and the zigzag/serged part on the back.  This is what I get for all the impulse buying and not reading through reviews.  Hehehe.  But I love my new serger and there are plenty of options to finish hems aside from that cover stitch.  The blind hem is one of them.  I pieced this simple tutorial together from some blind hem tutorials using a sewing machine and my book Serge with Confidence by Nancy Zieman.

First, turn your fabric over to the wrong side.  Using a seam gauge or a ruler, measure out (if you have the specifications from your pattern) or figure out what hem length and allowance you want.  I decided on a 1 inch hem for this with a 1/4 inch allowance that will eventually be trimmed by the serger.

Fold the fabric over onto itself according to the length you want for your hem (everything you see now is the wrong side).

I ended up with a Z-fold with a 1-inch (my hem length) overlap:

Press it down or pin in place and you’re ready to serge!  Of course, thread your serger – I used a three thread overlock stitch for this so I only needed to set the tensions for the first, third and fourth dials.  I used the following tension settings (It’s probably better if you practice on scrap cloth and tweak the settings until you get the stitch with the tension you want, but this worked for me on my lightweight jersey).

I used a blind hem foot that came with the 1034D overlocker.  Adjust the screw to get the guide to the right of the foot (that white part) to the correct part of your hem.  If the needle doesn’t catch the fold, move the guide to the left.  If the needle stitches too much on the fold, adjust to the right.  The needle should just bite into the edge of your fold.

Serge away and you’re almost done!  I had green thread in my serger since I’m sewing my top in green.  Open up the hem and this is what it looks like on the wrong side.

You can change the width between stitches for less noticeable stitches on the right side if you like.  Turn over your fabric and press (I didn’t press the hem yet here) and there you have your blind hem with only one run through on your serger!  🙂  I hope this helped any of you trying to figure out the blind hem with your overlocker.  🙂

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Another sew your own maternity top in progress, Butterick 5196

I’m nearly done with my next maternity top using Butterick 5196.  I decided to do version A using some pretty green jersey and I can’t wait to share the finished product with all of you, I just have to hem all the edges which I want to do with my new serger/overlock machine.  It shouldn’t take much time once I get cracking on it, but I’m still practicing how to make a good blind hem on some jersey scraps.

Overall, I found the pattern pretty straightforward and easy to follow.  Since I’m not that tall (okay, I’m short hehehe) I would shorten the top pieces of the front pattern next time to bring the neckline up a bit.   Other adjustments I had to make were in the twist portion at the middle since there is a gap that will show some skin because the pattern gives you pretty generous allowances for this part.  I can’t fault Butterick though since you have to pull panels of fabric through the gap.  Here’s what the back of the twist portion looked like before I sewed it down a little more.

Skills I learned making this top:

  • Narrow hem
    • I had no idea how to make a narrow hem, the instructions on the pattern were just so vague to me. Good thing I found a tutorial here on InfoBarrel that didn’t involve a narrow hem presser foot which I don’t have just yet.
  • Blind hem
    • I’m still working on this now, will update the post once I have the step-by-step for the blind hem using a serger!

Do I really need a serger?

For a while now I’ve been trawling the web and going through sewing books trying to decide whether I should get a serger/overlock machine or not.  I think it’s clear that nobody really needs a serger, but that they’re really great to have.  After some thought, my considerations were as follows:

  • Do I seriously like to sew?  And the answer is I really really do!  So that was a check!
  • What type of fabric do I like to work with?  Knits or woven fabric?  Since I’m so pregnant right now, I only sew with knits, and I need the stretchy seams that a serger does so well.  Currently I’m using a stretch stitch since the zigzags don’t work well for me, the ends of knit fabric tend to curl up which results in some jams and a lot of work for my seam ripper.
  • My need for speed!  Of all the stages of sewing clothes, I dislike hemming the most.  First, my new clothes are almost ready to wear expect for all the darned raw edges so I’m extra impatient at this point!  And with my projects now, I have to fold under, measure, press the hem over again to enclose the raw edges, baste, then topstitch.  I always hand baste since pressing doesn’t hold down slippery jersey well enough if you just press or pin it down.

Long story short, I figured that no I don’t need a serger, but yes I definitely want one!!!

Anyway, early last month I decided to go ahead and order the Brother 1034D serger on Amazon and have my relatives in the US ship it to me.  I chose this since it has the best reviews and is reasonably priced at 229 USD (I didn’t have to pay for the shipping though, lucky me).  I will share more about the serger and how it’s working for me once I get started playing with it.  My husband and I are picking it up today and I’m just so excited!  I’m almost done with my new project, a maternity top using Butterick 5196, and if I’m confident enough I will try to use the serger to finish my seams although I’m a bit hesitant to use it right away for that without a little practice first since the top is coming along so nicely.

On sergers/overlock machines here in Manila, I’ve only seen one type available for sale on the Brother Philippines website here.  The model is the M3034D and it’s retailing for 19,995 Php.  I really hope sewing as a hobby gets more popular in Manila so that we will have better access to sewing machines, tools, and fabric really soon.  🙂

Brother CE8080 Compatible Presser Feet and Accessories

I’ve been having a hard time finding out which accessories are compatible with my sewing machine since it’s not one of the most readily available or the most popular model in the market.  Good thing I found this link here which shows which presser feet you can use with the CE8080.  I’ve posted the list here in case any of you are looking for this information.

For newbies at sewing, I don’t really think you need many of these since the all-purpose foot that comes with your machine works just fine for most stitches.  But if you had to get one, the zipper foot is the most often mentioned essential.

I’m planning to order a narrow hem foot soon since I’m in the middle of a new project and doing a narrow hem by hand on jersey knits is not much fun.  🙂

Other compatible accessories for the CE8080:

  • Bobbins – SA156 (super easy to find, they’re everywhere)
  • Sewing machine needles – I’ve used standard Schmetz/Organ needles and have had no problems with compatibility thus far