7 Reasons to Own a Serger

I know. You’re a quilter.  Or maybe you enjoy machine embroidery. You don’t need a serger to have a happy life.

But I’m here to tell you that you can use it in many useful ways, even if you think you won’t.  If you never want to have one, that’s OK.  But let me try to persuade you just a little.

Why You (Might) Need a Serger:

  1.  To make quilt backs.  I use my serger all the time for this simple reason.  It is the fastest machine to do a very straight and very sturdy stitch on long pieces of fabric.  Afterward, I just iron the serged edge to one side. This is especially helpful when the back of the quilt is rather scrappy and I am assembling multiple pieces.  Just keep your edges straight, and off you go. Easy peasy.
  2. To make duvet covers. You may or may not want to do this, but I use a nice comforter on my bed that needs a duvet.  I always make my own, never purchase one.  I piece them together just like quilt backs.  Usually I have one print on one side and another print on the other, so when I flip the comforter I get a contrasting, yet coordinating look.
  3. Curtains and valances.  This is the very best way to make things for the home.  I have different valances for different seasons in my kitchen.  They get lots of washing and re-hanging over the course of the years. They have to be able to withstand all of that and a serger keeps the raw edges from unraveling. Of course, the edges that you will see are turned under but seams and ruffles really last with a serger.
  4. Pillow cases.  I use the easiest pattern for pillow cases ever (not the burrito style–google it if you don’t know about that.) The Ready Set Serge is great for simple serger ideas and I have used a number of her patterns over and over and over again.
  5. Garments.  This one is a no-brainer, but if you’ve never sewn garments, it may not be obvious to you.  It’s the best way to give your sewing a finished look without elaborate things like french seams or other couture techniques. This is the tool for quilters who occasionally sew a garment.
  6. Knits and any stretchy fabric.  Sergers were designed for this.  They can pound through sweatshirt fabric like nothing else. Leggings? Bathing suits? Stretchy fabric for a skirt?  All perfect on a serger.
  7. Simple bags. With the onset of the “bring-your-own-bag” movement, I have often found myself using leftover fabric (sometimes not-so-leftover fabric) as grocery bags, farmer’s market bags and carry-alls. I prefer cloth bags to anything else because I can throw them in the washing machine…and often do. The finished serged edges keep them from fraying and they withstand wash after wash.

I hope this persuades you to think again about a serger.  I know that for folks who do more garment sewing than I, the serger is priceless.  But even as someone who is mostly a quilter and machine embroiderer, I find that the serger is the perfect complement to my sewing.

And here’s the thing.  Once you have one, and learn to use it, you won’t know how you ever did without.

Book Cover Obsession

I love to read.

I love to read so much that my house is overflowing with books in basically every room.  I give them away, I stack them, I loan them and I cherish them. When I die, someone will have to go through all of them, because many are signed by the author or are first editions. I’m hoping to organize them.

Some day.

And I read them on a Nook too.  Just not enough.  I like to read nonfiction digitally.  I enjoy magazines online or on the ipad or on the Nook. I read biographies there, health, political books–anything I’m likely to read once and toss aside.  But a delicious, yummy, hefty fiction in a dreamy setting with characters I want to have as friends, and a storyline that goes on forever with themes…oh my…themes that resonate with the deepest part of my own flawed character?

Well, those are the books I want to carry around forever.  I want to touch them and hold them and..and…interact with them. I want to turn pages and go back to pages and look up dialogue and descriptions, and just enjoy holding them.

So I still read books.  The old-fashioned kind.

And what does someone do who loves both books and fabric?

Cover the books. In fabric.  I cover my favorites and I make covers in different sizes and move them around on the books I’m reading at any given time.  This is the easiest thing in the world to do, especially if you have a serger.

First find yourself the softest fabric – the stuff you want to pet the most.

I use a pattern from a book called “Ready Set Serge” by Georgie Melot. It’s one of the best beginner serging books I’ve seen.

IMG_2240[1]Most people don’t really know what to do with a serger, but once you learn to use one, you’ll never want to be without it.  They finish and cut a seam at the same time. They’re fast.

They are the best possible way to sew knits or garments. They are another tool in your belt, and like all tools, take a little training.

 

IMG_2241[1]I have a Babylock that was given to me by my mom several years ago. (She has a pacemaker and because the motors in segers are so strong, she is not supposed to get too close to them in action….isn’t that strange?) Anyway, sergers are notorious for being hard to thread, and with 4 threads, there’s definitely a knack to it.  The handbook is invaluable because I still use it every time I change settings.  However, for a 4-thread overlock, which I use the most, I just leave the serger threaded off to the side of my workspace, and simply plug it in when I am ready to work.

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The book covers require 4 straight cut pieces of fabric: cover, lining, and 2 side pockets. Plus one piece of ribbon to use as a bookmark. That’s it.  The sizes do change based on the size of the book, so you may want to experiment a little with the pattern.

 

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You can see that I make notes on patterns that I use often.  I’ve never met a pattern I didn’t want to modify. This way I know exactly how to cut the fabric for any particular book.

 

Her directions are very straightforward.  These sew up in about fifteen minutes, so of course, you’ll want to start a collection of them yourself.

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This is what a great 4 thread overlock stitch should look like. No pulling or bunching, lying completely flat, with the thread from the back side running right along the top of the edge of the fabric (that might be hard to see in this pic with the white background).

 

 

 

So the next time you find yourself snuggling up with a book, think about making a cover for it. What a tactile way to combine the pleasures of the mind with the pleasures of the senses.

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