This post is
quite extremely wordy and is all about my new toy, an overlocker, so feel free to leave now!
I’ve considered buying an overlocker for a few years but always baulked at the price since it’s not something that I would use every day or possibly even every week. However….. when I saw that Aldi were selling them recently at a very reasonable price, I paid a visit to my local branch telling JP that it was too good a bargain to miss but I wasn’t surprised to find that they had none. I hadn’t spoken to Big Sis about the Aldi offer so I was happily surprised when a couple of days later, she rang me from her local Aldi’s to say that they were selling overlockers for £130 and did I want one? Of course I did, so she bought one on my behalf (and then went back the same afternoon to buy one for herself). Mine was delivered last Saturday by courier and I’ve been practicing with it every day since I took it out of the box. It’s a 2, 3, or 4 thread Singer, model 14SH754.
Pros: no raw edges on seams from now on; rolled hems will be a dawdle to achieve; it’s fast; different types of thread give interesting results (much like on a sewing machine); most overlockers work on the same principals so videos online are helpful even if they’re not using your particular model to demonstrate with.
Cons: it’s loud but I’ve heard that said of overlockers in general; threading is neither difficult nor scary but can be a little awkward; increasing static from the overlocker (polyester) thread (I think) is causing me some concern; the instruction manual is basic and all the photo images are black and white only making clarification difficult at times; the book talks about yellow and orange looper threads but threading indicators on the machine itself are yellow and red; the light could be brighter and it would be beneficial if it shone over the stitching area and not mainly to the left of it.
Mrs G’s Handy Hints:
1. The coloured markers I stuck on initially to remind me of the threading paths and order of threading continue to be an excellent idea, particularly when using 4 spools of one colour.
2. I bought only one cone each of ivory and black overlocker thread so I filled empty sewing machine thread spools with overlocker thread using instructions from here but subsequently found that my Janome bobbin winder spindle will hold the spools securely and spin without needing a bobbin attached. When I used the ‘glue a bobbin on’ version using ancient Singer bobbins that were slightly curved at top and bottom, it was difficult to attach them dead-centre on the spool end. Also, when overlocking, the thread sometimes caught on an unseen spot or two of excess glue and the spool then rose up the thread holder in an attempt to escape or the thread stopped feeding through altogether. The bobbin-on-the-base is still a great hack though and might suit you more than it did me.
3. The following videos are just some of the many that I found to be extremely useful and I thank the folk that made them:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9t5UlT4ypA (Singer instructional DVD in English)
http://www.sewingpartsonline.com/blog/beginners-guide-to-serging-episode-1 (11 episodes in total)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P32AaSlBXAw (Curves and corners from a series on overlockers and sewing machines)
4. Doing a test piece before overlocking the real thing is Always A Good Idea.
5. Threading the overlocker does requires patience and some dexterity but the more often you do it, the easier it becomes. If the stitches don’t look right, re-thread the machine like you would your sewing machine if the tension was off. It’s all good threading practice if nothing else!
6. The tweezers that came with the overlocker look as if they wouldn’t grip anything in their smooth jaws and Big Sis said she wasn’t keen on them but I think they’re perfect for the job. I have several other pairs of (angled) tweezers but none grip the thread as easily as the ones supplied with the machine.
7. A loop turner is very handy for securing the thread chains at the start and end of a seam. I didn’t have one until two days ago and was instead using a very small crochet hook which was OK in the absence of a turner or the patience to thread a large eye needle with a short chain.
8. I’ve gotten into the habit of turning the tension dials to zero whenever I thread the overlocker but not always remembering to return them to where they were which is another reason why 4. above is important!
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Am I happy with my new toy? You betcha! I’ve coped more than adequately without one but it is lovely to be able to finish off raw edges on a machine that’s built for the purpose and to sew a rolled hem without having to use a fancy foot on the sewing machine.
The first thing I ‘made’ was a dust cover, which JP says makes the overlocker look like an old-fashioned shop till. Using 4 threads meant the seams were stitched and overlocked at the same time. I’d show you the beautiful seams but I added a lining too so all the seams are now hidden. I also cnostructed a thread waste pocket using the overlocker (purely as another practice piece since the waterproof fabric doesn’t need to be overlocked) and although it’s a bit rough and ready, the pocket does the job and also stores my accessories bag when I’m done overlocking for the day. A handle from an old Ikea metal basket holds the front open, and additional support is given by two lengths of small diameter plant sticks which lie along the sides of the pocket and are secured under the excess fabric which wraps around a sheet of cardboard.