Aaaaand we have a new serger. I had been meaning to get one for months. After I couldn't get the tension fully repaired on my old Bernette (it overlocks fine, but won't rolled hem) I gave it to my mom when I went home for Christmas. It was a nightmare to transport, and I'm pretty sure I cracked the overhead bin as I pulled it out (it didn't really fit; to pull it out I had to stand on the seat and tug with all my might and it emerged with a loud pop). I gave it away on purpose so I wouldn't continue to use it but would buy a new one. I "temporarily" went back to my old White Speedylock, which never had great tension.
Ming kindly loaned me her Brother 1034D to try out. Threading the lower looper is a DREAM on the 1034D, but I decided that I would treat myself to a little bit of an upgrade. I thought I wanted a Juki, and the Juki website said there was a Juki dealer in metro-accessible Maryland. It's a good thing I called them before heading over, though, because they went out of business who knows how long in the past. So I continued to dither.
Then I was working on my red dress. The tension on the old serger was never great but it pretty much gave out as I was trying to rolled hem my ruffle. If you click on the photo you can see it larger. Those threads are barely holding themselves together.
So of course now it was a crisis! I wanted to finish my red dress, but I couldn't go any further on it until the ruffle was properly hemmed (it would have been unpleasant to finish the edge after the gathering was done).
I had been waffling between the 4 thread and 5 thread Jukis. I have, in the past, had a problem with buying the cheap version of what I want, hating it, and eventually buying the expensive version. This wastes both the money spent on the cheap version and adds unnecessary aggravation to life. So I have focused on buying what I really want rather than cheaping out.
However, after much thinking, I decided getting the 4 thread would not be cheaping out. I have no idea what a 5 thread serger is used for, but I understand the chain stitch is generally used in the home dec context. Given that I wouldn't know how to use it and have obviously not been missing the functionality in my life, I finally decided on the 4 thread Juki MO 644D.
The other thing that was stopping was how to actually GET the serger. As mentioned, there is no dealer closer than 90 miles away (I don't have a car). I can't get private carrier packages at home because I work and it is not secure to leave things on my front porch. I hate having large packages sent to work because it is unfair to ask the mailroom to handle my personal stuff. And I wanted it NOW. Enter Amazon Prime. Love. For $4.99, I got overnight delivery on a Saturday.
Threading the lower looper is no fun on the Juki--certainly nothing like the sliding lever of the Brother 1034D and it doesn't even have the lever that brings the looper into the main body of the serger like on my old Bernette. It comes with a fancy paperclip you can use to thread it, but it is more trouble than it's worth.
But overall threading is not too bad, and it has a threading map inside the front cover. So I thread it and do a test stitch aaaaaaand: thread nest. Rethreaded the lower looper. Thread nest. Rethreaded both loopers. Thread nest. I was just about ready to cry, thinking I had gotten a lemon. So then I rethreaded the lower looper in a different color. Thread nest, but it wasn't the lower looper like I thought. Rethreaded upper looper in a different color. Huh. It was actually one of the needle threads. It turned out it hadn't fully clicked into the tension disk. Argh!
Once I got it actually working it was fabulous. I did the rolled hem on the ruffle of the red dress (after shot on the right) and it's perfect. For edge finishing and construction on a regular overlock stitch it's been perfect. It has its quirks--I will do a full review after I have more time with it--but overall I'm pleased with it and I'm so glad I finally got this taken care of!
I have been out of control on the fabric shopping lately. It is a real problem.
After our successful DC Pattern Review Meetup, Nikki continued our streak by organizing a Baltimore Fabric Crawl. We started at Guss Woolens, which I had visited previously, but hadn't gone upstairs. There is a small room on the first floor and then on the second floor is a largish room with a big table in the middle and the table is piled with by-the-piece remnants at really reasonable prices (there is also a third floor but it only had a few items and none were interesting). Guss specializes in wool (as you can guess from the name) and there were a fair number of them on the table. Most of its stock is menswear, which generally doesn't tempt me. However, I was totally drawn to the wool herringbone. My photo is gross, but it's a soft white with aqua accents. It's a little bit of an oxymoron of a fabric--the color is too light for Winter but it's wool so it may be too hot for Summer. It was $20 for the piece, which is over 2 yards long, and I finally decided I had to have it. Not sure what I'll make with it.
Underneath the cutting table downstairs they had a few tie silks. I wear my tie silk obis (I've made 3 at this point) all.the.time so I got a 1 yard cut for a purple and gray one. I was suspicious of the $5/yd price, but I burned it and it really is silk! Huge bargain.
We also headed to Michael's/A Fabric Place where we petted some amazing (and amazingly pricey) designer wools, but I didn't get anything.
I am obsessed with stripes lately, even though I hate sewing them. This pink, red, turquoise, and white stripes knit is a little crazy, but it has all my favorite colors and is a nice, opaque knit with good recovery. The taupe fabric is for knit lining.
So, speaking of opaque knits, why are they impossible to find? Ugh. I have been wanting to make solid-colored long-sleeve t-shirts forever but have never been able to find good quality knits for it. I ordered some rayon/lycra knits from Fabric.com, thinking that their high lycra content indicated good quality. Nope. It is the same lightweight, sheer, no recovery, endlessly growing rayon knit available everywhere. I did my first return to Fabric.com with them (which was super easy--I sent them an email, a few days later they sent me a UPS label; I just had to box up the fabric and drop it off at UPS). I kept several of the things I ordered, though, the blue stretch lace, off black sweater knit, yellow stripes, sparkle sweater knit, yellow floral watercolor knit.
The red sweater knit was *not* described online as metallic, even though it is very, very metallic. I debated keeping it, but finally decided to do so. I made a top out of it and it pilled terrible on the first wear! I might have snagged it on something because the pilling was in one spot, but I was so annoyned.
On yet another visit to G Street, I found these heathered turquoise and metallic black and white stripe knits. I can't stop!
Elizabeth came to visit DC last weekend on the spur of the moment, and we made an excursion to Exquisite Fabrics, which is open through March 23. They still have most everything on discount.
Lace tops are huge this season, as in this Valentino embroidered organza top ($1890 on Net a Porter). When I saw this lace at a bargain price (it is poly, but quite lovely) I had to get it. It perfectly matches the batiste I got at the DC PR meetup swap. That's gotta be a sign, right?
Now I need to find a pattern and make some decisions. First, do I want a pullover blouse? They aren't great for me because you can't really have waist definition in a pullover blouse. But a zipper really weighs down the lace. Second, so I want to line the top or make a separate tank top to go under it? It is again a zipper issue. Inserting a zipper directly into lace could look terrible. But I really prefer the lining on a sheer fabric to float freely at the side seams and hem, attached only at the armscye and neckline. Dilemma.
My other upgrade is at work. For the next six months I am working one level higher in my organization. It is a great opportunity and I will learn a lot. However, it will mean more days and hours in the office and will cut into my sewing time. In my usual position, I work a compressed schedule of longer days with every other Friday off. I get about 70% of my sewing done on that bonus day. In my current position, there are no bonus days. Perhaps that's why I've been buying so much fabric--I know I'm not alone in buying fabric when I don't have time to actually sew!
Hopefully I can work out a new rhythm, but if you see less of me the next 6 months you'll know why.