Friday, February 24, 2012

Upgrades and Stashoholism Confessional

My Jukie MO644D!

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.

Clip Ends of Collar
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.

Gather Stitches on Either Side of Ruffle

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!

Guss Woolens 2-2012

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.

G Street 2-2012
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. 2-2012

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, 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 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.

G Street 2-2012

On yet another visit to G Street, I found these heathered turquoise and metallic black and white stripe knits.  I can't stop!

Exquisite Fabrics 2-2012

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.


Kathy said...

I got the same Juki serger (also from Amazon) in December and I love it! (I never had a serger before so nothing to compare it to, but still.) Its true the threading is a bit of a pain but the stitches are so pretty. I can't stop marveling at them.

Samina said...

I recently bought the 5 thread Juki. I opted for it because it does a coverstitch & I really want to start sewing knits. I've read that some people hate converting back & forth, but I still have my old Elna serger that I can use. The Juki does make a lovely stitch, though!

Far said...

Hi Trena! I don't have a serger yet, nor have I ever used one but I figure along the line I will. Thanks for the info you shared.
I've been buying more fabric too... I shouldn't, especially at the rate I'm sewing, VERY SLOWLY, I don't know when I will get to them :(

Mikhaela said...

Awesome new serger! 5 threads is totally unnecessary.

I'm overstashing lately too--now that I'm back into sewing regularly, I can't seem to match my stashing to my actual sewing time. I've been buying enough to sew 2-3 things a week... but I'm only managing to sew 2 things a month. Part of the problem is I live in walking distance from 3 fabric stores and it's so tempting to take the stroller out there on the weekends...

Redrockcity said...

I too am obsessed with good, opaque knits. Best I've found hands down are the bamboo knits at Fabricmart. They are soft. Wash well. No pilling. And completely opaque. They are a bit pricey but if you can get them on sale worth every penny.

Trumbelina said...

I've been dreaming of a lace top too, but since our office is VERY casual (I wear jeans to work every day) and cold (the winter coat stays on until at least after lunch), I really don't have a reason to make one so I'm going to live vicariously through you! I love all of your fabrics and am looking forward to seeing what you do with all of your stripes—you've pinned lots of interesting ideas. Also, thanks for following me!

LinB said...

Yay for the new serger! As for your lace blouse dilemma, why not use a keyhole closing at the back neck on a pullover blouse? Or, a buttoned placket at the side seam, instead of a zipper? I agree with you that zippers and lace are an odd combination.

CGCouture said...

I think it must be the season of the overstash, since I added 7 new fabrics to mine a couple of days ago. I'm chomping at the bit to finish my ginormous skirt so that I can start sewing the new stuff up.

Congrats on the new serger, I've always wondered how well people liked their Juki machines. And I totally know what you mean about websites not updating about their dealers. We had a Pfaff dealer shut down about 3 years ago, and it's still listed on the Pfaff site.

Kelly's Korner said...

Hey there! I've been following you for awhile now and have heard you mention DC a few times. Is that where you live? I'm coming to VA for a training (military) and would like to pick your brain about fabric. I'm not sure how much free time or transportation I'll have... but it would be neat to meet a blogger I follow, or at least take advantage of American fabric shopping!! I'd love to hear from you! kelly . sarles @ googlemail . com.

Clio said...

So many good things! Three cheers for new toys! Sounds like you made a good call.

Fabric - I just don't believe in diets, fabric or otherwise. It always ends in a haze of brownies or silk charmeuse for me and vows of future good behavior. ha ha ha All your fabrics are fantastic, especially the crazy stripes which I'm seeing everywhere these days.

Congrats on stepping up at work. A friend of mine who works for a federal agency had a similar opportunity and it helped her figure out what direction she wanted her career to go, and the steps to get there. So, fingers crossed that your sewing sacrifice will be worth it!

T. Sedai said...

Oooh, new toys are fun! I hope the new serger works out well - it looks like it will be great for all your knits!

Also, loving your new fabric haul - especially your laces and that tie silk! And I know what you mean about buying fabric as compensation for not sewing... I bought so much fabric when my serger blade was broken and I was waiting for the replacement to arrive.

littlebetty said...

Congrats on the purchases. I especially love the lace and can't wait to see a lace top made up with it. Like you, I've had less sewing productivity lately, but a lot more spending.

Lori said...

Congratulations on your new serger and to Amazon for having Saturday delivery. I like all you fabric purchases and good luck with your new job.

kbenco said...

Excellent stash additions,and congratulations on the work upgrade. The busier I am at work, the more fabric I buy...unless I am splurging on patterns.
Stretchtex (Sydney, Aus) is the only source I have for opaque, sturdy cotton/lycra knits. It is not internet nor overseas friendly, as you have to phone in your order, but internet rayon and cotton knits all seem very thin to me.

Mary said...

Congratulations in this order:
on your promotion
on your serger
on new fabric

Have fun with all of it!

Ilse said...

I've had a Juki MO-634DE for over 20 years now, and I still love it! One tune-up last year is all the (outside) upkeep it's ever had.
Tip: Once you've threaded the machine, turn the flywheel toward you and make one or two stitches that way. This will 'organize' the thread, and has greatly reduced frustration at re-threading time for me.

annie said...

Threadnest! I have a Viking serger, 12 years old, only used once. My New Years resolution was to try again. Just don't get me started. Not sure a serger is worth it. Glad you sorted yours out, though.

gwensews said...

I am soooo jealous! That is the serger I've been eyeing. First, I have to pay dumb income tax. Argggg! I'll be interested in how it performs for you. Oh, and love your red dress in the previous post. Charming.

Anna said...

I have had that exact same Juki home model for years. Also have industrial needle feed machine from Juki as well. The serger is feisty when threading, but once it's done, I find it serges pretty well. I get my machine serviced about every year and a half and it really helps keep the tension good on the machine. I've had the serger since 2004.

meli88a said...

Congrats on your promotion! And the serger (you're reminding me to get mine fixed)! And your fabric... I definitely know what it's like to have no time to sew but just enough time to fantasize about it.

Uta said...

Great fabric haul! I love the tie silk, so pretty. I used to buy quite a lot of fabric instead of sewing; now however all my stash spaces are exhausted and I've become much better!

emadethis said...

Have fun with your new serger. It looks so fancy pants!

And thank you for talking me out of buying more knits from My cart has just been sitting there for a couple of days. But every time I'm disappointed at the quality even if it's a great print or a fun color. I was a little sad when I saw some things on their site that I paid 3 times for from Harts. I had a gift certificate, but it still stung.

Kris said...

I've gotten some really nice cotton jersey with lycra from Vogue fabrics. I made a white t-shirt tha t is completely opaque. Unfortunately, it doesn't come in many colors and the colors aren't all that great.

Sigrid said...

Great to have a machine that does what you want it to do.
Congratulations on the job, good luck!

Alice said...

Congrats on your new machine. I would love one, but have nowhere to keep any more sewing stuff.

I can't believe I have only just found your blog! I love the stuff you sew...

Oh dear, you are going to be a bad influence (I seem to want to buy about six new patterns as a result of seeing all your great dresses).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info on Exquisite Fabrics. I work nearby and go in occasionally, but rarely see fabric I want to buy. I am sorry to lose a fabric store in Georgetown, though. I wonder where the new location will be?

I was at the Goodwill in Rockville today, and saw a vintage Singer sewing machine. The kind you can fold inside its own table for storage. $85. I REALLY wanted to buy it, but I barely have room to store any more fabric in my tiny apartment, much less a new machine.

I enjoy reading your blog!

Elizabeth said...

I seriously need to get over my fear of the serger! I bought the Brother that you mentioned, last year, and I haven't touched it, because I feel like I'm going to ruin it. I shouldn't worry too much though since I have a guy in my town that can fix any sewing machine or serger.
The Juki looks scary with all the tension knobs!

You have inspired me to give it a try and not be so fearful of it :)

whoFilets said...

I have bought that same stripe knit from in blue and green! I like it, but I don't know what to make with it. Right now I have an idea for a top for my mom, copying the shape of a top she just bought that is also slightly sheer.