Saturday Sewing: Stashbusting to get a new closet

No, I have not purchased a new closet nor had a contractor in to build a new one for me! But I have been busting my stash of garment fabric as I have been sewing up quite a few new garments using my Janome Four DLB serger and 1000CPX coverhem machine.      There are some videos on our Janome Life You Tube channel on both the Four DLB serger and the Janome 900CPX coverhem. Check these out here. 

In addition, we have created several dedicated Pinterest boards at Janome Canada’s Pinterest page where you will find lots of project ideas and instructions for being creative with your serger and coverhem machines.

Garment sewing similar to what we show here can be done on any of our Janome sergers and Coverhem machines.

I thought it might be nice to have a bit of “Show & Tell” of what I have been sewing recently on weekends.

First of all, I went through my closet and tossed out any garments that I did not really like and therefore seldom wear. These all went to the thrift store – now that they are accepting donations again in my area. You have to make room for the new by getting rid of something old – right?

One of the first items I made with a medium weight ribbed cotton knit. It is a boxy shaped T so quite loose fitting which is OK for hot weather. But maybe not if you prefer a shaped and figure hugging T?  I used the coverhem on my Janome 1000CPX for the hem, sleeve hems as well as over the binding for the neck opening. I serged the binding in place (Dividing the neck and binding in 1/4’s before clipping and serging) Then I pressed the seam to one side – downwards. Lastly, I did a 2 thread wide coverhem from the front so that the seam inside was “flattened” and held in place nicely.

See the close up of the neck treatment: 
I got the iron on garment labels printed but won’t do that again as (1) they do not stay on well after multiple laundering and (2) they were pretty expensive per label by the time they reached me with shipping added. I think I got “dinged” so future garment labels will be stitched by me on my Janome sewing or embroidery machine.

Skirts: I find separates very useful in a closet. There are so many variations and options for teaming up tops with skirts and pants. I used a couple of patterns I had not used before. As always, it is a risk as I might find I don’t like it as much as a trusty favourite pattern used many times. But “variety is the spice of life” so I pushed myself to take the risk. Let’s just say that one new dress I cut out turned into a skirt as it was not to my liking as a dress …..but it is a winner as a skirt so all is good!

Was probably my error as I think I cut the top half of this pattern incorrectly and I just could NOT get it to work so I gave up and used the lower half of the dress as a pencil skirt. I’m happy 😊

TIP #1:ALWAYS serge a test piece of the same fabric as your garment first to check tension and other settings like cutting width. You want to be sure the serging is as you would expect and like. Things do sometimes need to be adjusted depending on the thread and fabric you are using. Adjusting tensions is quite normal as your serger does not know whether you are going to use a knit or a woven and how thick or stretchy the fabric is.  I have not used a relatively entry level serger for a long time. But the Janome Four DLB came into my sewingroom recently when I needed to make some videos for our Janome Life You Tube channel. And the fact of the matter is that I really don’t want to part with it! It may not have every bell and whistle that our Janome AT2000D air thread serger has, but it sure does an excellent job of getting my seams sewed with no fuss and bother at all. And the threading is not a big deal either – even the lower looper is done in seconds. I have no hesitation at all in recommending this serger. I am simply loving using it!

It is ALWAYS important to do a small test serge before you start with your sewing.  Maybe you have not got one of the threads fully into a thread guide? or maybe you have a thread wrapped around something that it should not be wrapped around? TEST SEW to check all is good. I was super happy with this and had zero adjustments to make with this trusty and easy to use the Janome Four DLB serger.

T-shirts/tops: Well when you make new skirts, sometimes you just have to have new tops to go with them!

I quite like this top.  Inside story: I did not have enough of the fabric so I inserted a black strip down the front and used the same black Lycra fabric as my neck edge binding. The sleeve and hems were all stitched with a 2 thread wide coverhem on my Janome 1000CPX.

TIP #2: I like to switch my serger threads to a colour suitable for my fabric.When I first started serging well over 30 years ago, I figured that having black, white and cream threads in my serger thread drawer was sufficient. However, I have learnt the error of that. If you want your garment to look professional and neat inside, you really do want to match the thread colour as close as you can to your fabric. So my one serger drawer expanded  to 3 large drawers as I have collected serger cones in a multitude of different colours over the years. I usually try to have at least 4 cones of each colour on hand.


This box of 24 spools of serger thread is a great starter set for a serger : 4 spools of 6 colours of thread: black, white, cream, beige, light grey and dark grey. Each spool has a plentiful 1200m of thread. Available at your favourite Janome or Elna Canada Dealer. They can order it for you. Part # 9118B

TIP #3:  Rethreading your serger. If you think switching the threads each time you need a different colour for a new garment is a pain, think again. It really is not that hard. Strictly speaking we recommend you cut the serger threads above the serger, pull them out through the loopers and needles and toss. Then start completely from scratch with your threading of a new colour. The reason we recommend this is because we know so many of you struggle with threading your serger so this is a way to force you to learn how to do this. BUT when you know how, it is never a problem after that. So, do I start from scratch? What do you think?! I know every thread guide like the back of my hand so if someone sneaked up and cut my serger threads, I would be able to rethread the whole serger in a matter of minutes. I “cheat”:  I tie the new colours to the old tails I have cut – at the top behind the antennae and thread guides. Obviously I have switched the old cones for the ones of a new colour. BUT you need to know that is it NOT a good idea to pull the knots you have tied through the tension discs so please don’t do that. Either lift the thread OUT of the tension discs , bypass the knot past the discs and then re-insert the thread into the tension disc. “Floss” it in good  – just like flossing your teeth! If you wish, you can turn all the tension dials to 0 and then pull through but then you have to remember to return the tension settings to what they were before.  And the knots will not pass through the eyes of the needles so you will need to cut off the thread behind the knot and thread your needles with a pair of tweezers.

If you have the Janome air thread serger, your threading is all that much quicker and easier but as I am so familiar with sergers, I was A OK with the Four DLB serger threading.

Now that really was not so bad! You are now ready to do TIP #1 – test serge to check you threaded everything 100% correctly and all threads are in their guides and tension discs properly. Can’t tell you how many times I smiled in quiet satisfaction with the Janome Four DLB as my test serge was spot on virtually every time. No fussing which is great. Did I say already that I love this little serger?

This ITY knit is so lovely and soft – it drapes beautifully. It was sold as a large circle already cut  with a hole in  the middle. The hole was slightly off centre so I think the intention was to use it for a high/low hemline. LITERALLY all I had to do was sew a circle of elastic in the hole for the waistline. I chose not to hem it at all ( I left the cut edge untouched!) as ITY knit is so soft and won’t unravel. Would you believe it if I told you that I paid a mere $2 for this skirt? There was another colour way of the same print so I now have 2 new skirts for less than $5 and maybe 20 minutes of sewing. Win-win.

I just love this fabric – also a soft, drapey ITY knit. I used a new pattern – Kwik Sew #3513. (ViewB) I was not a big fan of the waistline so I made a few changes and am much happier with my new skirt now. It is essentially almost a full circle Skirt but has a front and back so does have side seams. I used 2 thread coverhem narrow for the hemline and the elastic stitch on my Janome sewing Machine to secure my waistband.

This one is the Jalie Lisette pattern which really looks a lot better on me than hanging awkwardly on this hanger. I used a scuba knit which is quite a lot thicker than an ITY knit so it does not need stay tape. Elastic was serged to the right side of the waist line, flipped over to the wrong side and stitched down – quick easy and comfortable. Hem was a 2 thread wide coverhem

Dresses: Yes, I did make a couple of new dresses too. Simple and loose fitting for summer – essentially T-shirt dresses which are so super easy: just extend the length of a favourite T-shirt pattern and voila, you have a dress. I did make some alternations to the width of the garment so that the dresses were not too baggy. While that is cool to wear on hot days, it is not altogether very flattering.

This T shirt dress is made with a soft striped knit. Soft enough to need stay tape but real easy to serge the seams and coverhem hems, sleeves and neckline. The neckline was almost a cheat it was so easy: I just folded the edge to the inside and coverhemmed it down from the outside.

This lovely piece of striped scuba Knit was purchased in London when I last went there to visit my son and his family. ( who knows when we will be able to go again – sigh – DO wish people would follow the health recommendations so that we can all get this Pandemic over and done with! ). As it is a pretty stable Scuba Knit, I did not use stay tape at all. Unfortunately, I did not have a large enough piece of this fabric, so I was not able to fully match the stripes on the side seams. Perhaps I should have purchased more of it but was mindful of getting my fabric purchases into my suitcase and under the max allowable weight to come home to Canada! Live and learn. The neckline was just turned to the inside and coverhemmed down, sleeves and hem line were also coverhemmed. All seams were serged with a 4 thread serged stitch which neatens and seals the seams in one pass and also allows a sturdy and yet stretchy seam.

TIP#4: Virtually all the garment sewing I do is done with knit fabrics. I like working with knits and I like wearing them too. Knits vary greatly in weight and stability. The thinner and more stretchy they are, the more care you need to take to ensure you don’t stretch out on shoulders and necklines etc or have rippled, wavy seams and hems. I found the way to “tame” these types of knit fabrics is to use stay tape. After I have cut out a garment, I take  a little bit of time to fuse strips of stay tape to necklines, shoulders, where seams will have lots of stretch and wear and on hems. This little bit of extra time and care makes the world of difference. I highly recommend you do not skip this step if you want to have well constructed garments which last well through wearing and laundering.

There are some heavier weight and more stable knits (which do not stretch as much) that I do not use stay tape on – it is just not necessary.  For example, thick fleece, some Ponte’s and thicker sweat shirt fabrics. I might still use it on the shoulder seams or a neckline edge as these tend to stretch the most. But seams and hems are usually OK without it. I keep a supply of fusible stay tape in a variety of widths and colours so I always have some when I need it.

PJ’s: Don’t you get tired of wearing the same old PJ’s? I do so I tossed some of the ones I was tired of and quickly serged up some new ones. Obviously the accent here was on cool for the summer. I have fabric set aside for warmer PJ’s but can’t quite bring myself to sew these yet. Maybe when the leaves start turning gold and orange? Oops, I said the dreaded words.

I also made 4 pairs of summer PJ shorts for my grand daughter. She finds it comfortable to sleep in shorts and a t-shirt. And the other little one got a couple of pairs of leggings as she lives in those! Hubby also got new sleeping shorts so I’m relieved to say  that not all my sewing was “selfish” sewing. What a nasty term that is! It brings up a guilty feeling and I think life is complicated enough without feeling guilty about our creative endeavours. I like to be “in the mood” to sew so if I was feeling guilty about sewing something for myself, the “mood” would probably fly straight out of a window. So I prefer to go with the creative flow and forget silly false guilt. Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

TIP#5: Coverhems  I have heard people say that you can hem a knit garment using a twin needle. Maybe you can but I really do not like the result. It is simply not as succesfful or professional as a proper coverhem.  It does not have anywhere near the same amount of “give” or stretchiness of a coverhem and you are limited to the width of the twin needle. The wider you go, the less stretch there is and the more chance of puckering and “popped” threads .  I invested in a Janome Coverhem serger many years ago and I have not regretted this purchase for a minute! I use it on almost every single knit garment I make.

And there are a whole bunch of wonderful coverhem accessories as well as this Addendum to our Presser foot Workbook to make your coverhemming even better.

We have  a number of janomelife blog posts on our Coverpro sergers as well as videos on our You Tube Channel called Janome Life. You might like to check these out. Simply do a search for Coverpro on this Janome Life blog or go to You Tube here.

Is my stash looking busted? Mmmm….. not really and that is a shame as I am trying to free up space in the several places in my home where I have stashed my considerable quilting and garment fabric collection.  Oh well….. the up side is that I still have lots of garment fabric to sew up into new garments! And the sewing part is the fun part – right?

 

About Liz Thompson

I am the National Education Manager for Janome & Elna Canada and I LOVE to sew! I have been employed full time in the sewing and quilting industry for over 30 years so I bring a wealth of sewing knowledge & expertise to this blog. I enjoy all forms of sewing from quilting to sewing garments to machine embroidery and software. Pretty much everything in my life is seen through the eyes of a passionate sewer! I am constantly on the look out for fun, innovative and inspiring ideas to share with you all on this blog. I also love to sew, read, knit , crochet, travel and spend time with my family and friends.
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3 Responses to Saturday Sewing: Stashbusting to get a new closet

  1. Mary Galea says:

    Hi Liz, and thank you so very much for this very interesting review of sergers and coverstitch finishing. I have a 15000 sewing/embroidery machine (Queen 👑Fifi) and a 644 serger, and I have long been interested in a coverstitch machine. I’ve never been able to justify it, as I just don’t do enough sewing, but I’ve recently joined a sewing group which focuses on sewing garments and it’s inspired me to get back into garment making. I haven’t sewn any clothes since I stopped working over 20 years ago, so I have changed shape considerably since then! I also like working with knits, but I’ve known for a while that my overlocker isn’t always the right sort of finisher for a garment to look less homemade.

    Then up pops your review! And I am delighted at seeing this lovely little coverstitch machine, which looks very affordable. I’m in Australia, so I don’t know if I can get one here, but I am certainly going to contact my dealer first thing on Monday. Thank you so much!
    Mary

    Like

  2. CherylAnn says:

    Liz,
    Fabulous post. You have inspired me. I’m going to have to go through all my knit fabrics and I have a few bins full of those. I’ve been making quilt tops during this Pandemic and I just got the 3rd back from the long arming that is closed to my home (less than a km). It will be bound and off to 9 yr old Rachel next week. Then Tristen, who will be 9 in a month needs one too. So those 4 will take care of my 9 yr olds and one 10 yr old. BUT my work isn’t finished with them as there are still 9 more that would also like one and maybe the parents too. However, when Tristen’s is finished I’m making some clothes – I really need them.

    Thanks again for sharing.
    Cheryl

    Like

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