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