Posts Tagged ‘serger’


Bridesmaiding under the sun

January 28, 2011

About 8 months ago, a close friend of mine asked if I would make her bridesmaid dresses for her beach wedding in Mexico two weeks ago. Then she asked if I would be a bridesmaid (which made it much easier to make the dresses as I could practice on mine and make all my mistakes  on it).

Naturally I said yes, and then tried to be nonchalant about the slight nervousness I was feeling. I mean, hey, I’ve made costumes before. I’ve made things for other people that got worn in public – and she said the dresses would be simple: a fact confirmed when she gave me the pattern.

Mcalls 6113, as you can see, is a flowy dress that is only fitted around the bust area. It’s great for a beach wedding.  From the pattern envelope, I discovered that the suggested fabrics for this light and airy sundress included cotton, silk rayon,  and crepe.
My confidence grew…

And then she gave me the bag of fabric for the four dresses and I learned that the fabric she had chosen was a stretchy cotton jersey with varying  lycra content depending on the dress. I would definitely need to use my serger.

And I was definitely nervous. I took that serger workshop last July so I could make sure I learned all the tricks I could for making the dresses. My nervousness was not all that helped by the class because I brought a fabric sample with me and the instructor said “wow, that’s really stretchy.”

I procrastinated an eensy bit (shh, don’t tell the bride) but finally took the plunge. After making my own dress and learning that an FBA was completely necessary, I altered the other patterns according to the measurements I was given adding FBAs where necessary.  I doubled up the bodice fabric to give that area as much support as possible.

The most difficult part was sewing the bodice together. In the end I was trying to serge together four layers of ultra stretchy fabric and two of the layers were gathered to shape the bust properly . I tried to do it straight away on the serger but the blade and needles just couldn’t handle it.

I was able to zigzag back and forth multiple times along the seam allowance and managed to tack it down into a flat enough state that the serger blade could cut through it and the needles wouldn’t tangle in it and snap, or at least not as often.

The other problem I had was that the serger blade wouldn’t always cut cleanly through the fabric and would instead shred the seam allowance and drag it into the mechanism where I would wind up with a tangled mess and occasionally another broken needle. This sort of incident would also lead to a seam that looked like this:

I replaced my serger blades and found that wasn’t all that helpful for this fabric. It was just too slippery and full of tiny elastic threads that held the sliced off seam allowance too close to the remaining fabric.

In the end, I solved the problem by pulling the seam allowance away just as it was going through the blade. This way, I made sure the excess fabric wasn’t dragged into the stitching and that my seams were nice and smooth.

Before long (actually within a week) I had four dresses. I took them to the other bridesmaids for a fitting, made some final alterations such as lining the most see-through of them, and then it was time to hem them.

One of the things I learned from my serger class was that the lovely topstitching found on so many stretch tops is not actually done using a serger but rather requires a coverstitch machine. I do not have one and it is not in my immediate budget so I faked it with a zigzag hem.
I don’t think anyone noticed.

Do you?

  Above is the side view
And here is the front view during the ceremony.

Congratulations to the bride and groom!


Serging Ahead

August 31, 2010

I took a serger workshop on the weekend so I’d be all set to sew the bridesmaids dresses my friend has asked me to make for her wedding.

I agreed to do it before she dropped off the fabric and I realized it was all VERY stretchy.

It was a terrific workshop. I learned about my differential feed, adjusting the tension and how to do a rolled hem.
…And then I learned that the technique I really wanted to learn actually requires a coverstitch machine rather than a plain old serger.

Not sure if one of those is in the budget so I may have to fake it.

In other news, the trench is on hold for now as I have an emergency project I need to finish for Friday.

Wish me luck!