Sunday, 14 December 2014

Book Review: The Overlocker Technique Manual

Do you sew with knit fabrics? I never do as I am a bit scared of working with them. I have had an overlocker (serger) for about the past 10 years which I used to use for finishing the insides of Sprogzilla's dresses when she was small. I stopped using it, forgot everything and now I have lost my confidence. So, after a few abortive attempts to get my machine threaded up, with much added swears,  I decided to cut my losses and give it up for a dead loss. However, part of me REALLY wants to sew with knits again. I used to run up leggings and sew skirts from stretch fabrics with ease and have a lot of great knit fabrics kicking about growing old.


So I do what I always do when I need to learn something? Buy a book! I had a good look on Amazon and this one seemed to get the best reviews. The book in question is " The Overlocker Technique Manual" by Julia Hincks, published this year and in paperback. The cover price was £12.99 but it was on offer for less than £10. The  contents are divided into three main sections: Chapter 1 - Overlocker Basics; Chapter 2 - Techniques and Chapter 3 - Quick Constructions.

One of the things that I love about this book is that it is chock full of photos (good for a visual learner like me ) that is balanced out with the informative text. This makes it so easy to see where your stitches are going wrong and how they should look, Plus, it gives you the confidence to fiddle with all the little dials and knobs as now you know what they do. Guess who forgot to take any book photos? Yep, so you will have to take my word for it.

It looks awful but I was delighted that it was actually stitching


However glossy a sewing book it still needs to live up to its hype so I dusted down the machine and fired it up. Threading took me about 20 minutes and I could see from the start that the tension was a bit wonky and that the stitch width was probably off (thanks to the book).

Different fabric but looks SO much better (I used 3 different coloured threads)

After 5 minutes of fiddling I had another go and now it was stitching perfectly. (it looks like the fabric is rolled but it is just the stripes, it was dead flat). I only had three threads on my 4-thread machine as I couldn't find the box with all the spare feet, needles and stuff but will be converting this back to a 4-thread as soon as possible and changing the needles to ballpoints or stretches so I can sew knits. I have the Cake Patterns "Tiramisu" and the Holy Grail of knit dress patterns, the Palmer/Pletsch  "Perfect Knit Dress" from McCalls (M5974) waiting to be made up. I have pre-washed fabric and everything.

So am I glad that I bought this book? A big, fat resounding yes! I have conquered my fear, actually threaded my machine properly, can pinpoint where I was and am going wrong, and am now looking forward to the holidays so that I can get some knit sewing done. The only thing that would have improved this book for me was a spiral-binding so that I could have it open flat next to my machine when I was working through. 

I would heartily recommend this book to anyone with an overlocker, especially if you are thinking about buying one and would like a book to hold your hand through the learning process. I know that I am going to refer to it a lot.

Anyway, that was the sum of my productive output yesterday and I couldn't be more chuffed. I am off on my travels again tomorrow and have a couple of hours spare so will try to find fabric shops new.

Have a great week!

Kxx



8 comments:

  1. If at first you don't succeed.... in my case, give up! I used to have all the patience in the world for plugging away at anything that seemed to be defeating me. Now I give in gracefully, accept what I can't do any more, don't get worked up about things I can't change, and revel in what I can do.
    And I was pleased to see a post from you as I was looking through the Postscript Books catalogue which came yesterday, and saw a book which immediately brought you to mind. 'Vintage Lingerie - 30 Patterns Based on Period Garments' by Jill Salen. Now why did I think of you?? Anyway, if it's something that appeals you can find it on their website... www.psbooks.co.uk and just enter the title in the search box. May be of interest, may not... but thought I'd pass it on, just in case.
    If you don't get to post before, all the best for Christmas and the New Year.

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    1. Hi Edwina, thanks for the comment. You are really right, we can't be good at everything and should just try to be good (enough) at what we can do. Still doesn't stop me swearing at my overlocker though. :) Thanks for the heads up about the Jill Salen book. I actually have this, it does not come with patterns as such but scale line drawings taken from real garments in the author's collection or from examples from private collections and museums. There are two similar books from the same author, one on corsets and the other on vintage swimwear. I don't have the swimwear one but was looking at it today on Amazon. I have the corset book too. I have used lots of the corset patterns for a base for other designs and have made two 1930's girdles from a pattern in the vintage lingerie book. It was certainly made for someone with a sylph-like figure. I will have to get some photos taken. It has very beautiful Art Deco lines. I am hoping to post before Christmas as I will have a few sewing days off. If you are not online before then have the best Christmas and New Year. Best wishes to you and yours. xxxx

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  2. Now you see you've scared me now... Overlockers look terrifyingly complicated! But that last photo clearly shows that you've mastered the beast of a machine, so well done you! xxx

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    1. I think so too. They are very scary but then I am a complete Luddite. Can't even work my phone let alone anything else. I have to get Sprogzilla to sort it for me. Showing my age now. Xxxx

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  3. Overlockers completely change the sewing landscape. You'll never look back now! Have fun!

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    1. Thanks. I used to love using mine. Makes for such a nice, clean finish on the inside. Can't wait for the holidays to get started on some proper sewing. Xxxx

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  4. Ah overlockers and stretch fabrics! I couldn't live with out my overlocked. I use it constantly, it is my best friend. The truth is stretch like leather is actually really easy, by just don't tell any one. They look upon you with awe when they know you are a wiz at it! Top tip btw avoid a ball point needle. They do more damage than they prevent. Super stretch needles all the way.

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    1. Hi Ms Nora, thanks for the tip. I did wonder about the ball point needles in my mind it seems like it would be like trying to use a blunt awl. I have a bit of leather and have been a bit scared to use my machine on it as I think it is too lightweight. I have an old handcrank Singer though that should go through it no problem. Was actually fancying doing leather by hand with two threads like saddlery. Xx

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