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SewJuly 18, 2012

I swear this won't become a sewing blog, but I got a SERGER for my birthday from Lala. (What's a serger? It's an overlock sewing machine that cuts, sews, and finishes an edge all at once. If you look at the seams of a t-shirt or sweatshirt, that's what serging looks like. It's pretty awesome.)


Digit, serger, and my new shirt, "My Cat is Famous on the Internet." Because he is, you know.

So, I got the serger for my birthday. It took me a full WEEK to find the bravery to take it out of the box. I was very excited and equally terrified. 

I've wanted a serger since I was about eighteen, when my best friend's mother used one for creating huge gorgeous hoop-skirted dresses for the Harvest Festival. She would curse and swear at it when it got tangled (which was often), and my fear was forever cemented, along with my awe. 

(I got this one. Doesn't it look terrifying? You should see the inside!)

I girded my loins. I read the whole book first. Then, when I was thoroughly confused, I sat down and tried to sew (it comes pre-threaded). However, two threads were tangled in the pre-threading, and I ended up with this disaster (that's a chaotic bloody tangle there, if you can't quite tell). I started swearing at the machine about two minutes after I first touched it. 


Then I had to learn to thread it, damn it (there's a method where you tie on new threads and pull them through, so once it's threaded you don't have to do it again -- I didn't get that luxury). 

I learned. I threaded. I sewed. I squealed in glee. It's so FAST! (About 1600 st/minute as opposed to a normal machine's 400). It's so FUN! 

I immediately got out one of my favorite knit dresses which has had holes at the waist for a while because I can't be bothered to sew anything by hand. Zip zip! Fixed! And hey, it was such a great dress that I decided to copy it. (Copying clothes is my new favorite thing, yo. Just Google rub-off patterns -- it's EASY. Lay the dress down on paper, trace away, make a pattern, make a muslin, adjust for a while, Bob's your uncle. It's soooo much easier than following a standard pattern, and you're copying something you already know fits.) 

So I made a muslin (a mock-up) of the dress in a black rayon I got on sale at Stonemountain & Daughter, and I ended up with something Angelina Jolie would have blushed to wear to the Oscars. The vee was slit past my navel. I couldn't have worn it to the kitchen. 

But you know what? I just cut off the whole waist seam, rejiggered the bodice, and resewed it. Knit fabrics are so FORGIVING! I was getting closer. And when I added the sleeves and tried it on for the thirtieth time (sewing involves a lot of nudity, yo), it was actually wearable! 


I made it in a couple of hours (!) and wore it to two parties that night (and yes, told anyone who would listen that I'd made it, with a twirl for effect). 

I've been working pretty much ever since (120 hours this week) but next week, starting on Sunday, I have eleven days off in a row (vacation! RWA National in LA!), and I'm going to sew the hell out of a couple of those days. There's a big fancy awards night function called the RITAs (the Oscars of the romance writing world) and attendees always dress to the nines. I have a fantasy of whipping up something pretty out of red sparkly fabric and wearing it to the big night along with fabulously high heels.

I'm no Angelina Jolie, but I'll strike a leg pose iffen I have to. 


One of the neatest things you can do with a serger: serge the cut edges of a new piece of woven fabric before you pre-wash it. That way it doesn't become one big raveled ball of thread in the washer/dryer, and you have pre-shrunk the fabric. Cool beans!

120 hours!! Were you getting 4 hours of sleep a night? Skip one night so you could get 8 hours together the next? If anyone deserves a vacation, it's you.

It's lovely...you look lovely, way to go. By the way, the thread will break and you will have to re-thread the darn thing...one big reason I don't use it too often.
PS. you inspired me to take up crochet.:)

You so rock!

I've had one for months but have not used it. I want to sew (theoretically) but don't know how really. Or enough to make nice things. Crap things I can do. Also, once you cut (and screw up) it's all over. Knitting? Unravel and reknit.

I've just started sewing and want to make my own dresses so they fit *me* not some theoretical model. Will look up rub-off patterns now. Thanks!

There must be something sew-y in the air . . . I got out my own secondhand serger a week ago and started doing some mending type stuff! I'm petrified that the thing will come unthreaded . . .

Also, the idea of making a pattern from clothes already in my closet? GENIUS! Thank you!

I have the same serger, and and that thing is like a sewing genie. I went to FIT for fashion design and used my serger all 4 years, and it's never needed a single repair. One of my favorite things about the 1034D is that you can use either one or two needles with it-- with one needle, you can make a really narrow overlock that's perfect for making fun lettuce-edge hems if you stretch the fabric a little while sewing it.
xo Julie
♥Julie Rose Sews♥

I have a Brother serger and I LOVE it! I actually had a Bernina before and it was a royal PITA to thread. The Brother one is so much easier to use! Have fun with it!

Love it!! It looks great on you, and you did a very good job.

120 hours!!! Geez, make me feel like a slacker and whatnot.

Love the Ashford(?) in the backround.

"Bob's your uncle", "I couldn't wear it to the kitchen" - LOVE IT - laughing my ass off over here. Nice dress btw! : )

Lovley serger I wish my sewing skills were better but that is something that gets put on the back burner. I still need to finish my last project that is still sitting in the box already cut out waiting to go.

You look awesome, you sewing diva, you! And I love those 2 sexy sewing machines next to each other AND the wheel in the background!

I will take that dress in every color. What a perfect edited closet dress. And can I say your hair looks smashing...

Yay Digit - the Famous! Yay serger - yay Rachael. Your new dress looks totally fab - I love it! The high heels and the next partay are going to be fab! Have a great vacation!

Judging from the last RWA conf I attended (the last time it was in LA), leg shots are required. Also, if you have a feather boa or a leopard hat, take it along. Have a great time with all those delightfully crazy women!

If you ever decide to upgrade your serger, go for a Baby Lock Imagine. I just got rid of my older serger and got the Baby Lock Imagine because it's got jet-air threading. No hassles whatesoever with threading those darn upper and lower loopers. Just stick a thread in a hole and push the button and 'whoosh', it threads it! And thanks for the tip on googling rub-off patterns! I'm heading to google now!

Yay for Lala getting you such a great present. Love my serger, and once you get a hang of threading them everything else is cake. I rarely use patterns anymore either, just copy clothes I love that fit well. Much easier on the budget! congrats.

Impressive! But did you take a picture of the way it turned out at first? =D

Color me impressed -- beautiful dress! Well done!

Just awesome! Looking forward to the next creation and then... something excellent for Halloween, perhaps?!

You've re-inspired me! I've wanted a serger for years and years, but while working in the costume shop at the University of Illinois for my opera scholarship, we had professional Merrow machines. They were always breaking down, needing service, etc. I was always blaming the machines, but later realized that probably 50 different people were on and off those machines all the time - many of them not experienced sewers. Who knows what torture the sergers were put through? I think I may try this again for myself. :)

AND your dress is lovely and you look wonderful in it!

Oh, super cute!! ;)

OMG! I don't work 120 hours per month...

Happy sewing and vacation. How jealous am I that you are so much closer to Stonemountain than I am? I love that place. Discount Fabrics for home dec, but Stonemoutain for clothes.

You're sewing up some good stuff, so I don't mind if you turn it into an occasion sewing blog.

If you want a free top pattern to serge up go here:

Lala truly rocks. But you knew that :) So does your new dress and hair btw!

Ha. I often worry that my sewing blog will become a knitting blog. Enjoy that serger. :)

Enjoy your serger. I've had one since 73 or 74 and I still love it. Great for finishing seams. Use a long tweezer to help thread your machine.

I think "I couldn't have worn it to the kitchen" is genius.

I once made a one-piece bathing suit ... with the stretch of the fabric going the wrong way. Besides the fact that it gave me an atomic wedgie the moment I put it on, the scoop neck did indeed show my belly button!

I love that you're sewing; when my life slows down, I'm going back to it.

Good JOB! You look great, and so foes Digit<3

Mom was a seamstress. As the youngest child & only girl, I shared a room with her sewing machine :-(.

Becoming a knitter, crocheter and hand embroiderer was an act pf rebellion that drove her nuts for years.

To this day, the thought of spending any time at a sewing machine gives me pain at the back of my neck :-p

You are a fabulous seamstress but even better, a creative one. I have had a serger for over 20 years and rarely use it because I have to take the course (read the book) before each use. At least your clothes are wearable. Mine look like "loving hands at home". :}

I am SEW impressed!
Seriously, you are a fearless woman!

Gorgeous dress! I'm on a jag making zipped bags using Noodlehead's tutorial, but I managed to make a skirt in 2 hours Tuesday night that I had to wear to work 2 days in a row because it made me feel pretty.

My old serger's tension is all goofed up and I need to take the time to thread each looper and needle with different colored thread and work the knobs. I have my 3 machines--Necchi (old faithful mechanical machine bought when I was nineteen), Pfaff (Mom's first computerized, handed down for my b-day last year just before she passed), and my one and only Elna Lock serger--lined up in a row for ease of sewing. And I've finally got space devoted just to sewing and knitting books & stash storage. I love it. I don't think I'm brave enough to sew without a pattern.

Aw, a serger! I keep thinking about getting one of those, then get scared off. Hmm. Your dress is cute!

Aren't they just the most brilliant piece of gear. Mind you I hate re-threading them so avoid that all costs. What the heck if you use white thread on a black dress you're the only one who sees the inside and maybe the neighbours when it's on the clothes-line. My overlooker died after 30 years of service, very sad day. But oh joy I found one for sale on Trademe (e-Bay in your neck of the woods) and it is absolutely identical and still in original box. The family had found it in cupboard of their Gran after she died. Thank you Gran I am sooo happy.And I got it for a song.

I'm super jealous! I've been wanting a serger FOREVER!!!

Sergers are the awesomest machine ever invented. My sister gave me one, and I love it, but then I broke it, yes,really broke it making something for my brother, so I am waiting to get it repaired. But they make everything look so pretty and professionally finished. And you can whip up a knit skirt or t-shirt in so little time. I highly recommend one to anyone thinking of getting one. Then take the class from the sewing machine store where you bought it. You will love it!

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Rachael loves it when book clubs read her work! She's happy to attend book clubs that read her books either in person or via Skype. Contact her at rachael@rachaelherron.com to make arrangements.


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