Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Why My Serger Needs A Good Beating

I have a love-hate relationship with my serger. I love that I have a serger, but I hate that it doesn't work properly. It's very picky about what types of fabric it will deign to serge. Broadcloth and flannel are acceptable, stretch terry and sherpa are not. It loves to drop stitches/loops or snap threads while serging the latter two, making me very, VERY angry, because I would love to make some stretch terry fitted diapers for my dd, with external soakers of zorb between cotton sherpa, but I CAN'T DO THAT because my serger won't allow it.

Yesterday I woke up SO EXCITED about this whole cloth diaper sewing dream of mine, and so I took the old hand-me-down stretch-terry hooded baby towels we'd inherited and traced and cut and stacked and then took one whole towel that I'd intended on making a flat diaper and tried to serge it. No go. I almost cried.

Now, I must admit that the first thing I did with the serger yesterday is feed some wooly nylon thread into it to see if it could take it. It didn't work (it just kept unravelling) but I wasn't too upset, I just said 'oh well, I'll just have to use the regular polyester thread.' I realised later that I'd threaded it wrong, but the serger is so darn hard to thread even with regular stuff that I decided I wouldn't use the woolly nylon anyway.

But after I re-threaded it with the polyester serger thread, it didn't work. I thought I'd done something wrong, so I played with the tension, moved the thread cones around, etc. etc. and nothing worked - it would not serge the stretchy terry. I took a piece of scrap flannel and tried to serge that - it worked. I tried the terry again - nope, dropped loops, snapped thread. I almost cried.

I didn't give up - I decided to try and use the overlock stitch on my sewing machine (which is kind of like a cheater's serge stitch on a regular sewing machine) because I'd read that some people had successfully used that if they didn't have a serger. I could do it - I overlocked the entire diaper - but it stretched it out so much (even though I lowered the foot tension to the absolute minimum) that by the time I'd gotten to the second half of the diaper the three layers no longer lined up. I almost cried again. I was SO DISAPPOINTED, especially since I'd woken up that morning so excited...

I surmised that perhaps the serger just hadn't been designed to serge anything but broadcloth and flannel and similar fabrics, and that I'd just have to live with making flannel diapers. Flannel is a common fabric for diapers - it's not as absorbent as terry, nor is it stretchy, but it can be done. I put the serger back in the spare bedroom's closet and I figured it would stay there.

What makes me crazy is that I took it in to get serviced and forked over $100 to do it, and then I took it home and found that nothing had changed, it still couldn't serge the sherpa wipes I'd cut out. Now I had been told (by the people at the sewing shop I took the serger to) that the machine 'didn't like thicker fabrics,' but c'mon, you FIXED IT. And you charged me 100 FRACKING DOLLARS.

But there's still the jersey...


  1. Go on ebay! I just bought one that works awesome for $75! So far I have sewn hemp terry, fleece, zorb 2, sherpa, old thick prefolds and lots of other stuff with it !

  2. Its an old Janome (New Home) serger from the 80's and it didnt even need to be oiled or anything. I would sell the one you have now and get another one. You can even get a new unused one for about $150 "refurbished" I got my $300 computerized sewing machine for $100 that way and it wasnt even actually refurbished. They open like one in every hundred boxes just to look then sell them as refurbished