Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Now is When I Curse the Girl Scouts, Plus a Sewing Lesson

I took delivery from a colleague’s daughter today. Half a package of Thin Mints later . . .

Amber and Damselfly both asked about the serger I mentioned yesterday. For those who haven’t heard of them before, sergers are kind of like sewing machines, but very intense. One usually uses them to simultaneously cut fabric pieces and sew them together. If you turn a t-shirt inside-out, the stitching that wraps around the seams is almost always done by a serger.

I love mine! It makes projects really, really fast, which is important if you’re impatient like me. For costumers who do period-accurate gown reproductions, a serger is too modern to be useful. For costumers who are trying to whip out 8 matching flapper frocks in a weekend that will only be seen from an audience twenty feet away, a serger is a godsend.

Photo credit: Charlie M

Hemming on a sewing machine can be very time consuming, since you need to fold and sew, and then repeat to keep the edge from fraying (or something like that. I haven’t done a proper hem in, uh, years? Ever?) I just serge off the extra fabric, and the thread lashed around the edge will prevent fraying. If it’s supposed to look nice, I can turn it under once and sew.

Careful crafts people measure twice and cut once. I kinda size it up by eyeball and go for it.

That’s not to say that you can’t make incredibly detailed and precise things with a serger, but you’d need to ask someone else about that.

I bought my simple Kenmore sewing machine about fifteen years ago when I needed to make a Victorian ballgown, and it’s served me well. (Aside from a potholder in sixth grade and a stuffed tomato I made a bit later, the ballgown was the first real sewing I did. How hard can it be? It’s just geometry!) SwingDaddy got me the serger seven years ago when Costume Conspirator and I were in the throes of dressing dozens of dancers for our show. If you’re thinking about getting one, consider a Baby Lock – that brand has a fabulous self-threader that makes life much simpler.

Time to wrap up - I think I’ve been too stressed at work and either not stretching my arms enough or using the mouse too much on PowerPoint. My arms are sore, so it’s time to rest them. Good night!

Photo credit: Dave Wong


YF said...

i love all your dance pics.

Mayberry said...

me too! love the dance pictures and stories.

I cannot believe the first sewing project you did was a Victorian ball gown! Way to aim high.

Kimberly said...

The dance pictures are great! Love!

I can't sew at all. I wish I could - I'm in awe of anyone who can.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. Now I want a serger more than ever!

Lara said...

i'm so ashamed that i have the wrong arm up in that photo. darn it all! :-P

Magpie said...

Huh. Now I want one.

kittenpie said...

I'm impressed - I took a sewing course once and by the end, all I could say was to be thankful that in this time in history, no one could expect a woman to be able to sew as well as being a professional and a mom. I sucked and spent the whole time frustrated. So yeah, people who sew (like my whole family but me) never fail to amaze me.