Love your machine – Sergers

Absolutely indispensable – a serger. Forget pinking shears and overlocking/zigzag stitches on a sewing machine. Nothing takes the place of a serger for fabric and seam edges. IMHO, a good serger is a great investment in sewing satisfaction and professional finishes.

They work so well – powerful little beasts – that it’s easy to forget that they need care and feeding just like a sewing machine. So, some tips from a lover of a good serger.

  • Simple stuff – clean it. I use both brushes and cotton swabs to get into every nook and cranny. Have you used it for a few hours or on a linty project? Clean it. I actually clean mine for every project, and I do recommend this. BTW, cotton swaps are great for cleaning the bobbin race on your sewing machine.
  • Intuitive stuff – oil it. That machine is pumping its heart out and has so many moving parts- oil doesn’t really last very long. Your serger will love you back for a little oil. I do this frequently, and I use a wonderful oil pen.Varieties are available, Sewing Machines Plus, Wawak, etc., all refillable. They have skinny needles for easy application. Just be sure to use sewing machine oil!
  • Easily overlooked – the needles. Serger needles take a beating, and they should be replaced! Most of the time I have a 90/14 in my sergers, but have changed them for different threads and fabrics. My choice: Klasse universal needles – again, MHO, do not spend money on a serger-specific needle!
  • Don’t drop a needle into the machine while replacing it! I have a nifty brush with a helper-hole on the end, I think it came with my Juki:
  • The tricky bit can be threading the loopers. Try a serger needle threader! it goes in and out all those elusive spaces.
  • Deep cleaning – About once a month I remove all the threads from my sergers and give them a deep cleaning. I’ve had mine for years, and I think a little love goes a long way. My machines, and I recommend them both, mid-price, heavy, quiet, obedient! and old friends. I have tried air-threading machines and ones with dial-tension. I like these. The tension knobs facilitate nuance changes, really important for the loopers and needles:
  • Last thought – cutting blades. When is the last time you replaced these? They are like scissors, but in one project do more than a pair of scissors over many years. And they are easy and fairly inexpensive to replace.

Bye for now – off to a project! Coco

Time out for a cold!

pillow Awful, right?

Finally after 8 days, I feel like I am emerging from this nastiness. Just enough to get going on a project that has been haunting me for a while.

I have 276 patterns! and only care about a fraction of them. They’re overflowing my  storage space and making me uncomfortable. Why do we hang on to things for so long?

I have my entire pattern inventory on Evernote, so today I went through it. I moved 172 patterns to a ‘Trashed’ folder, 2 to a ‘re-order’ folder, and left the balance.

Why trashed? style, size, indifference. Reorder? only two, loved, but the pattern is too big, and I don’t feel like re-drafting it. The rest,  much loved and not going anywhere.

I printed the list of my ‘trashed’ patterns, and tomorrow I will followup with a real clean-up in the loft. Meanwhile, it’s just me and the Kleenex, baby…

Hope no one else has a cold!! Coco

Got to have a second sewing machine…

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After my Juki HZL-F600 gave out on me, I got a little anxious – I need 2 sewing machine ! Sewing, reading, needlework, knitting, artwork, they are what I do. And I do indulge myself so that I have what I need, when I need it, with the quality I enjoy 🙂

I’ve been sewing with my former backup, a Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist, for several days. And have really appreciated it. Quiet, even stitches, perfect straight stitch. Looking back, I know my Juki perchase was hopeful splurge. Not really a ‘better’ machine for me, as I don’t need all the whiz bang features. Since it broke last week, I’ve definitely fallen out of whatever love I had for it.

Here it comes, my new purchase: another Quantum Stylist.

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I did so much research. And I’ll admit to a fondness for Singer – I sewed on a Singer slant needle machine, the one with the discs, for 15 years, I even had a new zig-zag disc crafted in metal when I was living in Costa Rica. I wish I had kept it. About 9 years ago, I purchased a very low end Singer and did not keep it. It worked, but was noisy and unpredictable. But the Stylist is a keeper. It is fully featured, has an auto-presser foot pressure, does lovely buttonholes, and ta-dum, has a metal chassis. The latter is a big deal – it’s heavy, stable, and, with it’s distributed footprint, very quiet. And at $290 on Amazon, new, it’s a great budget fit.

I’m going to use the new machine as my primary, I might as well take advantage of any upgrades/changes since I purchased my first one in 2012. And I’m jazzed!

Bye for now – Coco

p.s. I’m going to take my Juki apart, learn stuff, practice 🙂

Sewing machine in the infirmary…

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Oh, thank goodness it didn’t get to this point 🙂

After almost 5 years, my Juki Hzl-F600, aka fancy, high-strung, and expensive sewing machine, has taken a dive!

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Suddenly today, the upper thread was not being picked up by the bobbin thread. In fact, it was forming a knot behind the bobbin case after about 3 stitches. Here’s the mess on the back/bobbin side of some stitching:

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Of course, I cleaned everything, took off the casings, etc., to do it. Cleaned the tension discs. Changed my needles, rethreaded the machine. About 2 hours of hopeful work.

To no avail. I’ve spotted a worn thread guide on the bobbin case and also suspect the timing is off. A new bobbin case – which would only be a starting point – is almost $60.

Solution: I pulled out my trusty Singer Quantum Stylist.

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And I was amazed by how quiet it seemed! I guess I had gotten used to my Juki slowly breaking down.

The Stylist is a great machine, does beautiful buttonholes, and is ‘uncomplicated’. I don’t plan to fix the Juki – I’d rather spend the money on a less picky machine, probably something that has been refurbished.

No woes! Coco

Fabric stash madness…

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Breaking the rules…I had a fantastic shopping spree this morning at Fabric Mart. They have their pre-cut fabrics and fabric kits on sale.

This might be my best fabric sales/order ever. A little over 24 yards of fabric for $54, with shipping!

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Included in there, 3 patterns. The Sewing Workshop Eureka top and skirt,

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McCalls 6608 woven and knit skirts,

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And New Look 6150 ruched knit tops (perfect for tucking into pants and skirts)!

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I love Fabric Mart. Great service, shipping, fabric, and specials. I’m getting dangerous with all the fabric and pattern additions to the loft this year. Wowser!

Ciao! Coco

Gifting myself – new serger

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I am a serger aficiando! Just love them. About 90% of my sewing is with knits, so a serger is really important to me.

About 3 months ago, I managed to ‘kill’ my Juki MO654DE. I ran fabric through it at the 5/8″ seam mark, with the cutter dis-engaged. The needles jammed with the fabric, and bent one of the looper needles.

I looked into repairs, and, honestly, a repair and new throat plate, which carries the looper needles, would have cost almost as a new serger. Gulp.

Yes, I pulled out my old Janome 8002D, but, believe me, there’s no comparison. The Juki has a separate motor to drive the knives. Clean cuts. It makes a difference. My Janome tends to eat the fabric edges – the Juki does not. And the Juki is so quiet and steady.

So – I ordered a new Juki MO654DE from SewingMachinesPlus, same place I got my first one. But things have changed! Now the tension knobs have a pic of the looper or needle associated with them. And the price has dropped 🙂

It’s the holidays. Sales. I got this one for over $100 less than my first one. Less a 10% discount. And free shipping. Here’s what’s included:

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That lower knife alone is $20. And it has a spare light bulb and oiler. I’m happy about this. I’ll keep my other Juki serger in the spare parts department in my garage.

And enjoy trucking on with my new serger!

P.s. I buy my machines and parts from either Sewing Machines Plus or Ken’s Sewing Center. Both are great. Fast shipping and terrific customer service.

A week till Christmas! I’m wrapping presents today, but still have one DIY gift to sew.

Ciao! Coco

The essential kit

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Ah, sewing… My first year on Instagram (@cocos.loft), and I’m participating in @sewphotohop. Tomorrow’s theme is ‘the essential kit’. And one photo just won’t do. I tried, but, no. I need it all.

So a cruise through my sewing lifeline…

The first pic is of a multi-drawer thingie that I got at JoAnns. And it refects my fastidious side. I cannot abide the idea of dust collecting on my thread. The same reason I keep my fabric stash in covered bins. My serger thread is in a similar article, also from JoAnns.

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I love the tote in the pic, from Thirty One and gifted by Ashley.

The wonderful thing about these little storage chests is that I have lots of spaces for my office supplies, sewing machine needles, various machine parts, presser feet, and sewing manuals.

OK, I didn’t move anything around when I went into the loft to take these pics. And I’m really fortunate to have an entire room for the loft. My ironing board and garment rack are permanent! and I love them both. I got the rack online ages ago and cannot find it now.

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And little things that make a difference. Because I have two tables, I keep helpers at hand for both… this one is by my serger, the one by my sewing machine is similar, except that it includes a comb and lipstick!

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At my sewing machine, my very favorite pin cushion, me-made, that lets me separate my pins and fits so well in front of my machine. At hand, my seam ripper, nippers, and 4″ needle, which is my poker stick when I’m sewing. Also, I love love my focused lamp from IKEA (this thing is only about $10 from IKEA – get one!!!).

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I use so many pens and markers. I have lots of chalks in a separate dish, but don’t very often make broad strokes on my fabric in the loft (on my cutting board, downstairs, yes, and I use a yardstick and curves as needed!). In my Rockettes mug from my trip to NYC with Ashley, Christmas a few years ago: Frixion pens, chalk quilters pens, pencils, Sharpies, a couple sable hair brushes to clean the machine…and a nail files. Ah, vanity.

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A wonderful way to keep my needles at hand – a magnetic that clings to the base of the lamp on my sewing desk. My sewing needles, a double-eye needle for finishing off serger threads, and an assortment of self-threading needles for sinking threads as I sew. I also put my presser-feet-in-play on the lamp base, walking foot, straight stitch foot, 1/4″ foot…whatever I’m using. These tend to just reside there. With my pencil sharpener for my chalk pencils and my jewelers loupe for work on my stamp collection.

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And here’s an essential – a small TV (my printer is beside it but not in the pic). I love to sew with a good movie or something I’ve recorded. Unseen in the pics, the TV sits on a 10′ span of bookshelves – sewing books, pics, my international stamp collection, and lots of small storage boxes for things like embroidery thread, buttons, zippers, bias tape, metal piggy-banks and colored pencils (I collect them, seriously, from museums), lots of fun things.

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And that’s it – a walk through the loft, the essentials.

Bye for now! Coco