Which came first? The lesson or the serger?

I have wanted  a serger for YEARS now. I see so many cute dresses and leggings and knit pieces, and I just think “I could make those for the cost of the fabric.”

(A serger a type of sewing machine that does two things that most ‘regular’ sewing machines cannot do.
1. It sews a seam that can stretch, so it is ideal for sewing anything knit, or lycra.
2. It has a cutting blade that actually chops off the fabric as it roars under the needle, so you have a clean seam, and then it wraps a thread back over the edge so that it will not fray.
To see what a serger does, look at the inside of your fleece, your t-shirt, or your knit pajamas. see that seam? That was done by a serger.)

Here is a regular seam on a regular machine.
Sew the side seams
(Picture is by Tedius Relative on Flickr)
And here are serged seams
serged seams
(photo by JJandJojo on flickr)

Now, I know how to sew. And, I know how to use a knife. But talk about combining them, and attaching a foot pedal, and I turn cautious. I know how to sew with a thread and a bobbin. But talk about 4 cones of thread, and that is a whole ‘nother business. This is why, up until now I have just shied away from the prospect.

What is the correct order for a purchase like this? Do you buy a serger, and then take a class to learn how to use it? Or do you take a class and understand serger sewing, and THEN buy one?

I have looked on Craigs list for a while now, just to see if there was a deal to be had. And, finally, I went for one.
Here is the beauty in person.

And here is why I am so intimidated
And here
So, it’s me and the instruction manual.
I am the proud owner of a Janome Serger NH 104 D. It says on the front “New Home”.
Instruction Book
They don’t even make them anymore, I don’t think.
Wish me luck! And stay tuned for the adventures.
Do you have a serger? How did you learn to use it?

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12 years ago by in Needlecraft , Sewing | You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
10 Comments to Which came first? The lesson or the serger?
    • Jeni
    • Congrats on the serger! My mom got one a couple of years ago, and I’m the only one who has ever used it – or attempted to use it. I just figured trial and error would work, and it did. Of course, I just used scraps of fabric until I figured it out, so I wasn’t wasting the fabric I wanted for clothes. Looking forward to seeing what you use yours for!

    • Gin
    • I was fortunate to discover a refurbished BabyLock on deep discount in a little sewing shop while on vacation. Bought it spur of the moment, and loved it from the first moment. I got a quick lesson from the dealer, and then my sister-in-law made me practice before she let me loose with it. I agree that it’ll be trial-and-error: a little trial and a lot of errors. Read the manual in detail, and get to know the little accessories (esp. the giant tweezers). And get yourself a can of compressed air to keep the inner workings clean.

      P.S. The threading diagram looks scary, but it’ll get easier. When in doubt, I pull out all threads and start over. Faster than trying to track down misthreading.

    • Beth Winegarner
    • How funny — I was having this same debate with myself again recently, and I even went so far as to read up about it (someone suggested only buying sergers that come with videos that show you how to thread them). I don’t sew a lot; I would love to, but don’t have the time, so I’m not sure buying another machine would really be a good idea. But I would love to take some basic sewing-machine classes, both serger and not, to improve my skills and techniques. Do you know of any here in SF?

    • Jenny K
    • Funny, I just said something this morning to Kathy about your serger and when I looked at the site… here was the post. I so would love to get one. Never thought about Craig’s List. I am looking forward to hearing your adventures so I can decide. Good luck.

    • Devon
    • I have a serger, I bought it off of amazon for $200 and it has served me quite well. It is pain to thread until you understand exactly where everything is supposed to go, which threads are laying on top of what threads, etc. So I took an intro to serging class, which really helped me out. The instructor showed me exactly how everything should be threaded, and I drew a million diagrams and made up naughty little limericks to help me remember what thread loops where. Threading is tricky business, it took the whole 2 hour class just to get people *mostly* comfortable threading their sergers. I also took the second serger class which taught us tricks about burying your thread tails, using your serger to gather while you sew a seam (mine sucks and doesn’t)rolled hem, and other little tricks. I would definately take a class if you can find one, before if I was lucky enough to get my serger threaded and working it would stay on those settings until the thread broke and neccesitated a 3 hour trial and error rethreading session. Now I can change thread colors, switch from 3 -4 threads, and snap on my baby roll hem with no worries.

    • Tawny
    • Congrats! I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where my mother had a serger, so I didn’t feel too intimidated by one. But I’m still saving up to buy my own. They are expensive little buggers aren’t they? Have fun with yours! I look forward to seeing the projects you make 😀

    • Jan
    • I have one of the first Babylock sergers made! I bought it (and it was very expensive) and signed up for the class that was included from the store. The first thing the instructor did was make us unthread the thing and learn to thread it! It was a very valuable experience. That is the most intimidating thing and I have never been intimidated by it since.

    • Cherie
    • Ahhh! I bought myself a serger for my birthday (uhh, months ago) and I STILL haven’t used it because I’m so scared! I’ve skimmed through the manual and it’s just so intimidating! Help me!

    • Jackie
    • Can I get a copy of your manual as I have lost mine and can’t find it online. HELP Thanks. Let me know if I owe you money.

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