I've had my Janome serger for a while now and have to wonder why I waited! She's great! I use her nearly every time I make anything, as well as serging all the raw edges of any new fabric I get before I wash it. But I knew sergers could do a whole lot more than that--which means CLASS TIME!
I signed up for a Decorative Serger class at one of Houston's best-kept secrets: Sew Crafty. I'll tell you about that place in a minute; first I want to talk about the class.
It was wonderful!!! Jenny, the instructor, was so patient and just great at explaining things to we neophytes. There were five of us and I was the only one who had actually used her serger before--and all five sergers were different brands and models (just to keep things interesting). Jenny explained the parts of the machine, a bit about how to maintain them (OIL!), and then spent some time talking about the various kinds of thread commonly used in a serger:
Polyarn (aka Woolly Nylon): great for soft, full seams. This thread expands as it's stitched, so it tends to fill up the seam area nicely.
Designer 6: a really nice, shiny rayon. Thicker than Sulky rayons.
Candlelight Metallics: Again, thicker than other metallics so better suited to serging
Pearl Crown Rayon: This rayon has a twist to it.
I sewed with the Polyarn and Designer 6 threads and bought a few spools of the others to bring home and try. Jenny has a great class workbook with sections on tension problems (and places to tape in samples so you'll know what the problem actually LOOKS like!), threading methods, and then a page for each of the decorative techniques (again, with a place for the sample). There are also places to write down the tension settings for each technique since several of them require different settings.
We covered Four thread overlock (the basic serger stitch); serging inside curves; serging V-necks, inside corners and slits; attaching ribbing; band hem or casing; outside corners; narrow rolled hems; lettuce edge w/rolled hem; and 3-thread flat-lock seam. The workbook also has the instructions (very clearly written, BTW, on doing rolled hems w/floral wire or fishline; flat-lock for lingerie sewing; and flat-lock ladder seams.
So what's going to be my first project with all my new skills? Yep, serging the edges of the fabric I bought at Sew Crafty so I can wash it! (But after that. . . . .)
Now about Sew Crafty. WHAT A GREAT PLACE! It's located in The Heights, Houston (sorta northwest of downtown) which is about an hour from where I live in League City. The drive is well worth it, and if you live in or around Houston, you get used to long drives.
Sew Crafty advertises itself as a craft studio. It's in a small, 2-story building on 19th Street Not a big place, it doesn't have a lot of products to sell (but what they do have is really nice) on the first floor. The second floor is all worksplace. ALL WORKSPACE. Tables for your machine (or theirs), ironing boards and irons, tables to cut out and work, lots of great light--it's what any dream sewing room would look like. You can take group classes or arrange for private lessons or bring your own projects to work on for a few bucks an hour. The staff is extremely helpful. And when I say 'crafts', I mean all kinds of crafts, not just sewing. They offer classes in knitting, embroidery, paper crafts, felt crafts--if it can be crafted, you can probably learn how to do it at Sew Crafty!!!