I went for the Brother 1034D which is affordable, allows you to do three or four thread overlock and is very popular.
When I first took it out of the box and looked at it I realised that I actually didn’t have a clue what to do with it. I have been using a sewing machine for years and years but I had never used an overlocker – and you know, it has a really sharp knife, so it felt a bit scary.
I asked for advice on Twitter and there were lots of very helpful suggestions about places to start. There are a million tutorials and a couple of Craftsy courses. In the end I found these pages particularly useful
This is a series about using the Brother 1034D, I found it comprehensive and straightforward.
Carolyn’s very detailed review of the stitches on her Babylock was really useful to see the different stitches and the effects of changing settings.
In the end though there is no substitute for just jumping in with some fabric so that is what I did. After I sewed a few pieces of fabric together and tested out some stitches I decided to jump right in with a t-shirt.
My first attempt wasn’t pretty by any means – I learned that I do need to pin things (parallel to where I am stitching and about an inch away from the edge – I confess that I may have accidentally sewn over a pin already and I promise I won’t do it again) and that sometimes it is good to baste things first – neckbands for example. But – I really love it – my sewing machine can be temperamental with knit fabric and I have always wanted more neatly finished insides and now I can achieve this.
I wouldn’t want anyone to think I have really learned much so far. I have threaded the machine completely twice – I managed to pull one of the threads out by mistake and had to re-thread – and I am greatly relieved that I didn’t have to fiddle with tension or anything like that. I have only used four thread overlock as I don’t want to try to take a needle out, or remove a stitch finger and I don’t know when I will try to gather or do a rolled hem. But I can sew a fairly straight line and I haven’t yet chopped a huge hole out of anything (although I know that will happen eventually).
So – after a practice run I decided to make a top that I have sewn before – the Dixie DIY Hot Cocoa sweater. This is a free pattern for a raglan sleeved sweatshirt, with a bit of a high-lo hem. It only comes in one size but having made it once before I knew the size was OK for me – though probably I could do with a tiny bit more width across the shoulders. I did lengthen it by about four inches so it comes down to hip level on me – the original version is just below waist level at the front. I used a lightweight charcoal grey jersey knit.
I put it together almost entirely using my overlocker. I used a twin needle to stitch down the seam allowance at the neckline and wrists and for the hem (which was just turned up once). I did baste the neckband and cuffs into place first using the sewing machine to make sure all the layers stayed stretched out and were evenly lined up. Behold the neat insides!
Since I got started with the overlocker I have been sewing a lot with knits – this winter I have really noticed a gap in my wardrobe for comfortable tops that you just throw on over jeans. I love a tailored shirt, but it isn’t what I reach for at weekends.
So – anyone else starting out with an overlocker? What should I do next to stretch myself a bit?