I’m a Dummy

The other day I got another cut of fabric. Yes 600+ yards ain’t enough. Not if you don’t have the right color in sufficient quantity. And let me tell you, I’m just in love with this most gorgeous orange silk dupioni!

Anyway, I wanted to serge the ends before I pre-shrink it in the washing machine. Yes, I chuck silk into the wash. I can’t stand any fabric that I can’t wash. I’ll go the stretch and hand wash if necessary, but dry-clean or specialist cleaning only? No thanks. Not even Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide can convince me otherwise. Besides, I have plenty of dupioni / shantung in my stash, all washed, and I like their soft lived-in look much better than the off-the-loom gleaming look.

Anyway, I wanted to serge the ends because I want to avoid this:

These silk are notorious for raveling. And those whiskers stick to you like cotton candy. Plus at those prices, you don’t want to lose even 1/16 of an inch.

Now it’s been a while since my one and only dalliance with the serger. That was when I first read through the manual like months ago. So when I took it out again, my mind blanked a bit. I didn’t want to re-read the manual again, especially as it’s full of fluffs (extra instructions in different languages cluttering up every single step). I cherry-picked the bit I thought I needed: settings for 2-thread overlock. So I put on the converter cap and off I go. Or not.

I got a ball of mess. The extra threads were still coming out. I thought the converter was supposed to take care of it. Must I really remove the extra threads and needle? With all the doom and gloom I read online about how difficult it is to thread sergers, I didn’t really want to unthread the extra threads.

The manual wasn’t crystal clear on this. I checked my two serger books: Serger Secrets and Ultimate Serger Answer Guide. Unfortunately the For Dummies sections weren’t detailed enough. These books are obviously for the initiated, what with all their serger jargons. I need a Serger For Dummies book instead. I didn’t even know how to describe my problem properly, never mind looking up fixes and progress to creative serging!

So I bite the bullet and unthread the upper looper thread completely, and unthread the left needle thread from the needle only. Yeap, I left the left needle in. I’m that stupid when it comes to sergers. A machine that can take four threads just turn my brain to mush. I’m glad I didn’t go for an even fancier one with even more spools of threads.

And for the ball of mess, it didn’t go away until I finally figured out what I did wrong: I forgot to lower the presser foot.

(In my defense, my current sewing machine doesn’t have a physical presser foot lever. It automatically lowers when I step on the pedal. Alternative I press a button for manual lowering. So I completely forgot that these machines can have a physical presser foot lever that you have to manually lower!)

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