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These Pins Will Be The Death of Me

Or more likely, my Little Brother. 

This is the pointy part of the pin in my fabric after being bitten in half by my machine blade.

We've spent a good amount of time getting to know each other the past few days. While being pretty much exactly like a regular machine, it's so very different. I'm having serious trouble with the timing of removing pins. Because the presser foot is long and the needles are further back, I'll be sewing along, not realizing until it's too late that my chomping knife just sliced through another pin. I know. I know. That's bad. This Sunday afternoon, I chomped at least 4 pins. All on accident. I feel like I need to pin differently when using the serger, or not at all. I tend to use lots of pins. Switching to using few or none is very foreign.

Another adjustment is that I don't know what to do with my hands. On my regular machine, my hands know their jobs and I don't even really have to think about it. They just do it. My little Brother feels awkward. There's no space on the side of the needles for my right hand and I feel all cramped. The machine feels much deeper than my regular machine, and my posture suffers. I'm leaning forward hunched over, giving myself shoulder and neck cramps. Maybe I need a taller chair? Maybe it's just achy joints because I'm really sick right now. Maybe I need to not be a lazy slouch. <shrug>. 

Lastly, I feel like the fabric plate where I rest the project parts not being sewn is small. I feel like I don't have enough flat space in front to smooth out my fabric before it gets to the knife and needles. Do they make extender plates for these things? I should Google that.....

I realize these are all things that will get better the more I use my little Brother. After just the last 3 days, I'm already so much more comfortable! There's lots of stuff out there about threading difficulties and honestly, it was no big deal. Yes, it takes some time, but not enough to prohibit proper color changing. This thing is loud, unfortunately, but boy does it stitch nice and even and FAST. Of course, once they are in, stitches don't come out. I learned that the hard way. This will also be an adjustment, as I often sew things 2 or 3 times to get it right. 

Sorry for the washed out pictures.
And, I probably should have pressed
this seam before photographing.
Naturally, for my first project, I chose something that required more than just normal stitches. Raglan sleeves,  ruched/gathered detail on arms, elastic seam stabilizer... I spent lots of time reading up on how to do the ruching, tested out several options such as using elastic to gather, and in the end decided on the most simple of solutions: Altering the machine's differential feed and using the gathering foot that came with it. (OK, so I cheated by first straight stitching the sleeve with a long basting stitch and gathering it before running it through the serger). "Differential Feed" sounds scary, but it's not, it's so cool! The detail turned out great! I don't need the sleeve to stretch out, and the standard 4-thread overlock stitch has just enough give in it to prevent tearing if the sleeve is tugged. ---Speaking of, I still don't understand the mechanics of why a stitch with 2 straight stitch lines is stretchier than a traditional 1 stitch seam.

Consistent with everything else I sew, this project is a bust. Not because of the machine, but because of fit. I selected this Burdastyle pattern, a basic slouchy long sleeved t-shirt. The kind of thing I like to live in. I measured a full size larger than what the pattern actually was drafted in, so I cut the largest size and added a 1 inch seam allowance (which I didn't end up needing) to give me some room to adjust things. 

Look at how clever I am, using my son's 1-inch Magnetix piece to add a seam allowance to the BurdaStyle pattern.
I decided to baste the pieces together on my standard machine to test the fit. Guess what? It seemed just fine. 

So who's the dummy that decided to bast in tiny zig-zag stitches?

I serged that sucker together (with some UGLY seams) and you know what? WAY too big in the chest and shoulders. I mean WAY too big. Sewing with knit fabric (super fine rayon jersey, in this case) seems to be a different fitting experience than with wovens. This fabric is so fluid, constantly moving and changing shape on me. Maybe I should have started with a stable knit.

I cut off the sleeves and down part of the sides. (Remember how I said those serged seems weren't coming back out. Definitely not when it's black thread on black fabric). I hand basted them back on with another 5/8 inch seam allowance and it seemed to fit better. After re-sewing and testing the fit, it's still too big. And I'm getting rippling coming off the sleeve seams. I'm not giving up. I think I need to go back to the drawing board and start over. I'm going to get out sometime today (if it ever stops snowing and they plow the roads) to grab some more stable (less slinky and drapey) knits to work with. Once I get the fit on those right, I can move on to fine gauge knits and good quality fabrics. (Goal: wool and silk jersey!)

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