The Overlocker Diaries #2
Over the edge and among the sheep!
I am starting to regard my Elna overlocker as an aid rather than a challenge, and can see how using it will become another stage in my dressmaking with many types of fabric. Having begun by trying it out on scraps and then the fabric edges of the Ash Linen and Cotton culottes I made, I am moving forward. But first here is the picture, at last, of how the culottes turned out with the woven Organic Cotton Cappuccino Gingham ‘peasant’ top I made.
I have now taken the next step and not only edged fine worsted, which worked well, but even had a go at a thick sweater knit using Stormy Seas (a knitted Avoca woollen). Yes, in 30˚C during the summer weather that sounds nuts, but there.
My theory was that the thick knit would not stretch as much as a single jersey or an interlock. The pattern was simple, and it might hide any minor mistakes by a newbie.
The skirt is made in the Smoking Room Check worsted (pre-washed by hand-washing in warm water and drying flat), and the pattern is one I adapted from a skirt pattern that I have had for about fifteen years. I picked it because there are soft pleats, and the fabric really suited that. Once I had cut out the pieces and put in the tailor’s tacks I went round the edge of every piece with my overlocker.
What I found was that it gave a stability not only to the fabric so that it would not fray, but when putting the pieces together it made tacking a breeze, with no risk of movement between the layers. I had intended it to also mean just turning up the hem without folding it over again as per usual, but I forgot how long the original pattern had been on me and, although I could have re-threaded the overlocker in brown and taken off the spare that way, I simply reverted to the usual method instead, which does mean I can lengthen it if ever I want to do so.
The skirt was not a challenge, just a proof to myself as to how useful the overlocker will be with woollen fabrics, especially with winter approaching. I then took a deep breath and had a go at the sweater top, using a metre of Stormy Seas that I picked up just in time, and Butterick pattern B6517. The fabric has definite horizontal stripes and I was determined they should match across the seam lines. I also realised that making the usual fitting adjustments would be almost impossible with the overlocker doing its full job, both stitching the seam and binding both the raw edges together as one. I therefore waited until my ‘model’ was on site, and I could tack the garment, and have it modelled inside out to get a decent fit. This is not a very stretchy knit, and so I did give a little leeway, but kept it from being baggy. The result of this was that I was overlocking what was essentially a garment already put together, which meant being very, VERY careful that I did not catch any of the fabric with the overlocker knife, and some nifty guiding round the armholes.
However, I am very pleased with the finished result.
Now I'm looking forward to working with thick sweater knits when the autumn comes. I would have loved Stormy Seas for myself, as it was just my colours, but alas there was not enough fabric. The photos show both back and front.
With my Elna being very user friendly thus far, I am now launching into the world of jersey, or at least interlock, because Fabworks has recently refreshed their amazingly soft organic cotton interlocks, and I want to make them work for me.