Wednesday, August 7, 2013

My Husband Is Actually a Hobbit

It's no secret that I'm a huge LOTR fan -- my dorm room sophomore year was practically wall-papered with LOTR posters, pictures, articles, and calendars, and Elaine and I made it a point to reread the trilogy every year and see each movie when it came out at midnight -- and I always thought I would marry somebody who was an equally ardent fan. I mean, geeky guys are always complaining about finding geeky girls who share their interests, right? I thought finding a geek to marry would be pretty easy. When I met Mr. Cation and found out he was a scientist, it was after a long dating dry spell, so I was pretty psyched that he was normal and into me, and I didn't look too hard at his geek credentials. After all, he had the requisite trilogy on his bookcase and that was good enough for me. It wasn't until after we'd gotten married (and after I'd fallen in love with so many other things about him) that I discovered that he'd never actually read that lovely thick tome, and he'd "only" seen each movie once. In fact, it wasn't until last year's movie came out that he even realized where the line "What has it got in its pocketses?" came from; for the previous five years of our relationship, he thought I just really really liked talking about pocket contents.

Of course, Mr. Cation is wonderful in so many other ways, it doesn't really matter that he doesn't love Tolkien as much as I do. And then yesterday, I discovered that he actually is a hobbit at heart, and here's proof:

Wait, is that really...

Yup, it's what it looks like! I've been talking about wanting a serger for oh, the last year, especially as I was sewing more knits and less wovens (I love seam binding on my woven stuff, but that solution works less well on stretchy fabrics). Well, Mr. Cation got a fantastic Amazon coupon code on his birthday last week, and instead of using it on himself, he bought me a serger. If you've read the chapter "Concerning Hobbits," you know that hobbits love giving other people gifts on their birthday (usually of the useless junk type, aka mathom, but still!), and of course they love eating good food. So I'm feeling incredibly lucky to have a husband who not only loves cooking, but also gives generously. Not reading Tolkien is a pretty minor fault compared to all that (and more!).

Walnut has never even tried watching a LOTR movie, but I love him anyway. 

I haven't opened up the box yet, partly because Walnut likes hanging out on top of it, but mostly because we're moving across the bay on Friday...it'll give me plenty of time to dream and learn about serger ownership and usage. Sergerers (i.e. people who use sergers, since people who serge is just...sergers), do you have any sage advice for a first-time serger user? If you've got my model, the Brother 1034D, do you have any tips for this specific machine?

Or any tips for getting the cat off the box? ;)

44 comments:

  1. I received the same serger model for my birthday and I. LOVE. IT. It just makes everything look so professional on the inside of the garment!

    Anyways, here are a bunch of articles to help with figuring out tension. Threading is pretty self-explanatory once you watch any video. Mine came with a DVD showing how to thread and use the other functions.

    http://www.bernina.com/en-CA/Experience-2/Tips-Tricks-Tutorials-1/USA-ca/Sewing-Embroidery-ca/TensionHeadaches-ca/BERNINA-Serger-StopTensionHeadaches-ca.pdf

    http://www.makeithandmade.com/2012/08/perfecting-sergeroverlocker-tension.html

    http://www.nancysnotions.com/text/content/pages/TamingSergerTensions.html

    http://www.fiberosity.com/?p=96

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  2. I have that serger and love it! They are pretty easy to use. Just remember to check the thread tensions for different fabrics. Also, I would get it serviced at least every year or year and a half. They get quite linty inside and the blades need to be changed. Enjoy!!!!

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  3. Congratulations and happy birthday! The serger should be threaded already when it comes out of the box with thread color-coordinated with the various needles and loopers. Take a good look at where the different colored threads are before they come undone. If possible, when it comes time to replace these spools with actual working thread, don't unthread the machine, just tie the new threads onto the old and draw them through the loopers. Have fun!

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  4. How wonderful and thoughtful!! Enjoy your serger!!

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  5. Awww, that's sweet and awesome of him! Enjoy your new toy!

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  6. Happy Birthday! You do have a cool hobbit husband.
    I bought this last year and I love it. My best tip is to use the patternreview Brother 1034D thread as a reference. Lovely helpful people post the settings that worked for them doing variious things - I could never do a rolled hem till I read a post on that thread. I didn't find learning to use it hard at all, esp once I'd had a play with the features and made mysefl up samples with the differential feed on knit and woven, and different stitch lengths. Have no fear, but do watch you remove the pins from your fabric before it gets to the cutting blade.
    Have a great time! Welcome to the sergerers community!

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  7. Oh yeah, a tip I found after I'd bought those cones of thread in black and white, was that neutral colours are useful - grey, pinkish or other things that tone well with the colours you usually sew. If you're doing a rolled hem on a black garment you probably do want black but for seam finishing the less dramatic colours blend in better. And when I was doing my samples I threaded each thread (you know what I mean) with a different colour of left over threads I had lying around, so I could understand the effect of fiddling with the tensions more easily.
    I use a kids art brush to clean my serger. The one that came with it is ok but a bit on the weeny side.

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  8. Here's that PR thread : http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingDiscussions/topic/52067

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  9. Eep, that's so exciting! I have that exact model -- and my mom has one, too. You will adore it! Seriously, I recommend this specific serger to everyone!

    Don't really have any tips except to keep that instruction book close! Whenever I have to rethread, I always have it in my lap.

    Oh! And also, you really only need black thread and white thread. Don't be fooled that you need to buy $20 worth of thread in every color of the rainbow. Black and white will do just fine! :)

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    1. I totally agree on the thread, I only have black and cream and those work with everything. Heck, I mostly use cream anyway, too lazy to re-thread... :)

      Good luck with the serger! Oh, btw, I prefer the widest stitch-width, even though the standard width is narrower. It looks nicer with the wider setting.

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  10. That is awesome - congratulations! What a darling hubby you have!

    I also have this serger and love it. I found it very easy to learn - it comes pre-threaded, and if you take a few minutes to study the threads as they are on the machine, you'll see that the threading is super easy and makes sense - the threading diagram is printed right on the machine, so you don't have to memorize it!

    I had a sewing machine repair man tell me that it's a good idea to do the first couple stitches on any row of stitching by cranking the handwheel rather than using the pedal. He said it's easier on the machine. Don't know if it's true, and I only remember to do it about half the time, but I thought I'd throw it out there!

    And I agree about the black, white, and cream thread - and also grey. And if you want more colors, watch out for a $1/spool sale at JoAnn's - I stocked up on a bunch of colors last time they had one.

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  11. When I got my first serger, the woman at the dealership warned me not to try threading it by myself and to wait for my guide class. I thought she was nuts - and I'm not that patient anyway so I took it home and sat with the manual until I could thread it correctly myself multiple times for different stitches. Best thing I ever did with a new machine. Just tried to learn it rather than sew a project instantly. Also played around with samples of different knits so I knew how they all worked and with what stitch. Have fun!

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  12. Congrats!!! You're gonna love the 1034D!

    The first time threading it was a bear. Now I can do it in less than three minutes. Ahhhhh. I love looking inside my garments now!! :)

    Yay for awesome hubbies!

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  13. Advice - Read the manual! But I am sure you will and that you will love the serger almost as much as you do Mr Cation. They're both keepers.

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  14. I don't have that particular serger, but I have Pfaff one.

    Make sure you keep it clean. After every project take out all the thread and clean it down with a q-tip and oil it. And I think you're supposed to get a tune up every year. That reminds me...

    And don't use cheap serger thread! At Jo-Ann we sell three different kinds of serger thread. One of them is 99 cents per spool - DO NOT BUY IT! Buy the more expensive Gutterman stuff. There are two different kinds of Gutterman stuff at different price levels and both have worked for me just fine. The lady who sold me my serger kept going on about using high quality thread. And then my co-worker said the cheap stuff turns to dust in your machine, so I guess it's true.

    I am the kind of person who needs a book about everything. If I like something - like knitting, crocheting, or sewing - I must own every book there is on the topic. I have a serger book that I can send to you if you want it since I already have one.

    And I think our cats must be related.

    And you have such a wonderful husband! What a nice guy!

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  15. Happy Birthday and mega husband points to your sweetie. I have this model and I love it! Personally I think it's pretty easy to thread cause it has pictograms on the lower looper area to remind you what to do. The manual is also great for figuring out how to solve tension problems on fabrics. So have fun, cause sewing knits is so much easier with a serger!

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  16. Oh wow, what a wonderful husband! He's definitely a keeper. My partner is desperately trying to convince me that I should buy a new sewing machine at the moment - he hasn't gone so far as to just buy one for me (although he's been tempted) as he knows I'll want to have a say. It's so lovely to have men who support our hobbies!

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  17. If one is an archetype, one doesn't need to read one's own natural history, right? (My husband and his friends are dwarves. Our recent moving day was accomplished by, and included, lunch.)

    Looking forward to your tales of serger ownership, as I want one too.

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  18. My only advice is that when you first begin serging, you learn quickly that what has been cut off can not be reattached. But, once you get the hang of that, you never look back :-) Enjoy!

    P.S. Tuna might work, or perhaps a distraction of some sort...

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  19. So excited for you! Yay for wonderful generous husbands! He did really good. =)

    As a few other commenters have mentioned, tie the old thread to the new thread when changing colors and run it through. I always change the loopers first (the two on the right and the hardest to thread if something jumps track). After I get the knots through those (make sure the knots are nice and tight and the tails are trimmed down a little), I knot of the needle thread(s) and pull those through separately because the knots rarely go through the needle eyes.

    You can get by with fewer colors of cone thread that most people think. Obviously start with black and white, and then branch into grey, tan, and ivory. Those colors work on almost everything. And get some of the colors you use most. Cleaner's Supply has great prices. Also get some woolly nylon. Here's how I recently learned (from a coworker) to thread the woolly nylon through the needle for a rolled hem easily.

    Have fun with your new tool! And you can always ask questions on Twitter if you need help with anything. =)

    ~ Brooke

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  20. Congratulations! What a great present! Now we can expect even more beautyful creations :-)

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  21. Congrats! He really is a Hobbit at heart!

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  22. I have the same one. DON'T LOSE THE HEX KEY! You can't change the needles without it. Attach it with tape underneath if necessary. the 4/4/4 setting is great for more medium weight fabrics but be patient when dealing with anything lightweight. You will have to fiddle quite a bit to get the right tension settings for fine silks. Have fun! It's a wonderful machine!

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  23. Oh WOW, you have the very best husband, and a brand new serger to prove it. Looking forward to seeing you try it out.

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  24. Congrats on the serger! It really does make sewing knits sooooo much easier.

    I guess my best tip is to make sure you save scraps and test the thread tensions before every project. Seriously. I'm still working on getting it right on mine. Also, don't try to use old thread, because I took mine to the shop once, thinking that it was broken because the tension never, ever worked, only to find out that it was because I was using old thread.

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  25. Yes! I have this serger. You will be able to do a lot with it. Two tips- you need that hex wrench not to disappear, so I taped mine to the right side of the machine. I used a 2 inch strip of tape with a 1/2 inch piece facing it, so it doesn't actually stick to the wrench and I can slide it in and out. It is always there when I need it. Tip 2- these things are fluffy messy. Spray it out regularly with canned air to keep it acting right. To keep your scraps in check, cut open the bottom of a slide and seal ziploc bag and tape one side of the cut bottom under the bottom of your machine. Then, pull the other side forward to form a little plastic scrap bag. When you are ready to empty it, just move the trash under it and open the zip slide. Have fun!!!

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  26. I love my serger and with practice using a serger can be easy! Keep your manual close and read it! It is your best friend where your serger is concerned. I use mine every time I change my thread for a new project. Whenever you cut something out to sew keep some of your scraps and test sew on it until you have your tension set correctly. The one thing that tripped me up the most was threading. Sergers have to be threaded in a specific order otherwise all you get is a tangle of thread orr a seam that will unravel on you. Good luck and tell Walnut that the inside of the box will really be more fun!

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  27. What a fabulous husband! Sounds like you've got a keeper!

    Serger advice. Learn to thread the thing properly. Get a can of air to clean it out after every project. Everyone else said everything else.

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  28. Yay! Congrats! What a guy! I bet this will really motivate you to unpack! :)

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  29. It'a obviously a common machine and there are helpful hints all over the internet. You can get nice Maxilock thread at Wawak http://www.wawak.com/ and sometimes it's on sale.

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  30. Ohh precioussss overlocker! (Serger!) Lucky you! I don't have that model but I love my Bernina, my sewing quality lifted so much once I got going. You're a smartie so I suggest learn as much as you can with your manual, do some actual sewing with it, learn you tension adjustments (threading in four different colours helps you to understand the stitch formation) and then grab a library book to learn some fancy stuff. They are not as scary or as difficult to use as some people might make you think. I even re-thread mine from scratch each time, it's better that way, you learn how to spot anything wrong if you are more familiar with it. My experience is that 99% of the time any problem is related to a threading issue.

    If Walnut is anything like my Harri: Open the box and take serger out, kitty with naturally change from sitting on top to sitting inside, especially it there is a fun rustly plastic bag in there! :)

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  31. Ooooo, exciting! My nerdy husband gifted me with that exact model (from Amazon, gift "wrapped" in a giant drawstring bag, for some reason) for my birthday a couple years ago - not quite as Hobbity, but I'll bet he's got your husband beat in the furry feet department...
    Anyway, you'll love it! I actually find it really easy to thread, and I'm sure you will too because of your skill with diagrams (the threading order is all diagrammed out inside the case).
    And honestly, I really only use mine for finishing wovens. I know, I know, but it's much louder and harder to steer through curves than my regular machine, so I still use the good ol' narrow zigzag for knits. But do share any serging knit tips you discover, maybe I'll come around!

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  32. When sewing stretch fabrics (4 thread) I like to use thread the colour of the garment on the needles and black or off white on the loopers - its less obvious from the right side.
    If you can, do your fittings before you serge - its a bugger to unpick! Speaking of unpicking, slide your scissors through the looper threads and cut along the fabric edge. The needle threads will then pretty much unravel when you tug them. (A bit hard to explain, sorry).
    Agree totally with others about maintenance - clean and oil at the end of each project, and twirldesigns and thecuriouskiwi have the best suggestions for distracting Walnut (so cute!)
    Most of all - enjoy!

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    1. Forgot to say, general (non-stretch) sewing doesn't need all 4 threads - just don't thread the inside needle. If you are able to adjust the stitch length you can create a thread bound hemming effect by thread in only the inside needle and a using small stitch length. OK, done!

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  33. My best friend was my Singer Home Reference Library 'Sewing with a Serger' book. It's like a picture book for sergers! There's lots to learn about turning corners, etc. Best of all, it had a couple of pages of pictures of stitches that weren't balanced and then told you what to loosen/tighten to make them lay properly. Highly recommend it if you are visual like I am.

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  34. Congratulations! The best thing I did with my serger was take a sharpie and label the order that it needed to be threaded. I wrote 1, 2, 3, and 4 on the telescoping thread guide thingy. The one thing I could never remember was which order to thread the machine, and now it's no problem!

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  35. Aw, he's so sweet! Have a wonderful time getting to know your new machine!

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  36. I have this serger, too! I haven't had any issues with it so far. My best advice: learn how to do a rolled hem. It's just a matter of fiddling with tension settings, and it such a quick easy option for hemming knits

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  37. 1. AWESOME Hobbit-y husband! He's a keeper!

    2. Invest in a spare pair of blades. They go dull after a number of uses; dull blades chew fabric. Think of it as similar to keeping a spare needle for your regular machine.

    3. Practice! Start with something simple. I always do a few practice runs before sewing my real fabric to make sure I've set the stitch width and tension right.

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  38. Hey Cation,
    Just wanted to say Hi, I am recently moved to the Bay Area and a sewist/scientist as well. I am considerably behind on reading my blogs list but I am really excited to see what you make of your time here. I am in a meetup group that meets once a month for beginner sewing type of stuff: http://www.meetup.com/Bay-Area-Swap-O-Rama-Rama/ Eager to hear what you make of the area.
    My husband pitched in on a serger for my masters degree graduation gift as well so I know what it feels like to want to play with your new toy but not sure what to make with it.
    Sincerely, Sarah

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  39. what a sweet guy! I also have this model, and I also always set aside some scraps when cutting the fabric so I can check tensions on them before running my project through. also, tying the old thread to new thread trick often failed for me until I read four square walls' awesome note that you should dial your tension back to 0 as well after tying the threads together but before hitting that pedal! I used this tute to experiment with rolled hems and gathering: http://www.lbg-studio.com/2010/07/brother-1034d-rolled-hem-mini-tutorial.html rolled hemss and gathering on the serger is great, but I think the serger is worth is just for the nice seam finishes plus twice as fast knit projects alone. have fun!

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  40. Congratulations! I highly recommend this book for starters-lots of great information. NAYY

    http://www.amazon.com/Sewing-Sergers-Complete-Handbook-Possibilities/dp/0935278583/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377266954&sr=1-2

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  41. um, THAT'S AMAZING. your husband is AMAZING. and the icing on the cake is that you found the hobbit connection.

    i suggest running to your library and looking for any copies of books on sergers, specifically "ABCs of serging" by tami young & lori bottom. the book is by about eighteen different co-authors and they all have fantastic things to say. i actually took notes on this book, as it was only mine for a week...

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  42. I have this thing, and I use it more often than my $50 Singer sewing machine. I've turned those stupid swaddling cloths into actually useful sleep sacks for my son. I've made half a dozen cushion covers with linen fabric samples. I can finally hem my own pants!! Also, Youtube has better instructions on threading the thing than the DVD that it came with. Have fun!

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