Monday, January 30, 2017

Serging to the Rescue

I got this Cloudborn Fibers bag as a promotional freebie. (Bet your didn't know that I made a whole sweater out of Cloudborn yarn a year ago ... because I wasn't blogging then. But there it is at right: Laura Nelkin's Novus pattern, in Cloudborn bulky merino. It's an interesting construction that I enjoyed knitting.)

Anyhoo, this bag is a perfectly nice knitting project bag, except for one thing: It's made out of burlap, which is fine if you treat it correctly. But if you don't bother finishing the seams, they will fray into oblivion very quickly. The side seam on this bag had already popped open, and the drawstring channel was about to do the same.

I bought a pretty bag from Fringe Supply Co. that did exactly the same thing. It fell apart so completely that I had to throw it out. I didn't know how to fix it.

This time, though, I have a means of stopping the fraying in its tracks: my new (to me) serger. I'm still learning its ins and outs, and it's still pretty intimidating, but what better way to practice than on something you would otherwise toss?

If you're not familiar with sergers (a.k.a. overlockers), they trim the edge of the fabric and use three or four threads to encase the edge of a seam. You see such a finish in ready-to-wear all the time. I got this serger from my mother-in-law for my birthday; it's one of her older ones that is a great little workhorse. She gave me some instruction on it when she was here over Christmas. Here's a slo-mo video of it in action:

You can easily see the blade cutting, and the two needles coming down and up. The loopers are a little harder to spot, poking out to loop the thread around the edge of the fabric. I ran the serger down both sides of the bag, then zigzag-stitched the bottom of the drawstring channel on my regular sewing machine to stabilize the fraying threads there.

The bag now has much tidier seams that won't fray, and the drawstring channel will stay intact.

(Those are the tweezer-style thread snips I bought at the Stock Show last week, by the way. They are so sharp! And super-easy and comfortable to use. I love them.)

Ordinarily the serger threads would be all the same color (light or dark), but my MIL was showing me how to change threads, so we have a mixture here. I successfully switched them all to dark threads as you can see in the video above. Yay! It's kind of a nerve-wracking process.

And now I like this bag again. It won't fall apart on me anytime soon.


  1. I have a serger but I have so much trouble controlling the tension that I really don't use it much. I need someone to teach me.

  2. I totally understand that! The whole tension thing is still a mystery to me. My MIL set it up for knit fabric, but it seems to be doing OK on denim and burlap at that setting so far.

    I have a Craftsy class, "Beginner Serging," that I need to just work my way through, and build a notebook of settings, with swatches. Apparently that's the way you're supposed to keep track. I have a few of my MIL's swatches, but until I do it myself I think I won't really understand it.

    I'll let you know how the class is!