CHRISTMAS MORNING SERGE-ALONG LESSON 1
Welcome to the Christmas Morning Serge-Along, featuring the BERNINA L 850! Before you get started, be sure to enter our giveaway for a chance to win The Big Book of Serging and a Gold-Plated Presser Foot #1 from BERNINA. During this five-week serge-along, we’ll be making adorable Christmas Morning Pajamas. The lessons will present the free downloadable patterns and instructions in easy-to-digest sections. New lessons will be released each Tuesday. You can also order (optional) special-priced kits with premium fabrics and trims in two size options, and two different colorways, for boys or girls.
Downloadable PDFs for Lesson 1:
- Before You Begin: Serge-Along Important Info PDF
- Lesson 1: Serging & Sewing with Plaids PDF
- PATTERN: 8.5×11 Boys Pajama Patterns PDF
- PATTERN: 11×17 Boys Pajama Patterns PDF
- PATTERN: 36×52 Boys Pajama Patterns PDF
SERGE-ALONG IMPORTANT INFO
- READ YOUR SERGER MANUAL! There is wealth of information in the manual that will help you understand your serger.
- In this Serge-Along, for weeks 2 and 3, we will be using a 4-thread overlock and a 3-thread narrow overlock. Know how to thread your serger for these two stitches. We will add a 3-thread rolled hem in week 4.
Additional Serger Feet and Attachments
•• A piping foot is absolutely necessary to make and insert piping. You really need that foot. On our BERNINA L 850 it is foot L16 and it’s clear…you gotta’ love that!
• A blind hem foot (L19) is an optional foot for these projects but is a great foot to have in your collection. Blind hemming with your serger overcasts the fabric edge and stitches the hem in place at the same time.
• The right seam guide will give you “a wall” to align your fabric edge to create the perfect seam allowance. This attachment is optional, but if you have a hard time serging even seam allowances, this was created just for you.
•• In addition to all of your general sewing notions, you will need a Glue Pen (water-soluble sewing glue) with lots of refills. Or, if you are like me, you need at least two; one at the serger, and one at the ironing board. Our favorite is the Sewline GluePen and Sewline Glue Refills.
• Wonder Tape (double-sided sticky wash-away tape) is great to use with your serger. We always say, “Wonder Tape is wonderful!” Your seam joins will always match perfectly when you stick them together with Wonder Tape first.
• The Styla water-soluble fabric marker is our new favorite! It draws a fine, smooth and even line with the ceramic roller ball as the tip.
SERGING TERMS TO KNOW
The looper threads form the stitch over the stitch finger to encase the edge of the fabric as you serge. The stitch finger “catches” the stitch and that is the reason you don’t have to have fabric under your needle when you serge. On the other hand, a sewing machine does not have a “stitch finger,” therefore, fabric is needed under the needle to “catch” the stitch. Otherwise you end up with a bird’s nest of thread. If you serge with no fabric, a serger tail is formed on the stitch finger and extends out the back of the foot. The position of the stitch finger determines the “loop,” along with the thread tension on the loopers and the blade cutting width. The stitch finger adjusts with your blade cutting width. If there are loops hanging off the edge of the edge of the fabric, adjust the blade to allow more fabric in the seam. If the fabric inside the seam is curling, adjust the blade to cut more, allowing less fabric in the seam. The BERNINA L 850 has a “looper tweaker” better known as the mtc (micro thread control). This great feature allows you to tweak your loopers at any cutting width creating the perfect stitch.
Cutter, Knife, Blade
The cutter, knife or blade (different names for the same thing) can be found to the middle, right of the presser foot. When the knife is on, it will cut the edge of the fabric while you serge. When the knife if off, the knife will be lowered, and it will not cut. Most of the time your knife will be on and cutting. The knife or cutting width is adjusted by turning a numbered dial. A lower number on the dial moves the knife closer to the needle, creating a narrower seam or less fabric enclosed in the seam. A higher number on the dial allows a wider seam or more fabric enclosed in the seam. It is important to know that your knife cuts BEFORE your needle sews.
Toe of the Foot
The toe of the foot is the front of the presser foot that curves up. The toe of the foot has very important markings. On our BERNINA L 850, the two markings near the center of the foot indicate the left and right needle. The single marking to the right indicates where the knife will cut when in the default (6) position. This marking is also 1/4″ from the LEFT needle and can be used to align the fabric when taking a 1/4″ seam with a 4-thread narrow overlock stitch. If the RIGHT needle is the outermost needle, as in a 3-thread narrow overlock stitch, the inner edge of the right “wall” of the foot is 1/4″ from the right needle.
To clean finish a fabric edge, place the edge of the fabric against the cutter, trimming only the fabric fibers that extend beyond the fabric edge. Serging in this manner does not remove any fabric from the piece but gives you a finished edge that will not ravel.
When serging a seam, if you want to remove the fabric before the end of the fabric is reached, bend the fabric to the left and continue to serge until the fabric clears the presser foot.
A serger tail is created when you serge with no fabric under the foot. These tails can be found at the beginning and end of a seam. We will talk more about what to do with these tails in week 2.
SERGER SEAM ALLOWANCES
Know your seam allowances!
- Measuring from the outside needle, find a mark or make a mark on your presser foot or somewhere on your serger that indicates your desired seam allowance. Remember, sometimes your outside needle is your left needle as in a 4-thread overlock or 3-thread wide overlock and sometimes your outside needle it is the right needle as in a 3-thread narrow overlock or a rolled hem. The seam allowance is measured from original edge of the fabric to the outside needle, not the amount left in the seam after it is serged.
- All of the seam allowances on these patterns are 1/4″. On our BERNINA L 850, there are several markings on the toe of the foot. The two raised parallel markings that align with the needles are the left and right needle marks. The single groove to the right of the needle marks is twofold; when the blade cutting width is in the default position (6), that indicates where the cutter will cut, this mark also measures 1/4″ from the left needle. When the outer needle is the left needle, align the edge of the fabric with this mark for a 1/4″ seam. There is a “wall” along the right edge of the foot. The inside edge of the “wall” is 1/4″ from the right needle. When the outer needle is the right needle, align the edge of the fabric with the inside edge of the “wall.”
Conclusion for our BERNINA L850
For 1/4″ seams where do I place the edge of the fabric?
- 4-thread overlock (left needle) = align edge of fabric to single mark to the right of the needle marks (Photos 1, 2 & 3). Note: When set on a 4-thread overlock stitch, taking a 1/4″ seam and the cutter is set at default (6), the cutter is skimming the edge of the fabric.
- 3-thread narrow overlock (right needle) = align edge of fabric to the inside edge of the foot’s wall (Photos 4, 5 &6). Note: When set on a 3-thread narrow overlock stitch, taking a 1/4″ seam and the cutter is set at default (6), the cutter is cutting fabric.
Does your knife setting or blade cutting width affect your seam allowance?
- No, the blade cutting width onlyaffects the amount of fabric that remains in the serged seam.
Can I test my alignment to make sure my seam allowance is set correctly?
a. Draw a line 1/4″ from the edge of the fabric.
b. Place the edge of the fabric as indicated for the desired seam allowance.
d. Did the outside needle end up on the line? If it did, your alignment is correct (see Photos 3 & 6)!
Note: Visit this blog post for more information regarding the BERNINA L 850 features!
SERGING & SEWING PLAIDS – CUTTING
Plaids are the most festive choice for Christmas sewing. That is why we chose two different plaids for the kit offerings. Our plaid fabric is 60″ wide and is a woven plaid, so the stripes are all on grain and there is no right and wrong side to the fabric. So, if you can’t decide which plaid you love the most, buy both and add one to your stash for next year! Plaids just make you want to sing Christmas songs and sew!
Our plaid fabric of lime and red is trendy and cute while the red and forest green is classic and very traditional. Sewing and serging with plaids can be a little tricky so we have a few tips for you that will help with matching those plaid as much as possible. After all it is the details that matter! Once you learn this technique for matching plaids, it will follow you throughout the rest of your sewing career. You will see the difference in the finished garment.
- Cutting is vitally important and this is where time needs to be spent. If the pattern pieces are cut from the fabric in a haphazard way, the odds of having the plaids match is very unlikely. So, take your time on this first step.
We usually cut out our garment pieces with our fabric doubled. With plaids no matter how straight you think the under-layer is, it is probably off a bit. If you are perfectionist, you will want to cut each piece separately, aligning each matching piece along the same stripe in the plaid. For example, the front and the back need to match along the side seams. Cut out the back, making sure the lower edge is along the same stripe all the way across. When you cut out the front, make sure the lower edge of each front piece is along the same color stripe as the back to insure they match (see plaid photo below as an example). If you have a fabric that has a right and wrong side remember to flip the pattern piece before cutting the other piece so that you end up with a right-hand side and a left-hand side. Repeat this alignment for each piece of the pants and each sleeve.
The pocket, pocket lining (which folds to make the pocket cuff), sleeve cuffs, and pants cuffs are all cut on the bias for a festive look. So, no matching when cutting these pieces.
Working with plaids is enjoyable. It is almost impossible to completely match every plaid in a garment, but the closer you come, the happier you will be. You will find yourself noticing this from now on. Have fun with these Christmas pajamas and gown and take lots of pictures Christmas morning.
- Plaid fabric (amounts listed in yards):
- 5/8 yard of solid fabric (all sizes and widths)
- 1/4 yard of fusible lightweight interfacing (9″ x 30″)
- 4 yards of piping cord (1/8″ to 3/16″) 7/8 yard of 1″ elastic
- 5 buttons (1/2″ to 5/8″)
- 2″ of ribbon (1/2″ to 1″ wide) to indicate the pants back
- 4 cones of serger thread to match fabric
- General sewing supplies
- Glue pen & refills (Sewline) A Must Have!
- Quilt clips
- Straight pins
- Water-soluble fabric marker (Sewline)
- Wonder Tape
- Seam gauge
- Blunt-tip hand-sewing needle (tapestry)
- Rotary mat, cutter and ruler
- Needles – 80/12 (ELX705 CF)
Note: The cutting guide is shown with folded fabric. To match the plaids, you may find it easier to cut each straight-grain piece from a single layer.
A. Plaid Fabric – Cut the following:
1. Two shirt fronts (mark center front on each piece)
2. One shirt back on the fold (mark center back)
3. Two sleeves (mark shoulder, front and back)
4. Two pants (mark front and back)
5. One pocket on bias
6. One pocket lining on bias
7. Two sleeve cuffs on bias
8. Two pants cuffs on bias
B. Solid Fabric – Cut the following:
- Cut 2 straight grain strips for Front Facings 2″ wide by the following:
2. Cut bias strips for Piping 1-1/2″ wide by the following:
Note: Labels for the bias strips are on the last page of the instructions. Pin to strips as lengths are cut.
3. Cut one bias strip for Neck Facing 1-1/2″ wide by the following:
C. Cut and apply fusible interfacing to the following:
- Collar (one collar piece only)
- Both 2″ Front Facings
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
SERGE-ALONG Week 2: Boys Pants
Get those glue pens ready!
- Gluing and pinning
- Create and attach piping
- Remove the piping cord in the seam to eliminate bulk
- Serging in a circle
- Quick and easy elastic waistbands
- Tricks to matching seams
- AND Much More!