Sew Skillfully - Serger Stitches

More serger fun today!  After I unpacked my new machine, I decided to invest a decent amount of time in learning how to use it properly.  I had never used a serger before (except for a quick and ill-fated attempt a few years ago), and I was legitimately concerned about breaking one of the very many moving parts that I had just invested so much money in.  So, I took a methodical approach and worked my way through the entire user manual, page by page, until I had explored all the capabilities of the machine.  How delightfully nerdy!

I decided to share my samples in a Sew Skillfully post, because (a) I haven’t done one in a while, and (b) I learned a TON of new skills during this process.  My eyes have really been opened to the inner workings of a serger and all the wonderful things it can do, yay!  I hope you enjoy reading about my exploration into foreign territory here.  I certainly enjoyed the journey!

Warning: this is a LONG post.  Grab a cuppa or just skim for techniques you find interesting.  :)

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Baby Lock Imagine - front

All right folks, it’s time to say a proper hello to my shiny new toy, a Baby Lock Imagine serger!  Am I in love?  YES.  :)  Am I confused and a little intimidated by this behemoth of a machine?  Definitely.  The vast majority of my sewing time lately has been devoted to figuring out all the nuances of the machine, and thankfully I’m making slow and steady progress.  Man, sergers are so much more complicated than sewing machines!  It’s been a fun challenge trying to make sense of it all.

Today I’ll share some photos of the machine itself, highlighting its many features and showing off all the shiny metal parts.  :)  If you already own a serger, a lot of this will be familiar to you.  If not, join me in drooling over all the mechanics!  Let’s dive in, shall we?

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Today I’ve got another video sewing update to share with you!  It seemed like a good time for another video since a lot of sewing-related things have been going on lately, but none of them have resulted in a finished garment to photograph (yet).

In the video, I talk about getting to know my new serger, my in-progress Moss mini skirt, some upcoming sewing plans, and a few recent fabric purchases.  Yay, new fabric!  I actually have a stash now, albeit an extremely modest one.  :)  I also talk briefly about something that’s been in the works for a few months now: setting up a permanent sewing studio in my tiny apartment.  You know, one that doesn’t require rearranging all the furniture every time I want to sew.  My apartment is REALLY tiny, so this has been a fun challenge.

I hope you enjoy the video!  It’s been fun experimenting with this new medium, and I really like how an occasional video brings the blog to life a bit.  We’re all real people outside of our blogs, right?  :)

You can view the video directly on YouTube here.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

BabyLock Imagine

Thanks to a very generous and thoughtful gift from my family, I was able to buy myself a little present yesterday.  It’s a Baby Lock Imagine serger, which I lovingly refer to as my Ferrari.  Many thanks also go to John for driving me down to Canton and patiently waiting in a store full of crazed women.

Much more to come on this once I unpack the Ferrari and take it for a test drive.  For now, I couldn’t resist sharing the news!  :)

Grainline Chambray Bird Archer - finished

One last Archer to round out my Summer of Archers!  This rich burgundy/aubergine combo is pretty dreamy and looks fantastic in this golden hour light.  The main fabric has a slight sheen to it in the right light, which hopefully you can see above.  I love the subtle woven dots combined with the whimsical birds on the pocket and back yoke.  This project was quite a roller coaster, but I’m really pleased with the finished garment.  Read on for all the details.  :)

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Grainline Flamingo Archer - finished

The 21-year-old version of myself would have hated this shirt.  It’s very PINK.  I distinctly remember going through a phase in college where I hated pink and refused to wear it no matter how small the dose.  I would go on and on about how I’m not a girly girl and how pink epitomizes everything that feminists rage against.  Fast forward about 10 years.  I’m still not a girly girl, but I absolutely love this shirt.  :)

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OWOP14 Collage by Allspice Abounds

[1] Spring Archer [2] Archer of Many Details [3] Flamingo Archer
[4] Oxford & Liberty Archer [5] Spring Archer [6] Archer of Many Details [7] Chambray Bird Archer

One Week One Pattern appears to have been a smashing success!  Created by Tilly and The Buttons and hosted this year by Handmade Jane, the challenge was to wear garments made from the same pattern for 7 days in a row.  This year, the challenge lasted from Saturday Sept 6 through Friday Sept 12.  Yes, that’s seven full days of wearing almost the same thing in row.  Phew!!

One Week One Pattern - large

I chose the Grainline Archer, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite TNT patterns.  (I could have chosen my all-time most-used pattern, the Renfrew, but most of my Renfrews are long sleeved and not really suited for late summer weather.)  I had 4 Archers going into the challenge and set a goal for myself of finishing the 5th one in time to wear for the last day of the challenge.  As you can see from the collage above, I made it!  Sort of (keep reading).

So let’s see what I wore all week!

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That’s right folks, I’m now on video!  My blogging has taken kind of an experimental turn lately – first I wrote a poem about sewing, and now I’m trying out a video sewing update.  I’m not sure what’s spurred on this deviation from my usual posting routine, but hey, I’m embracing my various adventures into new territory.  :)

I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing regarding posting videos on my blog, or on YouTube for that matter, so please let me know if you can’t view the video, if there are any strange formatting issues, or if anything else isn’t working properly.  You can view the video directly on YouTube here.

With that said, I hope you enjoy “meeting” me in person!  I chat a little bit about why I decided to make a video in the first place, and I show off my purple Archer-in-progress, slightly further along than in my previous post.  Added bonus: now you can hear how nasal my voice is.  :)  Enjoy!

Hope you all had a great weekend!

Sneak peek Archer with Maggie Sleeve cuff finished

How do I love the Archer?  Let me count the ways… wait, actually I’d better start counting how many Archers I’ll have by this Saturday.  It’s the start of One Week One Pattern 2014!  Yes my dear readers, I, Carolyn of Allspice Abounds, will actually be participating in something online.  Gasp!  Horror!  Hold on to your seats – the daily wet-hair selfies are on their way.  :)

One Week One Pattern - largeMy goal is to have 5 completed Archers for the 7 days of the challenge.  I’ve already got 4 done (one, two, three, and the fourth in the shockingly pink photos above – proper blog post coming soon).  The fifth is just starting to take shape in some lovely Robert Kaufman chambray dot.  And yeah, I put a bird on it.

Dot Archer - pocket sewn on

The blog-post-writing has been a little light these days, but the sewing keeps on truckin’!

Are you participating in OWOP this year?  What will you be wearing for 7 days in row??  :)

Sewing Time

It’s late.  My muscles ache, my brain is a bubbling stew of reminders, my shoulders yearn to shrug off the weight of the day.
The couch swallows me whole as I collapse into its soothing billows.

Minutes pass.
My mind begins to calm.  My back begins to untie its convoluted web of knots.
My fingers begin to itch.
Something… something is missing.

A wearied glance across the room catches my sewing machine in a state of neglect, a state of nervous anticipation.
The dim light casts ghostly shadows on my work in progress, misshapen and fetus-like, yet to take its first breath as a finished garment.
Dare I hoist up my listless limbs from my upholstered oasis?
Dare I sacrifice further exhaustion of the body for invigoration of the mind, exhilaration of the spirit?
Before I can adequately ponder this perilous trade, I hear the wooden floorboards creaking beneath my feet…

Bright lights flood my sewing table.
My eyes cringe, widen, focus, ignite.
Before me lies the antidote to the menagerie of ailments that plagued me throughout the day.
Bernina, my beloved apothecary.

Fabric, soft and malleable and dancing with dots and stripes and checks.
Scissors, sharp and imposing, powerful and precise in my capable, if tired hands.
Spools of thread in every color, pins and rulers at the ready.
Chalk, with its ephemeral alchemy, eager to prescribe my every move.

With the flip of a switch, the purr of my freshly oiled machine flows through my veins like life-giving blood.
Foot to pedal, fingers to fabric, needle to unending reservoir of thread.
My healing has begun.

Hours later, I emerge from a sea of multicolored lint, fabric scraps, and thread tails, wide-eyed and victorious.
Tales of crooked seams and ignored directions shall never be uttered, for the seam ripper knows better than to share its dirty secrets.
I raise my finished garment to the sky, as if the entire jungle is eagerly awaiting its new king.


Apparently the healing powers of a freshly constructed garment are only effective on a particular set of precious souls.
Do rolled eyes and exasperated smirks count as reverential appreciation?

At the peak of simultaneous physical exhaustion and spiritual fulfillment, my body once again collapses, this time in a puddle of joy and delight.
My fingers, now sore and red with pin pricks, rest contentedly, having fulfilled their creative yearning.
At least, until tomorrow.

As I drift off to sleep, occasionally forcing open my heavy lids to catch one last glimpse of my shiny new garment, I remind myself that this ritual is deeply rooted within me.
My heart pumps with the passion of my mother and grandmother.
Their knowing hands nurturing, caring, making, healing.
And perhaps one day I will teach another how to heal her body and soul with the ritual of making.

I am at peace.
My eyes close.
My hands unwind.
But I still hear the purr of the machine, softly flowing through me, waiting to once again be unleashed.

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