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Beginners’ Guide to Overlockers

Beginners Guide to Overlockers.

Overlockers used to be a little known tool limited to factories, professional dressmakers or very keen amateurs.  But probably because of exposure on TV programmes and social media, they’ve experienced an explosion in popularity in the last few years. They are now very much an essential tool to many home sewers. However, they’re not so easy to use ‘out the box’ than sewing machines and require the user to develop a whole new set of skills.  Not surprisingly, there’s a lot of confusion about their use. I’ve written this Beginners’ guide to overlockers to answer many of the most common questions and dispel the myths.

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Alfa Practik 9 sewing machine review

Alfa Practik 9 sewing machine review

You’ve probably not heard of Alfa sewing machines.  But you will have heard of Smith & Wesson revolvers.  That’s what the Alfa Hogar company used to make before they turned their hand to more peaceful and creative tools – thankfully.

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Juki MO-644D Overlocker review

When it was time to buy a new overlocker for the studio, there was only one place I was going to go. And that of course was Pembertons, my trusted specialist supplier for almost 30 years. So after considering my requirements: Andrew recommended the Juki MO-644D.  I then spent a fun 90 mins putting it through its paces.

Juki MO-644D overlocker review - image shows machine threaded with front safety cover open
Juki MO-644D Overlocker review
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Some ‘not so stupid’ questions

I’m asked lots of questions during every teaching session in the studio, and most of them start ‘this may be a stupid question but….’. Well do you know? I’ve never heard a stupid question yet! They have all been excellent questions, and I’m always happy to answer them. Chances are the person asking isn’t the only one who doesn’t know the answer. So if you don’t know, then please ask. Because the only stupid question is the one you don’t ask.

Some not so stupid questions - boy in dunce cap
Boy in Dunce cap – Clara M. Burd
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A guide to fabric marking tools – Making your Mark

A question I’m asked frequently is what is the best way of marking fabric for dressmaking? Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to that as there is a variety of fabric-marking tools available, and each has their pro’s and cons. My advice is to have a selection of fabric marking tools available to cope with every situation. Here’s a list of the most common:

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What pattern size am I?

One question I’m asked almost every day is ‘What pattern size am I?’

Probably the most difficult aspect of dressmaking is how to find the correct pattern size. . Sewing patterns aren’t sized in the same way as ready-to-wear clothes. So you can’t just buy your usual off-the-peg dress size.

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Sewing Machine Tension

Sewing machine tension

Probably the most common sewing problem is getting correct sewing machine tension. By thread tension, we mean the amount of thread that can pass through the machine to create the stitch. The more thread in the stitch, then the looser the stitch.  The less thread, then the tighter the stitch.

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