|My new-ish serger|
I finally gathered the courage and time to pull out it earlier this week and try working with it. The manual is poorly assembled (Language A on page 1, Language B on page 2, Language C on page 3, Language A on page 4, etc), and not as easy to follow as I would like, but I did okay. I've determined that I find it easiest to manage when the cutting blade is disengaged, and I haven't tinkered too much with the tension settings yet (that did become necessary, though, as E. saw the dials and immediately went for them).
When I was a kid, sewing with Grandma, she would usually handle the serger, or she would let me use it with her guiding my hands so I wouldn't slice my fingers on the blade. If the machine she used then had the option to disengage the blade, I never saw her use it. It went very fast and it was very noisy, and I was a little scared of it. She offered me that one when she upgraded to this one, but I was living in a studio apartment at university then and just the regular sewing machine was plenty for me to handle.
This serger doesn't seem as intimidating as the old one did. It's newer, a little lighter (still heavier than my sewing machine), and the threading guide makes more sense. It's still noisy and fast, as that seems to be typical of sergers, and it does the one thing really well. It serges. There's a few other things it can do--serging and gathering at the same time, pintucking, some special hemming options. There are a few other feet I could purchase for it so it would make piping and do beads and gather more easily, but as is, it does what I need it to do.
I set it up on top of my dresser so I can stand and sew at the same time. This option actually works well with my standard machine, too, I've discovered, which means the backache from hunching over my sewing can be a thing of the past. Plus, standing desk. It does go back into the box between uses. I have a climbing toddler, after all.
I used the serger to finish edges for a dress for E., and the next project is either a t-shirt (to see how the serger handles the inside seams) or a pair of jeans (top-stitching and precision sewing on the regular machine, inside seams that need reinforcing on the serger). It's going to take a little practice to get used to using a different machine, but it's not nearly as scary as it was in my head.
True, the serger is obviously not practical for everything. A top I have slated to make for E. next week only requires finishing on the shoulder seams, since the rest is trimmed with bias tape, so I'm going for French seams there. I don't really want to haul the serger out for everything. But it will make some of my sewing with knits a bit easier, and it gives the "how do I finish these seams?" question an additional answer to work with.