I was very fortunate to be given some money for Christmas, so I thought I’d put it to good use and buy myself an overlocker, something I’ve often thought about getting, but never had the funds to do so. Plus I wasn’t sure if I actually needed one!
After plenty of research, I settled on Janome as a brand and found one within my budget at Sew Creative in Norwich and – bonus – it was in the sale reduced from £269 to £229. So I arranged to go and have a look and they very kindly demonstrated it to me. They showed me how to re-thread it, but it’s so fiddly that it’s a bridge I’ll have to cross myself when I get to it! Anyway, my lovely new Janome 9300DX came home with me.
Sew Creative give two free lessons with any machine purchase, which is great, but as Norwich is quite a trek for me, the lovely Jackie — (@norfolksewer) who works in my local sewing shop Something Special in Holt, Norfolk and also does a lot of workshops with Alison Smith MBE, and who originally taught me the basics of sewing three years ago — very kindly offered to give me a crash course the following week.
Of course, I’m not one for being patient…! So, after having a play on it at home with some fabric offcuts, I thought I’d have a go at making a Grainline Studios Linden Sweatshirt. I’d been given the pattern and some gorgeous sweatshirt fabric, which came from Guthrie Ghani, for Christmas (it was a bumper year for sewing pressies!) and I’d also bought some other sweatshirt fabric – Sweet Apple – from Sewalicious.
The Sweet Apple fabric was up first – it’s SO soft on the inside and sewed like a dream. The sweatshirt came together REALLY quickly; with raglan sleeves it’s a quick make anyway, but on the overlocker it’s incredible – think of comparing dial up to fibre optic!
The Linden’s been reviewed many times before, so I won’t go into detail, but just say that I made a size 2 graded to a 0 at the waist. The fit is spot on over my bust, shoulders, and on my arms, but quite baggy at the waist and a bit loose at the hips – though obviously it’s not meant to be super-fitted, so it’s fine and I love it. Here are some pics:
I managed to line up the pattern at the centre front of the neckband, but it went slightly ‘off’ at the centre front of the waistband – next time I’ll start sewing it at the centre front, rather than the side seam to make it easier to ensure the pattern’s lined up there.
I love how professional it all looks inside…!
The next day I had my lesson with Jackie, which was really helpful, and she showed me a few other things it can do, such as roll hems and flatlock seams, both of which I think will come in very useful in the future, as I want to make some sportswear at some point, and also do some roll hemming on some silk scarves to sell in our gallery.
I then came home and made my second Linden with the Christmas present fabric! It’s again beautifully soft inside and feels lovely to wear. This one I made a size 2, graded to less than a 0 at the waist, then to a 0 at the hips, and it’s just that smidge more fitted and flattering. I managed to get my seams lined up perfectly (insert smug face!) and I added a ribbon detail at the back neck band, just as a nice finishing touch. Here ‘tis:
Next up was the Sew Over It Heather Dress, which I’d selected as my free pattern after re-joining their PDF club. The fabric that I’d already bought and washed ready for this is the Boucle Stretch Double Jersey from Minerva Crafts. It looks a very grey-grey on their website, but in reality it’s a lovely warm grey with almost browny flecks.
The first task for this make was changing the threads, so I followed Jackie’s advice and knotted the new to the old, one at a time, and fed them through – thankfully without any problems.
The Heather Dress is a fairly quick make, with the only fiddly bit being around the pocket sections, but the instructions were really clear and, after sewing that section on my regular machine, went back to my overlocker for the rest. The neckband turned out to be far too long and I cut it down and pinned it in several times until I felt it had just enough stretch to sit nicely – I ended up cutting it down by several cms and this fabric isn’t super-stretchy, so I’m sure it’ll vary every time I make it, depending on the fabric. The hems I did with a twin needle on my regular machine.
I made a straight size 10 and the fit at the bust and over my hips is perfect. The arms are maybe a bit snug, but perfectly comfortable. The waist has turned out rather loose on me, so *if* I can work out how to grade it down (there are several pattern sections around the waist area, so it might be tricky) I’ll do that next time. It looks quite causal as it is, which is fine, but I wanted to wear it for work, so I added a belt to nip it in and it instantly made it look smarter AND more flattering…
So, going back to my first paragraph – do I need an overlocker? Absolutely; it’s a game-changer! However, I think I probably need to slow down again now I’ve got to grips with the basics… although I’ve recently purchased the Sew Over It Intro to Sewing with Knits course, as I love the look of the Alice Top (it’s got different cup/bust sizes – yay!) and the Emma Dress, so give me a few weeks (who am I kidding?!) and keep an eye out on my Instagram feed @jowoods11 #Daphne