Category Archives: Serger FYI

Easy table cloth

I just made a table cloth that was even easier than I though! Ready to have your mind blown?


I think it turned out very summery and matches my pictures that were already hanging well. Would you like to see a before?


I bought this table cloth during Christmas (2009!) and it has been there ever since. It is very pretty, but I wanted to brighten up the place a bit.


Yes, it actually has poinsettias in ribbon work on the corners, and it is velvet. It was time for a change.

My friend Holly and I made a table cloth for her a few weeks ago. She has a round table, so we sewed two pieces of home decor fabric down the middle and created a circle. I thought I would do the same, but just make a square.


I started by taking my current table cloth and folding it in half. I laid my new cloth over it and cut it to the same length. I thought the two were pretty close in size, so I laid the new cloth on top of the table and really liked the size of the width for the table cloth.


I eyeballed it to make the cut edges skim the chairs to match the width. I just cut it from there. I wound up with a pretty even square.


I took my square cloth to my serger and just serged around all the edges. Holly and I did this on her circle table cloth and it looked very cool and was so much easier than hemming a giant circle. I decided to do the same for mine, and it is so easy! I used a three thread overlock stitch. I love my serger!


My serger even cut my selvedges and uneven cuts for me! Yay!


Here is a close up of the final results on my table! You can hardly even see the serged edges.


And here is my after shot again. I just love it!


I have some excess fabric left over…


I think I feel some matching kitchen accessories coming on!

The easiest baby blanket ever


This baby blanket was so easy it feels like I cheated! It’s not fancy at all, but here in Texas there is rarely a need for blankets, and especially for a baby born in June. A piece of flannel should be more than enough for a couple months. Out of my three fabrics I had the most of the polka dot flannel left. I used just about one yard to make the blanket.


I took my piece of flannel and laid it out on the floor.


 I folded up one corner of the fabric to make a triangle.


I cut around the edges of the triangle to even out the fabric. This left me with about a one yard square of flannel to make my blanket.


Next I used a three thread overlock stitch on my serger around all four sides of the blanket.The knife helped even out the edges since my cutting was a bit jagged.


I used a dot of Fray Check on the corner where I started and finished serging to help secure the threads. It was that easy! I could have embroidered this one, but I didn’t. I like the polka dot fabric on its own. It is just a single sided piece of flannel with serged edges!


Just look how good that easy-peasy blanket looks with the other gifts we have put together! I love it!

Just keep sewing!


Stacie Thinks She Can

Baby Bibs


In continuing my baby gift mission, I decided to make a couple of boutique style bibs. One of the great things about baby gifts is there are so many free tutorials out there! I followed this tutorial from Craft Gossip. Again, I wanted to embroider the bibs as well, so I varied just a bit from the instructions.


The first one I did I placed just the bottom of the front (the pink part) in the embroider machine. While that was going I put together both pieces of the front of the other and embroidered them after they were connected.


The important thing is to embroider the bib front before you attach it to the bib back. Once the bib front is complete, just sew following the instructions provided on the tutorial.


I lined the backs of the bibs in coordinating fabrics.


I decided against Velcro as my closure. I plan on adding snaps. I don’t like how Velcro snags things in the washer, and all I had was this weird flesh color anyway. Where did that even come from?


We’ve got some great goodies going in the gift basket! I still have a couple more up my sleeve, so stay tuned!

Baby Gifts: Changing Pad and Diaper Wipe Pouch

One of my very favorite projects is baby related gifts. When you make a gift for a baby shower or new child, I feel like it is really appreciated and means a lot to the parents. I just found out I have a new baby celebration coming up in June, and I thought it would be fun to share my projects with you.


One of the best parts about baby gifts is you can pick fun materials that you would not typically wear. I picked these three flannels for a baby girl. I got the fabric on sale for $2.49 per yard plus my 15% teacher discount. I bought two yards each of the polka dots and solid and one yard of the zebra print.


I made The Sushi-Roll Changing Pad and Diaper & Wipes Pouch. I love Sew, Mama, Sew for great tutorials and ideas. This project can be made from fat quarters as well. Needless to say, it does not take much to create these projects. I used just under a half yard each of the polka dot and pink fabrics and a scrap of the zebra.


I began with the wipe pouch. When I make things for babies I love to use my embroidery machine to personalize the gifts. I can’t get enough of new parents seeing their child’s name on their presents. I used the Curlz Three Applique Alphabet to add the first initial of their little girl. I used the Lacy Edge P from the applique file. It turned out very cute and the detail is fantastic.


To add the ‘P’ I embroidered it onto the bottom center of the outside fabric I chose for the pouch. After the ‘P’ was on, I followed the directions from the tutorial as written.


I lined the pouch with the polka dot material. It turned out very nicely and went together quickly.


I made the changing pad to match. I did not embroider on the changing pad because I could not decide where to place the embroidery. I did choose to use twill ribbon instead of the elastic. I had twill on hand. I was also able to use a scrap of batting for the changing pad. I love being able to use up scraps.


I had to show the set again. I just think they are so cute together, and the cost for these was just over a dollar each for fabric.


I also managed to use all three machines today! I used the sewing machine for the most part. I used my serger to finish the inside of the changing pad to reinforce it before turning it right side out. Finally, I used my embroidery machine to make the ‘P’. I always feel so accomplished when I get to run them all in one day. Stay tuned for more baby gifts!

The History of the Serger


This morning I was using my serger on a project. The serger is a mystery to me. When I use mine I often think to myself that whomever created this complicated piece of machinery must have been a genius. It finishes edges perfectly, trims while it stitches, makes perfect rolled hems a snap and is a life saver when it comes to knits. However, it is usually when I am threading it that I think about how complicated it really is. I lost my fancy tweezers when trying to thread the lower looper and was using facial tweezers. I find when I am frustrated I just need to walk away for a bit and come back. During this morning’s walk away I did some research and found out just who was the mastermind behind the serger. I found my information on Wikipedia, so we’ll take it with a grain of salt, but is still interesting.

Overlock History

Overlock stitching was invented by the Merrow Machine Company in 1881.

J. Makens Merrow and his son Joseph Merrow, who owned a knitting mill established in Connecticut in 1838, developed a number of technological advancements to be used in the mill’s operations. Merrow’s first patent was a machine for crochet stitching. Merrow still produces crochet machines based on this original model. This technology was a starting point for the development of the overlock machine, patented by Joseph Merrow in 1889. Unlike standard lockstitching, which uses a bobbin, overlock sewing machines utilize loopers to create thread loops for the needle to pass through, in a manner similar to crocheting. Merrow’s original three-thread overedge sewing machine is the forerunner of contemporary overlocking machines. Over time, the Merrow Machine Company pioneered the design of new machines to create a variety of overlock stitches, such as two, and four-thread machines, the one-thread butted seam, and the cutterless emblem edger.

A landmark lawsuit between Wilcox & Gibbs and the Merrow Machine Company in 1905 established the ownership and rights to the early mechanical development of overlocking to the Merrow Machine Company.

Throughout the early 19th Century the areas of Connecticut, USA and New York USA were the centers of textile manufacturing and machine production. Consequently many overlock machine companies established themselves in the Northeastern United States.

In 1964 Juki Corporation was formed; a precursor of the modern industrial overlock sewing machine company. Throughout the 1980s Japanese and Chinese sewing machine production came to dominate the industry.

In the United States the term “overlocker” has largely been replaced by “serger” but in other parts of the world (Australia, UK) the term “overlocker” is still in use.

Joseph M. Merrow

Joseph Millard Merrow (June 24, 1848 – March 27, 1947) was president of the Merrow Machine Company. Merrow was born in the community of Merrow, town of Mansfield in Connecticut. His parents were J. B. Merrow and Harriet Millard Merrow. He was educated at the Munson Mass Academy and Hartford Public High School. At the age of 15 he was employed as a pharmacist and a postmaster, appointed by Abraham Lincoln.

Established in 1838, the family business was the manufacture of knit cotton goods; it was the first of its kind in the country. In 1888 the family’s mills were destroyed by fire related to an incident with gunpowder. J. B. Merrow held a patent on gunpowder. The destruction of the mill allowed the company to further develop a small shop that had previously supported the knitting mill, and the Merrow Mills thus became primarily a manufacturer of crochet sewing machines.

Joseph Merrow was the driving force behind Merrow developing new technology, growing the new business and transforming it from a regional supplier of crochet sewing machines, to the market leader manufacturing hundreds of models of industrial overlock sewing machines. Under his leadership the company achieved a place of prominence in the industrial machine field with sales world-wide, hundreds of patents and the industries first industrial overlock sewing machine.

Merrow was also active in politics. In 1880 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the General Assembly. He was founder and president of the Hartford County Manufacturers association. In addition he founded the Industrial Memorials Inc, a business group that devoted its time to commemorating pioneer manufacturers by funding and locating plaques and statues. He was president from 1939 until 1946.

Merrow traveled the world, taking several dozen trips to europe and asia, while studying the industrial conditions of the countries he visited.

He was a writer and a poet. The Hartford Courant writing his obituary quotes him as having defined war as the ‘history of the human race in a single word, Greed the cause of war and brotherly love the cure for greed and the end of war’.[cite this quote]

Merrow never married, although his great nephews Owen and Charlie Merrow maintain his legacy as the current managers of the Merrow Sewing Machine Company.

Merrow Sewing Machine Company History

From gunpowder to knitting mills

In the early 19th Century Mr. Joseph Makens Merrow became interested in the manufacture of gunpowder and established a powder mill 24 miles from Hartford Connecticut. When the Mill was destroyed by explosion in 1837 it was decided to build a knitting factory on the same site using water power from an adjacent river.

At first the knitted goods were made largely of native wool which was sorted, scoured and dyed, picked, carded and spun into yarn and knitted into hosiery. The product was sold through commission merchants in New York and delivered to retail stores throughout New England by two-horse wagons. Following the gold rush of 1849 shipments of goods began to sail to San Francisco. As business increased, a small machine shop was started to support the equipment in the factory.

The first overlock machine

In Conjunction with the knitting business, the first Crochet Machines were constructed for finishing around the tops of men’s socks in place of handwork. The Merrow machine as it is now known, was an invention of Mr. Joseph M. Merrow, who was president of the company until his death in 1947 at age 98.

The Merrow Machines were constructed under his direction prior to 1876 with numerous patents granted. The machines were so useful that business was undertaken to introduce the equipment to other textile manufacturers. In 1887 the knitting mill was destroyed by fire and the company moved to Hartford and reorganized concentrating on the manufacture of overlock sewing machines.

The Merrow Machine Company

In Hartford the company focused on building lines of industrial overlock sewing machines that were used to overedge fabric, add decorative edging and support the fabric processing trade by joining fabrics.

Between 1893 when the company was renamed the Merrow Machine Company, and 1932 when a line of “A Class” machines was introduced, Merrow had a significant impact on the textile industry. The technology and rate of innovation in this time, spearheaded by Joseph M. Merrow was unequaled in the industry. As a consequence there were several high profile legal confrontations, including Merrow v. Wilcox & Gibbs in 1897.

Sales for overlock sewing machines were strong and Merrow grew to employ more than 500 people in Hartford Ct. The company also excelled developing international distribution and by 1905 had agents in 35 countries and printed manuals in at least 12 languages.

In 1955, Merrow patented the Merrow MG-3U Emblem Machine.

In the mid 1960s Merrow opened a manufacturing facility in Lavonia GA to reduce costs and maintain proximity to an American textile market that was moving from New York City to the American South East.

In the 1990s Merrow developed a new overlock machine called the Delta Class, but was never able to gain traction with the new model.

In 2004 shareholders of the Merrow Machine Co. agreed to a buyout of the company by Charlie Merrow, and it was renamed the Merrow Sewing Machine Company.

The Merrow Machine Company today

After the reorganization in Massachusetts, the company released notice that it would continue supporting most models of sewing machines manufactured after 1925, and would re-release to market new versions of its most popular models.

The company has capitalized on the trademarks “merrowed” and “merrowing”, working with manufacturers who use Merrow Machines to brand and market “merrow” stitching.

In 2008 Merrow developed a social network for stitching named, and introduced series of rich media web-based tools to help people research and understand the myriad of stitches produced by Merrow Machines.

Present day

The Merrow Machine Company is now based in Fall River, Massachusetts, and is managed by Charlie Merrow and Owen Merrow great great nephews of Joseph M. Merrow. The company continues to build many models of overlock sewing machines. In addition to being one of the most recognized brands of textile equipment in the world, it remains the oldest manufacturer of sewing machines still made in the United States.

Well, I’m feeling refreshed and ready to get back to that lower looper. Who knew the serger had such a rich history? I did visit the Merrow Company web site. It was a bit complicated to navigate, but it appears they are not targeting sewing hobbyists such as myself. They did have pictures of some of their stitches, and they are very nice. I think it is fantastic that the technology developed so long ago is now available to sewists like myself at an affordable price like my Janome. Sure, I’d like to upgrade to the great ones that thread themselves at some point, but to try it out in my home I took a low-end model. I use my segrer quite a bit and now when I am using it I can think of Joseph Merrow and the innovations he made with fondness.

Super G Apron & Serger Shortcuts

December isn’t just for Christmas.  In my family, it’s also a month of back-to-back birthdays…

On that note, I recently posted about some custom superhero capes that I made for a client:  Super Hero Capes & Digitizing Software

And, in that post, I mentioned that since my Grandma is a Super G, I will make her a black apron and put this leopard pink super G on it…..

Last night was her birthday party and she loved her new apron!

What a beautiful GiGi!

I was able to make this apron in record time by using my serger to finish the raw edges of the flounce, waist ties & facings instead of pressing and stitching a narrow hem.  I also used my serger to attach the flounce so I saved some steps there, too.  My serger stitched the seam, trimmed away the seam allowance, and finished the raw edge all in one pass.  Just call me Speedy!

I used my sewing machine to attach the apron’s V-neck facing so I could precisely pivot at the point of the V.   I also used my sewing machine to do the understitching for the neck facing as well as stitching in the ditch to apply the side facings.  Overall, it turned out lovely and I’m so glad that she likes it.

By the way, this is Butterick pattern 4945 – in case you’re interested in making your own!

Well, that’s all for now!  I’m off to stitch up an in-the-hoop wallet for my very cool Uncle Jacob.  I found a new way to “wrap” the gift that I think will be a big surprise to him….   I’ll share some pictures in a bit!

Have a blessed Sunday!

Jenny Gabriel – alter ego:  StitchinJenny

Machine Shopping Tips fm Jenny Gabriel

Jenny Gabriel - alter ego: StitchinJenny

The Holidays are coming and some of you may be ready to buy your first sewing machine, embroidery machine, or even your very first serger.  If so, good for you!  You’re worth it!

Choosing the right machine can be an overwhelming task so I’m posting some shopping tips here for your review.  Keep in mind, the ideas expressed here are my personal opinions and do not necessarily represent SewVac Outlet’s staff or owner.

Embroidery Machines:

Here’s some info. about embroidery machines that you may find helpful:
  • Ask your dealer questions about how to transfer embroidery designs to the embroidery machine.
  • Ask about the maximum size for embroidery. The least expensive embroidery machine has a 4×4 hoop size. As you go up in hoop size the price goes up as well.
If you have your heart set on a sewing/embroidery machine combo, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the best deal I’ve seen lately is the BabyLock Ellure Plus.  BabyLock is a very good brand.  This model has a usb port and comes with 2 hoops:  5×7 & 5×12.  The 5×12 is awesome for sewing out larger designs.  I think it’s on sale at a reduced price right now at Humble Sewing Center.   I can’t quote prices here, but I can say that the sale price is a real steal.  Check out this link to find out more about the Ellure Plus:
If you’re looking for an Embroidery Only machine, I personally love the Janome 350E.  

Janome 350E

This machine is not a sewing/embroidery combo so it does not sew at all.  However, I own this model and love it!  It is very user friendly and has more on-screen embroidery editing abilities than most embroidery machines for the same price.  It definitely has more embroidery “muscle” for your money.   Check out this link to find out more:

Sewing Machines

My favorite Sewing Machine brand is Janome.  I own the MC6600.  This is one fully loaded workhorse of a machine!  However, most ladies don’t need so much sewing muscle, so the model I recommend the most often is the Janome DC2011.  When you start comparing features and prices, you’re going to find that, compared to other brands, Janome gives you a lot more bang for your buck.  Pretty much any Janome you get will be a good machine.
Here’s a link to check out the DC2011:
Here are some features to look for in a sewing machine:
  • drop in bobbin
  • speed control slider
  • one-step button hole
  • adjustable stitch width
  • adjustable stitch length
  • decorative stitches
  • 7mm widest stitch width
  • (I prefer the computerized machines that have an LCD screen.  They are going to include a lot more convenience features than a basic mechanical machine.)
  • Make sure the inside of the machine has metal parts and not plastic.  The computerized Brothers at Walmart have no metal frame inside and are full of cheap parts.  (Seen this first hand.)
Whatever brand you choose, avoid getting a machine at Walmart, Target, Sears, department stores etc.  The manufacturers do not support these models.  Only the models that are sold at sewing machine dealerships are supported by the manufacturers.
In other words, you won’t be able to get parts for a machine that you buy at Walmart etc.  If you are planning to buy your machine online, don’t purchase until you make sure that your local dealership will be able to get parts for it in case you need repairs in the future.  Also, dealerships are able to offer better warranties than online purchases, so be sure to do your homework before you buy!


Recommended Serger Features to look for: 
Any serger you buy should have:
  • at least 4 threads
  • differential feed (this is what helps you tame those stretchy knit fabrics with ease and it does other cool stuff, too)
  • it’s accessories:  long tweezers, screw driver for changing needles, etc.
  • If you get a Janome or a Babylock, both of these brands can usually do a pretty rolled hem stitch.  If possible, have the dealer demo the serger’s rolled hem before buying.
Recommended Serger Brands:
I consider myself a serger expert.  I teach a lot of serger classes each year.  I’ve seen almost every model and brand you can think of.  I’ve seen many a serger bite the dust in my Serger 101 class because of being a poor quality make & model.  In my opinion, any current model of Janome or BabyLock Serger will be a good machine that will serve you well.
My favorite Janome is the Janome 1110DX  and the Queen of all sergers is the Babylock Evolution.

Janome 1110DX

BabyLock Evolution

BabyLock Sergers:
As far as price, there are some other Janome models for less than the one I’m discussing here, but this one’s a little easier to thread.  It’s the middle of the road machine.  Not the base model and not the top of the line either.  Many ladies have brought this with them to my classes and it’s always done great.
Another exceptional brand for sergers is Babylock.  They have jet air threading and automatic tension settings which makes them the easiest serger to use on the entire serger market.  Pricewise, lowest to highest is:  Imagine, Enlighten, Evolution (top of the line).
These machines typically cost more than other brands, but they are so easy to use that it’s worth every penny.
Well, I hope this helps you on your journey and machine hunt.
Happy Shopping!
Let’s Get Sewing!
Jenny Gabriel – alter ego: StitchinJenny