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Serging silk
Questions about finishing seams & rolled hem
RoseFromThule
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RoseFromThule
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FRANCE
Member since 3/3/10
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Date: 5/30/12 4:01 AM

So I have this silk (charmeuse I think : very drapey, tighly woven, not sheer, not very ravelly) that I cut out for a dress.

I'd like to serge the SA before sewing, and hem it with a rolled hem. I did a few test runs but I have issues with both :

1. Serging SA with a 2-thread overlock :

1.A - The fabric doesn't feed very well and slips to the left after being cut by the knife.

1.B - The threads are loopy or break, depending on the tension. Ex :
Needle 0 / Looper 6 (the tensions recommended on the manual) : break
Needle 2 / Looper 4 : both loopy

2. 2-thread rolled hems :

2.A The needle snags and makes holes in the fabric. I use the recommanded serger needle ELx705 size 80. My serger accepts universal needles, but the dealer said to only use size 80 and 90, so I'm weary to use size 70 or 60, or Microtex.

2.B The hem is very stiff and hinders the lovely drape of the silk.

Do you have any solutions for these issues ? The user's manual is not very helpful re: settings, it only says to play with tension/presser foot according to fabric (yeah, thanks).

Subsidiary question : could I use a rolled hem for the neckline and armholes instead of self-fabric bias binding ?

BTW, my serger is an Elna 654.

Thanks !

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Lena Merrin
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Lena Merrin
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Date: 5/31/12 4:19 AM

I would use french seams instead of overlocking, the fabric is too fine and it works best with french seams. Rolled hem on neckline would look a bit cheap in my opinion, but it depends on the design too

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nicegirl
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nicegirl
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Date: 5/31/12 8:44 AM

With my old serger, I found that I *had* to lift the knife for serging silk, otherwise the stitch did not catch onto the actual fabric. That might help with the first issue. As to the second, a serger rolled hem has a lot of thread and is always going to be a little stiff, so I'm not sure there's a solution.

I've done a rolled hem finish at the neckline and armscyes on a silk top and it looks totally fine. A bit casual, but that matches the style.

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2007: purchased 115+, sewed 105+
So close to parity, yet so far

Trying again in 2008
Yards purchased: 133
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RoseFromThule
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RoseFromThule
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Date: 5/31/12 11:52 AM

Thank you !

@Lena Merrin : I'm not looking forward to make and use silk bias tape, but you're right about rolled hems. And I'll also to the French seams route (there are only a few seams on this pattern and they're all mostly straight). I was just curious to see whether it could work. I have seen RTW silk dresses with serged sa.

@nicegirl : when you say that you lift the knife, you mean that it's not in use ? As for rolled hems, I can see how it would work with ruffles but not for regular hems, too stiff.

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diane s
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diane s  Friend of PR
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Date: 5/31/12 12:56 PM

I have an Elna 644 and have had good luck with charmuese, I hemmed some scarves made of 12mm. Are you using the 2 thread adaptor? The settings my serger suggests are different.
Needle 2 is 3 and the looper is 2.5
differetial feed is 1 and stitch length is 1 (I prefer 2)
If you are serging the seam allowance, I would think a 2 thread overcast would be better.

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beauturbo
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In reply to RoseFromThule <<


Date: 5/31/12 3:57 PM

A nice thin supple easy to bend, slippery and shiny Rayon fiber, 2 ply and 40 weight or thinner more decorative made special for machine embroidery thread, kind of thread used for the rolled hemming, and and not regular garment construction thread or even spun poly serger thread) might be less stiff and more supple and bendable, and then not so many stitches so close together and at longer stitch length, might make for a more supple and bendable rolled hem. You could try that, on some scraps, and see how you like that and how it would look. I would not garment seam construct something with it, but it's for sure strong enough, for a rolled hem on thin and slippery silk. Once hem is in, not a whole lot of garment stress on it at all.

Also you don't have to only use a 2 thread rolled hem ( or even a two thread overlock) for any reason at all, you could use a 3 thread rolled hem instead, and.or a 3 thread overlock instead and just see which you like best. Have you tried that yet?

I think if you already are having trouble (left hand wise fabric manipulation) keeping that edge of the very soft and bendable silk pushed up against the knife, long enough for stitches to form over it, on straight and slightly curved areas, it would be even more so though, on a even more tightly curved armhole seam. Unless you decided to do something else, and stiffen or control your fabric more there.

purplebouquet
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purplebouquet
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Date: 6/1/12 2:37 PM

Is your fabric washable? If yes, you might try water-soluble stabilizer. It prevents pokies, uneven thread coverage and slippage issue. But to remove it, you'll have to submerge the fabric in water. That might not work.
An alternative to a rolled hem could be a narrow 3-thread. Check your manual and do a test run. It is less stiff than a rolled hem and great for fabrics that don't roll easily, usually stiffer and thicker fabrics.
Also, I saw a couture finish for hems on sheer fabrics on a Sewing with Nancy episode you might want to check out. A bit involved, but very classy looking.
I have not had good luck doing a rolled hem on a neckline or armscye because I ended up stretching the fabric and it looked wobbly. Nicegirl, what do you do to prevent that?
Claudia

RoseFromThule
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RoseFromThule
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Date: 6/4/12 4:02 AM

OK, so I finished the dress this week-end, and didn't use the serger at all ... French seams, bias finishes on armholes and necklines and narrow hem (the two-pass by SM version, not the 3-thread serger version) at the bottom.
It doesn't look bad and the self-fabric bias was relatively easy to handle, even though not perfect !

Thank you all !
-- Edited on 6/4/12 4:03 AM --

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