On Overlockers and Fun

Overlocker is actually the British word for the thing. Here in the USA we call them sergers. But I dislike the word serger. It feels squishy and hissy in my mouth, and it doesn’t really describe what the thing does. In contrast, overlocker is a nice word with corners to it, and it handily describes what the thing does –it locks threads over a seam.

I got my overlocker a couple months ago. I decided I needed one to finish off my seams in my sewing and to sew knits with as well. I knew to get something fairly new. Even the nutty vintage sewing machine people who will tell you all modern sewing machines are junk, even they will tell you to stay away from vintage overlockers. Buy new, they’ll tell you, and get the priciest one you can afford. I listened to this advice, somewhat. My overlocker is on the newer side compared to my sewing machines and it is a well-regarded brand, a Babylock. I did buy it used through Marketplace, but its previous owner assures me she had it serviced every year at a local Babylock dealer. I paid her cash for it, and it was cheap compared to what a new Babylock overlocker would be, but more than I paid for my Singer 66 a couple weeks ago.

Once I bought the overlocker, I brought it home and it sat on the dresser in the guest room. It sat there unused for the good six weeks. The thing had four threads! Two needles and two loopers! And a knife! I was scared of it. So I let it sit there, and it helped that my sewing project had Hong Kong bound seams that didn’t need an overlocker anyway. But then a couple weeks ago I saw someone recommend an online overlocker course for complete beginners, and on a whim I bought the course and started watching its videos.

Before I knew it, I’d pulled the overlocker off the dresser and set it up at the table, and I tried overlocking my first scrap of fabric. I think I may have actually screamed when I did. As a podcast I heard recently said, “Overlocking is like sewing, but faster and with knives.” It was a scream of delight though. What fun. My husband and son came in and watched me use the thing with something approaching awe. They saw it too. This thing was powerful, fun, and a little scary. My son requested and received one of my scraps of overlocked fabric.

Today I pulled the overlocker out again. This time because I needed to prewash some fabric for a project I’m going to work on this weekend, and before you prewash fabric, it is best to bind the raw edges so it doesn’t unravel on you. So, I sat down with my unwashed fabric, I overlocked the edges, and now it is in washing machine. It all sounds very simple, but I got that same thrilling rush from using the overlocker that I did the first time. That thing is fun! I may barely know how to use it (it came already threaded), but I am enjoying the hell out of it.

That’s the real secret to why I’ve become so obsessed with my stitching, sewing, and related sewing machine activities. Because I find them all fun. I’m having so much fun with all of this. The past few years, they haven’t been that fun for anyone. So I’ve grabbed onto this bit of fun and I’m seeing how far it will take me.

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