Seven or eight years ago, I invested in my very first sewing machine- a Brother XL-5700. At first, I would pull the sewing machine out every six months or so and make some piddly project. Often times, it was just a basic square pillow.
Then, when I was pregnant with Raileigh, I got this overwhelming urge to make some clothes for her. So, I pulled out my trusty Brother sewing machine and made a few garments. They were not great, by any means, but I was definitely proud of them. Those few garments were just the beginning of my love affair with sewing.
It didn’t take long for my skills to begin to improve… and for me to start longing after a new piece of equipment- a serger. I am quite the perfectionist, and the handmade look of my sewing machine seams bothered me a bit. I had gotten quite good at french seams and finishing with a zig zag stitch, but the look was nowhere close to what a serger could provide. Of course, the seams were on the inside of the clothing and no one could actually see them, but it bothered me all the same.
Then, a few months ago, I was contacted on behalf of Brother to include one of their new machines in my holiday gift guide. I didn’t even have to think about it! There was no question in my mind that I would love to include the makers of my trusty sewing machine as an option for all of your gift giving needs. As I browsed the list of their new machines, one immediately stood out to me- the ‘Project Runway’ Limited Edition 5234PRW Serger. A serger!
Immediately, I headed to the Brother website to read all about this new machine. The serger made its debut in October, so when I began reading about it, it had not even came out yet! This beautiful machine had a plethora of features that sounded amazing:
- Included extra large extension table
- Easy one-touch needle threading for two needles
- Two needles and 2-3-4 thread
- Available at Authorized Innov-ís Dealers Only
- Two stitch fingers
- Bright work area
- Color-coded guides for easy threading
- Presser foot pressure adjustment dial
- Free-arm serging
- Differential feed
Was it really possible that Christmas was going to come early this year and that a piece of equipment I had longed after for some time was really going to be mine? It was possible! Brother generously agreed to send me the new Project Runway Limited Edition Serger to review for inclusion in the 2010 Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide. The first day that UPS tried to deliver the package, I was not at home. I was beyond disappointed when I saw the note on my door that I had missed a package delivery from Brother. So, the next day, I was home well before the time listed that the package would be re-delivered!
The package arrived right on time, and I immediately began removing all of the components of the ‘Project Runway’ Limited Edition 5234PRW Serger from the box. I set all of the pieces out on my sewing table and just looked at them. It was significantly larger and heavier than my sewing machine… and a whole lot more intimidating as well. Reality settled in that this machine I had been so excited to receive, I had no idea how to use! So, I stared at the machine for several more days, wondering if I had taken on more than I could handle.
Then, one morning, I decided that I was going to figure it out. I watched the instructional DVD that Brother includes with the machine. It shows many helpful things, such as how to thread all FOUR spools of thread onto the machine. I also looked through the owners manual to get familiar with all of the parts of the serger. I quickly began to see some similarities between the serger and my sewing machine, but an even greater number of differences.
After I had built up my confidence a bit, I headed out to my local craft store to get some thread so that I could put my new ‘Project Runway’ Limited Edition Serger to the test. This machine can hold 2, 3, or 4 thread spools. Being that this is my first experience with a serger, I had no idea what each thread really contributed to the final result. So, I picked up four distinctly different thread colors so that it would be very evident when I tried the machine out.
I began threading the machine on the left, as the Brother instructional DVD suggested. This means that I began by threading the Left needle, followed by the right needle, the upper looper, and finally the lower looper. I chose a scrap of fabric made out of the materials I sew with the majority of the time. So, I was able to see what each thread was doing and learn how to dial in the tension on the machine to where it would preform the best.
Beginning with four different thread colors was a great decision. Doing this really allowed me to gain some firsthand knowledge as to how a serger works. It also made it easy to learn how to thread the machine. After all, the thread from each spool goes through at least 10 points before it is ready to be used!
After I had gotten a better grasp on how the ‘Project Runway’ Limited Edition 5234PRW Serger functioned, I re-threaded the machine with four spools of white thread. One of the first things that I did was to create my own stitch selection chart. The owners manual has a stitch selection guide, complete with pictures. However, I felt that it really helped me to create my very own guide so that I could see each stitch firsthand. I keep the guide on my sewing table as a quick reference when I am sewing.
After doing many tests on scrap fabric, I finally felt confident enough to use my serger to create a garment. I cut out a little kimono top to sew for Raileigh. Excitedly, I began to use the serger to close the seams on the side of the shirt. I watched as beautifully serged fabric flowed from underneath the presser foot. That’s when I realized that I had serged too far into my shirt, and the knife had sliced half of the arm right off of the shirt! I had been too busy watching the finished seams come out the back of the foot that I hadn’t been watching the fabric go under the presser foot. So, that wasn’t exactly the best start, but it did teach me a few things!
Next, I decided to use the serger to finish the seams on some leggings I was making Raileigh. I was a bit more cautious this time. It was a big confidence booster when everything came out perfectly. I sat and started at the seams of the leggings for a while. They looked so professional! Plus, it was actually really easy to do when I payed attention! I ironed my seams down, and was really pleased to see how flat a serged seam is. It really looked a lot better than any edge I had ever finished using my sewing machine.
After that first successful garment, I began to whip out more things. I have sewn together a few skirts and dresses, as well as a pair of shorts for Raileigh. It amazes me that not only do the finished products looks more professional, but that they are quicker to make as well. That means that I can create more garments in less time, which is fantastic in my book.
I wanted to show you what a difference the ‘Project Runway’ Limited Edition 5234PRW Serger is making in the clothing I create.
This first garment is a red dress that I created using my sewing machine before the serger arrived. The hem is folded over twice to hide the raw edge and stitched in place. The seam is finished using a french seam method.
This dress is actually what Raileigh wore for her clown dress on Halloween. The hem was serged around the edge, turned up, and stitched in place using my sewing machine. The seams were serged together using a four-thread overlock stitch. To me, it is quite apparent which garment has a more professional finish. Plus, it took about half the time to make the dress using my serger.
I could not be happier with my ‘Project Runway’ Limited Edition 5234PRW Serger from Brother. It can be purchased from any authorized Innov-ís Dealer for approximately $799.95 (price may vary by dealer). To me, though, the results I see and the time I save are priceless.
Stay tuned through the 2010 Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide as I will share tutorials that I have created for projects using the ‘Project Runway’ Limited Edition 5234PRW Serger. You don’t want to miss this!
No monetary compensation was received for this post. A ‘Project Runway’ Limited Edition 5234PRW Serger was provided to me for review. All opinions expressed above are my own.