Polka Dot Puss*

Something very special arrived in the post this morning, wrapped in canary yellow tissue paper. Was that a peek of red and white polka dot that I spied? I thought my blogging friend, Handmade Jane, had sent me some fabric to work with but it was even better than that – a make-up bag made by her own fair hand. Look!

It was love at first sight. The contrast fabric, the excellent finish, the label so carefully inserted:

I can see why Handmade Jane enjoys lots of success with her craft stalls. (She generously provided a blog post crammed with Craft Fair Tips.) Who wouldn’t want to pay good money to have this in their hands? It’s the equivalent of an intravenous happiness drip.

All I have to do now is decide which part of my life deserves this slice of joy. A make-up bag to leave in the office? An addition to my weekend bag? A stalwart in the bathroom or something to keep in my tote? Decisions, decisions. Perhaps I need another one, or two, or three… Jane thought the zip up bag would go well with the cake stand I recently, ahem, spotted:

Thank you, Handmade Jane! Are you trying to make me spend more money?


Look, mom, I’m overlocking!

Believe it or not, this is my very first time on an overlocker. I was sorting the seams of my dress lining in college this week. I bet you wonder what’s happened to the V8667, don’t you? Never fear, things are progressing!

In the meantime, I’m seriously tempted by investment in an overlocker. I’ve been looking at some secondhand ones on Ebay, but I feel nervous about handing over a wad of cash when I have no idea what I’ll get. Any tips about places to buy overlockers? All help gratefully received – as ever!

* Points for anyone who recognises the title.

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18 Responses to Polka Dot Puss*

  1. jenibrown says:

    No advice, I’m afraid, but will be very interested to hear what others have to say about secondhand sergers!

  2. rosyragpatch says:

    I bought a second hand overlocker a few years ago. I was given a demonstration & an instruction book. It was fine until the cones of thread ran out & I had to rethread – I just couldn’t do it & no one seemed able to help. After spending lots of time on it I gave it away on Freecycle. I hope the new owner managed to sort it out.
    I loved having an overlocker but I’m not very technically minded, so if I get another it will be from a shop that offers instruction & I’ll concentrate hard on learning to thread it.

  3. rachel says:

    No advice to give about overlockers, but the little bag is very cute – I am very partial to polka dots too!

  4. Stephanie says:

    If you can’t buy new, look at second hand overlockers sold through dealerships where you can get support and help on learning to use the machine- some will give limited warranties as well- and you are buying then one that has been serviced and has been adjusted to sew properly. I suspect many on ebay, unless genuinely new in a box might need full services anyway, which adds to the cost- and then you don’t get any back up or support from ebay sellers.
    Hunt around, you never know what you could find within reasonable distance-
    Oh and before you buy check out the reviews of what you are looking at- Pattern Review has loads of free reviews to read.

  5. Roobeedoo says:

    Sorry – I know nothing about overlockers. I am persisting in trying out all the stitches on my Bernina before I get twitchy for another machine… though I was wondering about getting an old hand-cranked Singer as a back-up / energy-saving device!
    Fab polka dots!

  6. Erika says:

    Adorable make-up bag! The cake-plate must be irresistble by now… =)

    I got an overlock just two months ago, and I’m in love. I had a little bit of a problem (with the tension wheels) when re-threading it, but a lot less problems than I feared. Now I’m itching to learn how to use it properly… 3 threads, 4 threads, different needles excluded, and lots of other fun things!
    In my limited experience, if it comes with an instruction manual, buying a used one is just as good as getting a new. But then I like manuals and can usually follow them for most things (I actually enjoy assembling Ikea-furniture. Weird.) =)
    I got a Bernette 334D (an old Bernina overlock). My mom has one almost like it (her’s is named 334DS), and a local fabulous seamstress has one exactly like mine. Both have used theirs for 20 years and the machines are still going strong! Just love Bernina’s =)

  7. alizwa says:

    I love your blog, particulary since you are UK based and attend Morley, which I attend as well, I recognised that ‘over-locker green’ as soon as I saw the pic.
    I am currently buying an over-locker from Chapman’s in Camden, if you look at the notice board in class, you will see their detail’s, also if you tell them you are a student at Morley, they just may give you a discount. Chapman’s are brilliant in that they will actually give you an over-locker lesson, all the options available and a lott of after-care.
    Good luck, and you never know I may bump (stalk) into you at class.

  8. Betty says:

    I bought my overlocker from a lady on Ebay. She was known to me through the Sewing Forum so I thought it was safe to get a second hand one. I have one of these babies.


    I love computerised machines and when I saw a computerised overlocker, I was totally sold on it. Its a very good, very solid machine. Doesn’t bounce around on the table when I’m going flat out and has served me well over the last few years. I especially appreciate that it gives recommendations on tension for different kinds of fabric. That has helped a lot because I tend to forget what tension works for knits and what works for different weights of wovens. Its not steered me wrong yet.

    It is very easy to thread. It helps that it has different coloured dots inside where the thread needs to go that match up to the tension dials on the outside. Because its a big machine, there’s lots of room to get your hands in too so that helps a lot. My old Singer was a nightmare to rethread because it was so small and compact.

    I hope my comments help!



  9. Pin Queen says:

    Such a cute bag!
    Please don’t buy an overlocker on ebay, or a cheapy from somewhere like Dunelm. If you can’t stretch to a new one, buy a secondhand one from a dealer, or sewing machine repairer/engineer. That way you’ll have some back up it it goes wrong and they are happy to show you how to thread up and set your tensions correctly.
    My overlocker is now 21 years old and I bought it from new, it has a unique “squeak” whilst in use and I love it.

  10. karen says:

    Thank you all for your comments. Loads of food for thought!

  11. Lysy says:

    I’m probably watching the same overlockers as you on ebay!! I’m going to go and try some out in a shop before bidding as the reviews online all say different things. It sounds as though the feel of it and how intuitive it is to thread is important which I guess you don’t know until you try a few out.
    V cute purse 🙂
    PS visited Goldhawk Road yesterday – not as cheap as Walthamstow but oh my gosh, fabric nirvana!

  12. Tania says:

    The title is Tom & Jerry! The polka dots look better on the bag than they do on the cat. Lucky you!

  13. Molly says:

    I have to agree with those who say avoid second hand. With an investment like an overlocker or sewing machine I would only buy from a dealer because I want a warranty and someone to go back to when the thing goes wrong. There are so many reasons overlockers can go haywire, its a comfort to know you can get help if you need to. Also they have to be oiled and cleaned on a very regular basis as well as serviced and you’d have to place a lot of faith in a previous owner to have done that. Even new machines develop faults, my college has just sent back a 4 week old sewing machine because the timing was faulty on it.

    My overlocker is a Brother 1034D, I get the impression most overlockers are much the same, I certainly have no issues with mine. I got mine from Tyson Sewing Machines Limited in Middlesex – http://www.brothersewingshop.co.uk – and they advertise on their website free for life annual servicing if you buy from them although my machine is yet to reach a year old so I don’t know if they honour this yet. They also offer free sewing classes which I haven’t taken up. Certainly they were helpful and friendly and I got some great thread deals at the same time as well as free next day delivery. (They also do the freebies a lot of online dealers offer or 11% off price).

    One thing I have found is cheap overlocker thread from ebay is a big no, I spent a frustrating hour of fiddling trying to stop my thread breaking (each time a different looper or needle) and eventually abandoned hope. Came to try the machine again but changing to a new colour (and better quality) of thread and no problem whatsoever!

    The next thing for me is to get a book to find out the awesome things these machines can do like metallic decorative trims, crochet like braiding, etc.

    Good luck with your mission, hope you find the perfect one!

    • Wow, thanks for such a comprehensive answer! Muchly appreciated.

      • Molly says:

        You’re welcome, I found it really daunting buying an overlocker, mostly because I had never owned one and didn’t really know what I was looking for. But as I was pretty much budget driven I went with the one I have because I felt I was getting the most for my money and I’m content with it although there is definitely no “wow” factor to it. I think I need to get a serger book before I can fall in love with it properly. The electronic one mentioned above sounds very “ooooh, if only I had the money to indulge!”

  14. MacDoodle says:

    My first overlocker was a gift from my husband and it’s a Yamaha. It came with a Japanese instructional video and despite not speaking much Japanese, I did need to re-watch the video everytime I threaded the blessed machine (the printed manual was useless). Through use, the blades got blunt and I decided to replace them myself. The result is a machine which overlocks but doesn’t trim because the blades aren’t aligned properly. Frustrated and in a moment of unrestrained self-gratification, I decided to save myself a repair fee and replaced it instead with a top-of-the-range Husqvarna overlocker which is very pretty and clever and I’m sure that some day I’ll find a use for some of it’s fancy tricks. It even has an instructional video in English. However, since the bulk of my sewing comprises is theatrical costumes with no fancy stitchery required, I worried about wearing out such an elaborate machine and so I invested in my third overlocker – a basic Janome workhorse. I think I paid around £100 for it in Dunelm Mills and it is absolutely brilliant. I use it most of the time and it is also easy to thread.

    I would highly recommend an overlocker. It doesn’t take long to get used to one. I also think you can’t beat Janome for straightforward engineering. I wouldn’t buy second hand though – unless it was from someone you know.

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