So here is my take on this subject. When I started sewing garments – I had no idea about French seams, or any other type seams to avoid exposed seams that look unruly. I personally used a straight stitch and then a zig zag to finish it off and trim off the excess.
Now, this method is perfectly fine and well if you are not a perfectionist you will be able to live with it. So as my sewing progressed I started using knit fabrics to make tops, tracksuits and the like and found that the lightning bolt stitch just took way too long to complete your seams and a zig zag whilst my preferred method sometimes left you some tiny holes in the seams when stretched out slightly.
I just wasn’t happy with this at all. My wonderful husband bought for me my Janome 644D overlocker for Christmas that year. I was over the moon, scared, and thought how the heck do I use this contraption. As a beginner overlock user I made all the rooky mistakes, when things got stuck I pushed and pulled to get the fabric out, in the process broke my plate with those two prongs (that is how it makes the stitches).
I quickly learned that by doing so it was not able to be repaired, you had to buy a brand new plate as it was all one mechanism. Now $50 later, I thought “Crap” I better learn how to use this machine. I had a quick lesson at the shop (not helpful at all), and watched heaps of YouTube videos. Also – watched the DVD that came with it several times – to learn to thread it from scratch, setting recommendations and anything else that I needed to know.
- Read the manual from front to back
- Watch the DVD if it comes with it
- Join a Facebook group for Overlockers/Coverstitch
- Practice threading
- My opinion is use Maxilock thread if you can afford them, then if budget is an issue I recommend Hemline/QA, Dor-Tak, Rasant (if you can afford it) Gutermann (If you can afford it). They can get expensive when buying 4 spools. Honestly, Hemline/Dor-Tak are much more affordable and work really great, I only use my Maxilock threads for special garments and projects I am making.
- Make a fabric piece with different settings and mark it with a pen
- Refer back to your Fabric sample
- When your work gets stuck, you break a needle etc don’t pull it, trim away cotton till it can be released from the prongs/feed dogs
- Don’t pull your work from back, only guide it – let your feed dogs do all the work (Trust me)
- Don’t pull on stretch fabric as you may get waves instead of a flat seam
- Don’t sew over pins or metal zippers EVER
- Make sure you are using the machines recommended needle system ( use good quality if you can afford it) Janome/Schmetz/Organ
- Janome standard settings (644D) Loopers (4), Right needle (3), Left Needle (4), Stitch length 3.5, Differential feed (1). I use these settings on everything I do for general garment construction. If doing fancy stuff check your manual – there are also lots of YouTube videos of how to gather etc. Don’t forget that you can also buy special overlocker feet for gathering, elastic application and more.
So with all that said, my garments are looking schmick and professional and I use my overlocker for everything clothing wise as well as bags etc. I highly recommend getting a Janome 644D, its a real workhorse and my work has never looked better.