Self-drafted Scuba Dress

scuba dress on me front

 

I’ve been a busy girl this week. First, I updated my blog with a coat I made a while ago, then I made this dress, and then I also made a cute bag, which I shall tell you about next week. There will be some instructions as well as a tutorial on how to make bag straps in a pretty easy way.

How did I find the time for all this? Well, for one, I am unemployed at the moment. 😉 However, if you have an overlocker, you already know how quickly you can assemble a garment, and it will come as no surprise to you that it took me less than 3 hours in total to make this dress (this time includes some pattern-drafting on an existing basic pattern). If you don’t have an overlocker andlike to work with jerseys, get one. Seriously. Just do it. It doesn’t have to be expensive. I bought mine second-hand from ebay for around 90 Euros.

What fabric did I use?

I bought this scuba from this website a few months ago (UK equivalent here). I only saw today that they finally have a scuba-section. They did a survey last year in which I stated that I wanted more scubas, which made me wonder if I had something to do with that. 😛 Seriously though, I love that I can now find scubas on there without going through all of the jersey-section.

What’s even better is that I have the exact same scuba in a different colour, which I ordered from calico laine and which, due to the catastrophe that is dhl, took about 3 months to arrive in Germany. I’ll post pictures of the dress I made with that in the future. I actually wore it to Uproar in the Dam, so that blog post is well overdue…

I do have a bit of a thing for scuba fabric, by the way…

Onto the pattern…

This dress is mostly self-drafted, but based on an old T-shirt dress of mine (see here). This version includes princess seams, which line up with the front seams of the 4 skirt panels. I added some additional seams between bust and shoulder and forewent the princess seams at the back. I also used some black scuba strips to insert into the neckline and arms and around the waist.

 

 

scuba dress front 1

 

scuba dress side view

 

Some close-ups of the front and back details

 

 

And another update on the Merrylock 3040

I want to show you the hem of this dress, because I’ve been sewing my hems with the Merrylock 3040 for a while now,  but the other day I was reading my blog post from when I first got it and I have to say, not only have I got used to it, it also makes a pretty decent hem now without destroying the fabric. Please see below how well it is now doing with crossing seams.

 

scuba dress hem with merrylock 3040

 

hem inside merrylock 3040

 

hemmed with merrylock 3040

The Merrylock 3040 – a review

In my search for a coverlock machine, I inevitably stumbled on the very reasonably priced Merrylock 3040.

At 329 €, it is the cheapest coverlocker I have seen anywhere. I even searched ebay and most used machines still go at a higher price on there. It is also just within my price range. I cannot (yet) imagine spending 500 € or more on a sewing machine.

Although he price in itself also gave me some doubts. A machine that cheap could only be terrible, right?

Well, it has two reviews on German Amazon, which give it 4 and 5 stars respectively. Technical information about the coverlocker is sparse though. They both say they are happy with it, nothing about the actual functionality.

So I scoured the internet for some reviews. They are incredibly hard to find and involve going through old forum discussions on German sewing websites. I also found one (and that was the only one) blog entry in English, which dated back to 2011.

It seemed to me that most people who own one or had owned one either hate it or learn to get along with it. The general consensus seemed to be that it has a few quirks, but that if you can live with them, it gives you good results.

I was willing to give that a go. If I found it really unusable, I could always return it.

Here’s what I think about the Merrylock 3040:

First, it doesn’t look of inferiour quality to me. It is made of plastic, like most machines now.

You can use it to make coverstitches with one, two and three needles. I generally use it with two needles to give my jerseys the finish that is used in manufactured clothing.

The manual is a little bit useless if you want to work on knit fabrics. I really don’t understand what this machine was made for or why you would buy a coverlocker if you didn’t want to use it on knit fabrics… It gives you all kinds of ideas for what tension to use for which fabric, as long as it’s not a knit.

That aside, changing thread is quite easy with the tweezers provided. It comes in a little plastic box, together with some screwdrivers and extra needles.

The tension is really “interesting”. I have cursed this machine several times while trying to get little balls of knotted thread out of its interior. Luckily, it is very easy to get to. It didn’t seem to matter how I changed the individual thread tensions though, everything seemed to yield the same result. I am not very patient, so in the end, I looked up the tension for the two-needle stitch in the manual (!) and adjusted it to be slightly looser (by 0.5 on the dial) for the knit. And that was all the magic it needed, apparently.

Now it stitches very neat seams. I have also not yet missed any stitches or snapped a thread while sewing.

I have used it on two different fabrics: one a jersey knit and the other a very thin polyamid knit. In both cases, it does not seem to like going over the slightly thicker bits of any hem where the seams meet. If I’m too quick in trying to go over them, the differential feed will move the fabric forward more on one side than the other, or not at all. I have sort of “solved” this by using the hand wheel when going over those bits and lifting the foot to give the fabric more room. That works fine for me, but takes a bit of time.

This is actually my one problem with the machine. The foot is just so low. There is barely enough room to get the fabric in there to begin sewing and I cannot imagine what it would do to a thicker fabric than I have used thus far. I also find that the differential feed protrudes from the plate quite a bit more than on my overlocker (a Huskylock 560 ED). While I am sure that this is part of the problem, if you could loosen the foot just a little bit, I’m sure all fabrics would fare much better. As it is, even on the lowest setting, it is very tight.

In short:

The Merrylock 3040 is absolutely ok for the price. It is not a huge joy to work with, but I am willing to live with that while I can’t afford a better one. It makes beautiful stitches as long as there aren’t too many layers of fabric or crossing seams. If there was more room between the foot and the differential feed, I’m sure it would yield perfect results.

As a sidenote:

I read that the seam-crossing problem can be alleviated with a so-called “midwife” (although that might be a purely German term). Apparently one can make it out of an old credit card by cutting a square out of the middle of one of the sides. The card then goes under the foot with the cut-out square positioned where the needles go into the thread. This is meant to even out the foot. I have not tried it yet.

 

Update!

Since I bought the machine, there have been several reviews by German bloggers under the hashtag missionundercover.

I found the ones by Prülla, and by Johys Bunte Welt to be the most helpful.

Even if you don’t speak German, I recommend looking at them, as they show how the stitches look on jersey. Everyone seems to have that problem with overlapping/crossing seams though. 🙁

Update II

I have been sewing with this machine for almost a year now and when I made this recent dress, I realised that I am not having as many problems as I had when I started. Please have a look at that post to see how nice my coverlocked hems come out now.