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Saturday, November 6, 2010

Create A Handmade Camera Strap Cover With A Serger From Brother (review)


When I was young, my life was humble but full. My family didn't have riches to spend but yet our life was very rich because my parents knew how to use what they had to make special things for us. 

My mom is a seamstress and every year she would make clothes for my sister and I. I can remember opening Christmas gifts of handmade pajamas, dresses, and even clothes for my dolls. My mom used what she had and in turn, my sister and I had things that no one else had. She even used her two hands to make my wedding dress by only seeing a picture pulled from a magazine. (The word "talented" does not even begin to describe her ability.)

Because I remember these things so fondly, I want to be able to do the same thing for my children. I sew a little bit here and there but I've always heard that a serger could give me a nice, finished seam while making the sewing process much faster.  I'm all about "fast" as I'm pretty busy being a mom day in and day out.

When Brother heard about this gift guide, they offered several machines from which I could choose one to review. I considered each one carefully but decided on the new, 'Project Runway' Limited Edition 5234 PRW Serger. Since I already own an older Brother Sewing Machine, this makes the perfect addition and will help me get things done a bit faster.

I couldn't wait to open the box when it arrived. I read the description of the serger to my mom over the phone and she told me how nice it sounded comparing it to the serger she's had for about 20 years now. I was impressed that it came with not only an instruction manual but also an instructional DVD to help users get started.

Here's a look at the serger and it's accessories after taken out of the box.

Probably one of the best features, as far as practicality is concerned, is the large extension table. It easily connects to the serger and creates a large workspace to work on while offering an excellent storage space at the same time.  At this time, this is the only machine on the market that comes standard with such a great workspace making it one of a kind and even more desirable for a buyer.

Another item that makes the serger easier to use is the free arm. (Pictured above to the right of the machine.) The free arm is great to use for serging the ends of sleeves or pant legs for example. It simply slides on and locks into place so users can focus on their task and not worry about fussing with the free arm once it's attached.  

Here are the items you'll find in the box as listed on the Brother website:
Wide table, soft cover, accessory bag, tweezers, thread net, thread spool cap, cleaning brush, screw drivers, needle set, foot controller, instructional DVD, thread change assembly, trim trap, stitch finger, blind stitch foot, gathering foot and operation manual.

The Brother Website also has this list of main features to give you an idea of what this serger is all about.
Main Features
  • 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

 Please visit the website for more specs and other information.

With the 'Project Runway' Limeted Edition 5234 PRW Serger, I learned that I can thread the machine with 2, 3, or 4 threads and I can also adjust the width and length of the stitch. This is helpful when using different kinds of fabrics and when trying to accomplish something specific with the serger. Basically, I can customize the machine to meet my needs as I create different things. I love the serger's flexibility.

For my very first project, I wanted to create something that was easy and giftable so I decided to try my hand at making a camera strap cover. I didn't have a pattern to use but I knew the basic look that I was going for. And for this being my first go at it, I'm pretty happy with the outcome.

First, I selected my fabric by choosing 2 separate but complimentary quarter flats (or fat quarters as some places call them) at my local fabric store. From the 2 cuts of fabric, I cut one strip that was 26" x 3" by cutting the fabric on the bias or from one corner to the other.

(This is all I needed to cover my camera strap but make sure that you measure the length of your strap to ensure it's completely covered.)

I wanted to add padding to my cover so I chose to cut some batting the same size as the 2 strips I just cut. This sticks to the fabric pretty well but you can also use fusible fleece if you want to make sure that it doesn't move when you sew it. (Remember, the serger and straight pins do not get along very well so if you use them at all, remove them before they reach the machine.)

I also wanted to add a pocket to the back of my cover that would hold my lens cap in place. For that, I cut a rectangle that was 3" x 2 1/2".

I serged all the way around the rectangle that was cut for the pocket.

I then lay the rectangle "pocket" at the bottom of the strap cover on one side. I wanted the back of my strap cover to be the gray fabric I purchased so that is the fabric I placed the pocket with. I serged the very ends of the 2 strips *separately* so I could prepare them to be serged together. (This attached the bottom of the pocket to the bottom of the back leaving only the sides needing to be attached.)

Then, facing right sides together, I serged the 2 sides of the strap cover together. First one side, then the other.

I turned the strap cover inside out and here is the finished product.

The serged ends can be left alone or can be hemmed using a sewing machine. I tied off the stitches and used liquid stitching to make sure they don't come loose.

I absolutely love my new camera strap cover and already have ideas for other styles I can make by combining different materials and changing my execution a bit here and there. From beginning to end, I would say this project took about 30 minutes or less. For so little time and so little money spent, I'm confident that this would make the perfect, thoughtful gift for the photography enthusiast on your list. 

Keep in mind, this is the very first time I have used a serger. From threading the machine to working on it, I had no issues and found this serger to be fairly easy to learn for a sewing amateur like myself. I still have more to learn about the Brother 5234 PRW Serger and what it's capable of doing, but I'm eager to do so. I already have a winter hat in mind to make next. 

BUY IT!! The recommended retail price of the Brother 'Project Runway' Limited Edition 5234PRW Serger is $799.95 but dealers may set their prices differently. Please visit Brother to find a list of authorized dealers. 

**Thanks to Brother-USA who supplied the mentioned serger to facilitate this review at no cost to me. I wasn't compensated in any other way for this review. In this post I share my thoughts and opinions of the product being reviewed. Others may have a different experience or opinion.**



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