Review

Review: Lidl Overlocker – Singer S14-78

Firstly, I will state that Lidl has not asked me to do a review, nor did they supply a product for me to test. I paid £139 for my overlocker at my local Lidl, and as it’s what the shopping channels would call a “considered purchase” I looked around for reviews before I bought it but couldn’t find any. This post will, I hope, help people who are dithering about whether or not to purchase if it comes on sale again.

Picture of overlocker

The weekly Lidl email had alerted me that this overlocker was going to become available, so I made sure I needed to call in to buy coffee a few days after the overlockers went on sale! The lack of reviews troubled me, but the very kind assistant in my local Lidl opened one of the boxes for me and it didn’t take me long to decide I was going to take a chance. At £150 less than the model I had been planning to buy, but with all the same features, I decided it was worth the gamble. Read on to find out if I feel it’s paid off!

What features does it have?

12 stitch types

4-thread overlock, 3-thread overlock (wide & narrow), 3-thread narrow edge, 3-thread flatlock (wide & narrow), 3-thread rolled edge, 2-thread overedge (wide & narrow), 2-thread wrapped overlock (wide & narrow), 2-thread rolled edge.

So far, I’ve only used the 4-thread overlock; it stitched perfectly.

Colour coded threading

Here is a picture showing the inside of the machine & the illustration of how to thread it. There are also good instructions in  the manual.

Threading picture

One of the lower loopers did become unthreaded once, I still don’t know why, but I followed the instructions to re-thread it & it really wasn’t as scary as I’d thought it would be! I remembered general overlocker advice I’d read, which said that you should thread it in the order recommended by the manufacturer to ensure it works properly. I did exactly that, and the machine has been fine ever since.

Built in rolled hem

I haven’t tested this yet, I might make that the subject of another post at some point. There is a switch setting for this next to the needle plate, which can be seen in the picture of the cutting width lever below, just above the red box. There are also good instructions in the book.

Free arm

The free arm is a really useful feature in my opinion. Here’s a picture of the machine showing the free arm in all its glory:

Free arm

Adjustable cutting width

The ability to adjust the cut was one of the features I felt was an absolute must for my overlocker. But have I used it? No! Anyway, this picture shows the slider which adjusts the cutting width:

Overlock cutting width

And here is the machine set to the the 2 extremes of the settings, it’s hard to explain how it works but I hope the following photos will help. The top picture shows it set to the narrowest cutting width, the bottom with it set to 7mm cutting width:

montage showing 2 cutting widths

The stitch width settings are well explained in the manual.

Differential feed

This allows the two sets of feed teeth to be adjusted for different weights of fabric. The manual does explain this in more detail, with suggested settings for different types of fabrics. I haven’t adjusted this at all so far.

You can also adjust the pressure foot pressure to suit the type of fabric you’re cutting (less for lightweight fabrics, more for heavier fabrics).

Ability to overlock without cutting

The upper cutter can be turned off by a switch on the left side of the machine, shown here at the bottom centre of the picture:

Side view

What else is included in the box?

The machine comes with a very good manual. Also included are a pack of extra needles, a screwdriver, tweezers, an Allen key for changing needles, a 2-thread overlock converter and the foot pedal.

What is not included?

It does not come with any kind of cover, or anything to catch the material which has been cut off.

It only comes with a very small amount of thread, but Lidl sell that too at reasonable prices.

The Verdict

Overall I am very happy with my overlocker, and have used it to make a basic t-shirt – my first foray into knit garments! It has features that I didn’t expect to find on a supermarket machine, such as the adjustable cutting width. The manual is very good: clear, concise explanations with line drawings, & tables showing the recommended settings.

The only problem I’ve found so far is that the machine lacks markings on the needle plate to show where to line up the fabric and ensure you don’t cut off more than you planned. This isn’t the first overlocker I’ve used to lack this, though, it isn’t always available on more expensive models either. I’ve used a red marker pen on the presser foot to show where the left needle will stitch, but on taking the photos I realised this has already faded so I will have to come up with another solution.

I was concerned that, as it’s at the very cheap end of the spectrum, the machine would be very noisy. It’s not quiet, but it’s not as noisy as I feared, and I think to buy a quieter overlocker would require a lot more expense. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather buy fabric!

 

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Robe

Kwik Sew K4144 View A

 

Picture of bathrobe

Quick summary for those who need to read and run:

Likes: Size XS fits perfectly (I normally sew a 12 with a FBA); might shorten by a smidge from neck to waist next time (I’m 5ft tall) but it’s fine as is.

Dislikes: The finishing of the band, I would look into doing this a different way next time as it could be finished more neatly than the pattern instructs you to do it. Attaching the piping: you attach the piping, then attach the band over the top. I felt this could perhaps be done in one go?

Challenges: Band stretching by nearly 6cm when attaching. Fabric fraying. Getting a bit carried away with the overlocker and slicing into the fabric below the pocket!

Alterations: Sleeve length – they would have been WAY too long but I prefer shorter sleeves anyway.

What I learned: I need to buy a piping foot! I really want the inside to look as good as the outside, and I need to take more time to get the finish I want. If something seems like it’s going wrong – stop and work it out, don’t just carry on as it just creates more problems later.

Full Version:

My current summer-weight robe has seen better days so I bought this pattern a while ago with a view to making a replacement, then spent a long time looking for the right fabric. Then my sister found this chambray at Abakhan, where they sell some fabrics by weight. There were several metres of it for about £17. Last week I had a few days off work which meant I could finally get round to making it.

Close up of fabric & shoulder

Looking at the finished garment measurements and comparing this to my current robe, I decided to take a chance and sew the smallest size. After tissue fitting I thought I could get away with it and this turned out to be the right choice, as it really is a perfect fit. The only alteration I made was to shorten the sleeves considerably – by 12 cm before cutting out, then I turned them over several times as I wanted them to finish just below my elbows.

Close up of sleeve finish

In my head Kwik Sew=easy. And really, this isn’t a difficult sew for an advanced beginner but it could have gone better. The fabric frayed horribly so the overlocker I have on almost permanent loan from my sister was put to good use! In addition, the band – which had been a perfect length – stretched by nearly 6cm as I was sewing it on. I realised this was happening fairly early on and should have stopped to work out what was going wrong and what I could do to prevent it. I didn’t, and this was a mistake which took quite a bit of time to rectify.

This was my first attempt at piping, and I don’t have a piping foot but thought my zipper foot would be okay. It wasn’t.  Although the piping doesn’t look awful it could be better. The piping is attached to the main garment, then the band is stitched – in the same place – over the top. I felt this could all have been done at the same time. The picture below shows the best bit of the piping – lesson learned for next time!

Close up of piping

I followed the instructions pretty much to the letter and I really, really don’t like the finish of the inside of the band. The raw edges are simply overcast (or in my case, overlocked). This is a much neater way of doing it and I will definitely do this next time. Overall, though, it’s turned out okay and will definitely be well worn over the summer months.

Finished robed belted

 

Top

Afternoon Delight!

afternoon2

In case anyone’s wondering, no I haven’t dropped off the face of the planet! Work has been even more manic than normal so although I’ve been doing lots of crafting (as I always do to keep the stress under control) I just didn’t feel like posting anything.

But early this morning I finished my first Jennifer Lauren Handmade Afternoon blouse, and I’m so pleased with it I just had to do a post about it. These pictures were taken as soon as it was finished, which – as it was only 6am – probably explains why I didn’t notice how bad the right sleeve looks! Trust me, in real life it looks just like the left one.

I’d seen numerous reviews of this top on patternreview.com and in blogland, and everyone commented on how easy it was. They weren’t wrong! I bought the pattern earlier this month, and eventually chose some lovely poly/cotton fabric from Minerva Crafts. I cut a straight size 12, and took a chance by doing no adjustments at all & not making a toile. I overlocked the pieces before sewing it all together but next time I’ll simply overlock all the seams. Although it didn’t take me just an afternoon it was a quick sew so there will definitely be a next time.

afternoon3

I hand-stitched the blouse front as the pattern instructions suggested, but the stitching fell apart the first time I put the top on! So as my handstitching is clearly rubbish, I top stitched the neckline which was a first for me. I was lazy, though, and didn’t pin the blouse on me to check for fit before I did it, so I had to unpick & re-stitch some of it. Lesson learned for next time!

The finished top is a little tight on Betty (my dress form), but I’m so pleased that on me it’s a perfect fit and the neckline lies perfectly flat. The pattern calls for a large button to finish the unusual neckline but I found a heart-shaped button in my stash which was a perfect match although it’s a little smaller than it should be. Job done, and I’m looking forward to making a second one with the alternative neckline – I’ve already bought the fabric so watch this space!

afternoon1

Top

Sewing Success!

I was lucky enough, years ago, to be taught basic dressmaking at school. Every so often I’ve tried to pick up the threads (sorry!) and have another go, and each time the result wasn’t good enough to wear outside the house – but not this time! I saw a free blouse pattern on the So Sew Easy blog and decided to have a go. I already had some fabric which was in the bargain bin at Abakhan last year, and although it was a nightmare to sew with (it frays really badly), this was the finished result:

Front view of blouse

The instructions were really easy to follow, and I even made my own bias binding – a first for me, and a major achievement! The only things I changed were that I lengthened the sleeves very slightly & elasticated the bottom as it was just too voluminous for me. I’m so happy with the finished result, and even my far-more-expert-at-sewing sister was impressed. And all for about £5!

Collage of 2 views of blouse

Useful Stuff

Not a Card!

In-car picture

I’ve had a satnav for ages, but haven’t been able to find a suitable mount for my Fiat Panda. Then I started seeing “bean bags” for Ipads, tablets etc & realised I could make a smaller version for my satnav. I based it on this tutorial, starting off with a piece of fabric which was 23cm by 28cm.

Extra views of bean bag

I made a couple of very minor modifications. I stitched across the bottom below the button because I used rice to fill the bag and I wanted to keep it under control. I had real difficulty stitching that part so I had to add a little extra padding, which altered the shape a little. If I made another one I would probably make an inner lining filled with rice. I also stitched across the top to create a flat piece to grab the beanbag.  I’m not an expert sewist so I’m really pleased with the finished result, which took me less than 90 minutes to make.

Bag

Not a Card!

I don’t sew very often because it’s too much of a hassle to get all my sewing stuff out – if I ever get a dedicated crafting space that may change! Last night I had a few uninterrupted hours to myself & decided to tackle a sewing project I’d been planning for a couple of weeks. I recently bought myself a little tablet PC with detachable keyboard, but had been unable to find a bag for it which I was happy with – most are designed for iPads & my tablet is a couple of centimetres wider. Then I saw this over at CraftPassion and knew I’d found the answer to my problem. A few hours’ work later:

This fits my tablet PC perfectly as you can see here:
This next photo shows the bag with the mains adaptor in the front pocket, which is a bit of a tight fit but it works. The USB cable fits into the back pocket. If I made another bag I’d probably make the pocket slightly longer, so it comes further up the side, with perhaps elastic across the top of the pocket.
I modified the design in a couple of ways: first, I used quite thick padding instead of interfacing to give some protection. This made the finished bag slightly bulkier & by the time I’d finished, the tablet was such a neat fit in the bag that I decided to use the simpler fastening method instead of the zip I’d planned, because that would have scratched the tablet. Luckily I found a matching button in my stash & a piece of elastic from a chocolate box ribbon which was already made into a loop. I also modified the gathers on the pocket to give a slightly neater finish which you can see here:
An experienced seamstress could have made this in a couple of hours. As a relatively inexperienced sewer I did find the instructions for the pocket a bit confusing, and this meant it took me a whole evening, but I’m so pleased with the finished result which only cost about £4!