Join Janet on her adventures as a designer, writer, maker, and farmer in montana. no two days are ever the same. you might even see a bear or two.

Fun With Product Development

Fun With Product Development

Six or eight months ago, I asked the girls if they would be interested in some reuseable makeup rounds. They go through a lot of cotton rounds, and both of them have expressed interest in a more environmentally-friendly option.

[Except for that one time I appeared on Knitty Gritty about 15 years ago, I do not wear makeup. I have never found a makeup brand that did not make my eyes itch and my skin break out, and I am not enough of a masochist to play through the pain. I stopped dyeing my hair a long time ago, too. The chickens do not care what I look like as long as I come bearing scratch grains. However, I thought this would be a great project, so I offered.]

DD#2 tends to be very vocal about the fact that I am not the most attentive mother when it comes to making things for my kids. When she was about five years old, she told a yarn store owner that her mother was too busy making stuff for other people to knit her a sweater. (I think I knit her a sweater shortly after that.) When we were in London, I suggested she create a Pinterest board of things she would like me to make her. She said she would call it, “Things My Mother Said She Would Make Me But Has Not Gotten Around To Yet.”

So yes, making these makeup rounds has taken me longer than I wanted it to. First I had to source the organic cotton fleece and order it. Then I needed to set the Juki domestic serger up for serging knits, but instead of doing that, I procrastinated until I got a second serger. I now have two Juki 4-thread sergers, but it took me a week to get around to unboxing and setting up the second one. I had an Accuquilt die for making circles, but the circle on the die was not the size I needed, so I had to order a different die. As of yesterday, I had the second serger, the correct-size die, the cotton fleece, but no appropriate woolly nylon thread.

[If you give a moose a muffin.]

I stopped in at Joanns this morning expecting to buy a couple of spools of woolly nylon thread and be on my way, but as soon as I walked in the door, one of the cashiers stopped me and alerted me to a flash sale on clearance fabric, some of it as low as $2 a yard. I was not going to turn down the possibility of getting some quilt backs for $8 or $10, so off I went to the clearance fabric section.

I did remember to get the woolly nylon.

The plan for this afternoon was to get the serger set up and threaded with the woolly nylon, cut out some fabric circles, and serge a supply of makeup rounds. I amassed all my supplies, sat down at the serger, swapped out the regular needles for ball-point needles, and things promptly went off the rails.

Woolly nylon is not like regular sewing thread. Sewing thread is twisted and plied and tends to be fairly stable. Woolly nylon is basically a bunch of long parallel filaments of polyester with no integrity. They separate and cling to everything. Woolly nylon is often used on garments made from knits because it allows the seams to stretch and it is soft against the skin. While it is possible to use it in both the loopers and the needles, I chose to use the woolly nylon only in the loopers, which encase the edge of the fabric, and use regular thread in the needles.

I already have both a domestic serger and an industrial serger and I have threaded both of them successfully, many times. The new serger is the same make and model as my other domestic serger. I have used woolly nylon on the coverstitch machine. I know to put thread nets around my cones to keep the woolly nylon contained. This is not my first rodeo.

I threaded the machine with woolly nylon in the loopers and regular thread in the needles. No chain. I rethreaded. Still no chain. I rethreaded again. Nope. I cut the woolly nylon and threaded with sewing thread in both loopers and both needles. I got a chain. I tied woolly nylon onto the regular thread in the upper looper and ran it through successfully.

I tied woolly nylon onto the regular thread in the lower looper and ran it through and it chained for an inch and then stopped.

Somehow, after an hour of tinkering, I finally got the woolly nylon to work in both the upper and lower loopers. I tested the tension settings with some scrap fabric and made the appropriate adjustments. Could it be? Could it actually be time to try making some reusable makeup rounds? I cut two circles of fabric with the Accuquilt die and tried serging around the edge. It looked awful. Four threads was too many and the edging was too wide. It was also too difficult to serge around such a small circle smoothly. I removed the left-hand thread and left-hand needle, leaving the machine set up for a three-thread narrow stitch with one needle thread and two loopers.



I am good with these. This is not heirloom sewing. They seem to be the right weight, the cotton fleece is very soft, and the thread lies nicely along the edges. The girls will have to field test them and let me know how they hold up. (I wonder if a layer of cotton batting sandwiched between the two circles would be helpful.) I will cut a whole stack of fabric circles with the Accuquilt die and stack them next to the serger so I can run up makeup rounds when I have a few free moments. I expect each of the girls is going to need at least a couple dozen.

After all of this, can anyone begrudge me the desire to have one serger dedicated to knits and one to wovens? (Or a router in every horsepower, as the husband puts it.) I thought I would spend 10 minutes threading the serger and two hours making makeup rounds. I spent two hours threading the serger and 10 minutes making makeup rounds. Oh, well. Everything is now set up for serging knits. As I was getting dressed this morning, I noted to the husband that now I can make my own underwear, and while I am at it, I could probably make him some underwear, too. Do not expect a blog post about that project, though.

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