Review of Beginner Serging from Craftsy

23 Feb

I bought this course after being utterly wowed by sergers/overlockers, but also totally overwhelmed at the same time!  I know Craftsy, and love it, so it was the first place I looked for some quality learning.  You can buy the course here for £26 full price – but if you hang around there is usually an offer on various courses.  I got the course for just £12 with a voucher I bought with some Christmas money.  Craftsy aren’t paying me for my views.

The instructor – Amy Alan

The first thing you need to know is that Amy has an absolutely lovely way with her!  She has this really warm way of speaking and often puts a little laughy smile on the end of sentences – particularly ones which might make you go ‘eeeek!  How the hell am I going to pull that off?!’  This style suggests she has experience of teaching in real life and she is anticipating the look of dawning terror on her learners faces at just the right moment.  She also personifies everything – the screwdriver is ‘this little guy’ and for something else ‘he just comes up on the thread guide’ are two examples but the course is peppered with them –  it makes it seems like we are getting to know a new friend rather than mastering a piece of machinery.  This style has the effect of making everything feel achievable and made me really enjoy the actual instruction, not just the learning.    She has a blog and I have started following her after this course – I am a fan!

The platform – the app in particular

I love Craftsy, the quality of instruction and the price is just fantastic as I explained when I did my block of the month write-up .  However, in order to have online instruction lots of crafters have invested in portable devices like tablets to access the internet as we work and sadly Craftsy is not delivering well on these platforms.  Last summer they brought out the long awaited Craftsy App, which is an improvement on using the website which was unbelievably limited on my ipad.  However the app crashes – often.  It also has completely different options available to you depending on whether you are viewing it in landscape:

Photo 23-02-2013 17 11 46

or portrait:

Photo 23-02-2013 17 11 52

I like to watch in landscape as I have a little stand for landscape viewing, but I can only read the discussions and add notes when it is in portrait which is utterly impractical.  You also have no thirty second rewind.  The thing that *really* gets me though is if your Ipad goes in to standby when you’ve paused a video the app doesn’t remember where in the video you were and starts again at the beginning of the lesson.  This is unbelievably annoying as generally you have paused it at a difficult part of the make – to have to mess around to find your exact place totally breaks your flow.  I really think this is an area they need to work on so they can take their instruction to the next level.

Understanding your machine and threading

In the opening lesson Amy has three machines, an entry level Brother, a mid-range Janome (this is the one I have!) and a Bernina:

Photo 23-02-2013 17 20 47

She goes through all the features on every machine and you tick it off when you find that item or control on your machine and she demonstrates a lot of the settings on all three models.  This is an excellent way to start as it means you can eyeball and touch each feature meaning you have a reference for all the future lessons no matter what machine you are working on; clever idea.  I actually wish I had bought the course earlier so I could have watched this lesson before I even went on my exploratory shopping trip to work out what I wanted from a machine so I would be able to see what you get in each price bracket.  This lesson also features threading in lots of detail.  There are a few things I am not happy about with this generally excellent course, and this is the first one: she demonstrates the rest of the course on the top of the range Bernina.  How many people who have never used a serger before would go out and buy a top of the range model?  The tuition would have been more effective if she had used at least the mid-range one, or chopped and changed between the three.   There are several minutes devoted to using the automatic needle threader on the Bernina – surely such a machine specific feature doesn’t need this level of detail?   The instruction remains good but it would be better to have seen all three models.

Basic stitches

The course teaches you about all the different types of stitches and how the stitches are formed which is great.  It is coupled with very detailed information on the tension settings for each stitch type in the course materials i.e. it says whether the tensions settings are going to be medium, high etc.  She also helps with diagnosing tension issues.  The class goes through loads of stitch types: overlock, flatlock, rolled hem, narrow seam, wrapped overlock on four, three and two thread serging.

Photo 23-02-2013 17 25 11

The class has you trial each stitch type and create a ‘stitch book’ so you keep a sample of the stitch and write down all the settings for later reference:

Photo 23-02-2013 17 32 47

What an excellent resource to keep and refer to for the rest of my crafting life.  The template could have a few more boxes to record details like fabric type, blade up or down, layers of fabric, stitch finger engaged or not.  I have scribbled these on but they would have been nice to be included as they are discussed on the course.  Here comes probably my biggest criticism of the whole course – she doesn’t tell you what each stitch type is for.  I was so wrapped up in my lovely learning journey that I didn’t even notice at the time!  This is a pretty major flaw – after completing this lesson, I was about to begin sewing a knit dress up (Tiramisu anyone?!) and as I was setting up I suddenly thought – which stitch do I use for this?!  I know working through the projects in the later lessons uses a lot of the stitches but you need a ‘typical use’ or the advantages and disadvantages of the different stitches.

The projects

One really lovely thing about Craftsy courses is they teach you a technique, then you do a real life project to test that out.  The projects for this course are a zippered bag:

Photo 23-02-2013 17 35 13

ruffle apron: (in background)

Photo 23-02-2013 17 35 38

striped knit scarf: (on model far left – there was no close up of this – real shame)

Photo 23-02-2013 17 37 57

I have to say at this point that although I have watched these lessons I have only completed the bag project – I just don’t like the other projects, sorry!  I would never wear a ruffled apron and the scarf isn’t my style.  This doesn’t mean I will never complete the latter projects, just at the moment I don’t want to spend a considerable amount of time creating something I won’t enjoy too much.  I like that these projects are completed wholly on the serger, no reference to a normal sewing machine at all.   Across the projects you use nearly all the stitches she has shown you which is a really practical way of practicing them; although as I have already explained I would have preferred more clarity than this.  There is a real reliability on the paper course materials without too much exemplification for the ‘away from the serger’ bits.  The fact it doesn’t even properly show you what you are going to make on the video in the case of the apron and the scarf is pretty disappointing and might be why I don’t feel inspired to make them.

In summary

A lovely course which I would recommend for those who have just bought a serger, or even if you are thinking of buying one.  You come away with a stitch book which will be a constant reference companion and up to three projects cleverly constructed entirely on your new machine.  There are some flaws which don’t detract from the learning value but do stop this from being an outstanding course.  The bugs in the platform remain for ipad users and do need sorting out but I do love Craftsy, so won’t be put off.

Over to you:

  • Was this review useful to you?
  • Have you taken this course?  What did you think?
  • Is there anything you’d like to know that I’ve left out?

I’d love to hear from you – do leave a comment!

Advertisements

6 Responses to “Review of Beginner Serging from Craftsy”

  1. amyalan 23/02/2013 at 6:33 pm #

    Hello, dear! I’m glad you wrote this review. I love to hear things (both positive and negative) that students love and would like to see changed about a course. It makes me a much better teacher. Thank you for taking the time to write everything out in such detail! Although I don’t have control over the production process (close-ups, included detail shots, information editing, etc), I like to know what you feel was missing so that if another class happens in the future, I can have more feedback for Craftsy on shots I’d like to make sure are included in lessons.

    I did see that you mentioned, “she doesn’t tell you what each stitch type is for.” Did you download all of the handouts? I want to make sure that you have all of the information that you need for your future serged projects. I had a few students asking me for this information, so I edited the “Tips & Techniques” handout to include a 2-page section on each of the stitches and when you should use them. Try re-downloading the handout and let me know if you still have stitch questions- I’m happy to answer them!

    Thanks again and I hope you have a lot of fun with your serger!

    • hannybobbins 23/02/2013 at 9:09 pm #

      wow Amy! Thanks so much for coming and actually commenting on my blog! I really appreciate you coming back with responses to my issues with the course, that is very kind of you. I will try re-downloading to see if I have an older version of the handouts somehow. I am a teacher and it is impossible to anticipate the needs of all the learners, particularly when you aren’t ‘live’ with them, so I think it must be very hard to instruct on Craftsy. I thought you were a great teacher and really enjoyed your style. Thanks again.

      • amyalan 25/02/2013 at 9:09 pm #

        Of course! Yes, it is hard to anticipate everyone’s needs. There are things that I would go back and edit and add-in if I could, but that’s not possible. I just keep these things in mind for the future and try to be as helpful as I can within the class questions and comments. I’m glad you enjoyed the class though! Hopefully the handout helped to answer your stitch questions too- let me know (on the class platform) if you’re looking for more stitch information.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Stashbusting update: February | Hanny Bobbins - 24/02/2013

    […] a rolled hem napkin so I googled and who is the top link?  Only my favourite Craftsy instructor Amy Alan with this free tutorial! The fabric I used was a two metre length of quilting cotton I bought at […]

  2. Introducing Fred | Hanny Bobbins - 26/07/2013

    […] do which is important to me.  I’ve been through the  Beginning Serging course on Craftsy (my review here) and it seems I have bought exactly what I wanted – a solid mid-range machine.  Once you get […]

  3. Sewing Dares – update | Hanny Bobbins - 29/07/2013

    […] used the box bag project from my Craftsy Beginning Serging course and this was my first […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: