In this article, you will find out how to use a serger and how to properly set it up with as little hassle as possible. For many seamstresses who work with regular sewing machines, switching to a serger can be a painful experience, even if you are not new to sewing. A typical serger has 4 spools of thread, while some can have up to 8. That can look intimidating and you might not know where to start, let alone how to use it.
That's why we decided to show you how to thread a serger, how to adjust various components of your serger, and finally, how to use it and get great results!
Threading the Serger
For most users, especially the inexperienced ones, the main concern is threading the serger, which is often complicated, depending on what kind of serger you bought. Beginner-friendly sergers are often easier to thread, but that's not always the case.
Even though every serger comes with instructions and special, color-coded diagrams printed on the serger, most people will still have a hard time trying to thread their serger. The best thing to do is to buy a serger that comes with spools of thread already set up. That way you can see how it should look and memorize it for when you will have to rethread it. Take pictures if needed.
Every serger is special and could require different steps to thread it, but some rules can be applied to every serger:
When threading the serger, the machine should be off and the tension of every thread should be set to zero so it can fit perfectly.
Always respect the order in which you thread. It's not the same on every serger, so consult the manuals or find a tutorial that talks specifically about the model you have. The usual order for a 4-thread serger is the upper looper, lower looper, and then the two needles. You will most likely need tweezers for threading. They usually come with a serger.
Put the upper looper thread on the pole and pull it up so it gets right below the needles.
Put the lower looper on the second pole and bring it in front of the machine.
Put the final two threads on the poles and guide them through the needles.
Special thread tip: Always use quality threads as they a will give you better results and are harder to break.
Using a Serger
Different sergers have different features, but some components can be found on every model.
The presser foot is there to control the speed of the needles. Low-budget sergers usually have only one, all-purpose foot, while more expensive sergers come with 3, 4, or even more feet for specific tasks. Remember that a serger is usually much faster than a sewing machine so be careful not to have the foot pressed all the way down all the time. Start slowly and see what pace suits you the best. Different projects will require different speed.
Tension dials are there to keep your stitches in order. If the stitches are bunched up, loosen the tension. If they are too loose, increase the tension. The dials are intuitive and easy to use. Play around with the tension and test it on various fabric to see which setting gives the best results.
A serger has a set of two feed dogs. One in the front, and one in the back. Their job is to move the fabric under the needles. With the differential feed, you can change those two speeds. If you make the front feed dog faster, the material will gather. And if you make it slower than the back feed dog, it will stretch. That's a great ability as it can be adjusted to suit any kind of fabric and give you professional results.
Different Serger Stitches
A serger can be used to create all sorts of stitch combinations, thanks to its multiple spools of thread. Some of the popular ones are:
4-thread overlock. The most popular stitch, very strong and suited for seams that have to be durable.
3-thread overlock. Not as durable as the 4-thread overlock, but it can be used for finishing the edges.
Flatlock. Ideal for decorative stitching or for knitwear.
Rolled hem. Great for making edges on towels or napkins.
Coverstitch. Durable stitch, usually found on knit garments. Only certain sergers have it, so if you want that stitch, make sure to pick the right serger, or buy a special coverstitch machine.
We hope this article helped you learn how to use a serger sewing machine and how to set it up to achieve wanted results. Even though it can be scary at first, once you get used to a serger and see its many advantages, you won't be able to live without one. It can't replace a regular sewing machine, but together, they make a great team with which you can tackle any kind of sewing project and get impressive results. Just make sure to buy a serger that’s made by recognized manufacturers and that's suited for your level of skill so your learning process is as smooth as possible.