Serger Sewing Machine
How To Use a Serger

Baby Lock Image SergerMy Newest Serger Purchase

The serger sewing machine you see above is my newest in my fleet of sewing machines. I love this serger. When I was scouting out for the latest and greatest in sergers, it was a toss up between the Baby Lock Image and the Janome 1200D. These machines are both highly rated, but the Baby Lock has features I really loved. One of them was the auto tension and auto looper threading feature. If I could have afforded both, well, I would have bought both, but that wasn’t a reality for me. I am extremly happy with my choice. 

PS. I am not affiliate with Janome or with Baby Lock. This is just an honest review of my purchase. 

The serger sewing machine is also known as an overlock machine, it first made it's way to the home sewer in the early 1980's.

Previous to that, the over lock, was used one hundred years earlier, in 1880's in clothing manufacturing.

The average home version over lock sewing machine, sews 900 to 1500 stitches per minute, depending on the make and model.This makes light work of all your projects.

The overlock is not essential to have in your list of tools, however it is an important machine to have working side by side with your regular machine.

My First Serger

Serger sewing machines

The serger sewing machine offers fast completion of seams and decorative stitches, as well as a more professional looking project.

So if you can afford to add it to your team of tools it is highly recommended.

Like the sewing machine, there are many makes and models to choose from.

How The Serger Sewing Machine Works

Unlike the sewing machine that uses a bobbin, the over lock has loopers that are fed by multiple cones of thread.

The loopers along with the needle thread, create loops that encase the fabric edge to give it that finished professional look.

There are machines that offer multiple stitches, for different effects.For example, two, three, four or five thread machines each have a different purpose. All machines indicate what stitches it is capable of achieving.

The examples below, from left to right are, 3 stitch, 4 stitch, and 5 stitch overlock.

Three Thread Stitch

serger sewing machine

Four Thread Stitch

serger sewing machine

Five Thread Stitch

serger sewing machine

The Rolled Hem

The serger sewing machine, also has a great feature for creating a decorative finish to your hems. It is call a rolled hem Another reason this serger feature, you can use it instead of trim.

Trim is a wonderful added feature to a garment or project, but if you have spent a little more on the fabric and want to keep cost down, or is you are making more than one dress for any event and again are looking to cut cost, a rolled hem is a great way to do so.

The photo shows a dress I made for my daughter.

You can see I have used the rolled hem to add a decorative flare as well as to finish the hem.

Rolled serger hem

Some of the newer sergers, have a built in rolled hem feature. You only have to change the serger foot to a rolled hem foot, to add the look to your garment.

I have an older model Singer. I have to change my plate in order to use the rolled hem feature. A little time consuming, but I am glad to have it. This is my rolled hem plate in the photo.

Serger Tips

1.) Practice using your scraps

The serger tension will be different with each project.Play with the machine using scrap fabrics and adjust the tension dials accordingly. Check your tension each time you start a new project, on a scrap piece of fabric you will be working with. Each machine is unique, so the tension will be different with each machine. Use your machine manual, it is a wonderful guide line to help you get started. Have your manual handy at all times. I find I refer to mine regularly if I am learning a new type of stitch or haven't use a particular fabric in a while.

2.)Let the machine do the work.

You won't need to push or pull on the fabric, let the fabric feed under the foot without lifting the presser foot. The feed dogs will grab the fabric and pull it through on it's own. Occasionally however, you will need to lift the presser foot, to put your fabric under depending on the seam you are trying to achieve.

3.)Purchasing A Serger From a Dealer

The dealer usually will include lessons. Take advantage of this, you may find it most helpful to have someone to answer your questions. If you have acquired your machine else where, look into lessons at a local dealer. It may or cost a few dollars because the machine wasn't purchased from that store, but it would be well worth the money.

4.)Is your machine missing the Manual?

If you acquired your machine from another source other than a dealer and you don't have the manual, check online. Most companies will have a PDF version of their manuals right on the websites. If finding a manual this way is proving to be a challenge, call a local dealer, they can order one in for you, for just a few dollars depending on whom you buy it from.

5.)Do Not Sew Over Pins

Be careful not to sew over pins. Especially with the serger sewing machine, as the damage to the knives and to the timing of the machine, would be costly. Use few pins and watch for them as they approach the knives and be sure to remove themas you sew. An alternative for straight seams, would be to place the pins on the left of the presser foot.

6.) Securing The Thread Tail

  • Tie a knot before cutting the tail.
  • Liquid sewing glue. Place a portion of glue near the seam and cut tail.
  • Feed the tail through a large needle and then feed the needle through the seam without having to cut the tail.

Coverstitch

My Janome Cover Pro

coverstitch machin

A new machine on the market, is the Cover Stitch machine.

The cover pro machine is great for knit fabrics, the feed dogs are created to feed the fabric through with out pulling. The result is even, smooth seams.

It offers a very professional finishing touch to all knit fabrics.

There are other makes and models to choose from of course, this just happens to be the one I have.

Some cover stitch options are built into a serger sewing machine.

If you have acquired an older model serger sewing machine, you can purchase a cover stitch machine separately.

The photos show example of both the cover pro machine and the stitches it creates.

coverstitch Samples

More About Sergers

For a history on the sewing machine, leave serger sewing machine page and go to who invented the sewing machine.