Sergers are essential when sewing professional looking garments. I almost use my serger more than my regular sewing machine! Getting a serger I feel is a big step in a sewers craft, it made me feel like more of a sewer when I first got mine instead of just someone who hems pants and patches holes. Check out these notes on using a serger!
Seams which have been stitched with an overlock/serger machine are elastic and very durable. Seams are stitched and finished in one step. Four threads are used to stitch – two needle threads and two looper threads. When working with knit fabrics, elastic “wooly” nylon thread (available in well-stocked notions departments or where you purchased your overlock machine) are especially suited for the looper threads.
An overlock machine with differential feed can be adjusted to prevent knit fabric from stretching during sewing, however, the seam should not be shortened. First test settings on a double scrap of your fabric. Catch seam tape in the seams to prevent the seams from stretching during the wearing of the garment. With a special band sewing foot (Pfaff) it’s very easy. The width of the band holder on the foot can be set to the width of your tape so that the tape is not caught by the knives when stitching.
If yours is an older overlock machine, in other words, one with no differential feed, you can prevent seams from stretching if you iron Vilene Bias Tape/ stay tape to the wrong side of the fabric before stitching the seams.
Points to watch out for:
When cutting: Cut pieces with seam allowances = width of seam + trimming allowance.
When basting: If you don’t want to dispense with basting before you stitch the seams, make sure that you don’t baste where the seam will then be stitched. When you remove the basting, the overlock seam would be damaged. For this reason, you should baste approx. 0.5 cm (3/16") from the planned overlock seam.
Serging can be used as a seam itself, or a finishing technique that stops fabric edges from fraying
When stitching: You should never stitch over a straight pin, because this would damage the knives. Pins must be removed before reaching the knives – preferably at the edge of the sewing surface. Overlock machines can not backstitch. To secure ends of seams which will not be stitched across, stop the machine when the needles are on the fabric edge. Lift the presser foot and stitch 2 stitches without fabric. Turn the fabric over and slide it under the presser foot, wrong side up, so that the lower fabric edge lies directly in front of the needles. Lower the presser foot and stitch a short seam, making sure that the knives do not damage the first seam.
If your garment is not to be hemmed, it is a good idea to begin stitching at the lower edge.
The threads will not have to be hidden if you lay all threads in front of the needles and cover them with the first stitches. At the end of so-called “endless seams”, such as when finishing the inner edge of a facing or stitching a neck facing or wrist band in place, continue stitching over the beginning of the seam, 2 to 3 cm (¾" to 1¼") long, then angle the stitching to the outer edge of the fabric. The seam end will be sufficiently secured when you pull firmly on one or two threads. This forms a knot and the threads can then be cut. To prevent the seam from becoming wavy on a curve, do not pull the fabric but just rotate it on the surface next to the presser foot. To prevent the intersection of two seams from becoming too thick, lay one seam forward and one seam backward – this is especially important on heavy fabrics.
To learn more about using your serger check out these following BurdaStyle resources:
When did you as a sewer decide to get a serger and why?