Using a Serger…

Many of you have noticed.  And many of you have asked.
And yes, I finally am using a serger.  (Or overlocker…….same thing.)
Here was the issue.  A serger is an investment.  And I already have a fantastic sewing machine (Bernina Aurora 440) that does all sorts of great stuff.  (Thank you Bernina……we are getting along perfectly!) But I love sewing on knits and let me tell you, you can still sew knits with a regular machine……but a serger handles a knits completely differently.  I also wanted to quickly finish an edge of any type of fabric without folding, folding again, and sewing.  Or zig-zagging all of my edges.  It still works but takes so much more time on a regular sewing machine.
However, if I had to pick between a sewing machine and a serger, I would hands down choose a sewing machine.  It can still do so much more.  But my swerger {sigh and swoon}………she is like my little happy-to-please assistant, trying to eliminate extra work as she happily hums along at ferocious speeds for me.  Love her.
So what type did I get?
I read online, looked at reviews, checked out all different brands, tested some out at stores, etc.  I did it all.  In the end, I decided to stick with my little Bernina brand…….just because she has been so good to me.  But I do know that many other brands of sergers work just as well and have different features that people really like.  I just happen to be loyal to the good ‘ol Bernina brand now.
Here are the types of sergers that Bernina offers:  (Complete list with details here.)
The 700, the 800, the 009, the 1150, and the 1300.
The 700 does a certain number of things, the 800 does even more , and the 1150 even more.  And then the 009 is a coverstitch machine (which is like a serged top-stitch seen on knits around collars and sleeves, etc) but doesn’t cut through the fabric at all.  It doesn’t do all of the other serged edges like the other 3 I mentioned……but all in itself, it is capable of a really nice finishing stitch.  I really wanted this feature and really had my eye on 1300….because it had it all, including that coverstitch.  But let’s be realistic.  It’s a lot more pricey.
So I decided that I liked the 700 but I liked the 800 just a little bit more. And while sewing on the 800 vs. the 1150, I liked how the 800 sewed just a little bit better.  It seemed to really bust through those seams and I liked that about her.  I’m not sure why the 1150 didn’t win me over, and maybe it was just the particular machine I was sewing on…….but that 800 and I got along great. And had everything I needed.  And it was right before New Year’s and the sales were fantastic.  The dealer didn’t want any more sergers in their inventory before the new year began.  I’ll help you with that, thank you!
So, if you have never used a serger, or seen one at work…….you may be confused as to all the fuss.
Let me show you a bit more about using a serger/overlocker.
Have you noticed those really fancy stitches on the inside of most manufactured clothing?
This is the work of a serger.
First of all, a serger uses more than 2 threads at a time, like a standard sewing machine does.  It can use up to 5 threads but my machine only uses up to 4 threads.  2 threads on the top and 2 threads on the bottom.
Some people hate threading their sergers and talk about the extra time it takes to load her up.  Yes, it does take a little longer, but isn’t as bad as I was led to believe after reading reviews about threading a serger.  But because there are 4 threads (maximum), it does take a bit more time and practice to get it right.
You have to thread the 2 bottom threads (lower loopers), which are the 2 spools on the right, that you thread through the bottom of the machine and that can seem complicated.  But most machines have diagrams right on the machine to help you out.
Then the 2 top threads (upper loopers), which are the 2 spools on the left, which you thread through the to part of the machine and into the 2 needles.
And again, you can sew with 2 or 3 threads as well, it just depends on the type of stitch you want for the type of project you’re doing.  And a user’s manual would show you how to achieve each stitch.
The diagram in my manual, shows me just how to adjust the thread tension for each thread…
……and how to adjust my stitch length and differential setting.
You can also adjust your cutting length, your stitch width, etc……..but playing around with it has been most useful for me.
When everything is set up and ready to go, you can hold onto your strings and just start sewing away.  With a sewing machine, you don’t want to sew without your fabric under your presser foot…..but with a serger, you can push your pedal down full speed and watch as the serged stitch is created.
With a serger, there is a little knife that cuts your fabric as you slide it under the presser foot.  This trims the edge perfectly before the machine creates the nicely finished edge.  As shown below, there is an upper knife and a lower knife.  They are both really sharp……so don’t let you pins go under there.  They will get sliced in half and will nick your blades.
To serge on your fabric, you lift the presser foot up the same way you do with a regular sewing machine and slide your fabric under the foot.  Line up the right edge of your fabric with the seam allowance you need to use, just like a regular sewing machine.  Then your machine will cut where it needs to……but just follow the seam allowance markings on the machine.
You will begin to see the far end of the fabric coming out behind the presser foot, with a nice serged edge.
Once you have finished serging your edge, just keep the presser foot down and allow a trail of thread to continue sewing.  And then cut off.  You always want to leave a trail of serged thread attached the machine, so that the threads stay in place.
And to show you the different threads at work, I used 4 different colors.  See how they all work together?
If you are sewing around a project and want the end of your serged edge to meet back up with the beginning……here’s what I do.
I sew all the way around……..
………..and then overlap the beginning of my serged edge.  Then I gradually run off the fabric, leaving a trail of fabric behind.
Then I just trim off the ends.  Easy.  (And when sewing with all of the same color……this transition won’t be so noticeable to the eye.)
**You can also untangle your loose ends and tie them in a knot to assure nothing unravels……but I never take the time to do that.  But maybe I should. :)
When sewing a corner……here’s what works for me.
I begin by serging along a straight edge and then when I get to the corner, I move one stitch past the end.  Then I lift up the needle and presser foot, turn my fabric, lower the foot and the needle, and then start sewing again right at the very top of the fabric.
Now you have a nicely finished corner, without any mess or loose threads.
How about sewing on a curve?  That can seem tricky on one of these powerful machines.  You can still sew on a curve though.  Just do so slowly and re-adjust your needle, presser foot, and fabric as you go.
And you will achieve a nice little serged curved edge.
And don’t worry, you can pick out a serged edge just as easily as a regular sewing machine stitch.  Just slide your seam ripper under the long stitches, and cut through them.  This will release the other threads that you can now pull right out.
If you want to change your spools of thread, you cut your threads up at the top……then start pulling on the threads as you sew for a bit with your foot pedal activated.  This will clean the threads out of the machine.  Then re-thread and start again.
And surprisingly, a serger/overlocker really can do a lot.  You have just to play around with it and see how all of the functions work.
I love that it can create a nice and narrow rolled edge.  This works great as a hem and also adds a great little detail to any project.
Also, you may be surprised to know that a serger can gather.  Oh, yes it can.  And it does quite a nice job at it too.  And this way, you don’t have all of the frayed edges coming apart at the top……
…….because they’re all serged and encased.  Love it.
All in all, I am very pleased with my little Bernina serger.
She’s my little work horse and happily finishes off all of the monotonous sewing I have to do.
And after a year or more of trying to decide……..I don’t have one bit of buyer’s remorse now that I have her.  She has been worth every penny.
Anyway, I hope that was helpful for those of you interested in the hype about sergers.  And maybe helped show you a little more of what they can do.  If you have any questions, just let me know in the comments below……or send me an email (makeitandloveit{@}gmail{dot}com)
And if you are a serger user yourself, tell us what you have, why you love/hate it, or any other helpful tips suggestions, etc.  I would love to hear what others are using.
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188 Responses to “Using a Serger…”
  1. 1
    Melissa says:

    I'm actually in the process of writing a post about my serger experience too! I've had it a few months, and have gotten so used to it, it's hard to think of not having it in my life! I have the Brother 1034D, very affordable and easy to use! And I agree about the knits, soooo much easier!

    • 1.1
      Anonymous says:

      I just ordered by Brother 1034D today! I can’t wait until it arrives!!

      • 1.1.1
        Leyna says:

        I have a Brother 1034D and I am in LOVE with it!! It is a wonderful machine & is so immensly useful & is a HUGE time saver! I just need to keep training myself on all of the wonderful things it can do!

    • 1.2
      Teri says:

      I have a Brother 1034D and am trying to learn to use it – how do I find your blog?

    • 1.3
      Bre says:

      I had my Brother 1034d delivered yesterday. Waiting for the new thread to arrive. I am a bit frightened
      Of it but, all these positive websites make me less anxious. Can’t wait to try it out. Xx

      • 1.3.1

        I know what you mean. It took THREE YEARS of owning my serger before getting up the nerve to use it… seriously! It LOOKED so intimidating! But I finally decided I will never learn if I don’t start… and now I LOVE it!
        Just jump on and learn as you go. When you need to rethread follow the directions and you will be a pro in no time!

          Jj says:

          Question, when you use 1 needle vs 2.. What do you do with the thread? Set it to “0” and not thread it or put it with the other needle?

          mtrgoos says:

          When I bought my serger 11 years ago I was promised a class to show me how to use it. Unfortunately that never happened, so my serger sat in the box for 5 years, before I decided to pull out the manual & go online to learn how to use it. I can no longer live without my serger & continue to take numerous online class to increase my knowledge of all things serger!

    • 1.4
      Anonymous says:

      Need help threading brother 1034d anyone know any good training videos

  2. 2
    Pam - diy Design Fanatic says:

    I used to be in the fashion industry and had a 5 thread industrial serger with a huge table. I rarely used it because it was a pain in the neck- it took at least 30 – 45 minutes to follow the diagram and thread it. I am hoping to get a more simple serger for future project.

    • 2.1
      Anonymous says:

      I just got a Brother 5234PRW. I am really looking forward to trying it. A friend suggested leaving it threaded. Then cut at the spool, tie on the new thread and pull through the machine. That way you never have to thread it manually again. I have seen my sewing machine dealer do thison a 10 needle embroidery machine and it worked really slick. I plan on asking him about it when I go back for a lesson on the machine.

      • 2.1.1
        Anonymous says:

        You need to know how to thread it though….in case the thread breaks, ask me how I know, lol!

    • 2.2
      shirley says:

      hi I have a 5 thread singer serger, and I love it you can do almost everything except button holes. I is well worth the
      600.00 I paid for it.

  3. 3
    Anita says:

    I agree with Melissa and I also bought the 1034D.'s star rating for this serger is at 275 comments today with a 4.5 rating of 5 stars. I've been using it for months and love it too. Two DVD's come with it, it's easy to thread once you get the path down (machine threading is on the DVD), and I can now thread my machine in less than 5 minutes! The rolled edge is my favorite with a tight satin stitch look.

  4. 4
    Billie Motsch says:

    I envy your serger!!! I hope to have one someday. Until then, me and my trusty sewing machine will be bff's:)
    On another note. What brand/name are the fabrics that you used on the carseat? I love both the gray and the yellow!

    • 4.1
      Cathy says:

      Check out Garage Sales. I see them all the time at the sales. For a lady just starting out, this would be a reasonable way to go. You would learn before you invested in a a more pricy one, what you would like and not like on the machine. This what I did before I purchased my Viking 936. You might have to take it to a repair shop and get it checked out before you start using it though. All makes and brands are at these sales.Once I got over being afraid of it, I was on my way. I always think before I start a project “Can I serge this?” in stead of sewing it? They are a real time saver, Great machines these sergers!

  5. 5
    Keri says:

    I'm completely jealous! I took a few sewing classes in college and we used the serger for part of it and I fell in love. Feel free to have a serger giveaway! :)

  6. 6
    Cynthia Geddis says:

    I absolutely love my serger! I wouldn't sew without one anymore. I have a couple of tips for you too. First don't just cut your threads at the end of your seam unless it's going to be covered by another seam. Eventually the threads will unravel through wear and washing. I use a little needle threader or hook tool (Looks kinda like a latch hook tool) and pull the ends back through the serged seam. That way the ends are secured and won't unravel anymore.

    My other tip is that you don't have to rethread your machine every time you want to change thread colors. Simply trim the threads at the top, tie your new color to the old color that is still threaded through the machine. Set all your tension dials to 0, raise your pressure foot, and pull the threads through your machine. It's a quick simple way to change threads without the complicated threading process. Then you only have to trim the knots and rethread your needles and you are done!

    Hope that makes sense and isn't too confusing.

    • 6.1
      Carole says:

      Thanks for the tip about setting the tension dials to 0. I think I knew that at one time but had forgotten. I do change the color of the thread that way but didn’t change the tension. I had a Huskylock 936 and found it too confusing-just traded it for a less complicated machine (cover stitch). Having a machine that does serging and cover stitch for me is just too complicated. I now have a little Janome Serger and a new Janome cover stitch 1000. I may trade up my older Janome Serger soon for a newer machine where I don’t have to change plates for the rolled stitch. Love the sergers.

  7. 7
    Midwestern Gone Idahoan says:

    WOW!! I am in love too!!

  8. 8
    Opp Family says:

    I love my Janome 634D Serger. I use it ALL the time! My biggest recommendation is not to by online for things like sergers and sewing machines. I always buy from a brick and mortar store. You'll usually get free classes, and also invaluable local expertise to help you navigate the nuances of your new machine. Local stores are usually a little more expensive than what you could buy something for online, but the help you get is worth a lot of $$$, plus you are helping to support a store in your community.

    • 8.1
      Carole says:

      I fully agree. Having a reputable store to back you up when the problems arise (and they will arise) is invaluable. Even if it costs more have someone there to help you

      • 8.1.1
        mtrgoos says:

        When you buy a serger (whether online or from a local store) be sure they are the authorized repair/dealer. We have a local store that sells JUKI machines (sergers & sewing machine) but he is NOT the authorized dealer…………….so many problems with this jerk!

  9. 9
    The Smith Family says:

    Wow! This is great! I recently inherited a serger and now I don't feel quite so intimidated to give it a go! THANKS

  10. 10
    Lia says:

    I'm still getting to know my serger that I bought in December. Thanks for your demonstrations on basic edges and corners.
    I'd love to see an example of how you use yours to gather.

  11. 11
    MaryJanes and Galoshes says:

    Thank you so much for posting this. My grandmother gave me her serger after she decided it was to complicated for her. Knowing that has made me afraid to try it out, she said she took it to a class and the instructor couldn't even get her machine to cooperate. Your post has given me the courage to give it a go myself. Thanks!


  12. 12
    Nikki says:

    Wow your serger sounds/looks great, very jealous indeed! If I had my time again I certainly wouldn't but 2nd hand from ebay again turns out my machine problems are terminal. At least it wasn't operator after all :) one day i will get a decent machine from a real sewing shop with aftercare service.

  13. 13
    Lil Mama Stuart says:

    VERY helpful thank you! and looks very intimidating, yikes!

  14. 14
    Megan says:

    I just threaded my serger yesterday! So excited to not have unfinished edges anymore. I got mine on craigslist ($50 & it included a bin full of thread spools). It us older but still works great. Now to figure out the different settings, since it didn't have a manual

    • 14.1
      Anonymous says:

      I bought a serger on Craigslist that didn’t have a manual. I was able to download one and print it. Mine was a singer, but imagine other brands have them alsi

    • 14.2
      Anonymous says:

      You might be able to get a manual by doing a Bohemian search online. I found a source for a manual for a really old singer machine.

      • 14.2.1
        girlwithknife says:

        someone gave me a simplicity sl4350d the other day and with no manual and no serger experience, I have been driving myself crazy looking at manuals from other machines and getting nowhere. What is a “Bohemian search”?

          Mama D says:

          I bought a used Simplicity SL 804 serger at a yard sale nearly 10 years ago. I found the manual online by googling “simplicity sl804 manual” I had to look for a few minutes but I found a free manual downloaded it and printed it, then I slipped the pages in sheet protectors and put them in a binder. I liked this homemade manual so well I also looked up the one to my sewing machine online and printed it and put it in the same binder. My manual binder sits on my sewing desk all the time. I add notes to it when needed and projects I want to try to the pockets.
          By the way I am still using my yard sale serger 10 years later and it only cost me $15.00. It is the best deal I ever made.

    • 14.3
      Carolanne says:

      Try googling you brand and model for an instruction manual. A lot of times they are free.

  15. 15
    Danae says:

    My husband just got me a serger for Christmas– also the Bernina, the 1150; I was scared to pieces of it– I remember my mom's being very scary and impossible to thread or fix whenever something went wrong, which it always did. But the store that sold him my serger included classes on how to use it, and once I understood how to thread it, it isn't scary at all, and I love it to pieces! It does so much, and makes everything I sew seem so much fancier and more finished! (Not as cool as my own lables, but still– fancy!) I'm just glad not to be having to double-fold all my edges and zig-zagging everything anymore!

  16. 16
    The Brownings says:

    When using a serger, do you need to do any right side together and then turn right side out stuff? Or can you just eliminate that step all together and just sew wrong sides together from the beginning? {Hope that made sense!}

  17. 17
    Anita says:

    I've had my elna serger for about a year and half, I love it. I agree with you, I don't have a problem threading my machine. I just couldn't justify spending an extra $1,000 for the jet threading feature. I haven't tried gathering on my machine yet. Do you set some of the threads to a longer stitch length?

    • 17.1
      Cindy says:

      Gathering on a serger is pretty easy. If your serger has the ability to adjust the differential (feed dogs), you can change the setting to the highest number, usually 2. You may need to tinker with needle tension settings, but it does work quite well!

      I just got a used Elna 704 DEX from my favorite sewing shop, and I’m thinking about ordering a gathering foot for it.

  18. 18
    Meredith says:

    Opp Family-I also have a Jonome 634 D. I had the incredible fortune of winning it! However, It has kind of left me up to my own devices to figure it all out which hasn't been so easy! I'm having a hard time decided where to set all of my thread tensions and whatnot. Any suggestions for me???

    • 18.1
      Evelyn says:

      Read the manual, and watch videos on line. I just purchased a used Janome 634D, and am having fun with it. Or just try different settings.

  19. 19
    Julie says:

    Thanks so much! I had an idea how a serger worked, but didn't understand the specifics. Now I want one even more :) Thanks!

  20. 20
    Callin and Kristen says:

    My husband bought mt a Pfaff 4874. I love it! It does some decorative stitches, and can take up to 10 spools! It is a dream to thread, and tensions are automatic but still adjustable. She is like my new best friend! Love her!

  21. 21
    A Jennuine Life says:

    I have the same model! I call her Nina – I know, original! I love, love, love her and only just learned that she could ruffle – so got to practice that, cuz I hate running those gathering stitches!

  22. 22
    kathy says:

    I have a Janome 1110DX and love it. It is not fun to thread but, like you wrote, you get used to it the more you use it. I have not figured out all its capabilities but I just recently mastered rolled edges and am happy as a clam with two hem choices! (It does more but I just haven't mastered them yet)

  23. 23
    mrs.lmnop says:

    Thank you for demystifying the serger! I've thought about getting one, but my normal reaction to a serger is fear (expensive fear).

  24. 24
    Launie says:

    I have a Baby Lock 450. I love that thing! I took a serger class when I got it and learned a ton; like, when sewing in the 4 thread mode, it actually sews your fabric together there by eliminating a trip through the sewing machine. I have made the kids several items that were mostly just serged together. They have held up just fine.
    Also, when it is time to rethread, tie the new thread to the old thread using square knots. Set all tensions to 0 (needles included) and pull all 4 thread slowly through the machine. Easy-peasy!

    • 24.1
      Jane says:

      I was looking for an answer to the question of using a serger instead of a sewing machine and you just answered it! Thank you!

  25. 25
    Brett and Sharlee says:

    I used to work at a small town drapery business, and when we changed the thread on those machines we would just cut the threads at the top and tie a knot between the thread still in the machine and the new spool you want to use. Either pull the thread through for a sewing machine, or sew a bit on a serger to get all the threads changed. It saved so much time and was so easy.

    • 25.1
      Anonymous says:

      Will the knots go through the eye of the needle without any problem?

      • 25.1.1
        Kat says:

        You cut the knot right before the eye of the needle…. make sure you are at zero… go slowly, you don’t have to manually rethread, just the needle…

          Elsa says:

          I have tried to pull the thread (knotted) through the needle – but it never works. It does work through the looper though.
          Be very careful when you try to do this and do it slowly otherwise you’ll have a broken or bent needle to contend with.
          I find the needles the hardest to re-thread, and need a bottle of “patience” next to me.

          • Elsa says:

            By the way – I became so sick of changing thread from black to white that I bought a second hand one at a garage sale. It did cost me $75.00 to fix but for that amount of money I don’t have the heartache of continually changing thread colours.
            The majority of the time black or white seems to suffice.

          • Anonymous says:

            what causes my serger to not loop the stitches

  26. 26
    K. says:

    Thanks for posting this! I was just wondering about this type of sewing the other day.

  27. 27
    Angela says:

    Great post and pictures! I just pulled my Janome 234D out after not using it for several years and am trying to reacquaint myself with it.

    One thing I've never been able to get to work is gathering – I would love to see a tutorial on that. One of my daughters is in love with tiered skirts and I would be so happy to have an easier way to make them.

    • 27.1
      Alet Dafel says:

      Good Morning,
      I was given a Finnesse 234D but without the manual. I manage okay, but one aspect I cannot master and that is how and where to set the rollseam settings. Could you help me please.

      Sorry to bother you, but I am in desperate need of these settings. I cannot see where to set the differential feed, or the cutting width>

      Thank you
      Alet 0832527635

    • 27.2
      Alet Dafel says:

      Hi Angela, how do I get to see these pics

  28. 28
    Emily says:

    Thank you for posting this! I want a serger but didn't know much about how they work. Your review and pictures are super helpful.

  29. 29
    The 4 Hoggans says:

    I bought that same serger about a year ago. I love it. I just wish I had more time to use it. I love the rolled hem.

  30. 30
    Shirley says:

    This was great, I bought a serger about 6 months ago and have been intimidated to try using it! Thanks for the motivation :)

  31. 31
    Maman Bio says:

    I am also "in love" with my serger…

    I bought the bernina 700 and it is amazing how it makes a clean finishing to all sewing works.

    For sewing washable diapers and wipes, it divides the sewing time by 4.

  32. 32
    Amanda says:

    I bought my Bernina 1100D about 10 years ago- attended classes offered with purchase and then became a serger teacher. It has been a great love! I can't praise it enough. Once a person overcomes their fear of threading and the speed, it's nothing but happiness.

  33. 33
    Heather H says:

    I got a Brother serger last year for Mother's Day & my birthday (very close together) and I LOVE IT! I serge just about everything…my family says I have an addiction. :) Haven't played with the settings much, but I love the look of the finished edge inside my projects and that my fabric doesn't fray as I'm working with it.

  34. 34
    Sheila says:

    I love my serger! One really cool trick I learned in the free class I was given was to change your thread without rethreading. This works very well for me, so maybe it will for others also. Loosen your thread tension all the way. Clip the old thread near the spool and tie the new thread to the old thread piece. Gently pull the thread through the machine. Repeat for all your spools and readjust your tension and you are ready to go with your new color. My knots usually won't go through the eyes of my needles, but the main thing it saves me is having to rethread my lower loopers – something that I struggle with each time I do it. Very good post on serging!

  35. 35
    Melanie says:

    I have a Hobby Lock 784 that I bought used 10 years ago right before I got married. My mom always had one growing up and I'm too spoiled to sew without one! Mine is easy to thread and I wouldn't be without it!

  36. 36
    Laree says:!

    I want a serger. I've wanted one for about 17 years now (ever since 7th grade home ec!)

    Someday. it will happen!

  37. 37
    Tammy says:

    I have a serger – a Simplicity – and it does everything shown here. Wouldn't want to sew without it. I'm looking forward to you showing us some new fabulous projects. :0)

  38. 38
    Whitney says:

    I have the 1300 and LOVE IT!!! However, I do not use all of the bells and whistles like I should bc I'm too lazy to learn how–or too busy:)

    Would LOVE a tutorial on gathering using the serger!

  39. 39
    Jen says:

    Love this Ashley. Very helpful to those that don't own one. I have a Kenmore model 16677. And I love it! Its easy to use and a great machine.

  40. 40
    Rachel says:

    Oh, to dream the dream! Thanks for the info on sergers. Sounds like it's a great investment!

  41. 41
    Liz says:

    My mom has one and she will cut the last two threads and tie the new color of thread to the old one and pull it through and than you only have to re-thread the top two and the needles. I don't know if that would work for your machine but it would save a little time.

  42. 42
    craftedbymama says:

    I received a serger a few years ago from my grand mom and never touched it until 6 months ago and now I love it.

    A tip I found somewhere (can't remember where) for threading…cut the tread at the spool then tie the new color in a not (a really good not) continue with the presser foot until it has pulled all the new thread threw. Most of the time it works, if it doesn't most likely it is just one thread that you have to go back and do, not 4

  43. 43
    [email protected] Cupboard says:

    Fun post! I have a cheap Singer, and I keep it with only one needle all the time because of how often I do rolled hems. That second needle is just for reinforcing anyway! I like my serger, but it is so loud and the tension gets off pretty easily. But it was a steal off of Craigslist, so I won't complain too much!

  44. 44
    Lady Multi-Tasker says:

    I inherited a serger and it took a very long time for me to get up the courage to try it out. I finally gave it a go but couldn't get the lower thread tension to ever get tight enough, so I gave up. You've got me itching to try it again, thanks!!

  45. 45
    Kari Ayers says:

    Hi Ashley! I don't know a lot about my serger, but I do know this cool trick about re-threading that my mama taught me.
    Instead of pulling all your threads out and starting over, just cut the existing threads above the tension settings. Tie your new threads to the old threads. Turn your tension settings way down and pull the new threads all the way through until the knotted ends get to the needle. Wah-la! SO much easier than re-threading. I HATE re-threading that machine! :) Thanks for sharing your information too!
    Is that little girl ready to come out yet? I loved the picture you posted the other day with your older daugther hiding under your bump. Cute!

  46. 46
    Regena says:

    i have an elna 4 thread…..can't imagine sewing with out it!!!

  47. 47
    Alison says:

    I love Bernina machines too! Someday I'll invest in a serger. Oh the things I could do!

  48. 48
    Leigh Anne says:

    Thanks for the great post. My hubby got me a Janome for Christmas and I'm still working to figure out all it can do. So far, I've loved it!!

  49. 49
    Heather says:

    I use a Juki – They are made by Bernina. I have an older Bernina sewing machine and LOVE it – I would love to upgrade to a 440 like yours :) Sergers are awesome and finish projects up so well.

  50. 50
    Angie Millar says:

    I have the 700D and love it :-) Quick, easy & pretty! I am still practising those curved edges….

    I would love to know how you did the gathers? Do you need a special foot for that?

  51. 51
    Clover says:

    i have so intimidated to try the hand me down I got. But I know I have to just get it there and play with it.

  52. 52
    kodie says:

    i just blogged a couple of weeks ago how the Pfaff Hobbylock i am borrowing from my mom is making me lose my mind. i think the biggest part of the problem is that it doesn't have an instruction manual. it keeps coming unthreaded and i am following the instructions on the machine, but obviously something more sinister must be afoot. my dream is to buy my own – WITH instruction manual – and never come out of my sewing room again!

  53. 53
    Sarah H says:

    This may have already been covered in a comment, but just as a time-saver, instead of cutting your threads, pulling them through and re-threading, instead, tie on your new thread to the cut ends BEFORE pulling through….no re-threading necessary! Great review/info on sergers though! I love my Kenmore!

  54. 54
    Eric and Carrie says:

    I have a Brother 1034D that has been nothing but trouble. Sigh. Looking to upgrade to a Bernina, even though I just got that hunk of junk. I have been waiting MONTHS for Brother to send the right parts to get it fixed. I do love a WORKING serger. So worth it! Thanks for the tip on gathering, never thought of that, it'll save me a step!

  55. 55
    Melissa says:

    I actually own that Bernina 5 thread serger. We have a love hate relationship. Hubby actually picked mine out, it was the previous years model, and they wanted it gone! I love the machine, but it is finicky, when it works it is awesome, but I have to use Bernina needles, and no others or it breaks threads over and over. I also have to use nice overlock thread or it doesn't work. The 5 thread thing is something I haven't tried much, because sewing on knit is intimidating to me. But, I have decided that I am going to try it soon as I want to make my little girl some knit skirts. I do love having a serger, and I wouldn't be with out one if possible!
    Oh, and for serging circles, it helps if you play with the differential setting, then you don't have to keep lifting the presser foot you can just feed it in. Also, if you want the rolled hem to look like it does on fancy table cloths, where the stitches look almost like a satin stitch they are so tight, you need to use wooley nylon thread, it can be found at quilting stores, and Bernina dealers. It really looks nice when it is used.

  56. 56
    bethanndodd says:

    I have had a serger for over a year and don't know how to use it! One day I will figure that darn thing out!

    • 56.1

      The sewing store in my area of Seattle, WA., will teach anyone how to use a sewing or serger machine. Classes were offered free when I bought my machine from them. Check with your area sewing machine stores to see if they offer classes that teach the basics and more on your sugrer. I also suggest looking or an owners manual on line if it didn’t come with the machine. I own the Baby Lock Evolution surger. It works like a charm. I am still learning how to use the many features it offers but it is an amazing machine. I also own an older Bernette 335 (made for Bernina) but I rarely use it because the new machine is so much easier to thread with the air threading feature. My dauther-in-law has the patience for threading the old Bernette 335 machine. I may gift the Bernette to her now that I have the Baby Lock Evolution. I just finished surging the edges of a denim apron for a man’s gift. It looks like the finish one would expect to find on an expensive ready made apron. So worth the price. Good luck.

  57. 57
    Amy says:

    I received a serger for Christmas (my husband really out-did himself). I LOVE it! What a wonderful and useful instrument for sewing projects!

  58. 58
    Tiffany @ Another Pie In The Sky says:

    Thank you for posting this! I actually acquired a serger this past weekend from my mother-in-law! It's is a lot older, but it seems like it'll do the job. It's a sergemate 430D. I have only used it for a few seconds, but I cannot wait to use it!

    • 58.1
      Nancy says:

      Hello Tiffany,
      I have purchased a “Yard Sale” SergeMate 430 machine this past weekend. Having had a few minute to learn the threading process and take it for a quick “Test Drive”, I am looking forward to putting the machine to use. I was hoping you might have some words of wisdom to share that are specific to this machine. I was also wondering if you have an online resource for parts that you could share with me. Thank you for any help you can provide.

  59. 59
    Keukenprinses says:

    I have a serger….
    And serger phobia….

  60. 60
    the hatch batch says:

    Love sergers! Mine is another Craigslist steal – a Babylock. I love the 'store bought' look it gives everything I make. It makes me look like a way better seamstress than I am! =o)

  61. 61
    mamatamera says:

    Thank you for all the great info. I'd love to have a serger one day but I really need to use my sweet Bernina more to justify it.

  62. 62
    Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the review on the serger as I have been thinking about purchasing a serger for a while now. I have a 1971 Babylocker that my dad picked up second hand $30 which is in perfect condition but I think it's time to upgrade!

  63. 63
    Maya from Australia! says:

    Hi Ashley, loving your timing – I just nabbed my mum's Husquvarna Huskylock that has sat in her cupboard for 15 years unused! Now I've just got to iron out some kinks in the tension settings to get it sorted.

    My question is – how do you gather? I'm assuming you change the tension settings….? Can you please tell us what tension you use for this? Ta!

  64. 64
    Sharon says:

    I just got a Janome 3434D refurbished from ebay. I love it!! (It was a great deal!) I also took a class at a local store and now I'm ready to serge . . . .Thanks for the info. I'm sure I'll be back to use it as a reference.

    • 64.1
      Kristin D. says:

      Hi Sharon,
      I have been searching and searching for someone else who has the same machine as me. The Janome 3434D. I have a problem when changing thread on my machine. It takes me probably a dozen attempts at rethreading after broken thread before it finally settles down and acts right. I hate to move it or even attempt to change colors because it always gets out of whack. I bought my machine from Hancock fabrics several years ago and have never had the benefit of a class. The salesladies also have no clue. I have switched to Maxilock brand thread thinking maybe the cheaper Surelock was causing the problems. It is great when it works but so frustrating and undependable most of the time. Any tips about threading that you can give me? I realize it has been a long time since you left this comment on “We All Sew” but I just came across it and hoped you might have a suggestion for me. Thank you! Kristin D.

      • 64.1.1
        Phyllis says:

        Kristin or Sharon,

        Can you tell me how to set the Janome3434D to make a rolled edge?
        Can you give me the name & address or telephone number of a store where i can purchase a gathering attachment? I have a Janone 3434D just sitting on the shelf and I really need to use it. I will appreciate any helpy ou can give.

  65. 65
    Joyful713 says:

    Another tip is using a product called "Fray Check" on your serged seams. If the seam is not going to be enclosed, it can unravel. Put a dot of Fray Check at the end of the seam after cutting off the threads and it won't unravel! My tension has been off on my serger, so I need to figure it out so I can finish some projects.

  66. 66
    Brooke says:

    I also have a Brother 1034D & love it! I took a serger class that really helped me get over my fears & learned how to insert a zipper in the process! :) I highly recommend Georgie Melot's book, "Ready, Set, Serge!". It teaches lots of great techniques while actually making simple projects. it certainly demystifies the serger.

  67. 67
    Opp Family says:

    Meredith – On your Janome 634D, I usually set my tensions to 3, 3, 3, 3 – and this works well on mine for a 4 thread overlock, for rolled hems I used 4, 3, 3. If your tension is off, try changing your thread to different colors to check where your problem lies and make your tension adjustment from there. Do you have the Instruction Book for the machine? When I originally bought mine it was accidentally left out (problem from Janome) but the dealer rectified the problem and mailed one too me. It's not the greatest manual out there, but it will definitely help you figure out tension adjustments.

  68. 68
    Emily says:

    I got a brother 1034d for xmas and I love it! I'm still figuring out more than just the basic stitch. Thanks for the advice. Stop by sometime,

  69. 69
    Mad-dog's Mum says:

    I also have a serger (an older Janome 634D) and I'm just interested about how you did the gathering. I'm assuming it takes some fiddling with the lower thread tension(s). Do you want to share what you adjusted to get it to gather? My machine doesn't have instructions for that. Oh, and thanks for the post, so interesting!

  70. 70
    mtnhomequilter says:

    I bought a top of the line Viking/Huskvarna Huskylock 936. It has everything but the kitchen sink. It does 3,4, and 5 threads. It's completely computerized, and you can set it for the type of fabric you're using etc. I paid $1500 on sale for it, but I love it. It came with classes, which REALLY helped, and a thick manual. For anyone out there who doesn't have a manual for their machine, you can look them up online most times and print them out, or call the company, they may send you a pdf file with it. I use it for so many things. I especially love using it to sew 2 pieces of flannel together for burpcloths or receiving blankets, or for a finished look on a fleece blanket. Serging is one of those things that you just have to do over and over until you get the hang of it. Depending on the project I'm doing, especially clothing, I like to serge the ends separately with a 4 thread and then sew the seam, so that I can let the seam lie flat and not folded over to one side, reducing the bulkiness in that one area. I do agree with most everyone that it's best to sit down and actually play with it in the store before buying, and figure out how much use you'll get out of it. I bought the top of the line b/c I knew it would need to be a workhorse, not just a pony to be ridden every now and then.

    • 70.1
      Cathy says:

      Great machine. I hear that they are in great demand. I love mine. Glad to hear about someone else that loves their 936. When I purchased mine, I was in the middle of a 107″ x 107″ rolled edge table cloth. I had a Phaff serger for 9 years and I had a fight with it every time I used it. It would hiccup every 2 inches or so. Finally gave up on it and called my Sewing Machine dealer and asked what he would recommend. He said without hesitation “the Viking 936” (in 2004). I said save it for me and I’ll be down to pick it up. Turned in my Phaff and bought home my new 936. Set it up and with in 45 minutes I was finished with that table cloth (napkins included). What a perfect rolled edge it gave me. I have not had one problem with it since I purchased. It is a work horse. So user friendly also.

  71. 71
    the nayz says:

    The pics you showed of changing out the thread, my mom would cut the thread near the needle and tie a new thread color to those ends, and it would automatically re-thread the machine.

    I dream of getting a better sewing machine, let alone a serger.

  72. 72
    Kate says:

    Thanks for the walk through! I have definitely been wanting one…

  73. 73
    Smith Family says:

    I have used my serger for seven years now and it still works great! It is a Juki Mo-644D.
    I use a separate cover stitch machine that is a Janome CoverPro. They both are AMAZING on knits. They are workhorses too since I sew quite a bit for my business.

    I have had a five thread serger with the cover stitch on it as well and it was so terrible to thread so I sold it. That was a simplicity…never buy one!
    I have heard that the Bernina five thread sergers are awesome and fairly easy to thread!

    • 73.1
      Carole says:

      I also had a 5 thread Huskylock serger and cover stitch and it was horrible to thread. Changing from serging to cover stitch was a nightmare. I just traded it for a Janome Cover Pro and I think I will love it. I am so glad that I kept my older little Janome serger when I bought the Huskylock. I wouldn’t have been able to do anything. Now I am thinking of upgrading my little Janome serger to a newer model but definitely an easy one.

  74. 74
    Smith Family says:

    I have used my serger for seven years now and it still works great! It is a Juki Mo-644D.
    I use a separate cover stitch machine that is a Janome CoverPro. They both are AMAZING on knits. They are workhorses too since I sew quite a bit for my business.

    I have had a five thread serger with the cover stitch on it as well and it was so terrible to thread so I sold it. That was a simplicity…never buy one!
    I have heard that the Bernina five thread sergers are awesome and fairly easy to thread!

  75. 75
    Rachel says:

    Well, I may have talked my husband into buying me a serger now. Not a Bernina since obviously they are so pricey you can't even find out how much they are online :) . Lots of good information from you and the commenters–what a blessing

  76. 76
    dana says:

    fabulous tutorial and explanations! I have the exact same serger and use the same most common stitches that you do :)
    Excellent work miss Ashley!

  77. 77
    rings says:

    Thank you for your hard work to collect and organize, to share with you a lot about the fashion thing, and this is very useful to me.
    Scarves Scarves

  78. 78
    Alyssa Grace says:

    I have a serger and I LOVE it. One tip though. When you are changing threads, cut off the old ones, then tie the new ones to the old ones, sew a little bit, and your new threads should come through with no fuss, no muss!

  79. 79
    hfluegel says:

    Can I suggest a different (and MUCH easier) way to change colors? Cut the thread at the spool but leave the thread hanging there. Put the new spool on and then tie the end of the threads together (new and old). Then after you have all the colors changed, write down your tension numbers. Then change them all to 0. Lift up your presser foot and start pulling on the threads slowly. The knots should go right through the eyes of the needles and loopers. When they are all through, cut off the old colors and start serging to create your new tail.

    • 79.1
      Cathy says:

      The only way to go so you don’t have to retread the serger every time you change your thread. Another thing you can use to thread your machine is use a flossing threader. You can find them in the tooth brush department and they are usually blue. I have (when I’ve broken a thread) used these for years. What a time saver! That little metal threader that usually comes with your machine, will break and they are hard to replace.

  80. 80
    Misty says:

    I have been wanting one so bad! After reading this, I got the nerve up to ask my coworker if she'd consider selling me hers! Can't wait to see her Tuesday to see what she decides!

  81. 81
    Kathy says:

    I have a Brother 1034D and I love it. You might be interested in this little trick that my MIL taught be about changing out the spools of thread. First, clip the old thread off near the spools. Then use a square knot and tie the new thread to the old thread. Then just start serging your chain and the new thread should go through the machine and needles without having to rethread everything. It works for me. I hope that made sense.

  82. 82
    Julie says:

    Ashley, what a great post! Ive had my serger for a year now, but you still taught me a couple of new tricks. I have a Brother 1034D that is an absolute joy. Like you I am loyal to my sewing machine brand, as I have never had a problem with any Brother product. So far I have stuck to my usual sewing projects: handbags and home decor. But I look forward to making clothes with knit fabrics soon.

  83. 83
    Kade & Jess says:

    I actually have the 800 as well. I got it as a college graduation gift from my mother-inn-law. I love it! I don't get to use it as much as I would like and also could use some help and guidance from you! So anytime you feel like giving some serger tips, don't hesitate!

  84. 84
    Linda says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your serger with us. I am truly envious! However, I also feel I know what serger to buy now – that is when I find myself with some extra money!

  85. 85
    Patti says:

    I have thought about getting a serger several times…the only thing that keeps me from actually buying and using one is the fact that it trims the seam allowance. What happens if you make a mistake and need to redo a seam? The seam allowance is already trimmed so that leaves no room for error…and lord knows I need all the room for error I can get. LOL
    On the other hand I get so tired of sewing a seam, trimming the seam and then zig zagging.
    I may have to rethink the serger thing. :)

  86. 86
    Dallass says:

    Love, love, love my serger! I have a Janome. I started out with a 1960's Baby Lock and found an awesome deal on the Janome on Craigslist-so I'm really having fun now! I don't know if I could live without my serger.

  87. 87
    Vixen says:

    This is so informative! I have a hand-me-down 3 spool serger from my mom that I only use sometimes. One day I will have to invest in a fancy 4 spool serger!

  88. 88
    Julie says:

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! Sorry I just had to say that all in caps because of how thankful I am to read and find this! I took a sewing class last year which taught me how to sew and use my machine (no one in my family knows how to, so I had to start from scratch). Afterwards I bought a machine and have even made a few things from your blog (which I love). Now that I feel more comfortable I want to move onwards and upwards and have been looking at sergers and what they do. You have answered so many of my questions and this was so helpful! I can't wait to someday get my own and start even more projects!

  89. 89
    Alexia says:

    I inherited a serger from my Grandma and LOVE it! But I didn't know I could use it to gather! I would love a quick instruction on how todfo that! That is one of my very least favorite things to do in sewing.. so much so that I will scrap a project before I start it if it requires a lot of hand-gathering! Oh, the possibilities!

    • 89.1
      Susan says:

      My Bernette has a differential feed. I changed the setting and accidentally gathered the material – which will come in handy. I guess I need to change the tension to stop gathering. It was a great accident though….

  90. 90
    alli.raw says:

    Totally jealous!!! That guy looks amazing. I'm with Billie, until the day I will love my sewing machine… The second one I've gone through. Making my wedding dress blew out the first one I ever had.

  91. 91
    reyesohana says:

    question – can you sew without it cutting the edge off? Does that make sense?

    • 91.1
      Carole says:

      Yes, you can turn the knife off. You would have to do that to do the rolled hem. I am pretty sure that all Sergers will allow you to turn down the knife. Good luck.

  92. 92
    Christine says:

    I love my serger too. But I don't know how to gather…can you show us? Also, I would love to learn a rolled hem. I love your blog! Thanks

  93. 93
    Laura D. says:

    You can actually save time re-threading it by cutting the threads, tying the new thread to the old thread (use a square knot) and then running your machine. Most of the time, the new thread comes right through and you're ready to go.

  94. 94
    The Dark Family says:

    I am taking three sewing classes at our local community college, and love them! All of the school machines are Bernina and Juki. My sewing with a serger class is by far my favorite and thanks to it, I broke down and finally bought a serger. I bought a Juki, because that is what I learned on in school and everyone that I know recommends getting one. They are a bit pricey… but I think it's totally worth it!

  95. 95
    Katy says:

    I had gone to a 2 day expo for sewing and looked at all the sergers and nearly died at the cost. I was going to go gusto and get the one that thread and set the tension for me…… until I stopped at a garage sale. I don’t frequent garage sales often, I live in the country and drive ways are long and when I drive by I am on my way somewhere etc. This day i did because I knew of the people in the house and walked thru. On the table was a serger for $40. Folks, it had a nasty case and the VHS tape and a manual. All I needed was the manual. I taught myself how to use and it read the manual on how to thread it. I had heard at the expo it can be a love hate relationship!

    I love mine……

  96. 96
    Blue Wolf says:

    Here’s a tip for gathering: try using invisible elastic. For 24″ of fabric, you could use 12″ of elastic plus half an inch at each end for ‘handles.’ So that’s a 2 to 1 ratio. Use a straight stitch. After you attach the ruffle to the garment, trim your seams. One time, I used wash-out thread, and re-used the elastic.
    …Question: why aren’t you all getting ruffler attachments for your sewing machines?
    …Here’s tip for sergers that I learned from an instructor: she uses GREY THREAD in her serger for most of her garments! So she doesn’t have to change thread colors so often.
    …thanks for all the tips. HAVE FUN everybody..

  97. 97
    Susan says:

    A friend of mine had a 004D (started at 003) Bernette (Bernina) serger. She could never thread the machine. She recently bought a new automatic threading machine and GAVE ME the old one. I love it! After about eight hours of trying to figure out the manual I finally got it threaded. It runs quiet and great. It took me awhile to figure out how to adjust the tension but now I am looking for projects to make. I love my Pfaff sewing machine but this new toy comes a close second. I don’t know the age of the machine but some instructions were mimeographed. This will be a great asset to make more blankets for Project Linus. Takes about ten minutes vs all day for braiding the edge (although I do love the braided edge). Happy constructing…..

  98. 98
    Van says:

    I recently received an 800DL serger as part of my sewing machine (430) purchase. I do mostly quilting and have just started sewing some basic skirts, tops and crafts. I don’t plan to make anything fancy or sew a lot of clothing. Although I love the finished look of the overlock stitch and the ruffle/overlock feature is nice, I can’t see myself using any of the other decorative stitches. Please don’t take this the wrong way, but am I missing something about why sergers are so wonderful? I’m going to take the free master classes offered at my Bernina store in a couple of weeks and I’m hoping to learn about other features that would apply to my basic sewing needs. What type of sewing are you doing with your serger? I appreciate any feedback/recommendations anyone has. Thanks….

  99. 99
    Lottie Czosek says:

    Thanks for the tutorial on the serger. I will have to give it a try
    it later. I can sew no problem, but my mother passed away and gave me her serger. However she was too ill to show me how to use it. She left details instructions and stitch examples but I am still struggling. When I attempt to use 3-4 threads they break. 2 threads works great. I tried a few months ago and have been to afraid to try again. Thank you.

    • 99.1
      Leslie says:

      I’m new to serging too, but I did a lot of research and most of what I have read says if your threads keep breaking it is not threaded correctly and/or in the proper order! Hope that helps!

  100. 100
    joy says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post! My husband surprised me with a serger this Christmas, and all of your tips, photos and success stories are just what I was looking for!