How To Choose The Right Serger Stitch
If you’re new to serging or plan to learn this wonderful sewing skill, knowing how to choose the right serger stitch or the right project or garment is as important as learning to master your machine. While many home sewists rely on their sergers to put a professional finish on their sewing projects, knowing how the basic stitches work and the best uses for each can expand your skills and creativity. You can even experiment and create your own custom stitches!
Modern sewing machines often include hundreds of stitch options, but a serger adds strength and stretch to your seams, creates clean, secure edge finishes and can also embellish sewing projects and handmade garments. Each serger stitch offers you its own unique attributes and many include specialty presser feet you can use to create additional stitches. If you’re in the market for a new serger, make sure the models you like include the stitches you’ll use most.
Every serger offers you the options of using a variety of overlock stitches – these are the most basic and commonly-used stitches when seaming or finishing edges. Depending on the brand and model of your serger, overlock stitch options can vary widely. Most basic mechanical sergers offer you the choice to choose a 2-, 3-, or 4-thread overlock stitch. On more advanced machines, you can create a 5-thread overlock stitch. No matter how many threads you use, these types of stitches are strong and flexible. Here’s a look at the best use for each type of overlock stitch:
- 2-thread overlock stitches are flat and fine, usually available in wide or narrow options. They also provide better stretch than overlock stitches using more threads. The narrow stitch option is especially useful to create lovely, delicate rolled hems and lettuce edges, especially on all types of lightweight or sheer fabrics.
- The addition of another thread adds strength and durability to each stitch. The 3-thread overlock wide stitch option wraps more of the fabric edge than the narrow stitch option. This is the best choice for stretchy knits or weaves that won’t be overly stressed, such as throws, blankets and other decorative projects. The narrow stitch option creates tight, secure stitches that can better withstand the stress of garments.
- The 4-thread overlock stitch is the strongest and most durable option, used most often when finishing garments and projects that will be put to the test…often. This is a great stitch for finishing bathing suits, active wear, sportswear and kids clothing.
Rolled Hem Stitches
Using only two threads to create this delicate finishing stitch produces a fine, nearly invisible hem, but the 3-thread option adds strength to each stitch. Either stitch provides enough give to prevent bunching, especially on sheer fabrics, yet both are strong enough to securely wrap fabric edges that are easily frayed. Using fine wire or fishing line as the third thread adds stability and helps hold the shape of special projects such as eyeglass cases and evening bags or intricate edges.
This 2- or 3-thread stitch option makes joining two separate pieces of fabric a breeze. Both options create sturdy, yet very smooth, flat stitches. Either option is a great choice when piecing all types of sewing projects because they look great on both sides of the fabric. The 2-thread stitch looks delicate, but it’s got great give on very stretchy fabrics. Flatlock stitches are so versatile, they’re valid options for swimwear, lingerie or even heavier fabrics such as faux fur. Both stitch options work well when creating decorative patchwork and quilting projects, joining lace pieces or lengths and creating freehand decorative touches.
This 2-thread stitch option is created using one looper thread and one needle. The needle thread creates a straight stitch on one side of the fabric and the looper thread makes the chain stitch on the other side. This stitch is very similar to the standard seaming stitch produced by your sewing machine, although it offers significantly more durability and crosswise stretch. The chainstitch is also a great option to use when you wish to create embellishments or decorative stitches, especially when using specialty threads or different thread color combinations.
A growing number of sergers include either a 4-thread safety stitch or a 5-thread option or both in narrow and wide versions. The former stitch is created by combining a 2-thread chain stitch and a 2-thread overlock stitch, while the latter option uses a combined 2-thread chainstitch and a 3-thread overedge stitch. Both types are extremely strong and durable, best used to reinforce or secure seams and finishing edges on heavier sewing projects. They also provide excellent stretch, a plus when creating garments that will see heavy and repeated use.
Picot Edge Stitch
This 2-thread stitch is similar to a rolled hem stitch, but with a more open appearance. The length of each stitch is longer, which creates larger spaces between the stitches. This adds the illusion of airiness and delicacy to projects. It’s most widely used to create nearly invisible hems and finish edges on sheer fabrics such as chiffon, silk tulle, lace, organza and crepe. It produces beautiful finishes on lingerie, bridalwear, infant baptismal gowns and other fine items. Not all serger purchases include this option but the cost of an optional presser foot is worthwhile if you plan to work with sheers or on these types of sewing projects.
As you explore the different stitch options on your serger, don’t hesitate to try each one using different stitch width and length settings and adjusting the tensions and differential feed. Even something as simple as using different thread types or colors will give you more creative results! Once you’ve mastered these basic stitches, you can further expand your stitch options by purchasing additional presser feet.