Frequently Asked Questions on Sergers
When exploring the world of serging, there are many questions users have. Some users have never tried a serger while others have more experience but still have much to learn. The following are some commonly asked questions that come up for those that are unsure when undertaking serging tasks.
What does a serger do?
A serger cuts and encloses the seam or edge of a fabric inside a thread casing. It does this simultaneously. Many aspects of the finished product are adjustable on a serger including the thread number, stitch pattern and stitch width. Using a serger is ideal when you need to create professional looking finishes on your pieces.
Do I need a serger/overlocker?
Yes! Well maybe. A sewing machine will do almost anything a serger can do but it may take longer and additional steps. Such as, serger or overlock machine will trim and finish and the same time. Sergers are also great at giving cleaning, professional edges on seams, stronger seams than sewing machines and work great on rolled hems. So do you need a serger? If you’re an avid sewer we would say definitely and if not and just want to get by even if the quality is slightly less and it takes more time to complete the project than no.
What machine is best?
The best machine is the one that meets all of your needs, including budget limits, successfully. What you expect from your serger may be quite different from what an acquaintance expects. Learn about the machines that are currently on the market. If possible, take lessons to become as familiar as possible and perform test runs when shopping for one.
What is differential feed?
Sergers with a differential feed have two feed sources, each in the front and back. When the differential feed is neutral the front source feeds the fabric at the same rate as it does in the back. When the differential feed is set higher, the front feed source will feed more fabric than the one in back because it will move a greater distance than the back source. These higher settings are used for gathering as well as overcoming stretching in knit fabrics.
Is it necessary to use serger cone thread with a serger?
Most machines will still work just fine with standard sewing thread. The only obstacle is ensuring there is enough of it to complete the project as a serger will typically use much more thread than a standard sewing machine. Thread from a sewing machine will be heavier than that for a serger, so the tension settings may need to be adjusted.
How do I prevent the thread from looping off the edge of the fabric?
Check the status of the differential feed and if it is not supposed to be on, place it into a neutral state. Make sure the cutting blade is set to the correct width and check the tension of the upper and lower loopers. Make sure the serger is properly threaded and the threads are properly placed with the correct tension.
How often should the serger be cleaned?
You should clean your serger after completing each project. If your project is larger with a lot of lint build-up you may need to clean it several times throughout the course of the task. Clean all thread guides and remove lint from the knives and feed dog. You can eliminate debris easily by using a vacuum cleaner or hair dryer. If the machine is not cleaned on a regular basis it could lead to excess noise, inconsistent stitching or improper feeding.
Is a serger the same as an overlocker?
Yes, serger and overlocker are interchangeable terms. Serger is the preferred term used in North America while overlocker is widely used everywhere else including in Europe. Both terms overlock and cut at the same time.
What is a serger Coverstitch?
A serger cover stitch is a convertible machine that will serge or do a cover stitch. Both cover stitch and serger machines have loopers but a cover stitch does not have a blade. Cover stitch machines are great for sewing knit items and chainstitching. Serger machines that take more than 4 threads are often convertible to cover stitch.
How much does a serger cost?
Serger’s vary in pricing based on capabilities and features. Typically sergers with limited functionality will start around $175 and high end and professional sergers can be found for several thousand dollars. Most people can find sergers that fit their needs in the $200 to $300 range. Features that increase the cost of a serger can be sergers that handle five threads, differential feeds or extra adjustments.
What is a serger foot?
A serger foot or presser feet is an attachment used with serger (and sewing) machines to hold fabric flat as it is fed through the machine and stitched.
What is an Overedge foot used for?
The overedge foot, also known as an overcast foot or overlocking foot, allows thread to wrap around the edge of the fabric to prevent unraveleing.
Can a serger replace a sewing machine?
No, a serger cannot replace a sewing machine. Although some projects can be done on a serger you will still need a regular machine for projects such as sewing hems, facings, zippers, topstitching, buttonholes. A serger is used mainly for joining seams and it will finish raw edges and prevent fabrics from fraying.
Can I learn to sew with an overlocker?
Yes but it is different and can be more difficult than a regular sewing machine. A beginner serging class would be highly recommended.
Why is my serger skipping stitches?
Here are common reasons why a serger may skip stitches.
- Improper threading (most common)
- The needle isn’t inserted properly or not all the way up
- Bent needle
- Poor clamping or insufficient pressure (flagging)
- The needle needs replacing
- Wrong size needle
- Needle/material mismatch
- Wrong thread for the application
- Poor quality thread
- Needle and thread weight are mismatched
- Worn thread guides, paths or eyelets (burrs)
- Poor thread tension
What are the serger/overlocker brands?
Here is a list of the largest and not so largest serger brands:
- American Home
- Family Sew by Yamata Feiyue
- Husqvarna Viking
- Reliable Home & Industrial
- Tacony (American Home, Baby Lock, Simplicity/EZ Lock)
Who makes Baby Lock sergers?
Baby Lock serger machines are manufactured by Suzuki machinery Co., Ltd. in Yamagata, Japan. The Juki Corporation created the Baby Lock serger and the Tacony Corporation markets and distributes the Baby Lock brand in the US and other companies. This is why we have Juki sergers in the US made by Juki and Baby Lock sergers created by Juki, manufactured by Suzuki and sold by Tacony Corporation through the Baby Lock brand. Clear as mud? The Baby Lock Tech event, the annual retailer show, frequently features the presidents from all three companies.
When was the serger invented?
Sergers or overlockers were first invented by the Merrow Machine Company in 1881.