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Getting Started With a Serger

As someone who loves sewing and quilting and lots of other types of crafting, I get asked about sewing machines quite a bit. One specific type of sewing machine is a serger or “overlock” machine, and today I’m going to go over some serger basics for you!

I actually was sewing for years and years before ever getting a serger, so if you feel like you “need” one you might not really. While getting an overlock machine may not be essential, it is a really fun tool to have for certain techniques, and I find myself using mine on quilts often!

Watch this video to learn how to get started Serging, or continue reading to see each step of the process:

One of my personal favorite things uses for a serger is to create a nice finished edge around my quilts before I attach my binding. To find out more about my binding technique, check out Quilt Binding Part 1: Prep Work.

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Finding the Right Serger for You

The first step in getting started with a serger is to determine which machine is best for you. The machine that I went with is the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S400, and I chose this model for it’s air-threading capabilities. Other key features to keep in mind may be differential feed (which helps keep knits from stretching or lightweight fabrics from gathering), color-coded threading, a heavy-duty knife for trimming off excess, or even the amount of educational information about a particular model that you have access to.

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Reading the Owner’s Manual

The next thing to tackle when getting started with a serger is to read through your manual. Even if you have an older model serger and don’t have the manual any more, you may be able to find a digital copy online.

Reading the owner’s manual can be very helpful for troubleshooting issues, but even more importantly it will help you familiarize yourself with your machine. Be sure to check out pages that show you the different parts of your machine as well as the accessories that came with it.

Threading a Serger

Depending on your specific machine, the way you thread it might differ slightly. Most sergers typically use 4 threads and the kind of thread used in a serger will differ from your normal thread spool for a sewing machine. Serger thread is often much cheaper, which is a good thing because you use a lot more of it! I prefer to use cones of polyester thread in my serger, but cotton is an option as well. One great thread I have found is this matte polyester from Connecting Threads. It is technically intended to be used for long arm quilting, but I really like using it on the serger!

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To determine how to correctly thread your machine, it is best to refer to the manual or seek out a video showing the steps in an easy-to-follow manner. I personally found this video for threading mine super helpful!

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One helpful tip for changing thread is to tie a little knot on each end of the threaded color to attach it to the new color and to pull them through.

Start Sewing on Your Serger

While this step of getting started with a serger might seem very basic and self-explanatory, it is important to begin sewing on scraps to look at the stitches and make sure you are threaded properly.

Once you get started sewing on your serger, you’ll be inspired by all the different projects you can make with it!

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