Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Tension tales from the Serger front line

This last week I have been trying to get to grips with the new beast in the sewing room.

I thought that it came pre-threaded but discovered when I took it out of the box again, that although there were threads through the machine, they were only long enough to reach the cone holders. So, my first task was to attempt to thread all four threads up!

The manual wasn't much help I have to admit, as the accompanying photos were too blurry to be of any use. Fortunately the Internet was on hand :)

I found a suggestion to tie the new threads on to the existing threads and pull them through, so did that and it worked a treat.

The machine has colour-coded dots to follow for threading, but for the first time it made a big difference to be able to see exactly where the looper threads went. There was also a suggestion to use different coloured thread for each spool to help identify any problems, so I did that too.

So, now I was all set to sew!

As you can see from the top left of this photo, my first attempt wasn't exactly successful!

A quick check discovered that one of the threads had slipped out of the tension disc, hence all those large loops of blue thread. The second attempt was better, but still not perfect.

As you can probably see from both of the photos above, the stitches were fine but they seem too long for the seam. There are plenty of sites around discussing tension problems with overlockers/sergers and how to solve them, but I struggled to find anywhere that mentioned this problem.

I tried adjusting both of the tension dials gradually for each of the loopers as suggested by this site but it still didn't address the problem of the stitches extending past the edge of the fabric. The stitches looked fine on the front (above)

but were being pulled over on to the back.

Eventually I came across a mention of adjusting the seam width and thought, maybe I should give that a go. A quick look at the manual told me that this should be set to 'S' for the 4 thread overlock stitch.

The adjustment is on the front of the machine and even with glasses on, I couldn't see whether it was at 'S' or not but as there are only two settings (on this machine anyway) I moved it forward and had another go at sewing.

Looks alright to me from the front but then again so did the last attempt!

But look at that from the back, no loops beyond the cut edge of the fabric at last :)

We might be getting somewhere!

After all that effort, what better way to reward myself than with some of the chocolate scissors and thread reels that my son gave me for Christmas :)


  1. Width of the blade is usually a know on the left side of the machine. Nancy's Notions has several shows on serving you can watch. They probably have a good book on it too. Only change the tension on one spool at a time, test, then adjust another. Make little samples and write your settings on them when it is good. There is a learning curve but for garments the speed it great!

  2. good to see you got the tension sorted, I hope to find a buyer for my overlocker as never use it. I too had those sewing chocolates for Christmas and managed to get the dye all over my fingers from the cotton reels!

  3. I know nothing about sergers, but I'm glad to hear you are making progress. And I just wanted to say how happy I am to learn that there exists such a things as chocolate scissors! :)

  4. I have wanted to try serging for a long time, for now I will live vicariously & see what lovelies you create!

    Those scissors are too cute to eat!

  5. Looks like good progress. Chocolate scissors and thread sounds good to me :)

  6. I struggled for ages getting the tension right on my overlocker. Well done figuring yours out.

  7. I struggled with my serger for quite a while before I got used to it. I seem to remember I did an online course at sewing.patternreview.com in the end that helped enormously. I'll have to redo that course (I might still have the notes somewhere!) whenever the serger emerges from its box again. Good luck!

  8. The penultimate attempt looked pretty good to me, as does the last one. Good on you playing with it and getting it figured out! The chocolate was an appropriate reward for your tenacity, lol!

  9. Wow...sounds like a lot of work. Have dreamed about having a serger, but not sure I could handle the stress of trying to thread it.

  10. I hadn't realised sergers were so complicated. Well done for persevering and getting it sorted out in the end. You certainly deserved that chocolate :)

  11. I know where to come when I get stuck with my new toy!


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