Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Serger Needles

It is very important to check your manual for the correct sizes and type of needle recommended for your serger. I do not suggest using sewing machine needles for your serger - EVER!!!

Some sergers require an ELx705 type needle. This is a special type and should not be substituted for any other needle type. Some Singer sergers require Singer ONLY needles. They are a different size and type and machine specific.

I have been asked that when working with knits etc. type fabric - should you use a ballpoint needle. If your serger manual indicates that there are Ballpoint needles available - then ok.

Some Pfaff sergers use schmetz needles and they do have ballpoint.


If that information is not listed in your manual - go to the website for your serger and surf for information. Most websites have a FAQ section and you can ask an expert.

Change the needles often. Usually after a project is completed I change the needles. But if I am making a table runner and napkins - I finish what I am working on completely before I change the needles. They are cheaper than having the machine serviced. A bent needle can damage the loopers. They are very expensive to replace (which includes a labor cost). Burrs on the needles which the naked eye can't see can cause runs in the fabric or skipped stitches. If you run a section of pantyhose on the needle(s) and it catches - STOP and change the needles.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Threading the Loopers

I get a lot of comments about how people are feared of threading the lower looper. Of course once you do it a few times you really get the hang of it.

First of all RELAX, then look at the colored thread guides. Because the looper looks left handed it seems strange or awkward. Actually if you at first go slow and follow the sequence of the guides as indicated in the manual it gets easier. Do it a few times before you move on to the next position.

Some sergers you thread the lower looper first, some the upper looper first. Never have the needles threaded FIRST! They are last for all 4 thread sergers. Reason being is that they form stitches as soon as the serger is in motion. (Just turning the handwheel will get them started.)

You will know that the loopers are thread correctly if the lower looper thread slides off the point of the upper looper smoothly as you turn the handwheel. (The lower looper slides off the "V" part or neck of the upper looper.)

If you have trouble threading the lower looper you can use a floss threader (earlier post) or a serger threader (notion available at sewing machine stores)to easily reach some of the thread guides.

This will be one of the first videos that I will be posting in the near future. But if you need help - please let me know.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Elastic for Ironing Board Cover

I have received several inquiries as to how much (length) elastic is needed for the ironing board cover. Since not all ironing boards are the exact same size it is difficult to say.

If you purchase a hank of elastic (packaged bundle) that is more than enough. Just feed the elastic through as instructed in an earlier post and whatever is left over - use for making scrungies or other fun things.

If I were to guess - I would say about 3/4 the circumference of the ironing board over. But that would not be an exact measurement. A lot depends on if you are using an elastic gathering attachment, what settings you are using, what type fabric, etc.

So, like I said there is no way to say for sure how much elastic. In the past I have used the elastic off of a spool of bathing suit elastic that I purchased. I hold it on my lap and feed it and when I am done - just cut off the end.

Hope this helps.

Friday, August 13, 2010



Hopefully this diagram will help you determine which knob is for the stitch length and which one is for the differential feed. Hint - Stitch length is usually in whole numbers. Differential feed is usually indicated with a decimal point. 1.0, 0.5 etc.

Looking at the graphic near the knob also helps to determine which is which.

5 Thread sergers- loopers?


A five thread serger has 3 different loopers.
1. Upper looper - looks like it has its nose in the air. Depending on the brand of serger it may be threaded first - check your manual for threading sequence. The thread from the upper looper lays on the right side of the fabric or top. You can see the stitches formed as you are serging. Often times decorative thread is used in this looper for the "WOW" factor.
2. Lower looper - often feared for no reason. It looks like it is left-handed with the elbow bent. At times decorative thread is used in this looper for home dec projects. You can see the stitch formed on the underside - looks like a "Y". Also, this looper is the one that is used for achieving the perfect rolled hem. It can be tightened to pull the other threads into position.
3. Chain looper - It looks like the lower looper but appears like a right handed elbow bent. This looper is used for 5 thread applications, coverstitch, chain stitch etc. When in use the serger requires a different looper cover (table). This looper forms the stitch on the underside of the fabric. Some call it the locking stitch for coverhems. Depending on how many needles are in use, a different stitch will be formed on the underside of the fabric. On the right side of the fabric (top) it will look like stitches done on a conventional sewing machine. So, sometimes you will serge with the fabric wrong side up so that the formed stitch is on the right side of the fabric. (Not easy to explain.)
Depending on the brand of serger it may be threaded last. Always check your manual for threading sequence.

Thread BREAK (4 thread)- if you want to re-thread only the looper thread that broke - it requires patience. First remove the threads from the eyes of the needles. They love to tango with the looper threads underneath- where you can't see what they are doing. After you have re-threaded the looper, then make sure that the lower looper thread is sliding off the upper looper without forming a knot. You can do this by turning the handwheel to check. If ok then re-thread the eyes of the needles. But test on scrap fabric first - you will be glad you did.

Thread BREAK (5 thread) - remove the thread from the eyes of the needles if you are re-threading the looper. They love to Tango TOO. Then thread the looper and then put the needle threads back in the eyes of the needles. Here's looking at you!

NOTE - for testing tension for different stitches - you can put different color threads in the different positions. Use the same color as is on the serger for best results. It goes without saying you should use the same weight thread that you will be using for your project. :-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tapestry Fabrics - Garments

A long time ago and far far away I used to work a lot with tapestry fabrics. Today I stopped by a fabric store that specializes in Tapestry Fabric and had a wonderful time looking at and touching the different fabrics.

Way back when - I would make skirts and vests out of tapestry fabric. The prints and the look was just marvelous!! The fabric was easy to work with especially on the serger. AND it held up extremely well after several wearings. The only down side was it needed to be dry cleaned or hand washed.

Thoughts whirled in my head about going down that road again - but no vest - just skirts and perhaps a jacket.

I know this fabric is best for home dec projects - but go look at some of the tapestry (upholstery) fabric and give it some thought. Not meant for childrens clothes - adults only.

And it doesn't wrinkle when you sit down...more good news!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Making banded hems for Pillowcases

When you want to use only the serger to make Pillowcases - it is easy and super quick.

Take an old Pillowcase and use as a pattern. Since there are 3 different sizes - Standard, Queen and King Size - best to use whatever size you prefer.

Measure it and then add for the seam allowance.

Cut on the fold of the fabric to reduce the number of seams.

Serge down the long side, then serger across the bottom.

Now fold up the hem and press. Now fold it inside so that the right sides are together. Now serging in the round (cut a notch to start) and serge all around the hem. Fold down and press seam up towards the body of the pillowcase. DONE! And quick as a snap!!!

Note - Always test first. Use a miniature piece of fabric so that you understand how to fold the hem.

If desired you could add a strip of lace, ribbon or any trim you like in the fold so that when you fold down the hem and press you will have embellishment (made EZ). Give it a try. I love making Holiday Pillowcases for family and friends.

BTW - I am working on the video. Hopefully soon, I will have it posted.

Happy Serging!!!