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Easy Guidet
Fine F;��
Easy Guide to
Serging Fine
Kitty Benton

ITIThe'P<lUnton Press
3 4-
For Charlie and Hank

No book becomes a reality without the

dedicated expertise of the publishing
staff. The staff at The Taunton Press
has been enormously and universally
helpful. I would like to thank them all.

But especially. I would like to thank

Eileen Hanson for her early faith in
me and devotion to this project; Mary
Christian for editing complex technical
prose and m akin
g it readable; and
Ruth Dobsevage for her attention to
detail. wording. and layout. All three
have my lasting appreciation for their
patience. humor. and perseverance.

Deepest thanks are also due to the

quick mind. pleasant disposition. and
never-failing accuracy of Eva KUi. who
sewed many of the samples shown in
the photographs.
The serger can be intimidating at first glance. There it sits with all
those dials, spindles, needles, and inner gears, like an ugly toad
on your sewing table. But once you fall in love with it, you will
recognize it to be the true prince of the sewing room.

My own love affair with sergers began when my children "outgrew

me" and I went back to school in mid-life to take on the challenge
of expanding a satisJYing home-sewing hobby into a career as a
professional designer. Part of my education was learning all about
the specialized industrial machines. Some were scary monsters
that clanked out buttonholes, some were intriguing puzzles such
as the multi-needle shirring machine (with 45 needles to thread!).
But the one I truly longed for at home was the overlock (or
merrow machine, as it's still called in the industry), the factory
staple that overcasts, trims, and stitches the seam all at once.

At the same time, about ten years ago, imported sewing

machines hit the American home-sewing market and caused
such a sensation that home overlockers, or sergers, soon followed
as companion machines-much as automatic dryers followed
washing machines. In the decade since, the creative energy
found in home sewing workrooms has uncovered exciting
new capabilities for the serger and triggered many
added conveniences.

Why bother with a serger? Because it's fast! With a serger, you
can stitch, trim, and overcast a seam in one step instead of three,
and in less than half the time of a conventional sewing machine.
This remarkable machine cuts hours of precious sewing time from
large and small projects, and will often give you more professional
results than a conventional sewing machine.

Most people associate the serger with utilitarian knits and

sportswear, yet it has a much wider application. The beauty of the
serger is how it can handle fine fabrics. The firmness of the grip
between presser foot and throat plate will help you control
slippery fabrics such as lace and chiffon, and the machine zips
through tiny, accurate seams in delicate fabrics, making it ideal
for labor-intensive dressmaking chores, such as making large
circular hems on tiered skirts, and fine heirloom looks, such as
joining rows and rows of lace insertion for a christening dress.

If you already own a serger, let me share my excitement and
professional secrets with you to help you discover new ways of
getting the most from your machine. If you are still thinking
about buying one, this guide, based on years of personal
experience and experimentation, will help you decide which
features and threading variations will best serve your needs.

Each chapter in this book addresses progressive steps to

mastering serging with fine fabrics, so whether you are a new or
an experienced serger, you will be able to launch right into hands­
on techniques that you can adapt to your own projects. You can
go through the whole book for a complete course in fine serging,
or, once having mastered the basics, you can skip ahead to the
stitch treatments you can immediately apply to a garment.

Chapter 1 describes the advantages of a serger and how the parts

work together to form stitches. It explains initial threading and
tension adjustments, as well as optional features and accessories.
You'll learn easy maintenance procedures and simple
troubleshooting to keep your serger at peak performance.

Chapter 2 helps you to select compatible threads and needles for

your fabriCS, prepare the fabric for stitching, and take advantage
of helpful products and notions.

In Chapter 3, you'll learn to master useful serger skills, including

starting and finishing seams, and sewing curves, corners, bias
areas, and circles. Then you'll learn basic seams, finishes, and
hems for all types of fine fabrics.

Chapter 4 covers more specialized applications so you can

produce elegant self-ribbing for fine knits, add tailoring touches
to crisp wovens, create festive detailing for special-occasion
garments, and seam laces for delicate lingerie and heirloom
treatments. Four simple projects let you use your serging skills
right away.

At the end of the book is a handy photo index that will help you
to review, compare, and locate the finishes introduced in the main
text. This section will boost your creativity with the serger
because you will see at a glance the various treatments you can
use, from utility seaming to special decorative effects and
monogramming. Setting boxes tell you just how to thread and
adjust your serger for the treatments shown in the photos. You
will also see the decorative potential of fabrics, threads, and
edgings and design them into your projects.

Introduction 5
How a Serger Works 10

Demys tifyin
g Anatomy of a Serger
Getting the Most from Your Machine

the Serger Optional Features

Getting Ready to Sew


Initial Threading 18
S tartin
g to Stitch 19
Adjusting the Tensions 20
Adjusting the Cutting Width 21
Adjusting the Stitch Length 22
Hints for Trouble-Free Sewing 23

-- 24

Selecting Fabrics 26

Fabrics, Knits 26

Thread,and Choosing Thr

Decorative Threads

Notions Selecting Needles 31

Basting Tec hni

ques 32
g 32
Taping 33
Glue Basting 33
Starching 33

Other Helpful Products 34

Bias Tricot 34
Fusible Thread 34
Water-Soluble Stabilizer 35

Building Serger Skills 38

Skillsand Understanding Where the Knives Cut

Mastering Where the Needle Sews

Seams Manipulating the Fabric in Special Situations

Sewing Taut
Machine Easing 49
Holding Grain 49
Ending Seams 50
Overstitching at the Start of a Seam 51
Overstitching at the End of a Seam 51
Sewing Elastic 52
Gathering 54

Seams, Finishes, and Hems 55

Seams 56
Seam Finishes 59
Hems 61


Working with Kni

ts 66

Using Your An Elegant Knit Top 67

Knowledge Tailored Finishes

Thread Accents
Decorative Ed ging 73
Decorative Flatiocking 73
Decorative Ch aining without Fabric 74
Time-Saving Construction Aids 77

Festive De tailin
g 78
Fancy Hems 78
Lace Applique 81
Gathered Ruffles 83
Bias Tubing 84

Working with Delicate Fabrics 88

Camisole and Tap Pants 90

Photo Index 96

Index 110
the Serger

Learning how the serger differs from your conventional sewing

machine is the key to helping you identifY its advantages over
conventional machines and its potential for fine sewing.

Like conventional sewing machines, sergers have presser feet,

feed dogs, flywheels, stitch-length controls, thread cutters, foot
pedals, power connections, and lights. But they have no bobbins!
And that means no winding, no running out of thread, no
spaghetti-mop tangles beneath the fabric or in the bobbin case.

Another important difference is the feed mechanism. The

interplay between the serger's long presser foot and the narrow
feed dog holds fabric so securely that it feeds evenly with much
less intervention than a conventional machine requires. Accurate
feeding reduces the likelihood of stretching and distortion, so
seams have a uniform, professional appearance.

For everyday utility sewing, the serger's fully enclosed seam

finishes are much neater and more durable than conventional
machine finishes, and they don't distort curved areas such as
bias seams and neck facings. You can quickly and accurately
seam delicate fabrics and roll them into tiny hems because the
long foot and narrow feed dog keep tiny seam allowances from
snagging in the feed dog.

The serger's flexible looper stitches have "give," so seams are

stronger and don't break when stressed or stretched in knits. You
can apply a staggering variety of utilitarian and decorative stitches
to any fabric, from gossamer silk chiffons to sturdy action knits,
and to any task, from tiny heirloom seams to fast blind hems
for draperies.

Sergers even chain threads without fabric (a handy way to make

belt and button loops) so you can start stitching without placing
the needle exactly at the starting point of the seam and you can
chain off the fabric at the end of the seam without tangling.

How a Serger Works

Sergers work on a very simple principle. First the knives

mounted on the machine neatly trim the edge oj the jabric,
then the needles and loopers overcast it with thread in a
protective casing.

Anatomy of a Serger
Although there are many different models and makes of sergers,
all have a shelf at the back of the square frame (on some models,
a convenient c arryi
ng handle is built right into the frame) to hold
spools or cones of thread on three, four, or five spindles,
depending on the capability of the model. An extension bar raises
each thread above the spools, allowing it to unwind evenly from
the spool and feed smoothly into the primary thread gUides
without tangling.

10 Demysti:(ying the Serger

Front view of a serger. Threads pass
over the extension bar and feed
through primary thread guides
before entering the tension wheels.

\\ \

Two sets of color-coded thread gUides control the flow of thread

from the spool to the needles. The first (primary) set gUides the
thread from the spool to the tension wheel. The secondary guides,
on the front of the serger, lead the thread from the tension wheel
into the needle or looper.

Two knife blades trim the edge of the fabric as you stitch. In many
models, the upper blade is mounted on a shaft above the throat
plate to the right of the needles. The lower blade is housed in
front of the loopers to the right of the feed dog on the throat plate.
As you stitch, the upper knife blade moves alongside the
stationary lower blade in a scissors-like cutting action. The
Upper and lower knife blades trim
moving knife blade is usually spring-mounted to maintain the fabric. (Presser foot removed
constant pressure against the stationary knife blade. for clarity.)

How a Serger Works 11

The upper knife blade can be rotated out of position when you do
not want to trim the fabric or when stitching prefinished edges
such as lace and ribbon.

Serger feed dogs are similar to those of conventional machines.

but they have two sets of teeth. front and rear. The teeth of the
front feed dog gUide the fabric under the toe of the presser foot.
past the upper and lower knives for trimming.

The loopers move back and forth. simultaneously casting thread

loops over the upper and lower surfaces of the fabric that
interlock at the trimmed edge. The lower looper. positioned to the
left and slightly below the upper looper. in most machines is
threaded through the tension dial farthest to the right and moves
Serger feed dogs have two sets
back and forth from left to right. The upper looper. in most
of teeth. (Presser foot removed
for clarity. ) machines threaded through the tension dial immediately to the
left of the lower looper. is located behind it. near the underside of
the throat plate and needles.

The needles move up and down through the fabric as in

conventional machines. but since the serger has no bobbins. the
needles simply anchor the looper threads to each side of the
fabric rather than interlock with bobbin threads to form stitches.
When both needles are used. the left needle anchors the upper
and lower thread loops on the seam line. while the right needle
sews an additional safety seam. (When either needle is used
alone. the unthreaded needle is removed and the safety seam
is omitted.)

The upper knife blade can be

rotated out of position when no
cutting is needed.

12 Demystifying the Serger

Upper and lower loopers cast
thread over the top and bottom
surfaces of the fabric. Needles
anchor the loops. Either needle
may be removed to adjust width
of stitching. (Presser foot removed
for clarity.)

Stitch fingers set into the stitch bed

support the loops as they form.
(Presser foot removed for clarity.)

Stitch fingers, set into the stitch bed beneath each needle,
support the thread loops as they form. Loops overlock around the
two right stitch fingers when the right needle is used alone. The
left stitch finger supports wider loops when the left needle is used
alone and defines the safety seam when both needles are used
together. A third. or overlock, stitch finger supports the loops as
they interlock over the trimmed edge of the fabric.

After the stitches have been secured by the needles, the rear feed­
dog teeth slide the stitches off the stitch fingers.

How a Serger Works 13

Getting the Most from
Your Machine

There are seven variables that control the appearance

and function of the stitches and give the serger its
extraordinary versatility.

Fabric: The weight and stretchability of the fabric affect the

appearance of the stitches (p. 26).

Thread: Choose threads that are heavy, light, smooth, textured,

utility, or decorative (p. 28).

Thread tension: The degree of tension on the needle and looper

threads will dramatically change the look of the stitches (p. 20).

Numbers of threads: For varying effects and depending on your

model, all needles and loopers may be threaded, or selected
needles and loopers may be left unthreaded (p.15) .

Stitch width: Use wider stitch widths for more coverage,

narrower for less.

Stitch length: Use longer stitch lengths for less coverage, shorter
lengths for denser stitching (p. 22).

Cutting width: Adj ust the distance between the trimmed edge
and the needles (p. 2 1 ) to make the overcast edges either lie flat or
roll into tiny hems.

14 DemystifYing the Serger

The greatest d i fferences among serger models occur The photo below shows some of the d i fferent l ooks
i n thread i n g options. F i ve-thread models are you can ach ieve by changing the threading setup on
ava i l able with th ree needles and two loopers or two the serger (see the chart below for part i c u l ars) . The
needles and three loopers. F i ve-thread models can top sample in each color was stitched w ith the rol l­
usual l y adapt to fou r-, th ree-, and even two-thread hem setti ng, y i e l d i ng a narrower stitch; the bottom
uses, but si nce five-thread serging is most su itable for sample was stitched w ith the overlock fi nger s l i d i nto
active wear and sem i - i ndustrial uses, it is beyond the position, y i e l d i ng a w ider stitch.
scope of t h i s book.

Needle Options
Th ree- and four-thread convertible models stitch w ith
th ree or four threads. Both need l es are used for four­
thread appl ications, and either need le may be
removed for th ree-thread appl ications. Remove the
right need le for w ider coverage on heavier fabrics.
Remove the left need le for narrower coverage on
l ighter fabrics and rol led hems.

For t i ny seams, remove the left need le and i nvoke

rol l -hem setti ngs with the narrowest cutt i ng width
and normal thread tensi o n .

Looper Options
I n addition to using th ree- and four-thread
app l i cations, with two-, th ree-, and fou r-thread serger You can change the look of your stitching by how
models you can bypass the u pper looper and use you thread the serger. The setups that produced these
e ither need le to stitch with two threads. stitches are described in the chart below.

Sample Color Left N eedle Right Needle Upper Looper Lower Looper

Wh ite removed x bypassed x

B l ue removed x x x

Brown x removed x x

Pink x x x x

Getting the Most from Your Machine 15

Puckering can be remedied by decreasing the differential feed.

Optional Features
Differential feed and adjustable pressure-foot pressure are offered
as options on many sergers. Understanding how they work will
help you realize the full capabilities of your serger or help you
evaluate different models when making a purchase.

Dilferential Feed Because the serger has two feed dogs, the
front and rear teeth can be set at different speeds. When the
speeds are the same (dial at N or at 1, depending on the model) ,
the fabric enters and leaves the stitch bed at the same speed.

If fabric tends to pucker, select a lower-than-normal setting. This

slows the front feed dog, pulling the fabric under the presser foot,
similar to sewing taut on a conventional machine.

16 Demystifying the Serger


Accessories for the serger include specialized throat plates and A wav}-j stretched edge can be
presser feet for specific applications. remedied by increasing the
differential feed.

Various spec i a l ized throat plates and presser feet a l low a wide range
of appl ications such as rol l hem m i ng; del icate sea m i ng; bl i nd
hem m i ng; gathering; and applying elastic, b i nd i ng, or cord i ng. Some
sergers are fu l l y automated and requ i re no change of presser feet or
throat plates for these appl ications, w h i l e others requ i re certa i n
adjustments, someti mes i n c l ud i ng a change o f throat p l ate and
presser foot. Usu a l l y cost accompan ies conve n ience, a l though
convenience can be worth paying for i n the l ong r u n .

If the edge of the fabric is wavy and stretched, select a higher­

than-normal setting. When the differential feed is set above
normal, the front teeth move more quickly than the rear teeth,
pushing the fabric under the presser foot and preventing knits
and bias areas from stretching during stitching.

Presser-Foot Pressure Some models allow you to change the

pressure on the presser foot. Lighten the pressure to
accommodate thicker fabrics or to avoid teeth tracks on sheers.
Increase the pressure to keep lighter fabrics from slipping.

Getting the Most from Your Machine 17

Getting Ready to Sew

If you are new to serging, you are probably a little

intimidated by the intricacies of the machine. Threading
the machine needn't be daunting, though, if you take your
time and follow instructions. As you practice stitching,
you'll gain confidence and soon will be able to use serging
in your fine sewing projects.

Initial Threading
Most manufacturers make threading easier by color coding
primary gUides and tension wheels. If you've never threaded a
serger before. the task will be simpler if you select spools of
ordinary sewing thread to match the color codes on your
machine. Study the threading diagrams in your instruction
booklet and use the long tweezers supplied in the accessory pack
to help thread the loopers. Follow the threading instructions
carefully. Most stitching problems resultjrom incorrect threading.

Initial threading of a serger is

simpler if you select thread
that matches the color of the
tension wheels.

18 DemystifYing the Serger

If a foam thread cushion was supplied, place it on the shelf
beneath the spools. If you are using conventional machine spools
rather than large cones of specialized serger thread, use the small
plastic discs on top of the spools to extend beyond the rim of the
spool and prevent the strands from snagging in the thread notch.
If you are using the larger cones for your initial threading, use the
net sleeves to prevent the thread from unreeling too quickly.

Starting to Stitch
Select a medium-weight, crisp, woven fabric in a solid color that
contrasts well with your thread choices.

Set the controls for needle and looper tensions at normal range as
indicated by your manufacturer, and select normal (or medium)
stitch settings for length, cutting width, and other optional
features such as differential feed and presser-foot pressure.
Begin and end your stitching with a
Sewing without fabriC, chain a thread tail of 2 in. or 3 in. to
short thread chain.
prevent thread and fabric jams. Watch the thread chain to be sure
it doesn't curl around and re-enter the stitch bed.

Stop sewing the thread chain while you position your fabric j ust
in front of the presser-foot toe.

Resume sewing, letting the machine gUide the fabric under

the foot.

Chain a 3-in. to 5-in. long thread tail off the edge of the fabric
before cutting the thread.


• Let the feed dog guide the fabric: s i m ply use your • Learn to focus you r eyes about 2 i n . in front of the
right hand to keep the right edge of the fabric level presser foot to give yourself t i me to make feed i ng
when it approaches the knives. Pl ace you r left hand corrections and adjustments. After the fabric enters
flat on the fabric to the left of the needles and let it the stitch bed and is h idden by the foot, it is too late
travel with the fabric as it approaches the feed dog; to make corrections without d i storting the seam or
stop to repos ition every few i nches . cau s i ng u neven stitchi ng.

Getting Ready to Sew 19


1 If lower-looper threads 2 If upper-looper stitches are visible 3 If needle threads form small
straggle over the edge of the on the underside of the fabric, the beadlike loops of thread on the
fabric and are visible from the top tensions of the loopers are not underside of the fabric, the
side, the tensions of the upper balanced. Tighten the upper-looper needle threads are too loose.
and lower looper are not tension in small increments, and Tighten the appropriate needle
balanced. Tighten the lower­ release the lower-looper tension tension slightly. If needle threads
looper tension in small if necessary. are too tight, the stitches will
increments before releasing the pucker. Loosen the appropriate
tension of the upper looper. tension dial.

Adjusting the Tensions

Experiment with changing tensions and stitch lengths while
chaining without fabric so you can clearly see the response to
each change. You will see dramatic differences in the chain as it
responds to each new setting. For best results:

• Follow the manufacturer's recommended settings.

• Adjust one tension wheel at a time, then check results.

• Make small, incremental changes .

• Check that looper threads interlock a t edge o f fabric.

Properly adjusted serger stitches.

• Make tensions of both loopers approximately equal.

20 Demystifying the Serger

For the widest cutting width, move the blade housing For the narrowest cutting width, move the blade
all the way to the right. housing all the way to the left.

If the fabric twists under the stitches, the cutting width If loops form in the air rather than at the edge of the
is too wide. fabric, the cutting width is too narrow.

Adj usting the Cutting Width

The cutting width is the distance between the knife blades and
the needles. It is controlled by a knob or dial that moves the
whole blade housing outward to the right, away from the needles,
or inward to the left, closer to them. You will need to fine-tune the
cutting width along with the tensions to achieve the proper effect
with each fabric.

If fabric twists and curls underneath the stitches, the cutting

width is too wide. Follow the manufacturer's instructions to
decrease cutting width, and watch the lower blade housing move
to the left.

If the loops overlock in the air rather than at the edge of the
fabric, the cutting width is too narrow. Follow the manufacturer's
instructions to increase cutting width, and watch the blade
housing move to the right.

Getting Ready to Sew 21

You may not be able to tel l if a need le is d u l l, Remove the thread supply from the need le.
hooked, or bent just by looki ng at it, but a bad
Loosen the screw above the need le and remove it,
need le w i l l affect sew i ng performance and cause
using tweezers, or a spec i a l need le holder if
threads to break more easi Iy. Therefore it's a good
provided .
idea to cha nge needles freq uently, as recommended
by the manufactu rer. Genera l l y, need les w i l l rem a i n I n sert a need le the man ufacturer recommends,
sharp for about 20 hou rs o f sewing t i me. F o r a more fol lowing the previous steps i n reverse.
complete description of need les, see p. 31 .
Sma l l tears and frayed portions of the cut fabric edge
To cha nge a needle: are a sign that the lower knife blade has become
n icked or d u l l . Most manufactu rers i nc l ude a
Tu rn the flywheel to raise the needles to their
replacement lower bl ade in the accessory kit.
h ighest position.
Change the blade accord i ng to the manufacturer's
Swi ng the foot out to the side for easier access to the i nstructions.
needle, if your model perm its t h i s .

A tweezers a n d small screwdriver are handy for To change a blade, follow the manufacturer's
changing a needle. instructions.

Adj usting the Stitch Length

As with conventional sewing machines, the higher the stitch­
length number, the longer the stitch. Gradually increase the
stitch length while sewing to see the effect of wider spacing,
then decrease the stitch length to see the fuller coverage of
dense stitches.

22 Demystifying the Serger

Hints for Trouble-Free Se win
Keeping your serger lint free and knowing how to unj am it when
the thread snarls are important if you want your serger to run
smoothly. It's also a good idea to perform periodic maintenance,
as described in the machine manual.

Removing Lint Sergers make a great deal of fabric dust, which

can become trapped in the feed dogs. Routinely replace needles
(p. 22) and remove dust. If inadvertently sewn into the seam, a
clump of lint can be a real chore to remove.

To keep the machine clean and lint free, frequently open the panel
door and clean the dust away from the looper mechanisms,
cutting blades, and feed dogs. A small brush for this purpose
is usually included with the accessories, but canisters of
compressed air, sold at computer-supply stores, are even better.
A blast of compressed air will
To keep household dust out of the machine, cover it when not
help remove dust and lint from
in use.
inside the serger.

Unjamming a Serger If the machine j ams, stop sewing

immediately. Never try to force the machine or sew your way
through; this could bend the loopers out of alignment and
permanently damage your serger. If there is any play in the
flywheel, gently try to raise the needle and cut the jammed
threads away. If necessary, remove the needle from its socket. You
can also open the front plate and use a seam ripper to free the
jammed threads from underneath. Before you resume sewing, be
sure that you have cleared away all stray threads, that the needle
has not been bent, and that the machine is rethreaded correctly.

When the machine jams, stop

sewing and remove all thread snags
with a seam ripper, as shown, or
other small tool. (Presser foot
removed for clarity.)

Getting Ready to Sew 23

Fabrics, Thread,
and Notions

The first choice you make when planning any proj ect is fabric.
Eye appeal, function, and the styling of the garment you plan
are the primary factors in your choice, but especially when
serging, the decisions you make concerning treads and notions
will be an important part of the appearance and success of your
finished proj ect.

Will you make fabulously tiny seams a design feature of serged

lingerie, or highlight a pressed wool j acket with a bright edging?
Will you have serged decorative sportswear details such as
flatlocked seams or hems? Will you intensifY the basic fabric color
with harmonizing threads or accent it with a well-chosen
contrast? Will you use thick threads such as pearl cotton or wooly
nylon to highlight fabric texture, or shiny ribbons and glossy
rayons or metallics to bring out the glamour of festive fabrics?

Even if you originally planned to use the serger for quick and
efficient seaming, this chapter will give old hands and beginners
alike many new reasons to keep the serger in mind when buying
new patterns or adding flair to tried-and-true favorites.

Selecting Fabrics

All fabrics of all weights, whether woven or knit, are

sUitable for serging. In fact, with just a few twists of the
dials, the serger can actually make some of the more
"difficult" fabrics easy to work with. After selecting your
fabrics, select needles and thread appropriate to the
weight and weave.

Lightweight fabrics are woven from thinly spun yarns in fairly

open weaves. Cottons, silks, synthetiCS, and some wools fall into
this group. With lightweight fabrics, use thin needles and
lightweight threads for construction and embellishment.

Medium-weight fabrics can be of any fiber (silk, cotton, wool, or

synthetiC) but the yarns are spun into heaver plies and more
densely packed into the weave. Needles and threads should
correspond to the weight of the fabric.

Hea vyw
eight fabrics have the thickest yarns and often very dense
weaves, such as twill or pile. Use heavier needles and threads to
construct and decorate these fabrics.

Like woven fabrics, knits can be light, medium, or heavy,
according to the weight and thickness of the yarn and the density
of the knit. Knits can also be of any fiber, natural or synthetic.

The lightest knits are single knits, in which the wrong side looks
different from the right and a single row of loops will appear on
the edge of the fabric as it unravels. Double knits have two right
sides and reveal a double row of loops as they unravel. Jerseys,
matte jerseys, interlocks, ribbing, tricots, fleeces, sweater knits,
spandex, Lycra, and panne velvets and velours are all knits that
lend themselves to successful serging.

26 Fabrics, Thread, and Notions

Lightweight fabrics.

Medium-weight fabrics.

Heavyweight fabrics.

Selecting Fabrics 27
Choosing Thr

Select threads Jor Junction and color. Utility thread colors

Jor seams and seam finishes should blend into the Jabric
as much as possible. Decorative threads to highlight and
embellish can be in matching or contrasting shades.

The same spools you use on your conventional machine can be

used successfully on your serger. Such threads include cotton­
wrapped polyester, all cotton, and all polyester. Specialized serger
threads such as woolly nylon, two-ply polyester, and invisible
nylon filament threads come on cones. Woolly nylon is a soft,
comfortable, stretchy thread that is strong enough to be sewn
under high tension, making it suitable for delicate seams and
rolled hems. (Loosen thread tensions if you want the woolly nylon
to fluff up as a filler thread.) Polyester and nylon filament threads
also tolerate high tensions for rolled hems, and are thin enough to
blend with most colors for less visible stitching.

28 Fabrics, Thread , and Notions

T h e o n l y time y o u need t o unthread a need le or eyes and blend i nto the cha i n . Si nce the loopers are
looper tota l ly i s when you are bypassi ng it. To thread- h u ngry, t h i s w i l l happen before the need le
change threads, s i m p l y leave the mac h i ne t h readed, threads arrive at the need le eyes.
tie in the new color, as shown in the four photos
Even though the sma l l eye of the need le rare l y al lows
below, and cha i n without fabric u nt i l a l l the new
the knot to pass through eas i l y, it is sti l l worth
threads have passed t h rough the eyes and i n to
knott i ng on. Just as the knot reaches the eye, cut the
the chain.
t h read, pu l l the old thread out, and manua l l y th read
A simple overhand knot is a l l that is needed to tie in the new one. Resume stitc h i ng.
new t h reads . Always test the sec u r ity of your knot
before t h reading i t t h rough the serger.
Threading Tips
• U se loops of ord i nary sew i ng th read to help you
Stitching Knots Through th read loopers with t h reads that tend to fuzz, such as
To stitch the knots through, trim the cut ends to woo l l y nylon.
w i t h i n 112 i n . to 1 i n . from the knot. (Be carefu l not to
• If you are ru n n i ng short of thread, remember that
trim the spool end, or you w i l l have to retie the
loopers consume th ree ti mes the amount of th read
knot!) Loosen the tension wheels to let the knots pass
that needles do. Save sca ntier spoo l s for the needles
more eas i l y, and c h a i n the serger w i thout fabric u n t i l
and fu I ler ones for the loopers.
the u pper and lower l ooper t h reads pass through the


1 Tie in a new thread (blue) to the old (red) with a 2 Be sure that the knot is secure before threading it
simple overhand knot. through the serger.

3 Stitch or pull the knot through the eye of the 4 Thread the looper with a loop of regular garment
looper. thread (red) and pull thick, fuzzy thread (blue) through
the eye.

Choosing Thread 29
Decorative Threads
When it comes to decorative threads, sergers have it hands down
over conventional machines. Thick threads that have to be wound
by hand on the bobbins of conventional machines pass easily
through the larger looper eyes. Since the serger spindles can
easily hold entire spools, creative combinations of decorative
thread can be chained into lengths to make custom piping and
braid. Woolly nylon fluffs up to embellish a seam with decorative
flatiocking, and raw edges can be overcast quickly with fancy
finishes in place of hems and facings.

Threads may be silk, linen, wool, metallic, synthetic, or cotton,

Experiment with mixing colors and and any thickness that will fit through the eye of the looper. For
types of threads for novel effects.
greater coverage, use decorative threads in the upper and lower
Shown here (left to right) are woolly
loopers, alone or in combinations.
nylon (blue) in net spool cas inK
rayon pearl cotton (turquoise) with
It is critical to ensure that decorative threads unreel evenly and
protective cap, cotton garment
flow smoothly through the thread gUides . Some slippery threads
thread (red) on a 2, DDD-yd. spool,
and (on foam cushion) decorative slide off the spool and twist around the spindle beneath; others
metallic thread. snag or fail to feed properly. For these difficult threads, bypass
the spindle and place the spool in a cup behind the machine.

Decorative threads work best if they are smooth, strong, and

supple. Avoid slubbed or irregular textures that might snag in
looper eyes. Threads that break easily are not suitable for
decorative serging. Stiff threads such as quilting thread or rug
and carpet thread are also not suitable, since they won't feed
easily through the stitching mechanisms.

Sometimes it is best to mix threads of different textures and

colors. For instance, monofilament nylon or thin polyester are
good choices for the lower looper to blend with a decorative
novelty thread in the upper looper. Mix related shades of similar
threads in needles and loopers to customize unusual or difficult
colors. Neutral shades of gray or iVOry are good basics that blend
with many other shades to darken or lighten them; sometimes
For even feeding with difficult
three colors can be blended for nearly perfect matches. When
threads, such as this rayon ribbon
thread, let the spool unwind in a blending a seam, be sure to use the shade closest to your fabric in
cup rather than on the spindle. the needle.

30 Fabrics, Thread, and Notions

Selecting Needles

Serger needles are somewhat sturdier than conventional

machine needles, but they are sized in the same way: the
higher the number, the smaller the needle.

The type of fabric you are using will determine the size needle you
need. Heavier fabrics require larger needles, and lighter fabrics
require smaller ones. For example, with denims, velvets, and
corduroy I generally use a size 70 needle. With lighter-weight
fabrics such as batiste, charmeuse, or organza, I generally use a
size 90 needle.

Another consideration is the needle tip. For natural fibers, a

pOinted tip is fine, since natural fibers are twisted and spun to
form the thread and are easily penetrated by the pointed tip of the
needle. But synthetic fibers, being of chemical origin, are not
twisted and spun but brewed in vats and e xtru
ded in long
filaments. The strands deflect the point of a needle instead of
allowing it to pierce them during stitching; this is why it is best,
when serging synthetic fibers. to use ballpoint needles, which
ease the filaments apart.


• L ight fabrics: Need les m ust b e sma l l enough t o stitch t h rough the
fabric without making holes. Needles that are too l a rge w i l l l eave
visible holes in the fabric.

• Med i u m fabrics: Need les m u st be strong enough to pierce the

fabri c eas i l y, yet sma l l enough not to make holes.

• Heavy fabrics: Need les need to be sturdy or they w i l l bend and

break d u ring stitch ing.

• Synthetic fabrics of a l l weights: It's best to use ba l l po i n t needles

matched to the weight of the fabric.

Selecting Needles 31
Basting Techniques

Highly skilled professional sample-makers in the industry

never baste at all and even take pride in using no pins.
But sometimes we mortals really do need a pin or two,
evenfor serging, which requires much less pinning and
basting than conventional machine sewing.

When it is necessary to keep fabrics from shifting during sewing,

you can pin (use caution), stabilize difficult fabrics with starch, or
glue layers together with solid glue sticks, liquid seam sealants,
artist's tape, or pre-glued basting tape. If you must baste, avoid
basting on the seam line or within the seam allowance, because
removing basting stitches might damage the serging and can be a
time-consuming chore that defeats the virtues of the machine.

The serger will not sew over pins! At best, either the pin or the
needle will break. At worst, the knives will be damaged and the
timing of the machine disrupted. When pins are called for, such
as when matching plaids or holding very slippery fabriCS, place
them at least 1 in. inside the raw edge so there is no danger of
one inadvertently passing through the stitch bed. On fabrics that
may retain permanent pin marks, place pins at right angles to the
seam line and be exceptionally vigilant about removing them from
the seam allowance as you stitch; or consider other ways of
securing the two layers, such as taping or glue basting.

32 Fabrics, Thread, and Notions

Artist's tape. available at art-supply stores. leaves no sticky
residue and is ideal for positioning sections that need careful
placement. such as straps or pleats. Simply tape the area in
question and remove the tape after stitching. Basting tape is
concealed by layers of fabric. but artist's tape is always on top of
the fabric where you can see it. eliminating the danger of stitching
through it.

Place pins at least 7 in. inside the

edges to be serged.
Glue Basting
Glues for basting come in liquid. stick. and tape form. Tape is
pressed between the two layers. while stick glues and liquid glues
are both applied sparingly along the seam line. Stick glue is the
easiest type to control. If liquid glue is overapplied. it can cause
skipped stitches or harm your needle. Most basting glues and
tapes are water soluble-which is a benefit only if your fabric is
washable. Tapes carry the attendant risk of being sewn through.
making them much harder to remove. and they will not flex easily
around curved seams. Test glue-basting products on your fabric
to see if they will really save you any time or trouble. Sometimes
pre-seaming at the conventional machine is the quickest and
Solid glues such as glue sticks and
most accurate choice. saving the serger for non-construction basting tape are easier to control
finishing tasks. than liquid glues.

Starching. though not really a form of basting. can serve the same
purpose by stabilizing tricky fabriCS. making them easier to sew.
For lightweight fabrics and laces starch can actually bond two
layers temporarily. Laces stretch like bias fabric and need to be
stabilized with starch before stitching. Lay a protective covering
over your ironing board (p . 35) and spray lightly. Allow the starch
to settle into the lace before pressing. Stretch lace slightly as you
steam with a medium-hot iron. A press cloth keeps starch from Spray starch and pressing will
building up on the sole plate of your iron and prevents scorch stabilize lightweight fabrics
marks on your lace or fabric. Similarly. if you are joining lace to and laces.
fabriC. starch very lightweight cottons to help support the lace
during stitching.

Basting Techniques 33
Other Helpful Products

Notions counters are stocked with sewing aids that can

significantly shorten sewing time and improve results.
Those with the broadest number of uses are usually worth
the investment. Grocery stores and art-supply houses are
sources of other helpful supplies. Be sure to test any
product on scraps before using on the actual garment.
Check the labels for information on care, washability,
and permanence.

Bias Tricot

When hemming difficult fabrics, Bias tricot is a tape of o/s-in. or 1 Y4-in. width that comes in white,
bias tricot tape helps control black, and several basic colors; it is packaged in rolls and sold as
the edges. a seam binding to control fraying. In the serger it helps control
stray threads that tend to escape when rolling difficult fabrics or
bias areas during roll hemming. Serge decorative threads over
the folded edge to create piping and braid; the tricot forms the
seam allowance. It is strong enough to reinforce knit shoulder
seams that might sag or stretch, yet flexible enough to let the
fabric "give."

Fusible Thread
Fusible thread is sold on cones as a basting and positioning
aid. For serging, manufacturers recommend threading the looper
of the side that will be fused. (For example, if the wrong side of
the fabric is to be fused, thread the lower looper and sew right
side up.)

Fusible thread in the lower looper Cover every stitch of the fusible thread with a press cloth before
can be pressed to form a hem.
applying the iron. Light fUSing will be sufficient preparation for
final topstitching; longer fUSing at higher heat and more pressure
may yield a permanent bond .

34 Fabrics, Thread, and Notions

Water-Soluble Stabilizer A s q u a re o f cotton organ d y
m akes a good press c l ot h
Lay fabrics that move or twist on top of water-soluble stabilizer becau se it w i I I w ithstan d
h ig h h eat a n d y o u can see
and stitch through all layers. When the seam is complete, gently
through i t .
pull the stabilizer away from the stitching, as if separating
perforated sheets of stamps. Rinse the remaining stabilizer out
of the stitching with warm water.

Preven t i ro n i m p r i nts o f
serged s e a m a l l owa nces by
t u c k i n g fo l ded stri ps of p a pe r
towel beneath a l l ow a nces
d u ri n g p ress i n g . Press a s u s u a l
w i t h a p p ro p r i ate h eat a n d
ste a m setti ngs.

Water-soluble stabilizers support Paper towels placed under seam

delicate stitching and are easily allowances prevent imprints from
torn away. the iron.


By serging ties onto a length of
fabric, you can make an i ro n i ng­
board cover that's pretty to look
at and easy to change. Cut a
width of fabric to fit the out l i ne
of your i ro n i ng board, a l lowing
a 5-i n . marg i n all arou n d . Serge
the edges, i ncorporati n g u t i l ity
ri bbon ties i nto the serg i ng at
convenient i nterval s around the
edges. Tie tightly over you r
regu l a r i roni ng-board cover and
remove for wash i n g or replacing
as des i red .

Other Helpful Products 35

Skills and

Once you understand the way a serger works, it is a short step

to mastering the basic skills that will give you greater dexterity.
Knowing when to stitch with the knives, when not to, and where
they cut, combined with a thorough understanding of where
the needle sews and which threading options to choose, will
enable you to stitch accurately and evenly and be delighted
with your results.

The speed of the serger affects how you gUide fabric into it.
Understanding what to expect and knowing the right ways to
position your hands help you to gain control and manipulate
fabric through the stitching process. It's easy to learn the basics ,
because they grow logically out o f understanding the way the
serger works. Once learned , they become the foundation for
specific applications such as seams, interior finishes, and hems.

This section introduces basic skills first, preparing you for a

variety of common sewing applications as well as the greater
challenges of curves, corners, and placket slashes. The section on
seams, finishes, and hems then presents a broad overview of
serger uses. Several optional accessories for applying elastic or
blind hemming are suggested, as well as several two-thread
applications. If your serger does not have these capabilities, you
can follow the alternative methods.

Most fabrics and applications fall into a few broad categories, so

that even if a specific application isn't covered, the basic idea
behind all the techniques is explained so you can easily make
your own choices of seams, hems, threads, and finishes.

Building Serger Skills

Sometimes it seems as if the serger requires a whole new

vocabulary of words and skills. Knives and loopers,
trimming widths, cutting widths, looper tensions, and
dijferential feed are things we don't worry about at
conventional machines. Overlocking, jlatlocking, serging,
chaining-no wonder so many people have never even
taken their serger out of the box!

38 Skills and Seams

The secret to it a l l is a few hours
of practice with easy m aterials
and plenty of time to put the
knowledge of w h at the serger
does and how it does it i nto you r
h a nds. It isn 't even necessary to
try everyth i ng. J ust browse
through t h i s book u n t i l you find
an a p p l ication that tempts you ,
t h e n try it. You ' l l find t h a t t h e
serger i s not s o i nt i m idating after
a l l , but rea l l y easy and conven ient
to use.

Where the
Knives Cut
Know i ng where the k n i ves cut Practice your stitches and seams on scrap fabric. Stripes will help you
i n rel ation to the stitc h i ng is the guide the fabric in a straight line.
fi rst step i n m astering the serger.
Once you are certa i n that you
Cut a 1 2- i n . length of stri ped
won't cut away too much of you r
fabric w i th a rel atively wide str i pe
fabric by accident, you w i l l g a i n
(a l - i n . stri pe is ideal) and c a l m
confidence. A few moments of
colors that w i l l withstand i ntense
practice w ith a striped fabric w i l l
focus without t i r i ng your eyes.
h e l p bu i ld accu racy and contro l .
Select a med i u m-long stitch
A t the beg i n n i ng, focus you r eyes
length and a t h read color that lets
on the knife blade, then grad u a l l y
you focus eas i l y on the fabric
sh ift you r attention forward t o the
beneath the stitches. Set the
toe of the presser foot and the
cutti ng width at its widest setti ng.
fabric pass i n g beneath it.
Thread tensions and feed options
Most models of sergers now help (if any) shou ld be normal .
you gu ide the fabric w ith
At fi rst, focus o n the i n ner edge of
i n d ications on the toe of the
the stationary kn ife b l ade (nearest
presser foot that show the
the need les), then stitch u n t i l the
positions of the need l es and
cut edge i s perfectl y stra ight and
stationary kn ife. If you r serger
coi n c ides exactly with the edge of
lacks these, you can mark your
the str i pe. Usual ly, when the
own as you become aware of the
cutt i ng w idth i s at its widest
relationsh i ps between the toe of
setti ng, the right edge of the
the presser foot and the stitc h i n g
presser-foot toe w i l l coi ncide with
mechanisms o f t h e serger.
the i n ner edge of the stationary
knife b l ade.

Building Serger Skills 39

Cutting width i s the d i stance between the stitc h i ng seams on heavier fabrics and for rol l ed-hem setti ngs
and the kn ives. on l i ghter fabrics.

Narrow cutting widths are best for overcast i ng tiny Movi n g the position of the b l ade housing changes
seams on del icate fabrics and for flatlocking tri mmed the cutting w idth . The widest setti n g is shown i n
edges. Wide cutt i n g widths are used for overcasting the photo a t left; the narrowest is shown i n the photo
at right.

W i t h a nother l ength of the same

TRIMM I NG WI DTH fab ric, rotate the stati o n a ry k n ife

control to sel ect the sma l l est
The t r i m m i ng width, or the sti l l p l a n to trim a t i n y portion c u tt i n g w i d t h , a n d stitch u n t i l you
portion of the seam a l lowance away from the very edge to can confidently sew the edge of
that is cut away and d i scarded, is ensure a crisp even edge and the stripe in a str a i g h t l i ne,
the d i stance between the raw u n iform overcasting. learn i n g to focu s on the toe of the
edge of the fabric and the k n i ves. p resser foot i n stead of the b l a d e .
The tri m m i ng width var ies with
F i na l l y, w i t h a t h i rd l e n gt h o f
the seam a l lowance and the
fab r i c, beg i n stitc h i ng aga i n a t t h e
location of the sea m . When
n arrowest c u tt i ng w i d t h . H a l fw a y
sea m i n g and overcasting a re
t h ro u g h the l e n gth, s t o p stitc h i ng,
simu ltaneous, sergers trim a
raise the need l e, a n d rotate t h e
preset d i stance from the sea m l ine
stati o na ry k n ife o utward to the
automatical l y. When you are
w i d est sett i n g . I f you lower t h e
overcast i ng the a l lowance of a
foot a n d resume sew i n g w h i l e sti l l
seam you have stitched
gu i d i ng the fab r i c toward the
conventiona l l y, trim the same
n arrowest c u tt i n g-width i n d i c ator
amount of excess fabric from the
o n the foot, you w i l l see the
seam al lowance that you wou ld
stitc h i n g veer 2mm to the r i g h t
with conventional methods.
a n d i nto t h e n e i g h bo r i n g str i pe .
Even i f the seam a l lowance is
sma l l (or if it has been previously The trimming width falls a way as
trimmed and a l tered), you shou l d you stitch.

40 Skills and Seams

Mastering Where
the Needle Sews
After beco m i n g confident about
where the k n i ves c ut, you can
learn where each need le w i l l sew.
Aga i n practice with the striped
fabric, s i nce it w i l l show the
accu racy of you r sti tc h i ng. Start
pract i c i ng w ith both need l es i n
t h e machi ne, then remove fi rst the
right, then the l eft.

The stitch fi ngers a re couched i n

long grooves j ust to the right of
each need l e . Look j ust to the left
of this groove to see if the toe of
you r presser foot has been ma rked
to i nd icate the need le pos ition. If
you need to make you r own
gu idel i ne, mark the toe j u st to the
left of eac h groove w ith a fine
i ndel i b l e marker.

Now cut a nother 1 2- i n . strip of

stri ped fabric. With a l l setti ngs at
normal, position the fabric so that
the edge of a str i pe coi n c ides with
Mark the needle position o n the toe o f the presser foot.
the l eft need le position. Stitch,
chec k i n g the fabric to be s u re the
need le stitches are a l igned with
the edge of the str i pe . Make sma l l
adj ustments i n feed i n g as
necessary u nt i l you can
confidently stitch the length of the
fabric w ithout wavering.

Retu rn the presser foot to sew i n g

position and aga i n stitch a length
of stri ped fabric, this time a i m i n g
the edge o f the str i pe at the right
need le. S i m i l arly, stitch u nt i l you
can fol low the str i pe with the right
need l e for the length of the fabric.

The edge of the stripe is aligned

with the mark for the right needle
on the toe of the presser foot.

Building Serger Skills 41

Manipulating the
Fabric in Special
You w i l l have a l l the basics down
once you m aster tec h n iques l i ke
start i ng and stoppi ng, g u i d i n g the
fabric, and learn i n g to focus you r
eyes far enough a head of the
presser foot to make corrections
w ithout d i storting the stitc h i ng.
N ow you a r e ready t o tackle the
more spec i a l ized situations that
fol low: angl i n g on and off,
avoid i ng the kn ives, clearing the
stitch fi ngers, bypassing the
kn ives, and making a cutout.

Angling on and off

Circular Areas Continuous
1 Begin continuous seams by angling in from the right.
seams such as cuffs, fac i ngs, or
c i rc u l a r hems have no conven ient
beg i n n i ng or end. To beg i n and
end preci sely and to stitch a
smooth cont i n uous seam, c h a i n a
few i nc hes norm a l l y, then angle
the fabric i nto the k n i ves from the
right (1 ). After the kn ives have
begu n to trim the edge, pi vot the
fabric i n to the normal stitc h i n g

When you reach the end of the

seam, angle the fabric to the l eft
away from the kn ives, and stitch
off the edge of the fabric, sewi ng
over the stitches at the beg i n n i n g
o f t h e seam for about 1 i n . (2).

2 Complete continuous seams by angling to the left and stitching

over previous stitches.

42 Skills and Seams

When you need to restitch,
angling in from the left lets
you a void the knives.

Avoiding the Knives After blending i nto the existing

Someti mes you wish to avoid the stitc h i ng, angle the fabric aga i n to
k n i ves u nti l you have begun the left, away from the k n i ves,
stitc h i ng. ( Perhaps you need to and stitch off the edge.
restitch an area that has been
previously trim med, or you must
seam lessly blend i nto the existi ng
stitc h ing.) To avo id the k n i ves, When clearing stitch fi ngers
(p. 44) and angl i n g off and
angle in from the left unt i l the
on, remember that the k n i ves
fabric reaches the need l es,
beg i n cutt i ng about % i n .
then pivot i nto normal
before t h e need les enter
stitc h i n g position. the fabric.

Building Serger Skills 43

When you want to start or stop at an exact poi nt, you Position the fabric u nder the poi n t of the needles
need to clear the stitch fingers and swi ng the presser as you wou ld on a conventional mach ine.
foot out of the way of the stitch bed if your serger
Swing the presser foot back i nto position (if
perm i ts. Then you can see where to position the
necessary), lower it, and resume sew i ng.
fabric to start stitc h i ng u nder the poi nt of the need les,
or, at the end of stitchi ng, to get the fabric away from To clear stitch fingers with fabric in the machine
the need les. (at an exact stopping point) :
To clear stitch fingers without fabric in the machine Stop sewing.
(at the beginning of a seam):
Pu l l 1/2 in. of slack in front of the need les.
C h a i n a length of thread .
Ra ise the need l es to the h ighest poi nt.
Stop sew i ng and ra ise the needles to the
Raise the presser foot and swi ng i t out of the way
h ighest point.
(if possible).
Ra ise the presser foot and swi n g i t to the l eft
Pu l l the fabric back until the stitch fi ngers clear
( i f poss ible).
and the edge of the fabric is j ust beh i nd the poi nts
Pull about liz in. of s l ack i n the need le threads. of the need les.

Pu l l the th read c h a i n beh ind the presser foot u ntil the Swing the presser foot back ( i f necessary), lower it,
stitch fingers c l ear. and resu me sewing to chain a thread tai l .

To clear the stitch fingers without fabric in the To clear the stitch fingers with fabric in the machine,
machine, chain, then pull slack in the thread. pull the fabric back until the fingers clear. (Presser
(Presser foot removed for clarity.) foot removed for clarity.)

44 Skills and Seams

Bypassing the Knives Ang l i n g When the edge has been trimmed,
on and off (p. 4 2 ) is o n e way of clear the fingers and fold the fabric
bypassi n g the k n i ves; here are two diagonally away from the needle.
more ways to bypass the k n i ves as (Presser foot removed for clarity.)
you beg i n sti tc h i ng. Both req u i re
clearing the stitc h fingers.

Foldin g on

When the edge has a l ready been

tri mmed, clear the stitch fi ngers
and fold the fabric d i agon a l l y
away from the need le a t t h e poi nt
where you beg i n stitc h i ng .

Position t h e need le r i g h t a t
t h e fol d .

Beg i n stitc h i ng w i th t h e tri mmed

edge abutti ng the i n s ide of the
knife. If you want to neaten the
edge after you beg i n stitc h i ng, j ust
swing the fabric sl ightly to the
right i n the path of the knife.

Makin g a Cutout

With scissors, cut out some of the

seam a l l owance on you r start i ng
edge. To start i n the middle of a
c i rc u l a r edge such as a l a rge hem,
cut the tri m m i ng width from the 1 To begin serging a circular edge, position the needle at the beginning of
edge for about 2 i n . the cutout. (Presser foot removed for clarity.)

C lear the stitch fi ngers and

position the fabric u nder the
need les right at the beg i n n i ng of
the c utout (1 ) with the trimmed
edge abutt i ng the i nside of
the knife.

At the end of the c i rc l e, stop

where stitc h i ng begi ns, c lear the
stitch fingers, and c h a i n off so the
stitc h i ng is cont i n uous (2), w ith
no gap between beg i n n i ng and
end and no overlap.

2 End a circular edge by clearing the stitch fingers and chaining off so
stitching is continuous.

Building Serger Skills 45

Following Outside Curves
Watc h the kn ives carefu l ly w h i le
sewi ng cu rved seams, because the
fabric w i l l not pivot i n the grip of
the presser foot. Press the fabric
down on the deck of the serger, to
the left of the needles, to c reate a
central pi vot poi nt; a l low the raw
edge to travel at the speed of the
feed dog.

Following Inside Curves On

i n s ide cu rves, the chal lenge is to
keep the trim med edge from cu rv­
i ng away from the kn ife. Push the
fabric sl ightly toward the kn ife as
you stitch, being su re the tri m med
edge stays flush aga i nst the blade.
S l ight puckering to the left of the
need le is normal . Don't worry-it
w i l l van i sh as the seam is stitched.
To follow an outside curve, press down with your fingers, creating a
Turning Outside Corners
pivot point.
Outside corners may be seamed
u s i ng two need l es or decoratively
stitched cont i n uously, u si n g
on e need le.

Two-needle non­
continuous method

With you r sci ssors, hand-trim the

tri m m i ng width from the fi rst 2 i n .
of the seam a l l owance o n the
second side.

Sew comp letely off the fi rst side,

cut the threads, and start the
second side as i f it were a new
seam, stitc h i ng over the over­
locked edge of the fi rst side and
keep i n g the hand-tri mmed edge
of the corner flush agai nst the
kn ives for the length of the cutout.

Us i n g a l a rge-eyed hand-sewi ng
To follow an inside curve, push the To seam outsidf! corners with two need le, run the thread tai l back
fabric toward the knife as you stitch. needles, place the hand-trimmed th rough the stitc h i ng to conceal it.
portion of the second side flush
One-needle method for
against the knives.
continuous decorative stitchin g

Remove one of the needles

accord i ng to the des i red width of
the stitc h i ng.

46 Skills and Seams

Lear n i ng to stitch corners can be tricky. It may take U se o n e need le for :
several tries before you can successfu l ly stitch a
• Extremely cu rved areas
conti nuous corner without pu l l ing the edge i nto the
stitc h i ng at the begi n n i ng of the second side (by • Seams at conventional machi ne, then serge­
start i n g too far away from the need l es) or without overcast with one need le
creati ng thread loops that extend beyond the fabric
• Slashes
(by pu l l i n g too much thread slack when clearing the
stitch fi ngers) . . I nside cu rves

When stitc h i ng corners, adjust the cutting width for U se the left need le o n l y for:
each fabric. Adj ust to as narrow a width as possible
• Crisp med i u m- and heavyweight fabrics that w i l l
that keeps stitches from fa l l i n g off the edge. You a l so
su pport wider decorative stitch i ng a n d heavier thread
need to select the right needle com bi nat i o n .
U se the right need le only for:
U se two need les for:
• A l l fabrics, particu larly del icates
• Grad ual curves
• Overcast prestitched i nterior corners
• Outside corners ( u s i ng the non-conti n uous stitch
method, which i s descri bed on p. 46) • A l l other corners and cu rves

Tri m 2 i n . of seam a l l ow a n ce from

the sec o n d s i d e .

Stitch t h e fi rst s i d e, sto p p i n g

exact l y w h e n t h e need l e comes to
the edge of the fab r i c .

L ift the presser foot a n d c l e a r t h e

stitc h fi n ge rs ( p . 4 4 ) .

Pos i t i o n the secon d s i d e d i rectly

u n d e r the poi n t of t h e n eed l e,
a l i g n the tri m med portion of t h e
s e a m a l l ow a n ce f l u s h a g a i nst the
k n i fe b lade, a n d resu m e stitch i ng .

Overcasting Seamed Inside

Corners S l a s h the seam a l low­
a nce to t h e corner a n d s p read t h e
f a b r i c flat i nto a stra i g h t l i n e . As
you s p read the s l a s h , p leats w i l l
form i n the fab r i c . To stitch decorative corners To overcast seamed inside corners,
continuously with one needle, slash to the corner, pleat the
D i st r i bute t h i s fu l l ness eve n l y o n
hand-trim the first 2 in. before fabric, and spread the fabric into
e i t h e r s i d e of t h e s l a s h , a n d secure
starting the second side. a straight line.
w i t h tape.

Overcast t h e seam a l l ow a n ce,

stitc h i n g in a stra i g h t l i n e r i g h t
over the slash.

Building Serger Skills 47

P l ackets are l i ke i nside corners with a h a i rp i n turn . Slash and spread the p l acket, and tape it to the
U s i ng the sl ash-and-spread tec h n i q u e for i nside stabi I izer with right side u p .
corners, plackets can be serged with decorative
L a y t h e l ace wrong s i d e up i n a stra ight l i ne on top
thread for an attractive fi n i s h . S l ash the fabric as
of the spread placket, a l ign i ng the lace with the raw
the pattern d i rects, spread i nto a stra ight l i ne, select
edge at the pl acket point and 1/4 i n . i nside the raw
m i n i m a l cutting width to support the decorative
edge at the top of the ope n i ng. Secure the lace
thread, and overcast in a stra ight l i ne, keeping
with tape.
the edge of the slash flush aga i nst the knife
du ring stitc h i ng. Set the mach i n e for rol l hem m i ng (p. 62) and stitch,
remov i ng strips of tape as they reach the presser foot.
Prec ision work l i ke edgi ng a l i ngerie p l acket with
(For i nstructions on how to overlock plackets or
l ace is simple with water-so l u b l e sta b i l izer (p. 35)
i nside corners, refer to p. 47.)
and artist's tape:

Plackets can be finished by using the inside-corner Even delicate plackets like this lingerie placket may
technique (p. 47). be edged with lace using the inside-corner technique.
00 not stitch over the tape that holds the lace in
place; remove each piece as you come to it.

48 Skills and Seams

� ., S
Sewing Taut 0'00' •
"\) ....

If the fabric tends to pu cker

d u r i n g stitc h i ng, i nvoke the
d ifferential feed option (using
setti ngs be low norma l ) or pu l l the
fabric taut u nder the need le with
both hands, bei n g carefu l not to
slow the natu ral feed of the fabric.
Be s u re to keep sew i n g speed
even and regu l ar to avo id
u neven stitches.

Use both hands to pull the fabric taut under the needle.
Machine Easing
When fabric h as a tendency to
stretch , i nvoke the d i fferential
feed option (using setti ngs above
normal), or d u p l icate its effect
man u a l l y by placing your fi nger
or a tool such as a screwd river
bl ade fl ush aga i nst the hee l of the
presser foot. A l low the fabric to
p i l e up agai nst the restriction as
you stitch, releasi n g and
reposition i n g every few i nches.

Use a tool such as a screwdriver to force fabric to pile up behind the

Holding Grain presser foot to ease fabric or prevent stretching.

The long foot and feed dog have a Hold grain by pressing the fabric
tendency to d i stort stretchy areas to the deck of the serger with the
of gra i n such as bi as, c i rc u l ar, or right hand.
d i agon a l seams. To prevent t h i s,
"hold gra i n " as you sew. Press the
fabric to the deck of the serger
with you r right hand and keep
you r eye on the weave to be sure
threads are cross i n g at right a ngles
as the fabric enters the presser
foot. The seam a l l owance may
appear sl ightly ripp led, but the
presser foot w i l l fl atten it aga i n
d u r i ng stitc h i ng .

Building Serger Skills 49

Ending Se am
At the end of the seam, cut the
th read ta i l u s i ng sci ssors or the
bu i lt- i n kn i fe beh i nd the presser
foot; or c h a i n it around to the
sewi ng pos ition and stitch it past
the kn ives (1 ).

If the end of the seam w i l l not be

crossed by another seam or
secu red i n a hem or fac i ng, you
must prevent the stitches from
frayi n g. The best way is to th read
a large-eyed need le w ith the
thread tai l and run it back through
the stitc h i ng (2).

Threads can a l so be secu red w ith

l iq u i d seam sea l ant, ava i lable at
notions cou nters. Apply a sma l l
bead, spread it with the point o f a
1 Cut a thread tail by chaining it around to sewing position and stitching p i n , and a l low it to d ry before
over it. cutting the t h reads .

Alternatively, t h e th read can be

knotted at the edge of the fabric
with a figu re-eight knot.

F i rst, loop the th read ta i l back

over itself, passi n g the end u nder
the ta i l at the fabric edge and then
back u p through the fi rst loop.

N ow i n sert the need l e t h rough the

loop next to the fabric w h i l e you
tighten the knot to settle it right at
the fabric edge (3).

2 To prevent fraying, run the thread

tail back through the stitching using
a large-eyed needle.

3 Form a figure-eight knot to secure

a thread tail.

50 Skills and Seams

at the Start
of a Seam
Because overstitch i ng c reates a
t h i c k ridge of double stitc h i ng, it
i s the least sati sfactory method for
sec u r i n g th read ta i l s on fine
fabrics, but it is acceptable i n
certai n areas.

At the beg i n n i ng of the seam,

bri ng the th read tai I forward j ust
as the need les enter the fabric.

Pos ition the ta i l so the need les

w i l l sew over it as they overcast.

Swi n g the tai l in front of the

k n i ves and l et it fal l away after an
i nch or so.
Overstitching the thread tail at the beginning of the stitching works on
sturdy fabrics.

at the End
of a Seam
Fol low t h i s method if it is
necessary to stitch the ta i l at the
end of the sea m .

C lear t h e stitch fi ngers j ust a t the

moment when the need les stitc h
off the fabric.

F l i p the fabric and pos ition

it as if you were at the start
of the seam .

Stitc h backward for an i n c h o r

two a n d fold off.

C l i p the fi nal tai l close to the

seam al lowance.

Overstitching the thread tail at the end of the stitching can be done by
clearing the stitch fingers, then flipping the fabric over.

Building Serger Skills 51

Se win
g Elastic
There are several methods for
appl y i n g e lastic at the serger; the
one you c hoose depends on you r
personal preference and the
fu nction of the garment. You can
flatlock a casi ng, overlock l i ngerie
elastic d i rectly to the fabric, or
use an elastic app l i cator foot,

/ ava i l able as an accessory for most

sergers. Methods that don't
i nvolve stretc h i n g the elasti c onto
the fabric d u ri n g stitc h i ng, such as
the overlocked casi ng, gi ve the
most pred i ctable resu lts.

Flatlocking the Casing

Fold the casing a l l owance to the
i n s ide and refold the fabric with
To flatlock a casing, make an S-fold in the fabric and serge
an S-fo l d . The folded fabric w i l l
wrong side up with a single needle.
resemble a tuck that overl aps the
seaml i ne i nto the seam a l l owance
by a scant 1fs i n . The raw edge of
the cas i n g turnback w i l l extend
about % i n . beyond the fold.

Remove the left or right need le

(accord i n g to the weight of you r
fabric and t h e width o f stitc h i n g
you want) .

Set the serger for th ree-th read

flatlock i ng by releasing the
tension of a l l th ree th reads.

Stitch wrong side up so the extra

seam a l l owance of the turnback i s
trimmed away, the need le
penetrates a l l th ree layers, and the
right s ide of the stitch loops fal l
off the edge of the fabric.
A safety pin at right angles to the seam prevents the free end
of the elastic from pulling through the casing. When the stitc h i n g is complete,
spread the seam apart and press.
The sma l l "flea ladders" on the
right side of the fabric w i l l
d i sappear i nto the folds after the
e lastic is i n serted in the casing.

Close the fi nal seam after the

elastic is in pl ace.

52 Skills and Seams

It happens to the best of u s ! Sometimes you can't
avoid ripping out. Because the tension of serger
stitc h i ng is so much looser than that of conventional
stitc h i ng, you have to use a seam ri pper to release
the need le threads for only a few stitches, then you
can pu l l out the rest, as if you were pu l l i ng up
gathering th reads.

When the need le threads have been pu l led out of the

fabric, simply give the looper threads a tug to start
the uncoi l i ng process. You may have to repeat this
process several times on a long seam. Take extra care When ripping out is necessarYt use a seam ripper to
not to damage del icate fabrics. cut the needle threads.

Overlocking the Elastic

Cut elastic to the desi red
measu rement.

Overlap and stitch the ends.

Mark both the e l astic loop and the

garment edge i n to q u a rters.

With right s ides together, p i n the

e l astic to the garment edge ( 1 ),
a l l ow i n g the raw edge to extend a
generous 1J4 i n . beyond the edge
of the elastic .

Overlock the elastic to the fabric,

stretc h i ng the el astic to fit as you 1 Pin elastic to the garment edge, matching the marks.
sew (2).

Leave the kn ife engaged to neaten

the raw edge, but be very carefu l
not to cut the edge of the elasti c .

Attaching with a n Elastic

Foot Place the elastic foot on the
mac h i ne and stitch accord i n g to
the man ufacturer's i n structions.
The attachment w i l l stretch elasti c
eve n l y as it sti tc hes. Pretest the
gatheri n g ratio (p. 54).

2 Overlock the elastic to the fabric, stretching the elastic as it's sewn.

Building Serger Skills 53

In mac h i ne gatheri ng, the fabric is fed i nto the Crosswise gra i n forms gathers eas i l y, a n d t h e ruffles
feed dog faster than it is d rawn away. I t bunches are crisp. Lengthwise gra i n gathers stiffly, forms less
up beneath the need le and forms gathers as you supple pleats, and creates the most bu l k, so gathering
stitch, saving you the step of later pu l l i ng up the ratios should be lower.
bobbin threads.

S i nce this gatheri ng is permanent, i t is i m portant to Testing Gathering Ratios

test you r fabric before stitc h i ng to determ i n e how Cut a 4 - i n . wide str i p of fabric to a length eve n l y
eas i l y it w i l l gather and to see if it conforms to the d i v i s i ble b y 2 and 3 ( s u c h as 1 8 i n . or 24 i n . ) .
gathering ratio of you r pattern. L ightweight fabrics
For 3 t o 1 rat i o : divide b y 3 ( a 24- i n . wide strip
gather i nto sma l ler pleats, req u i re shorter stitches,
should gather to 8 i n . ) .
have many gathers per i nch, and req u i re h igher
gatheri ng ratios. Heavy fabrics gather i nto b u l kier For a 2 t o 1 rat i o : d ivide b y 2 ( a 24-i n . wide str i p
pleats, req u i re longer stitches, take fewer gathers per shou ld gather t o 1 2 i n . ) .
i nc h , and have lower gathering ratios.
For 1 .5 to 1 rat i o : divide b y 3 a n d mu ltiply the resu lt
Fabric gra i n must a l so be considered . Bias gathers by 2 (a 24- i n . wide str i p shou l d gather to 1 6 i n . ) .
are soft and d rapey, fabric does not resist gatheri ng,
and the gathering ratio can be h igh without b u l k .

L i g htwe i g h t fab r i cs m a y be
gathered w i t h o u t a spec i a l
attac h ment.

I nc rease the stitch l ength to 3-4

( m a x i m u m l en gt h sett i n gs) .

I n c rease t h e d iffere n t i a l feed

to the h ig hest p o i n t above n o rm a l
s o t h a t t h e fab r i c w i l l b e fed
i nto the stitch bed twice as fast
as it leaves.
Cather lightweight fabric with the differential feed set to the highest setting.
Tighten the n eed l e t h read to
secu re t h e gathers. The rol l- h e m
sett i n g c a n be i nvoked to rol l the
top edge i nto a neat f i n i s h .

W h e n gath e r i n g heavier fabrics,

u se a spec i a l gather i n g foot
atta c h m e n t ava i l ab l e for most
sergers. F o l l o w the m a n ufacturer's
i nstruc t i o n s for basic sett i ngs,
and then test your fab r i c for
g at h e ri n g ratios, as descri bed i n
the s i deba r above.
A gathering-foot a ttachment lets you gather and overcast at the same time.

54 Skills and Seams

Se ams , Finishes,
and Hems

The serger is surprisingLy effective at seaming and

hemming, as weLL asfinishing. A variety of interior
construction seams can be done compLeteLy at the serger;
others are done in combination with the conventionaL
machine. It is often preferabLe to make fine seams (such
as French seams) at the serger, because the knives neaten
the edges so effectiveLy that no little threads pop out at
the seamLine as they can when aLLowances are hand
trimmed the traditionaL way. Tiny hemmed seams can
also be swiftLy and accurateLy sewn in sheer fabrics,
mimicking techniques used by skiLLed industry
professionals, who use Y16-in. roLL-hemmer attachments
on industriaL machines.

C u rved seams, such as armholes, overcast decoratively edged hems;

that are conventiona l l y sewn i n l oosely woven or k n i tted
with strai ght stitc h i n g may be fabrics, you can make q u ick and
serge-fi n i shed i n one layer easy b l i nd hems.
after sea m i ng .
The tec h n iq ues that fol l ow are
Other seams m a y b e pressed open o rga n ized to help you select the
and fi n ished separately as best seams, seam fi n i s hes, and
appropri ate, or "framed" with hems for any project you
serg i n g before sewi ng. F ram i ng is u ndertake. (Serger sett i ng charts
part i c u l arly effective i n stab i l iz i n g for the tech n iques appear on
sheer fabrics t o back i ngs when pgs. 96-1 09 .) Review these
two l ayers are to be sewn as one, tec h n iq ues freq uently and perfect
e l i m i nating the need to staystitch the ones that appeal to you,
and overcast separately. worki n g on additional tec h n i q ues
as you c hoose. If you are sti l l
Sergers can save hours of
gett i ng used to your serger, refer
preparation time in l a rge c i rc u l a r
to earl ier sections for hel p i n
hems. I n wovens, you can either
th read i ng, mak i ng routine
ease the extra fu II ness to fit or
adj ustments, and preparing
for stitc h i ng .

Seams, Finishes, and Hems 55

Se am
The basic three- or fou r-th read
serged seam , the two-thread
h a i rl i ne, the bi as h a i rl i ne, and
the two- and th ree-thread rol led
seam are a l l one-step seams.
The serger F rench seam is a
two-step seam, prepared at the
serger and completed at the
conventional mach i ne.

Basic Four-Thread Serged

Seam The bas ic serged seam i s
sewn a t t h e serger exactly as it
wou ld be at the conventional
Basic four-thread serged seam; see setting chart, p. 96.
mach i ne. With right sides together
and raw edges a l igned, stitc h the
seam from begi n n i ng to end,
c ha i n i ng a 3 - i n . to 5 - i n . tai l at the
beg i n n i ng and end of each seam .

Basic Three-Thread Serged

Seam Th ree-thread seams may
be sewn on l ighter fabrics i n areas
that do not bear much strai n .
Avo id th ree-thread construction
for heav i l y stressed seams
such as a rm holes or the i nseams
of h ig h l y fitted pants. Decrease
stitch length and cutting width
for l ighter fabric.

Hairline Seam H ai rl i ne seams

can be stitched with th ree t h reads,
Basic three-thread serged seam;
but are best sewn with two on
see setting chart, p. 97. very l ight fabrics (if you r serger
has the capabi l ity). For very fine
To avoid m i x i n g u sed need l es
seams, thread the need le w ith
with new ones i n the box,
a t h i n th read, such as cotton
secure need les that have been
temporar i l y removed to the basting thread or two-ply
i nside of the front panel door polyester. Woo l l y nylon is good
w ith artist's tape u nti l you for the loopers because it w i l l
need them aga i n . When withstand h igh tensions without
repl ac i ng need les, note that breaking. I nvoke the rol l- hem
the long groove (wh ich h e l ps
channe l the thread through
the eye) d isti ngu ishes the
front, and the back is
i ndented to accom modate the
u pper looper need l e .

56 Skills and Seams

Hairline seam.

setti ngs to produce very narrow was hi ng, but take care to use a
stitch widths, and use the press c l oth to prevent traces of
narrowest poss ible cutting w idth the stab i l izer from fou l i ng the
so the fabric wi II not rol l . bottom of you r i ron . For more
Decrease the stitch length and t i ps on water-so l u b l e sta bi l izers,
i ncrease the tensions grad u a l l y if see p. 3 5 .
the stitches are v i s i b l e from the
Two- and Three-Thread
right side.
Rolled Seams For a rol led
Bias Hairline Seam B i as seam, choose a wide cutt i ng
h a i rl i ne seams are exactly l i ke w idth so the seam a l l owance w i l l
any th ree-thread h a i rl i n e seam rol l i nto the sea m . Rol led seams
o n gra i n , but the b i as is so l i kely may be sewn on lengthwise or
to stretch that the d ifferential crosswise gra i n . B i as and d i agon a l
feed shou l d be put to the gra i ns a r e d iffic u lt to rol l neatly, a s
h ighest setti ng. t h e b i as threads escape from the
seam, giving it an u n sightly
If bias stretches even when
appearance. For b i as edges,
d i fferential feed i s at its h ighest
choose s i m ple h a i rl i n e seams
setti ng, stitch the seam on top of a Two-thread rolled seam; see setting
i n stead of ro l l ed seams. Crisp
strip of water-sol u ble sta b i l izer. chart, p. 98.
fabrics can tolerate a stiff thread,
Tea r sta b i l izer away from both
such as c lear fi l ament nylon,
sides of the seam after stitc h i n g .
but use flex i b l e t h reads such
A n y stab i l izer remai n i ng i n the
as Orion or woo l l y nylon with
seam w i l l d i ssol ve at the fi rst
softer fabrics.

Seams, Finishes, and Hems 57

Serger French Seam F rench fabric and thread w i l l determ i ne
seams, which com p l etel y enc lose which need le to use. S i nce
the raw edge in a pre l i m i nary flatl ocked seams are strong design
seam , are q u i c k and easy on the elements, be sure to test the effect
serger. Before you beg i n , make a on sma l l scraps to ensure that the
sample: Choose the narrowest seam w i l l be u n iform, even, and
setti ngs you can, and stitch a worthy of such attention.
pre l i m i n ary h a i r l i n e seam .
Loosen the need le tension
Measure t h e width o f you r
generously so the need le stitches
h a i rl i ne seam and add a scant
extend to the edge of the fabric
bit of ease for t u r n i n g to establ i sh
on the wrong side.
the pre l i m i nary sea ml i ne i nside
the garment seam l i ne. Tighten the lower-looper tension
u nt i l the threads are pu l led i nto a
With wrong sides together, stitch
stra ight l i ne at the edge of the
the pre l i m i nary seam on the
fabric. The u pper-looper tension
garment, as you d id the practice
shou ld be l oosened sl ightly to
h a i rl i ne sea m . Because the
a l low the fabric to be p u l l ed flat
pre l i m i nary seam is never subject
after stitc h i ng .
to stress, you can e l i m i nate b u l k
Serger French seams create narrow with a stitch length sl ightly longer Select a narrow cutting width .
finished edges; see setting chart, than norm a l . If you r serger h as
p. 99. The preliminary seam is two-thread capab i l ities, bypass With wrong sides together and
serged, then enclosed by a the u pper looper and th read on l y raw edges a l i gned, stitch the seam
conventional sewing machine. t he lower looper with woo l l y right side up so that the stitches
nylon o r another soft thread with are half on and half off the edge
a strong stretch that w i l l not of the fabric.
c reate b u l k . Pu l l crosswise on the seam u nt i l
Press t h e hairl i ne seam to o n e side. t h e stitches I ie flat. T h e decorative
u pper-looper stitches of the seam
U s i ng the pre l i m i nary stitc h i n g as w i l l appear on the right side, and
a fold l i ne, a l ign the right sides the loose need le stitches wi l l
together and com plete the seam resemble a tiny "flea l adder"
with the conventional mac h i ne . on the i nside. If you prefer the
flea-ladder look, stitch the fabric
Flatlocked Decorative Seam
with right sides together so that
F l atlocked seams are overcast
the flea l adder w i l l be on the
with three threads, u s i ng either
right side. Test a sample of narrow
the l eft or the right need le,
flatlocking by tugg i n g gently to be
depend i ng on the desi red width of
sure it does not pu l l away from
the sea m . The weight of you r
the fabric.

Flatlocked decorative seams are

serged, then pulled crosswise until
the stitches lie flat; see setting chart,
p. 1 05.

58 Skills and Seams

Se am
Most of your serg i n g w i l l be for
fi n i s h i n g seams that you have
sewn at a conventional mac h i ne.
You can serge each side of the
seam al lowance separate l y, or you
can fi n ish both layers of the seam
al lowance at the same t i me for
sma l l i nterior seams (such as
armhole seams), where ridges w i l l
not show through to the outside.

When seams a re to be pressed

open, each side of the seam
a l lowance sho u ld be serged
separately before pressi ng.

E ither way, you never aga i n have

to have an ugly notched seam
a l l owance on the i nside of you r
garment. When the pattern c a l l s
for tri m m i n g a n d notc h i ng sma l l
enc losed seam a l l owances,
s i m pl y serge c lose to the
seam l i ne. In fact, c l i pp i n g serged
seam a l lowances is not
recom mended, because it causes
the stitches to u n rave l .

G arment sections c a n al so be
staystitched or "framed" with
serg i n g before sea m i ng. Most fi ne
fabrics shou ld be overcast w ith
three th reads, with the left need le
omitted for a narrower stitc h .
Need les, loopers, a n d c utti ng Narrow overlocking can be used to finish areas like armholes.

widths should be ba l anced i n a l l

fi n is h i n g app l i cations.

Finishing Edges Together

Convention a l l y stitch the seam
with the normal seam a l lowance.
Then tri m and serge both l ayers
of the seam al lowance s i m u l ­
taneously, stitc h i n g c l ose t o the
original seam l i ne. The tri m m i ng
a l l owance w i l l be generous,
and the rem a i n i n g overlocked
seam a l lowance w i l l be neat
and flex i b le.

Seams, Finishes, and Hems 59

Single-layer overcasting; see setting chart, p. 1 03 .

Single-Layer Overcasting
When stitched conventional
seams are to be pressed open,
overcast each side separately,
tri m m i n g away j ust enough from
the seam a l l owance to neaten
the edge.

Framing with Overcasting

S i ngle l ayers can be staystitched
w ith overloc k i n g before bei n g
seamed. Leave nec k l i nes, fac i ngs,
and other enclosed seams
u n stitched, as the overlocking w i l l
create too much b u l k . Cha i n on
and off the beg i n n i ng and end of
the seam a l l owance and c l i p the
ch a i n s close to the fabric. Don't
Framing with overcasting. worry about th reads u n rave l i ng,
as each seam w i l l be crossed by
another. When staystitc h i n g two
layers together, p i n the l ayers at
critical seam al lowances before
serg i ng, remov i ng p i ns as you
approach them .

60 Skills and Seams

Hems • •

Serger hems are j ust as fast,

efficient, and conven ient as every
other fi n ish on the serger. Hems
may be b l i nd-hemmed with o r
w ithout an optional b l i nd­
hem m i ng foot. They may a l so be
c l ean-fi n i shed with s i ngle- l ayer
overloc k i ng for hem m i ng by hand
or with the conventional mac h i ne .
Twi n -need l e hems, eased c i rc u l a r
hems, and narrow s h i rtta i l hems
( u n i versa l l y cal l ed "baby hems" i n
the i nd ustry) fal l i nto this category.

Rol l ed hems rel y on a narrow

stitch and h igh looper tension to
rol l the cutting a l l owance i nto a
t i ny hem. The approach is the
same as it is for a ro l led seam, but
a rol led hem, u n less it is a
receiving hem, has o n l y one l ayer.
Overlocking controls the ease
Rol led receiving hems are used to
of a circular hem; see setting chart,
secu re l ace edgi ngs or entredeux F o r deeper circular hems
p. 99. Here, a machine-eased hem
to fi ne fabrics for l i ngerie or to
For deep c i rcu lar hems, used is pressed flat before final stitching.
i n corporate stiffen i ng mono­
eased overlocki n g. Overlock
fi la ment fi s h i n g l i ne i nto very
the edge w ith three need l es,
sheer fabrics to prevent d rooping.
(genera l l y om i tt i n g the l eft need l e,
Stretched hems and flatlocked as narrow stitc h i n g looks best)
hems are decorative treatments and ease the fabric by setting the
that emphasize the wavy d i fferenti a l feed sl ightly h igher
tendenc ies of bias areas and kn its. than norm a l . This wi l l s h r i n k the
Novelty threads such as meta l l ics hem to fit the s ki rt after you tu rn
and ri bbons l ook wonderfu l i n it u p .
stretched o r flatloc ked hems.
Steam t h e h e m i nto shape.
Two-Step Turned Hem Hems
To fi n i sh, the hem can be sewn
can be overlocked in preparation
i n v i s i b l y by hand or topstitched
for fi nal sti tc h i ng at the regu lar
with twi n need les.
mach i ne or by hand.
See p . 34 for u s i ng fu s i b l e threads
F o r narrow topstitched o r
to baste hems in p l ace.
shirttail hems

Overlock the garment's

lower edge.

U s in g the need l e sti tc h i n g of

overlock as a fold l i ne, turn up a
baby hem and topstitch at the
conventional mac h i ne w ith a
s in gl e or twi n need le.

Seams, Finishes, and Hems 61

Basic Rolled Hem F i n e and
l ightwe ight fabrics can be rol led
i nto hems that resemble those
done by hand on French l i ngerie
and c h ri ste n i ng d resses. The
serger ma kes qu ick, accu rate
work of it.

Move the cutt i ng width to the

widest sett i n g to leave enough
fabric to rol l . The stitch length
shou ld be moderate, but i t is wi se
to test it for each fabric. Some
fabrics rol l eas i l y and others have
threads that want to escape from
the hem . S u rprisingly, i nc reas i ng
the stitch length can be most
effective in control l i n g d iffi c u l t
Basic rolled hem; see setting chart, p. 7 00. fabrics, s i nce longer stitches
w i l l per mi t the fabric to retai n
i ntegrity, whereas shorter
stitches tend to separate ti n y
cross threads.

U se I ightweight, soft, stretchy

thread, such as woo l l y nylon,
u nder very h igh tension i n the
u pper and lower loopers, with
reg u l a r sew i ng thread u nder
normal tension in the need le.
Soft, thin, two-pl y polyester
a l so works wel l .

For a Q u i c k Square Project that

i n corporates rol led hem m i ng,
see p. 89.

Rolled Receiving Hem

Receiving hems are ro l l ed over
the head i ng of l ace str i ps for
hei rloom app l ications. Starch and
Rolled receiving hem; see setting chart, p. 7 00. press the lace and the fabric to
stab i l ize bot h . If possi b l e, bypass
the u pper looper and set the
mac h i n e for two-thread
appl ications, reta i n i n g normal
rol l ed-hem settings.

62 Skills and Seams

Blind Hem
Prepare the hem : fo ld u p the
normal hem a l lowance, as your
pattern d i rects, and press. Then
fold the fabric back on itself,
c reating an S-fold (si m i l a r to
el ast i c casi ng), and al l ow i n g the
raw edge to extend beyond the
fi rst fold of the S.

Pin through all three l ayers at \

once, placing pins wel l i nside the
folded edge.

B l i nd hem m i n g req u i res a prec ise

start and stop. Clear the stitch
fi ngers (p. 44) and prepare a
cutout to beg i n stitc h i n g (p. 4 5 ) .

T h read t h e serger w i t h colors Blind hems are sewn wrong side up after pinning an S-fold at the hemline;
that blend eas i l y i nto the fabric, see setting chart, p. 1 02.
loosen the need le tension, tighten
the lower- looper tension, and
moderately loosen the u pper­
looper tension, as you wou l d for
flatloc k i n g (p. 5 8 ) .

With t h e need le bare ly catc h i ng

the fo ld, stitch w ith the right edge
of the foot on the extended
portion of the hem a l lowance.

Continue arou nd the c i rc l e to the

starting poi nt, clear the fi ngers
aga i n , and c h a i n off.

U nfold the hem and pu l l it flat,

then press. The "flea ladder" may Decorative thread edging can Lettuce-edge hem; see setting chart,
show in l ighter fabrics, but w i l l mimic piping. p. 1 0 1 .
s i n k i nv i s i b l y i n to heavier weaves
and kn its.
Lettuce-Edge Hem Kn its and
Decorative Thread Edgings bias edges can be stretched wh i l e For a Q u i c k Square Project
overloc k i ng to c reate a glorious that i n corporates a l ettuce
With the serger, you can make
hem, see p . 6 7 .
decorative edges that take the ruffled edge that resembles c u r l y
place of fo lded hems or fac i ngs. escarole. True bias and t h e cross
When u s i n g these fi n i shes, gra i n s of kn its stretch best; avoid
remember to trim off you r fabrics that are too I ight to su pport
pattern's h e m a l lowance. Choose dense stitch i ng . T h read the u pper
a fi rm enough fabric to su pport looper w i th decorative or con­
the edge w ithout buck l i ng, use a trast i ng thread that g i ves good
novelty th read i n the l oopers, and coverage, such as woo l l y nylon.
set the stitch length to provide Stretch the fabric as you stitch to
good coverage. enhance c u rl i ng.

Seams, Finishes, and Hems 63

Using Your
Know ledge

Even though 90% of the time you might use your serger to finish
seams, it doesn't mean that all the fun and creativity of serging
are limited to the remaining 1 0% of specialized uses. The essence
of good design is appropriate use of fabric combined with well­
executed construction. If you are like me, you will enjoy the
challenge of selecting the best possible settings to add to the
professional quality of your work.

Since fabric is the key to technique, and there are so many

possible settings and thread choices, I keep a swatch notebook
of seam and hem finishes organized by fabric types. This way,
if I haven't sewn with a particular type of fabric for a while, I
don't have to reinvent the wheel and spend precious time
experimenting all over again to find the proper threads, cutting
widths, and needle tensions. I simply refer to the notebook
to refresh my memory. Similarly, I organize more specialized
uses of the serger in the same way. I staple actual swatches of
stitched trims, decorative thread combinations, and successful
experiments to index cards and make notes on the number of
threads, tension settings, cutting widths, differential feed, and
other optional settings or specialized attachments. This handy
reference file reminds me of good ideas I had forgotten about and
helps my new employees quickly visualize more creative uses of
the serger than they may have encountered in factory settings.

In this chapter I share the convenience and cumulative

experience of my notebook with you. The best seams, hems,
and thread types for routine finishes (and the serger settings for
creating them) are found in the Photo Index, which begins on
p. 96. The more specialized and creative uses are grouped in the
context of typical projects for clarity.

Working with Kni

Knits are the most fun of all to sew on the serger. Serger
seams are quick and easy, and most knit styling is
simple, so projects are not difficult to finish. The flexibility
of serger stitches allows them to move with the knit
without breaking, so every knit fabric can be stretched
hOrizontally to become self ribbing for neckbands
and cuJfs.

F i n e kn its i nc l ude a l l weights,

from l ightweight s i l k jerseys
t h rough med i u m-weight wools
and cottons, to heavy panne
velvets and velou rs. Any fiber
can be k n i tted. As in wovens, the
weight of the fabric depends on
the thickness (den ier) of the yarn,
the n u mber of strands ( p l i es)
twisted together, and the style
of knit.

Dou ble knits a re knitted with two

sets of need les and have no right
or wrong s ide; s i ngl e k n i ts show
the front and back of si ngle
stitches and have a "kn i t" and a
"purl" side. I nterlocks w i l l not
run, and the c r i mped yarns of
matte jerseys absorb I ight and
yield a d u l l , matte fi n i s h .

66 Using Your Knowledge


Choose a k n i t without a n obvious right and

wrong side.

Measure and cut a square of good-qua l i ty knit that

measures about 22 i n . (drape a tape measure around
your neck to determine the exact size you prefer) . If
your knit has more body or weight, you m ight want to
make a shallower crosswise rectangle.

Make a lettuce hem on each cross-gra i n edge

(p. 6 3 ) .

Serge-seam t h e two lengthwise edges u s i n g t h e four­

thread serged seam for knits (p. 56).

Fold the tube i n half, wrong sides i n .

An Elegant
Knit Top
Any d ressy k n i t, such as s i l k or
rayon jersey or velour, t u rns a
u t i l ity tee sh i rt i n to an elegant k n i t
top. A serged horizontal band of
self fabric makes an e l egant fi n ish
for the neckl i ne and cuffs of a fi ne
knit top. Choose narrow bands for
crew necks and short sl eeves,
wider ones for t u rtlenecks or
tu rnback cuffs for long sleeves.

Cut out the top accord i n g to the

pattern d i rections. (To ensure
proper fit, be s u re to choose a
pattern i n tended for kn its.) 1 Reinforce the shoulder seams with bias seam tape.

Th read both need l es of the serger

w ith garment thread and both
loopers w i th a sturdy stretch
t h read such as woo l l y nylon. Start
w i th the basi c four-seam sett i ngs
as i n d icated in the c hart on p. 96,
mak i ng adj ustments as necessary
to suit you r fabric.

Sew the shoulder seams (rei nforc­

i n g them with bias tape ( 1 ) or b i as
tricot as necessary}.

Working with Knits 67

To determ i n e the cut w idth of
you r self ribbing: For c rew bands,
determ i ne the des i red fi n ished
width of the band, dou bl e it, and
add a seam a l l owance to both
s ides. For tu rtleneck bands and
rol l back cuffs, quadruple the
desi red fi n ished width of the band
(2) before add i ng a seam
a l l owance to both sides.

Mark the cut width on the

horizontal gra i n of the fabric, and
cut a generously long stri p. To
determ i n e the c i rcu mference of
the strip, double the strip
lengthw ise and stretch it
comfortabl y over you r head or
wrist. P i n .

Remove the band a n d mark the

location of the p i n to i nd icate the
sea ml i ne. Add seam a l lowances.

Serge the center-back seam of the

self ribbing. Fold i t in half
lengthwi se, right s ides out.

Mark the ribbing tube i n quarters

(the seam w i l l be at center back) .
Mark the center front and back of
2 Measure and mark the cut width of the turtleneck on the horizontal grain the top neckl i ne (3).
of the fabric.
D i stri bute the band even ly about
the neck, p i n n i n g seams and
marki ngs together at center front,
back and shoulders. Stretch the
seam band to the nec k l i n e u s i ng
the cutout method (p. 45) to start
and stop at the same poi nt of the
nec k l i n e sea m . Press the seam
a l lowance toward the garment.

3 Mark the folded turtleneck band and the neckline in quarters.

68 Using Your Knowledge

Smal l ribbing a reas l i ke cuffs are
easier to apply as flat pieces. P i n
t h e s l eeve self r i b b i ng to t h e right
side of the sl eeve edge, raw edges
a l i gned, d i stribut i n g the sl eeve
fu l l ness even ly. Stretch-seam the
band to the garment (4); press the
seam toward the s leeve.

Sew the sl eeves to the armhole on

the flat (before closing the side
and u nderarm seams), a l ign i n g
t h e appropri ate pattern symbols.

Serge-seam the s ide, u nderarm,

and cuff i n one conti nuous seam
(5). U se a tapestry need l e to run
in the th read ta i l at the wrist edge.

Hem the bottom u s i n g the b l i nd­

hem method (p. 63) or twi n­
need l e topstitc h i n g at the 4 Stretch-seam the cuff (or neckband) to the garment.
conventional mac h i ne .

5 Serge-seam the side, underarm, and cuff in one continuous seam.

Working with Knits 69

Tailored Finishes

Tailored detailing emphasizes the lines and seams of

simple designs and adds s wja ce interest to soft-finish
wovens such as gabardines, twills, linens, tweeds,
jlannels, and broadcloths. The better the fabric and the
simpler the design, the more the detailing will show. Use
the conventional machine and the serger together for basic
interior construction, then let the serger help you prepare
your pocket edges or create tailored details such as tucks,
decorative jlatlocking, thread outlines, and custom braid
for monograms.

Thread Accents
Textu red novelty threads can
out l i ne seams or the geometric
shapes of col la rs, cuffs, and
pocket fl aps. Treat decorative and
novelty threads as part of the
overa l l des ign, choos i n g them to
blend, h ig h l ight, or accent colors
in the weave or design . Match the
we ight of the thread to the weight
of the fabric.

Serger tucks are a good way to
add deta i l s to ta i lored styles. They
en hance the texture of the weave
and, by d rawing the eye to the
d i rection of the tuck, underscore
the vertical or horizontal aspects
of the design s i l houette.

S i nce the tuck is overcast, the

looper th read w i l l a l ways show,
and the thread selection becomes
a design deta i l . G arment thread is
c u stomar i l y used in the need le.

70 Using Your Knowledge

• Plan your tuck i ng design and placement before
cutting out the garment.

• Stitch tucks on lengthwise or crosswise gra i n .

• Sergers stitch right side up! Stitch a l l tucks i n the

same d i rection for a un iform appearance.

• Tri m th read ta i l s i m mediately before stitc h i ng the

next tuck.

• Do not plan tucks too close together. The feed dog

wi l l not feed smoothly if the previous tuck is below
the presser foot.

• Start stitc h i ng a vertical series of tucks with the

center tuck; start a horizontal series of tucks with the
top tuck.

• Press vertical tucks away from the center.

• Press horizontal tucks down .

• For wider tucks, remove the right need le.

• Si nce tucks are not construction seams, they do not

need the extra security of th ree threads.

L ightweight two-ply threads b l end To create a tucked fabric, decide

wel l , part i c u l arly if the tuck is o n the w idth and nu m ber of
very narrow, and w i l l e m ph as i ze tucks. Cut a square of garment
the texture of the tuck. Nove l ty fabric with enough ease to extend
threads u nder h igh tension i n the 3 i n . beyond a l l edges of the
u pper l ooper further d i stract the pattern when tuck i ng is complete.
eye from the overcasti ng thread
To mark fo l d l i nes, press the
and add a color accent to your
fabric, starc h i n g i t if appropriate.
garment. For contrast accents,
Pos ition the edge of the ru ler on
overcast with woo l l y nylon o r
the gra i n and l ightly scratch a fold
decorative th read and stitch wider
l i ne for the fi rst t u c k with the
tucks to h ighl ight the thread .
point of a pin ( 1 ), steadying the
Most tuc ks are stitched i n grou ps. pin aga i n st the edge of the ru ler.
Widths and thread detai l i ng m ay The p i n wi l l fa l l between the
be u n iform or varied. See the th reads of the gra i n and score the 1 Scratch the fold lines with a pin
sett i ng charts o n p . 1 04 for bas i c c ross i n g th reads. Avoid u s i ng too and ruler.
and decorative tucks. m uch pressure as there is a
danger of c u tt i n g finer fabrics.

Tailored Finishes 71
A p i n p laced t h rough the fabric at
a 4 5 ° angle secu res the beg i n n i ng
of the tuck to the i ron i n g board,
enab l i ng you to pu l l the fabric
taut and press c risp folds (2).

Add contrasting or h armon i z i ng

textured th read such as pear l
cotton t o the upper looper.
(See p . 3 0 for t i ps on worki ng
with decorative th reads.) I nc rease
the u pper-looper tension by
degrees u n t i l sma l l beads of the
th read form at the stitc h i n g l i ne .
M a i nta i n normal tension and
2 A pin works as a third hand, letting you pull the fabric taut as you press. garment thread i n the need l e to
hold the beads of thread, then
l oosen the lower- l ooper tension
so the fabric can be encased in
th read without buckl i ng . A denser
stitc h length, such as 2 m m,
creates u n iform thread beads on
the stitc h i n g l i ne .

Stitch t h e fi rst t u c k , t h e n crease

and press su bseq uent tuck
l i nes (3). Conti n u e in this manner
u nt i l a l l the tucks are stitched .

When a l l the tucks are

made, p l ace the pattern over
the fabric (4) and proceed
to cut out the garment.
3 Stitch the first tuck, then crease and press subsequent tuck lines.

4 Position the pattern over the fabric that has been tucked.

72 Using Your Knowledge

Co l l ars, cuffs, and pockets may be
fi n i shed with the same combi­
nation of threads to complete the
sty l i ng deta i l s . S i nce two-p l y
blend i n g thread w i l l n o t cover
exterior edges, coord i n ated
garment sections should be
stitched, turned and pressed as
you r pattern d i rects. Seams should
be trim med to a scant 1/8 i n .
before turn i n g a n d press i n g so the
seam a l lowance wi l l fit entire l y
with i n the serg i n g l i ne . Serged
edging holds fac i ngs in p l ace
without u nderst i tc h i ng .
Collars and cuffs can be finished with decorative thread.
Set t h e serger t o m atch decorative
tucks (see the chart on p. 1 04),
or fi ne-tune you r sett i ngs on a • F l at ribbon threads give good

test scrap. Assemb l e the co l l ar or coverage and a soft l y gleam i n g TI PS FOR

c uff and stitch the tri m before fi n is h . They c a n a l so b e c h a i ned F LATLOCKING
attach i ng the section to the by themsel ves i n to attractive bra i d
• Bypass the spindle i f the
garment. You m ust be extra for monograms or other
thread has a tendency to wrap.
vigi lant not to pu I I and stretch decorative outl i nes.
cu rved areas as you a l ign them i n • Control the stitch width by
• Textu red threads such as pear l
front o f the toe o f the presser foot. using either the left or right
cotton or woo l l y nylon y i e l d
need le, and turn rol l-hem
matte fi n i shes and l ess successfu l
setti ngs on or off. Be sure the
c h a i ned trims.
stitch is wide enough not to
• If you l i ke the way the need l e pu l l out of the fabric.
Decorative and lower-looper threads appear
Flatlocking to frame the decorative upper­
looper thread, emphasize t h i s
Any seam that m ight be w i t h creative contrasts rather
embe l l ished with p i p i n g can be than b l e n d i n g th reads. It is a l so
flatlocked with decorative thread. w ise to be s u re the t r i m is
Plan the texture and color of the washable if you plan to g i ve
thread as you wou l d any design the garment hard wear.
e l ement: to harmon ize, h i g h l i ght,
or accent a part i c u l a r deta i l of
texture, l i ne, or color.

Tailored Finishes 73
Flatlocked decorative thread can To serge a flatlocked seam :
replace piping in a seam.
Prepare each section to be
joi ned as you r pattern d i rects.
(The pocket band in the photo
at left has been i nterfaced and
pressed prior to flatlock i ng it to
the pocket.)

F i n e-tu ne you r flatlock sett i ng

on scraps (see the top chart on
p. 1 05), matc h i n g the width of the
seam to the weight of the fabric
and des i red coverage of the seam.

Pin a l l the elements of the seam

together and serge.

Chaining without
A few adj ustments i n stitch length
and tension are necessary to
c h a i n decorative braids (see the
bottom chart on p. 1 05 ) . Retai n
the basic fl atlock thread i ngs
and sett i ngs (see the top chart
on p. 1 05), but return the need l e
tension to norm a l . Loosen the
u pper looper to make l a rge loops
(bypass the tension a ltogether if
the lowest tension setti ngs do not
produce even results), and tighten
the lower looper to m a i nta i n the
shape of the bra i d . I nc rease the
stitch length as necessary to keep
Chaining without fabric creates a decorative braid. the stitches from jamm i ng on the
stitch fi nger without the feed dog
and fabric to carry them away.

74 Using Your Knowledge

Serging over a strand of fus i ble thread lets you bond L ight l y out l i ne your monogram or design on the right
your trim d i rectly to the garment in any design you side of the fabric with a d i sappearing marker.
want. H o l d i ng the thread in a cup next to the serger
Dot the outl i ne spa r i ngly with a fabric glue stick and
(sometimes it's more conve n ient to hold the c u p i n
arrange the braid over the marked pattern, pressi n g
your l ap), guide it u nder the presser foot from front to
t h e g l u ed areas w i t h y o u r fi ngers. If y o u a r e bond i n g
back, pos ition i ng it d i rectly over the stitch fi nger.
f u s i b l e thread, protect t h e i ron w ith a transparent
(Tempora r i l y tapi ng the end beh i nd the presser foot
press cloth (organdy works wel l ) so you can see what
w i l l secure it u n t i l it is i ncorporated i nto the cha i n . )
you're doing without gett i n g glue on the sole pl ate.
Avoid thread i n g the needles o r loopers with fu s i b l e
thread, as i t can melt d isastrous l y d u ri ng pressing. If you prefer non-bonded app l ications, hand-tack the
braid in place.

Chaining over fusible thread makes a press-on braid Fuse the chain in place, using a scrap of organdy to
that can be used for monogramming. protect the iron from glue.

Tailored Finishes 75

Try out a variety of decorative tai lored deta i ls with U s i ng you r eyeglasses as a gu ide, trace a pattern on
some l i ned eyeglass cases. a piece of paper, u s i ng a ruler to ensu re that the sides
are straight, and c u rv i ng the top s l i ghtly.
Cut a rectangle of fabric l O i n . by 2 0 i n .
P lace the bottom of the pattern aga i nst the crosswise
Mark and stitch the decorative tucks o f you r choice
fold of the fabric, and cut out the case.
to embe l l ish the case.
U nfold the case and serge the c u rve of each top
Cut a l i n i n g to fit the tucked rectangle, and fuse the
edge. Refold the case and, starting at the bottom fold,
l i n i ng to the wrong side of the fabric.
serge through all layers to close each s ide. For
Fold the tucked fabric i n half crosswise, and prepare a q u ick shou lder strap, continue to serge without
and position a thread-cha i n monogram between the fabric for the length of the strap before c losing the
tucks, if des i red . second side, this time sew i ng from top to bottom .

76 Using Your Knowledge

Some tai loring deta i l s don't show
on the outside of the garment, but
are j ust as critical to the fi nal
appearance as th e ones that d o .
Let you r serger give you expert
beh i nd-the-scenes help for
profess ional resu lts every t i me.

Mock Hong Kong Finish

The Hong Kong fi n ish i s named
for the is la nd's s k i l led tai l ors, who
fi n ish the seams of u n l i ned s i l k
a n d l i nen jackets with bias
b i nd i ng. You can make a neat,
A mock Hong Kong finish adds a colorful accent to the seams on
easy mock Hong Kong fi n ish w ith
this jacket.
you r serger. Threads that cover
wel l , such as woo l l y nylon, are
best in both loopers (see the Inside Waistband Finish
bottom chart on p. 1 03); select U se the serger to ma ke a neat,
the colors to harmon ize, contrast, bu l k-free waistband fi n ish .
or accent.
I n terface th e waistband and the
Staystitched Pocket Seam seam outside edge to the s k i rt
Allowances The serger or pants.
e l i m i nates a l l agony from
F i n ish the i nside waistband edge
topstitc h i n g pockets. Use any
w ith balanced three-thread
th read yo u l i ke (garment threads
overlock, a l ig n i ng so the serger
are fine), and use balanced
trims most of the seam a l l owance
tensions for normal th ree-th read
and so the top of the overlock i n g
overloc k i ng. Serge the bottom
w i l l coi ncide w i t h sea m l i ne .
edge fi rst. Press it i n pos ition over
the pocket. Serge right over the C l ose t he e n ds and t u rn the
fol d when overlock i n g the two corners right side out.
s ides. Press, position the pocket,
Fold the wai stband to the i nside
then edgestitch it to the garment
of the s k i rt, and position it so the
w ith the conventional machine.
seam a l l owance extends sl ightly Use the overlock stitch to finish
beyond the waist seam and the the interior waistband and seam
tops of stitches are a l igned with allowances of a skirt or pants.
the stitc h i ng l i ne.

Pin and d i tchstitc h from the right

side through all layers.

Tailored Finishes 77
Festive Det ailin

Special-occasion fabrics range from lightweight organzas

to sumptuous velvets. Sheers like organdy and organza
can be handled like any delicate fabric. Browse through
Chapter 3 and the Photo Index to find seam ideas. Tucks
from the tailored details in this chapter also look great on
crisp sheers, but avoid them in heavier pile fabriCS or
weaves that would snag.

Most other spec i al -occasion

fabrics are best seamed
conventiona l l y and fi n ished w ith
s i n gle- layer overcasting. You ' l l be
del i ghted to see how the serger
hand les problem fabrics that fray
eas i l y and what q u i c k work it
makes of hem m i ng big, fu l l skirts.

Fancy Hems
Hemm i ng the large swee p i ng
s k i rts, tu l le vei ls, and cascades of
ruffles that are common i n
spec i al -occas ion and bridal wear
can be a frustrati ng, time­
consu m i ng chore by hand or by
the conventional mach i ne . Let the
serger do the work for you . Refer
to pages 61 and 62 for how to
ease a large c i rc u l a r hem or
prepared a narrow topstitched
hem ("baby hem").

The serger also a l l ows you to

create more elaborate fancy
hems and fi n ishes: You can
th read-trace the edge of tu l l e
ve i l i ng, rol l su pport i ng mono­
fi lament i nto a d roopy fabric, or
embe l l ish tiny rol led edges with
decorative t h reads.

U se a narrow sheer hem to
make you r own custom
r i bbons! Cut strips of sheer
organza or organdy and fi n i sh
both edges with t i ny folded
hems to c reate custom
ri bbons for h a i r ornaments,
sashes, or gift wraps.

Create festive ribbons in fabric to match garments by serging and trimming

both edges of a strip.

Narrow Sheer Hem Some bunch u nder the presser foot or if

sheer fabrics such as organza the stitc h i ng looks i rregu l ar w ith
and organdy fray too much for short ends of the net pok i ng out of
successfu l rol l hem m i ng, and the hem. G arment thread may be
you w i l l need to make a narrow used throughout or combi ned
sheer hem . with woo l l y nylon or two-pl y
polyester, depend i n g on the
Fold a sma l l hem al lowance.
amount of coverage you want.
Disengage the kn ife and stitch a The th read w i l l stretch and cause
1 mm hem over the fol d . Be very the edge to c u rl sl ightly as you
carefu l not to a l low the sti tc h i n g i ron it.
l i ne to waver, a s too much fabric
to the right of the need le w i l l rol l
and cause u neven stitches. Tearaway stabilizer supports
metallic hem thread tracing on
Tri m the excess fabric to the edge sheer tulle.
of the stitc h i n g on the wrong side.

Narrow Thread Tracing To

th read-trace net and tu l le ski rts,
set the serger for rol l hemm i n g
w ith a wide cutting width, h igh
lower looper tension, and
balanced need le and u pper
looper tensions. Start wi th a
1 .5 m m stitch length; shorten it if
the stitch i ng looks too sparse, and
lengthen it if the fabric tends to

Festive Detailing 79

Wide thread tracing can be applied to net and tulle.

Wide thread tracing Continuous thread tracing

To protect you r hose from the To trace a conti n uous edge when
raw edge of a net u nders k i rt stitc h i n g ve i l s and head pieces or
TRAC I N G (or to match the edge of a tu l le s i m i l a r sections of ve i l i ng not
• The bias properties of net overs k i rt to a bod i ce), overcast crossed by seams, round corners
and tu lle cause the stitched a wide decorative border. O m i t i n a l a rge arc to c reate a mod ified
edge to curl when pressed . rol l-he m m i n g setti ngs, select the oval shape. With the serger set at
Set d ifferential feed to .07 to left need le o n l y, and stitch the narrowest sett i ng for rol l
i ntensify the curl i ng effect of densely with a thread that covers hem m i ng (see the top chart on
thread tracing, but be carefu l wel l, such as rayon ri bbon or p . 98), start and stop the traced
if you are trying to control the woo l l y nylon. outl i n e at the same poi nt, u s i ng
curl i ng with above-normal the cutout method descri bed on
setti ngs, as the cut ends of the p . 45 .
net wi l l tend to escape and
protrude from the stitch ing.

• The stiffen ing properties of

meta l l ic threads cause bias
areas to curl in a s i m i lar
fashion to monofi lament
fi l l i ngs. Plan hems on the bias
to achieve th is cu rled effect or
on straight grain to avoid it.

80 Using Your Knowledge

Measure and cut severa l squares (or rectangles) of Mark an overlap l i ne 1/2 in. to 1 in. i nside one short
fabric, each about 4 i n . by 1 2 i n . The more layers edge. Fold the end i n, and baste the overlap l i ne to
you use, the puffier the ornaments wi l l be. the center I i ne. Repeat for the other side.

Overcast a l l the raw edges of each piece with thread Pu l l up the basting stitches to gather all layers together.
trac ing (pp. 79-80).
Use your i magination ! Trim fabric scraps with one of
Layer the pieces together and hand-baste them the edgings in this book to make quick coord i nati ng
together verticlaly through the center with strong tai lored or festive hair ornaments. Or make custom
thread and long stitches. ri bbons (p. 79), and tie in bows .

Complete the project by hand stitching the gathered

edge of the hair ornament to a comb.

Lace Applique
Lace appl i q ue i s a pop u l a r fi n i s h
for t h e hems, sleeves, and necks
of spec i a l -occas ion wear, bridal
gowns, s leepwear, and l i ngerie.
Prepare the l ace appl ique as your
pattern or design d i rects. Trace the
shape of the l ace o n to the
recei v i ng area of the garment,
mod i fy i n g extreme shapes as
m uc h as possi ble. F i n i s h the
traced out l i n e with a n arrow,
balanced th ree-thread overlock.
Refer to pp. 46-47 for help with
i nside and outside corners.

Prefinish areas that will receive applique with three-thread overlock.

Festive Detailing 81
You can give a soft, fi l my fabric a sl ightly wiry edge Mark the beg i n n i ng of the cutting l i ne on the fabric
by hem m i ng over monofi lament. with a crease or removable marker to help gu ide
your eye as you feed the fabric. Al ign the mark with
Control the u n ruly stiff curls of monofi lament at the
the edge of the cutting blade and position the fabric
beg i n n i ng of the seam by taping the end in position
right side up underneath the fi lament.
beh i nd the presser foot. With the spool secure in a
plastic freezer bag or cup, stretch the fi lament taut As the fabric begins to rol l over the monofilament,
above the right stitch fi nger, and chain 6 i n . or 7 i n . use your left hand to ensure that the monofi lament
without fabric. Remove the tape after the first few moves smoothly away from the heel of the presser
inches to al low the cha i n to flow freely off the foot without al lowing the fabric to bunch up over it.
stitch fi nger.
At the end of the hem, cha i n over the monofi lament
Monofi lament is so s l i ppery that it wi l l tend to pu l l another 8 i n . to l O i n . before passi ng it in front of the
out of the seam, but you can tape the beg i n n i ng of knife to cut.
the fi lament thread chain to hold it i n place.
Secure the end of the monofi lament with tape u nti l
you stitch the crossing seam.

A monofilament hem can give a crisp finish to the Control monofilament by securing it with tape at
edge of a filmy fabric. the beginning of the seam and stretching it taut as
you sew.

82 Using Your Knowledge

Gathered Ruffles
G athering long ruffles is one
of those real chores on a
conventional mach i ne that the
serger can e l i m i nate for you . Let
it chortle away, gathering as it
stitches. The ted ious chore of
pu l l i n g th reads in long edges i s
completely e l i m i nated, a n d
thoughts o f breaking threads a re
ban i shed . If you r fabric is too
heavy to gather w ith a long stitch
length and max i m u m d ifferential
feed, you can pu rchase a
gathering-foot attachment that
w i l l more than pay for itsel f after
the fi rst major project.

If you prefer softly d raped ruffles

to very perky ones, cut the stri ps
The serger makes quick work of a festive edge of long ruffles.
to be ruffled on the b i as. T h i s
consu mes more fabric, but i t w i l l
b e wel l worth the professional If you are not u s i ng a spec i a l
gatheri ng foot, i ncrease t h e stitch Some gatheri ng feet perm it
result. S i n ce the serger secu res the
you to attach the ruffles to the
gathers as it stitches, adj ust you r length to 4mm and i ncrease the
fa bric at the same ti me.
ratios (see p. 5 3 for advice) and d ifferential feed to the max i m u m .
However, this req u i res such
test o n scraps before worki ng on I f you are u s i n g a spec i a l
prec ise measu ring that it's
the garment. It is a l so a good idea gathering foot, fol l ow t h e best to gather separately and
to cut some extra length to ensure man ufacturer's i n structions. join later. Less ripping!
that you r fi n ished stri p doesn't
Thread both need l es, balance the
fal l short.
looper and need le tensions, and
Seam lengths of the ruffle stri p (if stitc h . The head i ng of the
req u i red) and hem the ruffle gathered str i p w i l l be neatly
accord i ng to you r design c ho i ce. overcast, and the gathers w i l l be
attractively stitc hed.

Overcast the receiving edge of the

seam before joi n i ng the ruffle stri p
to t h e garment.

Festive Detailing 83
1 Cut 2-in. wide bias strips, fold, Bias Tubing
and mark the stitching line.
B ias tu b i n g is a d readed chore for
many sewers. With the serger,
t u bi ng is rid i c u l ously easy to
make. It stitches and trims the t i ny
seam a l l owances perfectly, and
s i n ce the stitches "give" when you
pu l l lengths right side out, you
won 't get the popped seams that
can ru i n tu b i ngs sewn on the
conventional mach i ne.

Cut 2-i n . wide stri ps of fabric on

the true bias to the desi red length,
plus a few i nches of i nsurance.

Fold the bias str i p in half

lengthwise, wrong sides together.
Measure the desi red fi n ished
width from the fo ld and mark a
stitc h i n g l i ne ( 1 ) .

Adjust t h e w i dt h of the bias strip

and the pos ition of the stitc h i n g
l i ne to t h e stiffness, wei ght, a n d
s l i pperi ness o f t h e fabric. S l i ppery,
l ightweight fabrics turn the most
eas i l y and make the t h i n nest
str i ps . Stiff sat i ns and brocades
shou l d be w ider.

Measure the desi red fi n i shed

width of the bias stri p and
establ ish a fold guide to the left of
the need l e on the th roat plate
with a piece of arti st's tape.

Select the narrowest cutt i ng

w idth, nor ma l stitch length, and
2 Use two-thread overcasting to cut down on the bulk of the seam balanced tensions. If you r
allowance on the bias strip. mac h i n e has a two-thread
capab i l ity, select this a lso to cut
down on the bu l k of the seam
a l l owances (see the bottom chart
on p. 98 for setti ngs). Al low the
k n i ves to trim away whatever
seam al lowance fal l s to the right
of the bl ade (2), keeping the fold
of the bias a l igned with the taped
t h roat pl ate gu ide as you stitch
and overcast both l ayers together.

84 Using Your Knowledge

Tri m the top edge of the str i p at a n 3 Secure the latch of the loop
a n g l e away from t h e seam . Push turner in one end of the bias strip.
the poi n t of a loop tu rner through
the stri p and secure the l atch
safety-p i n style over the
overlocked seam at the top (3).
The hook should arch over the
tri mmed edge, and the latch of
the tu rner should pierce the
sea ml i ne about '/4 i n . below it.

After p u l l i ng the tu rner carefu l l y

down i nto the tube to start the
turn, hook the r i n g end over one
of the th read spind les, bac k i n g
slowly away t o mai nta i n even
tension without a l l ow i n g the
tu rner to rel ax its grip on the
start i ng edge (4). U se the tautness
of the strip as a brace to free both
hands so you can prevent
b u n c h i n g as you work the rest of
the b i as over itself. The overcast
seam a l l owance rem a i ns cu rled
i nside as a fi l l i ng. If you want
t h ic ker fi l l i ng, i nc rease the width
of the seam a l l owance by
i nc reasi n g the cutti ng width and
decreasi n g the th read tensions.

Secu re one end of the t ub i ng to

the i ro n i n g board u s i ng a p i n at
a 4 5 ° angle so you can p u l l i t
taut. Steam t h e tub i ng t o set the
stitches and straighten the sea m .

B ias tu b i ng w i t h the seam

a l l owance rol l ed i ns ide
makes a very secure strap 4 Hook the ring of the loop turner over a spindle to help maintain tension
that holds wel l . Cut the as you turn the tubing.
proper length for spaghetti
straps and sew them o n as
you r pattern d i rects.

Festive Detailing 85
To make button loops, tape bias tubing over the pattern and serge it into
position on the stabilizer.

Easy Button Loops Lengths of Tape the cut loops to the sta b i l izer
bias t ub i ng can repl ace pu rc hased and staystitch them in position.
cord i ng or ri bbon when a
Align the raw edge of the
pattern's c losi ngs or design deta i ls
sta bi l ized loops over the
ca l l for decorative l aces and ties.
buttonhole side of the c losi ng,
Mark a strai ght l i ne to represent and staystitch to the garment ju st
the seam l i ne on a p iece of i nside the sea m l i ne . Tear the
stabi I i zer. Center the buttons over sta b i l izer away before fac i ng
the l i ne, spac i n g them as they w i l l the c10si ng.
b e sewn to the garment.
Buttons and Frogs When
Mark each side and the top of the d ivid i ng longer lengths of bias
butto n . Remove the buttons and t u bi ng i nto shorter segments for
loop the bias so that the marki ngs loop c losi ngs and straps, mark the
are v i s i b l e with i n the loop and the measurement of each segment
bias extends to the cutt i ng l i ne. (plus desi red seam a l lowances)
The loops w i l l resemble tiny and use the serger to cut and
c roquet w i c kets. fi n ish the t i ny ends of each
segment. Overcasting w i l l sl ightly
Mark and cut the bias tub i ng
flatten the segment ends and
accord i ng to the i n structions that
m ake them easier to p i n and stitch
fol l ow in " Buttons and F rogs."
i nto garment seam s .

86 Using Your Knowledge

Prepare a diagram, and use bias
tubing to create buttons and frogs
in fabric to match the garment.

• For C h i nese buttons, cut b i as

tu b i ng 1 6 i n . long and fol low you r H ER E COMES TH E B R I D E !
d i agram for the loop formations.
The t u b i ng sea m l i ne should be on Festive details are particularly welcome i n bridal app l ications.
top, and the loops should be
• Quick tiny hems can be used to prepare ski rts and sleeves and
rel atively open w h i l e you shape
trains for lace appl iques or other decorative fin ishes.
them . Ease and shape the loops
w h i l e pu l l i ng the ends to tighten • Thread-traced hems are a good fin ish for vei ls and headpieces.
them to form the butto n . C l i p
• B ias button loops are often used on bridal gowns for back and wrist
off excess ends a n d tack them
c losi ngs as wel l as more special ized functions such as fi nger loops to
to the butto n .
secure the points of Jul iet sleeves to the hand and ski rt loops to l ift the
• F o r frog c losi ngs, keep the tra i n out of the way for danci ng.
seamed side u p and cut the ends
on top. Sec u re the c rossi ngs with
t i ny stitches, taping and stitc h i ng
the frog as it forms.

• To c reate more complex frog

c l os i ngs, d raw you r own
d i agrams. S i m i larly tape and stitch
the c ross i ngs to secu re the frog as
it forms .

A thread-traced veil and Juliet finger loops can be created with

the serger.

Festive Detailing 87
Working with
Delicate Fabrics

Delicate fabrics include lightweight silks, airy voiles, sheer

chiffons, laces, thin crepes, and gossamer batistes. When
lightweight fabriCS are also sheer, the seamfinishes are
visible through the fabriC and must be considered part of
the design.

The serger is so effective and

speedy at rol l i ng hems and
sew i n g t i n y seams that you can
rather surprisingly depend on i t
for most o f your del icate-fabric
construction chores. It sews and
fi n i shes h a i rl i n e seams that a re
fi ne enough for even the most
d iscern i n g eye, wh i l e offering
sturdy construction secu rity and
enhancing a i ry fabrics.

Com bi ne l ightweight threads

that w ithstand h igh tension
w ithout break i n g and garment
th read for construction seams or
i nv i s i b l y joi n i ng lace. Reserve
the conventional mach i n e
for z igzagg i n g t i n y topstitched
seams to m iter corners and
for staystitch i ng d iffic u lt areas
before serging.

Whet you r appetite for serg i n g

del i cates by ma ki ng a rea l l y easy
s i l k scarf, w h i c h is s i m p l y ro l l ­
hem med on a l l fou r sides, before
mov i n g on to more c h a l l engi ng
projects s u c h as l i ngerie, sleep­
wear, and even c h riste n i n g
d resses. You r serger w i l l save
you time and help create more
professional-looki ng resu lts.

88 Using Your Knowledge

You c a n create a n i mpressive, nearly i n stant scarf from a prepri nted CHOOS I NG
scarf print (sold by the yard) or any sol id color or appea l i ng print. TH READ
Some fabric stores carry bordered scarf pri nts, or try an a l l -over
print of s i l k crepe de c h i ne or c h i ffon that coord i nates with You r thread choice is a design
you r wardrobe. decision that depends on the
effect you want to ach ieve.
Tri m the p u rchased scarf panel or cut a square of fabric to the
des i red size. • To accent a color or create
a contrast i ng border, use
Edge all four s ides with rol l a plain rol l ed hem ( p . 62). Corners
threads that prov ide
shou ld be trimmed accord i ng to the i n structions on pp. 46-47 and
max i m u m coverage, such as
sewn conti nuously by clearing the stitch fi ngers (p. 44).
woo l l y nylon or r i bbon, i n
Run threads in neatly. both l oopers and a dense
stitch length, such as 2 m m .
Use garment thread i n
t h e need le.

• For m i n i mal coverage to

blend i nto the background
color, select two-p l y pol yester
for the loopers and garment
thread or two-ply polyester for
the need le. I n c rease the stitch
length for less dense stitch i ng,
but not so far as to let
u nsightly threads escape from
the rol led hem . However,
s i nce scarves are usua l l y cut
and rol l ed on straight gra ins,
and silk is a c l ose weave,
stray t h reads w i l l not usual l y
b e a problem .

• For custom effects or

to harmonize with strong
pri nts, change thread colors
as appropri ate to each side.
If you change colors for
custom effects, the ends
must be ru n in (p. 50).

Working with Delicate Fabrics 89

C amisole and With t h i s and s i m i l a r projects,
seam i n g and fi n is h i n g can be
Tap Pants done s i m u ltaneously u s i ng
h a i rl i n e seam tec h n iq ues that
Any l i ngerie fabric is su itable for are fine enough for the most
this cam isole and tap-pants set: d iscern i n g eye, add i mmeas u rably
charmeuse, tricot, l ightwei ght to the design effect of sheers, and
c repe-back sat i n , or voi l e . The offer sturdy construction secu rity.
only tricky part i s the front
Tra n sfer these tec h n i ques to a
shaping of the cam i sole. You can
n ightie or handkerch ief, use you r
save t i me here by selecti ng a
conventional z i gzag to m iter
pattern without m u c h shaping.
corners (pp. 94-95), and you h ave
E ither way, the project shou l d
a lovel y gift for any fem i n i ne
take no more t h a n a pleasant
celebration such as Mother's Day
morn i ng's o r even i ng's work, from
or a bridal shower.
cutt i ng out to fi n is h i ng.
Joi n pre l i m i n a ry seams : U s i ng the
bi as h a i rl i n e seam (p. 5 7), j o i n
t h e first s i d e seam o f t h e cam i sole
and the center front and side
seams of the tap pants, sea m i n g
nearly cont i n uously. C l i p the
pieces apart after seam i ng, then
press. Leave one side seam of
the cam isole and the center back
and c rotch seams of the pants
open so you can complete the
l ace assembl y on the flat.

Prepare the tri m assemb l y :

To c reate a stri p o f you r l aces,
total the measu rements of a l l
areas to b e tri m med. For the
cam i so l e and tap pants, measu re
both l eg ope n i ngs of the pants
and the top and bottom edges of
the cam isole. Cut the l ace stri ps
to equal the total measu rement
plus 1 2 i n .

90 Using Your Knowledge

Starch and press the l ace before
serg i n g the sea m . Rotate the u pper
k n i fe out of position ( 1 ), and serge
with the two-th read i nvisible
seam (see the bottom chart on
p . 98).

Staystitc h the l ace to the sea m l i ne

at the conventional mac h i n e
u s i ng a normal stitch length of
8 to 1 0 stitches per i n c h and a
s l i ghtly relaxed upper-thread
ten s i o n . To tri m the bottom of the
cam isole and the legs of the
pants, cut one length of the l ace
assembly to fit each l eg ope n i ng
and another to fit the bottom of
the camisole. Serge as before;
you may opt to staystitc h
conventiona l l y or not, depend i n g
on you r confidence and
experience. Aga i n press the hem
away from the fabric and toward
the lace to avoid b u l k .
1 Serge the lace with a two-thread invisible seam, with the upper knife
rotated out of position.


Th i nking of the two garments as one u n it wi l l help
save time rethread ing and changing serger settings.

Plan to join as many seams as possible, assembly­

l i ne fashion, cha i n i ng each new seam without
cutting the chain between sections, before moving
on to detai led areas.

L i kewise, when working with bands of joi ned laces

or trims, save time by assembl i ng one long
continuous strip of joi ned laces, then apply and trim
to garment measurements as requ i red.

The sides of the tap pants can be serged in series

without cutting thread or pausing between sections.

Working with Delicate Fabrics 91

Prepare the bust poi nts : Starch
the cam isole and l ightly mark
the sea m l i ne on the right side of
the fabric with a water-so luble
fabric marker (2).

Cut a tiny sq u are from the point of

the seam a l l owance over the l eft
bust, a l ig n i ng one corner of the
cutout with the apex of the poi nt.
Cut a s i m i l a r sq u a re from the
right-bust seam a l lowance.
F u rther tri m the seam a l l owance
to 3mm for 2 i n . on the u nderarm
s ide of the right-bust point apex.
The trimmed a rea w i l l resemble
an L shape.

Prepare the center front: S l ash the

seam a l l owance to the seam l i ne
2 Mark the seamline with a water-soluble marker.
at center front. Spread the s l ashed
seam a l l owance flat so the raw
edge forms a stra ight l i ne between
the two poi nts, a l low i n g the rest
of the fabric to rad i ate out from
the s l ash and form a l a rge fol d
below it.

Cut a strip of the l ace assem b l y to

equal the poi nt-to-point l i ne p l u s
4 i n . , a l i g n i n g t h e center o f the
l ace pattern with the s l ash at
center front (3).

Conventio n a l l y staystitch the l ace

to the cam i sole as you d id to the
leg open i ng. To ensu re that the
stitc h i ng area is c lear at the
beg i n n i ng and end of the seam,
m a ke an " a i rplane fold"-fold the

3 Prepare the top edge of the camisole by marking the seamline, trimminK
and centering the lace pattern.

92 Using Your Knowledge

ends of the l ace and u nderarm
side of the left bust-poi nt seam
a l l owance away from the bust­
point c utouts at a 45° angle (4).
Stabi l ize the fold with artist's tape
or p i n s .

S i m i larly, return t o t h e serger to

rol l-hem the l ace to the cam isole
between the bust poi nts (5).
To rol l-hem the l ace to the
cam isole at the serger, i nc rease
c utti n g w idth to 3 m m and set the
m ac h i ne for rol l hemming. L ift
the presser foot and pos ition the
need le carefu l l y at the beg i n n i ng
of the seam over the left bust
poi nt, being sure not to stitch
t h rough the header of the l ace
that extends beyond the fabric.
Use s i m i lar caution at the end 4 After clipping the center, spread the camisole top i n a straight line and
of the sea m . tape the lace into position.

Aga i n , press t h e h e m toward the

l ace so the header of the l ace
rema i n s flat and fabric rol l s over
it in a receiving hem.

To tri m the u nderarm and back of

the cam iso le, c lose the rem a i n i ng
side seam and restarch the
cam i so l e and fi n a l stri p of the l ace
assembl y. P i n the l ace arou nd the
back and u nderarms of the
cam i sole top from bust poi nt to
bust poi nt, centering the pattern at
center back and al l ow i n g the ends
of the l ace to extend over the
previously stitched center portion.

5 Roll-hem the lace to the camisole between bust points. Fold the ends of
the lace out of the way so you won't stitch them into the seam allowance.

Working with Delicate Fabrics 93

Agai n , staystitch the l ace from
bust point to bust po i nt arou nd
the back and underarm of the
top . Fold the fabric and l ace out
of the way at the apex of each
corner (6), as you d id previously.

Return to the serger, c lear the

stitch fi ngers and raise the presser
foot and need le. Pos ition the apex
of the left bust-poi nt cutout
d i rectly u nder the need le w ith
the L portion of the cutout flush
aga i nst the i n s ide of the lower
kn ife b l ade (7). Serge the hem
l ace to the camisole as before,
being carefu l not to stitch t h rough
the header of l ace at the end of
the seam over the right bust poi nt.

To m iter the corners at the center

front, press a l l hems toward the
l ace, a rran g i ng excess l ace at
the center i nto a fold so the fo ld
6 Fold the ends of the lace out of the way at the start of the underarm seam
l i ne extends vertica l l y u pward
beyond the center front of
on both sides of the corner so they won 't be caught in the stitching.
the cam isole (8) •

8 Miter the corners at center front,

pressing the lace so the fold lines
are vertical.

7 With the stitch fingers cleared, position the folded lace at the start of the
underarm seam under the needle with the L portion of the cutout flush with
the inside of the lower knife blade.

94 Using Your Knowledge

To fi n ish the bust poi nts, l a p the
ends of the l ace over each other,
aga i n positio n i ng the fold to
extend vertic a l l y above the bust
poi nt. Starting at the fabric edge
and work i n g to the outside, u se
the conventional mach i ne to
edgestitch the m i ters i n a tiny
z i gzag h a i rl i ne sea m . ( Loosen i n g
t h e u pper-thread tension a n d
decreasi n g the stitch length w i l l
a l low t h e stitches t o s i n k i nto the
l ace and d i sappear.)

U s i n g very sharp embroidery

scissors, trim excess l ace c l ose to
the z i gzag stitc h i ng (9).

To m a ke straps for the cam isole,

th read ri bbon t h rough l ace
Trim excess lace close to the zigzag stitching.
bead i ng . Trace the outl i ne of the
bust poi nts onto the bea d i ng
assembly and overcast the outl i ne. Loosen the need l e tension fu l l y,
and loosen the looper tensions
Pin the prepared strap to the moderately. I nc rease the stitc h
cam i so l e, matc h i n g the center of length t o 4mm, set t h e b l i nd­
the bead i n g to the center of the hemmer gu ide if you have one,
bust point and the flatlocked edge and serge, lett i n g the need l e
to the i n ner edge of the rol l hem. bare l y penetrate t h e fol ded edge
Edgestitch i n the d itch to secu re, of the fabric as it overcasts the
and h a nd-tack the l ace to the raw edge. The cutting width
strap at the poi nt. Try on the sho u l d be normal to support over­
c a m i sole to adj ust the l ength of casting. Open the fold and press
the strap before fi n i s h i n g the back flat. F i l l the cas i n g with e l astic .
edge of the strap and sec u r i n g it
to the cam i sole. Retu rn t h e serger to b i as- h a i rl i ne
setti ngs, and c lose the fi n a l seam
E m be l l ish the center front of the at center back and crotch .
cam isole w ith a ri bbon bow,
w h i c h can be made by loopi n g 10 Tie a decorative bow for the
ri bbon arou nd t h e spind les o f the front of the camisole and trim the
Don't try t o fi n ish l ace o r
serger. Pass the free end a round ri bbon edges w i t h a rol l h e m . ends of the beaded lace.
beh i nd the loops and tie in front. The l ace t h reads are too far
Remove the bow from the apart, patterned a reas a re too
spind les and trim the ends i rreg u l a r for a smooth hem, When sew i ng l ace, ribbon, or
d i agonal l y (1 0). and ri bbons are just too bu l ky other prefi n ished edges, rotate
to rol l wel l . I nstead, flatlock the u pper k n i fe out of position
Press the elastic-ca s i n g a l l owance the raw edge of ri bbon or l ace to remove any danger of
i nto a n S-shaped fold at the top of w ith a narrow cutti ng w idth accidenta l l y tri m m i ng the
the pants, as desc r i bed o n p. 5 2 . and a sma l l stitch lengt h . edge, and stitch as usu a l .

Working with Delicate Fabrics 95

Photo Index

This photo index will help you to review and compare

serger seams andfinishes, and to locate them in the book.
You will see at a glance various treatments you can use,
grouped under five headings: basics, hems, utility and
decorative stitches, specialty stitches, and complete
projects. Where appropriate, photos are accompanied by
a chart with the serger settings that pro duced the stitch.



Left needle Garment th read Normal I

Right needle Garment t h read Normal

U pper looper Garment t h read Normal

Lower looper Garment th read Normal


Stitch length Normal ( 2 m m to 3 m m )

Cutt i ng width Normal for fabric

D i fferential feed Normal

See page 56.


Left needle Garment t h read Normal

Right needle Garment th read Normal

U pper looper Wool l y nylon Balanced

Lower looper Wool l y nylon Balanced


Stitch length 3mm to 3 . S m m

Cutt i ng width Bala nce to we ight of fabric

Differential feed Normal u n less fabric waves

See the discussion of overstitching, which begins on
Optional setti ngs Use ro l l -hem setting for l i ght k n i ts page 5 7 .

Left needle Omit (for wider
seams, t h read the
left needle and
o m it the right)
!-- --- --
Right need le Garment t h read Normal

U pper looper Garment t h read Normal

!- -
Lower looper G a rment t h read Normal


Stitch length Normal (2mm to 3 m m)

I-- - -- - See page 56.
Cutt i n g width Normal for fabric

[ Differential feed
--- Normal u n l ess fabric puckers

Photo Index 97
N E E D L ES /

Left needle Omit

Right needle ! Garment t h read Normal

U pper looper Bypass

Lower looper Clear nylon H igh


Stitch length 2 m m to 2 . 5 m m

Cutting width Widest (3mm)

See page 57. Differential feed Normal u n less fabric puckers

Optional setti ngs Adjust serger for ro l l hem m i ng; for

th ree-th read rol l ed seam, th read

upper looper with c l ea r nylon
u nder high tension.

N E E D L ES /

Left needle


R i g h t needle Garment th read Normal

U pper looper Bypass

� Lower looper Garment t h read Normal


Stitch length 2mm

Cutting width Disengage upper kn ife

D ifferential feed .07 to prevent c u r l i ng

See page 9 7 .
Optional setti ngs Adj ust serger for rol l hem m i ng

98 Photo Index

t I
Left needle Omit
r Right needle Garment th read Normal

U pper looper Bypass

Lower looper Woo l ly nylon H i gh

l- -
Stitch length 2 . S m m to 3 m m

Cutting width Narrowest (1 mm)

D i fferential feed Normal u n less fabric puckers See page 58.

Optional settings Adjust serger for ro l l hem m i ng



Left needle Omit 1

Right need le G a rment th read Normal

U pper looper Garment th read Normal

Lower looper Garment th read Normal


l Stitch length Normal (2mm to 3 m m )

Cutting width Normal for fabric

D i fferential feed Above normal for eas i ng, See page 6 7 .

or normal

Photo Index 99

Left needle Omit

Right needle Garment th read Normal

Upper looper Lightweight, such Normal

I as two-ply poly

Lower looper I Wool l y nylon High


Stitch length 2 m m to 2 . 5 m m
Cutting width Wide
See page 62. --
D ifferential feed Normal u n less fabric puckers

Optional setti ngs Adjust serger for ro l l hemming


I Left needle
Right needle Garment th read Normal

Upper looper I Woo l l y nylon High

Lower looper Wool l y nylon High

L- '--
Stitch length To suit fabric
See page 62. I
Cutting width

D i fferential feed
-- Widest (3mm)
Normal u n less fabric puckers

� Ptional setti ngs

Adjust serger for ro l l hemming

100 Photo Index


Left needle Omit

Right needle Harmon i z i n g Normal

U pper looper Woo l l y nylon Normal

Lower looper Woo l l y nylon Fairly h i g h


Stitch length 2mm

Cutting width Normal for fabric

Differential feed .07 below normal to p u l l fabric See page 63.


Left needle Omit

Right needle To suit coverage Normal

U pper looper To suit coverage Bala nced

�ower looper To suit coverage H i gh


Stitch length 2mm

Cutt i n g width Widest (3mm)

Differential feed Normal u n l ess fabric puckers See page 82.

Optional setti ngs Adj ust serger for ro l l hem m i n g


Photo Index 101

Left needle Garment th read Fairly low

Right needle Omit

U pper looper Garment th read SI ightly low

Lower looper Garment th read Fairly h i gh

\ Stitch length Med i u m to long

Cutting width Normal

See page 63. Differential feed Normal

102 Photo Index

Utility and Decorative Stitches


N E E D L ES /

Left needle Omit

Ri ght needle Garment th read Normal

U pper looper Garment th read Normal

Lower looper Garment th read Normal


Stitch length 2 . S m m to 3 m m

Cutting width Normal for fabric

Differential feed Normal See page 60.


Left needle Omit

Right needle G a rment th read Normal

Upper looper Wool l y nylon Balanced

Lower looper Woo l l y nylon Balanced


Stitch length 1 . S m m to 2 m m for coverage

Cutti ng width Balance to weight of fabric

Differential feed Normal u n less fabric puckers See page 77.

Photo Index 103


Left needle Omit

R ight needle Garment t h read Normal

U pper looper Bypass

Lower looper Garment thread Normal


Stitch length 3mm

Cutting width Balance to weight of fabric

See pages 70-72. D i fferential feed .07

Optional setti ngs Use ro l l -hem setting for l ight kn its



Left needle Garment th read Normal

Right needle Garment t h read Normal

Upper looper Decorative th read H igh

Lower looper Garment thread Low


Stitch length Moderate l l y dense (2mm)

Cutti ng width Ba la nce to weight of fabric

See pages 70-72. Differential feed .07

Optional setti ngs Use ro l l -hem setting for very

na rrow tucks; use edge-stitc h i ng
attach ment to help control
fol d l i ne

104 Photo Index


Left needle Garment t h read Fai rly low

Right needle Omit

U pper looper Woo l l y nylon S l i ghtly low

Lower looper Contrast Fairly high


Stitch length Med i u m (adjust so nylon fl uffs up)

Cutting width Narrowest (1 mm)

Differential feed Normal See pages 58 and 73.


Left needle Garment or Normal

accent thread

Right needle Garment or Normal

accent t h read

U pper looper Decorative t h read Low

Lower looper G a rment or H igh

accent thread


Stitch length I n c rease so tri m w i l l not bunch

u p on stitch fingers See page 74.

Cutting width Balance to weight of fab ric

Differential feed .07

Photo Index 105

Sewing Elastic
See pages 52-53.

See page 54.

See page 48.

106 Photo Index

Decorative Edging
See page 73.

Metallic Th rea d-Traced Hem

See pages 79-80.

Gathered Ruffles
See page 83.

Photo Index 107

Proj ects
Quick Scarf
See page 89.

Quick Cowl Neck

See page 67.

Quick Eyeglass Case

See page 76.

108 Photo Index

Quick Hair Ornament
See page 8 1 .

Camisole and Tap Pants

See pages 90-95.

Elegant Silk Knit Top

See pages 67-69.

Photo Index 109

A F plain rolled, 62
basic rolled, setting chart for,
Angling on and off, technique for, Fabric: 1 00
42 delicate, 88 rolled receiving, 62
Applique, lace, 8 1 guiding, 39- 4 1 setting chart for, 1 00
hea vyw
eight, 26, 2 7 two-step turned, 6 1
lightweight, 26, 2 7 See also Seams.

B medium-weight, 26, 2 7
See also Knits.
Holding grain, technique for, 49

Basting: Feed dogs:

glue as, 33 described, 1 2
starch as, 33 differential feed for, 1 6- 1 7
tape as, 33 as fabric guide, 1 9 Ironing-board cover, serged, 35
Bridalwear, serged accents for, 87 Finishes:
Button loops, of bias tubing, 86 fancy, 78
See also Frogs .
mock Hong Kong, 77
Buttons, of bias tubing, 86-87 setting chart for, 1 03
See also Hems; Thread tracing. Knit top, instructions for, 67-69
Finishing: Knits:

c of lace edges, 95
of ribbon edges, 95
described, 26
types of, 66
Camisole and tap pants, Flatlocking, decorative, 73- 74 Knives:
instructions for, 90-95 setting chart for, 1 05 bypassing,
Chaining: tips for, 73 by avoiding, 43
decorative, 74 Frogs , of bias tubing, 87 by folding on, 45
setting chart for, 1 05 by making a cutout, 45
at start and end of seam, 1 9 described, 1 1
Corners: replacing, 22
inside, 47 G
mitered, 84 Gathering, technique for, 54
Gathering ratios, testing, 54
one-needle method for, 46-47 Guiding, practice techniques for,
two-needle method for, 46 39-4 1 Lace:
Curves: edge-finishing tip for, 95
inside, 46 stabilizing, with starch, 33
outside, 46
two-thread seam for, 98
Cutting width: See also Hems, rolled receiving.
adjusting, 2 1 Hair ornament, instructions for, 8 1 Lint, removing, 23
changing, 40 Hems: Loopers:
defined, 2 1 , 40 blind, 63 described, 1 2 , 1 3
setting chart for, 1 02 tension adjustments for, 20
deep circular, 6 1 and threading options, 1 5

E eased overlock, setting chart for,

Edges finished together, technique
fancy, 78
for, 59 lettuce-edge, 63
Edgings, decorative, 63, 73 setting chart for, 10 1 Machine easing, technique for, 49
Elastic, serger application of, 52-53 monofilament, 82 Monograms, chained, 75
Eyeglass case, instructions for, 76 setting chart for, 10 1
narrow, 6 1
narrow sheer, 79

1 10
N 5 T
Needles: Scarf: Tape, bias tricot, 34

described, 1 2 , 1 3 cowl-neck, instructions for, 67 Tension, adjusting, 20

and fabric weight, 3 1 silk, instructions for, 89 Thread :

for natural fibers, 3 1 Seams: changing, 29

replacing, 22 basic four-thread, 56 decorative, 30

storing, 56 setting chart for, 96 for delicate fabrics, 88, 89

for synthetic fibers, 3 1 basic three-thread, 56 fusible, 34

tension adjustments for, 20 setting chart for, 97 nylon filament, 28

and threading options, 1 5 bias hairline, 57 polyester, 28
circular, 42 slubbed, disadvised, 30
continuous, 42 utility vs. decorative, 28
ending, 50, 5 1 woolly nylon, 28
o finishes for, 59-69 Thread guides, discussed, 1 1
Overcasting: flatlocked decorative, 58 Threading:
framing with, 60 four-thread, for lightweight and effect on stitches, 1 5
single-layer, 60 knits, setting chart for, 97 hints for, 1 8- 1 9
setting chart for, 1 03 French, 58 tips for, 29
at start and end of seam, 5 1 setting chart for, 99 Thread traCing:
See also Seams. hairline, 56-57 for bias fabriCS, 80
starting, 5 1 continuous, 80
thread accents for, 70 narrow, 79
three-thread rolled, 57 wide, 80
p two-thread, for joining lace, Throat plates, as serger
Pins, placing, 32 setting chart for, 98 accessories, 1 7
Plackets: two-thread rolled, 57 Trimming width, defined, 40
lace-edged, 48 setting chart for, 98 Tubing, bias:
decorative overcast, 48 See also Hems. for button loops, 86
Pockets, topstitched, 77 Sergers, vs. conventional sewing for straps, 85
Press cloth: machines, 8 technique for, 84-85
organdy as, 35 Sewing taut, technique for, 49 Tucks:
paper towel as, 35 Stabilizer: basic, setting chart for, 1 04
Presser feet: starch as, 33 decorative, setting chart for, 1 04
as guiding aid, 39, 4 1 water-soluble, 35 overcast, 70-7 1
pressure adjustment for, 1 7 Stitch fingers:
specialized, 1 7 cle arin
g, 43, 44
Puckering, remedy for, 1 6 , 49 described, 1 3
Stitch length, adj usting, 22
Stitching: Unjamming, technique for, 23

R instructions for, 1 9
ripping out, 5 3
custom, 79
Straps :
of bias tubing, 85
edge-fmishing tip for, 95 Waistbands, finish for, 77
of ribbon and lace, 95
Ruffles, gathered, 83 Stretching, remedy for, 1 7

Index 111
Look for these and other Threads books at
your local bookstore or sewing retailer.

American Country Needlepoint

Beyond the Pattern: Great Sewing Techniques for Clothing

Couture Sewing Techniques

Distinctive Details: Great Embellishment Techniques for Clothing

Easy Guide to Sewing Blouses

Easy Guide to Sewing Jackets

Easy Guide to Sewing Skirts

50 Heirloom Buttons to Make: A Gallery of Decorative Fabric, Needle­

Lace, Crochet, and Ribbon and Braid Closures You Can Create

Fine Machine Sewing: Easy Ways to Get the Look of Hand Finishing
and Embellishing

Fit and Fabric

Fitting Solutions: Pattern-Altering Tips for Garments that Fit

Fitting Your Figure

Great Quilting Techniques

Great Sewn Clothes

Jackets, Coats and Suits

Knitted Sweater Style: Inspirations in Color

Knitting Tips & Trade Secrets

Quilts and Quilting

Sewing Tips & Trade Secrets

Sh irtma king

Techniques for Casual Clothes

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