What a Serger Will and Will Not Do

Brother sergerClothing is easier and faster to sew using a serger. A serger, to those who are uninitiated, is really a special- and multi-purpose sewing machine that is capable of producing seams that have a professional finish. It is used for ready-to-wear (RTW) clothing and uses from two to almost one dozen threads for encasing a fabric’s raw edges with overcast stitches while it trims away the allowances of these seams.

Most serger machines have the speed rate of 1,700 stitches a minute. The serger has “loopers,” multiple needles, and a cutting blade for clean-finishing seam allowances, as mentioned earlier, but models today are capable of doing more than sew those thousands of stitches. Thankfully, they have become easier and easier to operate and more economical because of their creative diversity in stitching capability.

Bring Sensational Spring Skirt Patterns to Life

What better equipment to use than a dependable, durable, and affordable serger to bring sensational spring skirt patterns to life? Make no mistake about it, a sewing machine a serger is not, albeit it can do a plethora of things that all add up to the convenience of using it. A serger gives sewing projects a professional look. Most serger stitches have the built-in quality of stretch that makes them perfect for seaming knits.

In addition, a serger’s “loopers” have larger eyes than those of sewing needles to accommodate the thickness of decorative threads. You can do a lot of creative sewing with one of these machines. Take a peek at the basic functions of a simple overlock machine to get an idea of what to expect should you decide to purchase one (it will be ideal for making spring skirts now before the season begins):

  • Embellish fabric with various types of decorative thread.
  • Sew stretch type of seams.
  • Give seams, as well as edges, a professionally-finished look.
  • Embellish sewing projects with a chain stitch, cover stitch or a flatlock.
  • Reduce the amount of rippling of hard-to-sew and thick fabrics such as denim.
  • Finish the edges of reversible items neatly.
  • Hem clothing with cover stitches.
  • Apply elastic trims.
  • Execute rolled hems cleanly.
  • Serve as the finishing touch of a sewing project with various types of decorative edgings.
  • Speed up sewing time.
  • Gather fabric with the use of an adjustment in differential feed.
  • Hem lightweight, sheer, and soft fabrics without any puckering.

What a Serger Will Not and Cannot Do

Given all that, your serger will not and cannot do some things that a sewing machine can and does such as:

  • Baste.
  • Install zippers.
  • Make buttonholes.
  • Embroider.
  • Sew reverse stitches.
  • Topstitch (unless your serger has cover stitching features).

The sheer volume of serged stitches can make it overwhelmingly difficult to know which of the stitches to use, on what kind of fabric they will be most suitable for, and if serging is ideal at all. Check your serger’s instructional manual to find out what it can and cannot do. If you still haven’t purchased one, make sure that the model you get has all the stitches that you want. Click here to read some in depth reviews of some of the more popular serger sewing machines that are available today.

To Serge or Not

The main difference between a serger and a sewing machine is the way their respective needles function. On the former, its looper threads are, naturally, “looped” and have an interlaced-in, knitted look done by needles thread(s) while the latter has its bobbin threads locked with the needle’s thread. You will have to decide what fabric to use as well. Serging the seams of wool skirts and linen blazers will result in bulky lines.

Serging is best done for crinkled and sheer fabrics for loose-fitting tops and skirts, the ideal wardrobe for spring. Serging is also ideal for knits that are frequently washed. Incidentally, you should do finishing edges with your serger; it’s a waste of the thread since all of the seams are already enclosed. Choose a stitch to edge-finish or serge a seam which matches the specific needs of a garment.

The Rules of Serge Stitching

Bear in mind that fewer threads in serger stitches mean a whole lot of not only of stretch but strength. More threads in stretches are bulkier instead of stronger, albeit there are several exceptions such as the wrapped, three-thread stitch and the super stretch stitch as well as those stitches that incorporate chain stitches to make non-stretch, stable seams.

Rule Number One: make sure you use narrow stitches that have fewer threads when sewing lightweight fabrics, wrapped stitches to provide maximum stretch for knit seams, overlock stitches that are wider with more threads for bulky fabrics or those that tend to unravel, regular overlock stitches for the standard seams required by woven fabrics and knits, rolled-hems for delicate fabrics and flatlock stitches for sportswear.

Rule Number Two: use long lengths of stitches to reduce bulkiness common to serged seams due to the use of a lot of thick threads. Experiment with stitch length on a sample fabric to see how you fare. Stitches that are too far apart result in weak seams, especially on fabrics that are loosely woven. And although the stitches’ names may be confusing initially, remember that they are all related to how stitches are created.

Rule Number Three: is to know which needles to use. Choose between left needle for wide stitches, right needles for narrow stitches or the rolled-hem function of your serge for the narrowest of stitches. Don’t forget to embellish. The loopers never pierce fabric, an clear advantage for you when using heavier decorative thread in one or both loopers for edge-finishing or turning a seam into design elements.