Machine Minute: Serger Basics
A serger is a great tool to add to your sewing room!
Hi, I'm Jennifer, here with another Machine Minute brought to you Baby Lock and the Imagine serger. We're going to talk today about the basics of a serger. Maybe you've explored this type of machine and maybe you haven't, but I think it's a great one, and I'm going to tell you today why you might want to add a serger to your sewing room. Now what does a serger do? It's a little bit different than a sewing machine in that it has either three or four threads on top. And that machine makes an overlock stitch. You've probably seen it in a lot of ready-to-wear garments. It finishes the seam at the same time you stitch it. So, there are two loopers and two needle threads in this stitch. And I'll show you more about how that stitch is formed in a minute. But you can use it to seam things. You can also use it as a decorative accent. So I'm making a pillow here. It's just going to be a rectangular pillow, but I've serged the edges of individual strips, and I'm using the serger thread as a decorative accent to my pillow. So there are lots of options for you in using this stitch. You might have also seen it on the edges of napkins, there's a rolled hem-stitch you can do, and lots of options, so don't underestimate the power of having a serger. Let's talk about how the stitch it formed. So don't be intimidated by a serger when you sit down to it. It looks different than a sewing machine might. The nice thing is everything is contained right in this part of the machine. Now threading a serger is sometimes the most intimidating part to people. It's not that hard., but with the Imagine, it is jet-air threading, which means your looper threads come down here, and all you have to do is put your thread into the port. All the directions for how to thread your loopers are here with the jet-air system, but it really is as simple as a touch of a button. But where the magic happens in the serger is really behind here. The important thing to know about a serger is there's a knife blade here, and this is what trims the edge of the fabric as you sew. It's one-step finishing. These two pieces of the machine are where the loopers are threaded. But again with the jet-air system that's as easy as a touch of a button. The needle threads much the same way as a sewing machine threads--they go in through the guides, wrap around, and go through the two needles here that I have for my four-thread overlay stitch. The presser foot goes up and down on a serger, but you rarely use it. Really you just use your thumb to get your fabric started under the presser foot and then keep your hands clear of this area as you're serging. Let me show you what that looks like. I've just got two strips of fabric here and I'm going to serge them together as if I were joining a seam. And you can watch as the knife goes up and down here, you'll see a little bit of the fabric coming off the edge as I begin to serge. Now you can always stop and readjust your edges. I don't like to sew with any pins on a serger because you don't want pins to get near that knife. But you're in control. The thing about a serger is that is sews more stitches per minute than an average sewing machine would. And because it's finishing the seam and trimming off as you sew, you use the guides up here as sort of your guide for how much you want to trim off the fabric. So whether it's a 1/4" or more, you're just watching up here opposed to the throat plate of a machine as you stitch. The other thing about a serger is that you can sew what we call a thread chain, or the thread by itself without the fabric. You can do that on a sewing machine, but you can do it for a long time on a serger without any difficulty. Some people use that decorative chain to make other things, as well. But you can see on the finished stitch, I've got two straight-stitch lines (and those are the needle threads), and then the top looper is going from this outside line to the top raw edge of the seam, and the bottom looper is doing the same thing on the back. So what I end up with is a very nicely finished seam. I could press that from one side to the other. And no raw edges or fraying threads. There are dozens of uses for a serger, whether it's functional stitching to sew seams or decorative stitching to make embellished home decor. I encourage you to visit a dealer and give a serger a try, so you'll know if you want to add this type of machine to your sewing room.