Sewing with Sergers Part 2: – Threads, Loopers and More

Why So Many Threads?

Sergers come in many varieties and are capable of performing a wide range of tasks. A serger may use anywhere from two to five threads at a time to sew. Basic sergers are called ‘2,3,4 thread’ models; that means they can perform a range of tasks using two, three or four threads. A 2-thread finish will make a very basic edge on a seam to keep it from ravelling. The 3- and 4-thread options create locked stitches on the edge of the fabric to create a clean, tight seam. On the high end of the spectrum, you’ll find a 5-thread serger. This serger performs all of the above, plus some specialty stitches. All of these sergers will use a knife blade on at least some of the stitches. This knife is located near the needle and cuts off the seam allowance as you sew, resulting in a perfectly clean edge.

sewing with sergers - multi-thread

Did Someone Say “Looper”?

The serger contain unique parts in the lower mechanism called “loopers”. These loopers do just what they say – they loop the stitches together to lock them. On the top side of the fabric, an overlocker will lay down what looks like traditional stitches, but the back of the fabric shows the precisely formed knots created by the loopers. When threading, thread goes through the ‘lower looper’ and the ‘upper looper.’ The accompanying manual will instruct you on threading the loopers. Often machines contain special tricks or aids to help you with the threading of these parts.


Sewing with Sergers: – Other Serger Options

Many sergers come with something called Differential Feed. This feature will open up more options in your serging. The differential feed controls how much of the fabric is fed per stitch. You can alter the feed to pull through more fabric per stitch to create a ruffle. This option will also allow you to create something called a “Lettuce Edge” which gives the serged edge of the fabric a slightly waved effect.


Some machines can also create what is called CoverStitch. This you will find on many t-shirts and sweatshirts. On the top it looks like two seams with stitches directly parallel to one another. This is a great option for creating decorative effects with your overlocker.


You will also find many sergers offer a wide array of optional accessories. These accessories make certain tasks even easier. They are very similar to specialized sewing machine feet. Understanding these optional accessories and how they are used will open up new possibilities for using your overlocker.


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