How well do you know your serger? Familiarize yourself with the basic parts of a serger so you can start serging full speed ahead.
Spool pins (1): These vertical pins holds the thread cones. A serger has three to five spool pins, depending on how many thread strands it allows. Different serger seam types require different numbers of thread strands.
Thread guides (2): These guides allow the threads to flow smoothly through the machine. Most sergers include a threading guide (often color-coded, as shown on the Janome AT2000D above) to show you the order in which to thread the needles and loopers.
Tension dials (3): The tension dials control the tension of each needle and/or looper. Refer to the serger manual to determine the appropriate tension settings for various fabric or seam types.
Needles (4): Most sergers allow for up to two needles that are installed side by side. Needles become dull after lots of serging, so they need to be replaced periodically. The needle type depends on the thread and fabric type.
Loopers (4): A looper is a small lever inside the serger that has a thread hole (similar to a needle) at the end. Rather than penetrating the fabric, the loopers create thread “loops” around the fabric raw edge. Most sergers have an upper and lower looper that move in tandem with the needles to form the seam.
Hand wheel (5): The hand wheel allows you to slowly operate the serger by hand for extra control.
Presser foot (6): The presser foot applies downward pressure as you serge to help guide the fabric. When you’re serging, the presser foot should always be in the down position. Every serger comes with a standard presser foot that works for most basic sewing tasks. Some sergers also come with a few additional presser feet designed especially for other tasks, such as attaching trim or inserting elastic. Your serger dealer or manufacturer carries many other useful specialty feet to purchase separately.
Knife: As the fabric moves through the machine, the knife trims away the seam allowance before the needles form the seam. For most serger projects, a 3/8” to 1⁄4” seam allowance is appropriate. The knife can also be disengaged if needed.
Throatplate and Feed Dogs: The throatplate is the removable metal plate that protects the feed dogs. The small metal bars move back and forth, pulling or “feeding” the fabric under the presser foot as you serge.
Foot Pedal: This pedal controls the serger motor, so the harder you press, the faster it goes. It rests on the floor and is attached to the serger by a cord.
Threading A Serger
One of the most intimidating parts of using a serger is threading. With multiple spools to thread, it can be confusing.
One trick is to cut your serger threads leaving extra, tie on the new thread, then gently pull the new threads through the machine. Chances are, though, that you’ll need to learn to thread your machine at some point. Don’t worry – you’ve got this! Grab tweezers and your machine’s manual and make sure your liking is good. If possible, open the side casing and take off the throatplate for maximum access.
If you’ve got room in your budget, consider an air threading model, such as the Janome 2000D. With the push of a button, the air threader magically threads the upper and lower looper for you — no tweezers, no flashlights, no screwdriver, no curse words. Simply thread the upper needles, and you’re ready to serge.
Find the full article in the October/November 2018 issue of Sew News.