We’re celebrating the first-ever National Serger Month all throughout April, sharing tips, techniques and tutorials to help you get the most out of your serger. Most sewists know that sergers are a great tool for finishing seams, but they have so many other helpful and handy applications for all sorts of projects.
I LOVE my serger and one of my favorite ways to use it is to create a rolled hem. A rolled hem makes a tidy and professional-looking edge for napkins and tablecloths, and is also quick and easy to stitch on a serger. You can also use a rolled hem to create a delicate edge-finish on a lightweight fabric, or use it to inconspicuously apply lace or other trim to the fabric edge. Here’s a close-up on a basic 3-thread serger rolled hem from the right side:
The hem is very narrow in width and the serger actually rolls the fabric edge under the tiniest bit to prevent fraying. Here’s a view of the wrong side, where you can see the rolled effect:
To create a rolled hem on your serger, first consult your manual to find out the correct rolled hem settings for the machine. Practice serging the rolled hem on a mediumweight woven fabric, such as quilting cotton, to get a feel for the way the different settings affect the stitch. The serger I’m using has a dial that allows you to select a rolled hem (as opposed to a standard serger overlock hem) and a Stitch Selector that engages the correct settings for the desired stitch, which in this case is “D”. This ensures that the thread will form around the “stitch finger” to create the rolled effect on the fabric:
One of the most important considerations when using a serger is the differential feed. Sergers have two sets of feed dogs (rather than a standard machine, which has one set), so you can change the speed of each feed-dog set depending on the fabric type and the effect that you want to create. For a non-stretch woven fabric, start with the differential feed on neutral or zero. This means that both sets of feed dogs are moving at the same speed.
Engage the cutting knife to neatly trim away the correct amount from the fabric edge as you serge. Once all of the settings are correct, serge for a few inches to create a thread chain. This allows the threads to form a rolled hem stitch that neatly grabs the fabric edge. Insert your test-fabric scrap, and serge the edge:
When serging a rolled hem on a corner, start each edge with a thread chain. Carefully trim away the thread chains and apply a small drop of seam sealant to prevent the stitch from unraveling.
Once you’ve mastered a basic rolled hem, you can use the same stitch to create a variety of decorative effects and trims. To quickly and easily add lace trim, place the lace straight edge along the fabric edge with right sides together, and then serge, catching both edges in the rolled hem stitch:
Fold and press the lace away from the fabric. The rolled hem is secure enough to hold the lace but is still very delicate and inconspicuous.
Another great rolled-hem technique is a lettuce edge, often seen on little girls’ garments. For a lettuce edge, use a knit fabric. The stretch in the fabric helps the fabric curl and create that cute lacy, ruffly effect. The key to creating a lettuce edge is the differential feed. Instead of using the neutral setting, reduce the differential feed to the lowest setting.
Reducing the differential feed slows down the front set of feed dogs in comparison to the back set, stretching the fabric edge and smooshing the stitches. Start with a thread chain, and insert the fabric edge along the direction of greatest stretch. Serge, gently stretching the fabric in front of and behind the feed dogs to start producing that curly effect:
All ruffled up:
These are just a few of the fun techniques you can do with a serger! Stay tuned for a new serger posts on the Sew News blog and Faceboook page each week of April, and don’t miss the chance to win a fabulous Baby Lock ExtraordinAir Threading Serger and one-year subscription to Sew News! How cool is that? Visit NationalSergerMonth.org to find lots of fun free projects and tutorials. And to take part in the fun on your own blog, grab the National Serger Month Badge to share the serger love! Happy serging!