There are many reasons that sewing with a serger is faster than a sewing machine. First, the motor typically runs faster and produces more stitches in the same amount of time, usually about 50% to 60% more stitches per minute. Another reason is that a serger performs more than one operation simultaneously. Along with seaming, it trims excess seam allowances and overcasts, producing a finished look with just one pass under the presser foot.
Sergers are also speedy because of some special techniques they can perform. For example, serging a rolled edge is an easy and fast hemming method. Using a narrow serger stitch on curved seams, such as necklines and armscyes, eliminates clipping and notching to achieve an efficient turn of the cloth, resulting in a smooth curve.
Learn several basic stitches and techniques that are useful for constructing clothing mostly or entirely on a serger.
4-Thread Overlock Stitch
The 4-thread overlock is the most common construction stitch. It’s a balanced stitch that works well on both woven and knit fabrics. The stitch resembles a wide 3-thread overlock stitch with a central safety stitch (resembles a straight stitch) sewn using the right needle. In addition to serging seams, use the 4-thread overlock stitch for other construction techniques, such as gathering or making turned tubes for belt loops or straps.
3-Thread Overlock Stitch
This balanced stitch is useful when serging knits, as it contains a great amount of stretch and will give with the fabric as it stretches. Using the left needle produces a wide overlock stitch suitable for seaming knit garments. Using the right needle works well for narrow curved seams, eliminating the need for clipping when turned to the right side.
The 3-thread overlock stitch is also useful for finishing the raw edges of woven-fabric seams that have been sewn on a conventional sewing machine. Serge each seam allowance edge individually, and then press open. To simplify the process, serge the garment-piece edges before sewing them together, and then press open the seams after construction.
Hemming & Edging
Simplify the garment finishing process by using quick and simple serger techniques for finishing raw edges.
A rolled hem creates a delicate finish that works best on light- to mediumweight fabrics. Use a rolled hem for sheer fabrics, blouse hems, scarf edges and more. The rolled hem is commonly composed of three threads on the serger. However, some sergers also have a 2-thread option for a finer, more delicate look.
A banded hem is a folded hem that results in a self- or contrast-fabric band with trimmed and finished edges on the garment wrong side. This technique works best on sleeve and garment lower edges. The band can be serged onto a flat fabric piece or sewn into a circle and serged to a closed garment edge, such as a skirt lower edge. This finishing treatment works on both woven and knit fabrics.
Now that you’ve got a handle on some basic seams, put them to use making a basic knit dolman-style blouse.
Serger (such as the Janome 1110DX)
2 knit fabric rectangles
4 cones of serger thread
Removable fabric marker
Cut two rectangles for the desired size according to the list below.
Fold one rectangle in half lengthwise. Mark the upper edge 5” from the fold. Mark the fold 3” from the upper edge. Draw a gently curved line connecting the two marks to create the neckline.
Draw a slight diagonal line connecting the neckline to the long open edge to create the shoulder seam.
Mark the long open edge 10” below the upper edge to denote the armscye. Mark the lower edge 2” in from the long open edge. Draw a gently curved line connecting the two marks to create the side seam. Trim away the excess fabric.
Draw the identical side seam, shoulder seam and neckline on the remaining rectangle; trim away the excess.
Set the serger for a 3-thread overlock stitch. Align the front and back with right sides together. Serge the shoulder seams, trimming off 1⁄8”.
Remove the left needle and install the right needle. Set the serger for a narrow 3-thread overlock stitch.
Serge the neckline edge, trimming 1⁄8”. Fold the serged edge 3⁄8” toward the wrong side; pin.
Using a sewing machine, topstitch the neckline from the right side using a 1⁄4” seam allowance.
Serge the side seams beginning at the armscye and ending at the lower edge. Finish the armscye edges per the neckline.
Using the 3-thread overlock stitch, decrease the stitch length to 1.5mm
to 2mm. Serge the lower edge, trimming off 1⁄8”.