Serger Seams for Garment Construction (+ FREE PROJECT!)

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.1110DX Pro 1 1024x683 Serger Seams for Garment Construction (+ FREE PROJECT!)

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.

Serger Seaming
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.

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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.

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Hemming & Edging

Simplify the garment finishing process by using quick and simple serger techniques for finishing raw edges.

Rolled Hem

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.

Banded Hem

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.

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Pullover Top


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.

Small               23”x24”

Medium          24”x25”

Large               25”x28”

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”.


Janome of America provided the 1110DX serger.

 Serger Seams for Garment Construction (+ FREE PROJECT!)
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10 Responses to Serger Seams for Garment Construction (+ FREE PROJECT!)

  1. Glenda Marsh says:

    Probably a dumb question but is the first # listed in sizes above what will be the width of the blouses?? I want to try this

  2. Mika says:

    For those of you having difficulty finding classes: try looking up any “Maker” groups in your area where like minded artisans create and teach, check with nearby fabric shops for classes, or even check with local senior or community centers which offer classes, many have machines to use as well.

  3. Mary Lou Bettess says:

    I have had my serger for years but it just sits in the closet because every time I have tried to use it the lower looper thread brakes. I have had it checked many times and it still brakes. I took some lessons and they said it was my presure foot. (I think) it was so long ago. Any suggestions?

    • Patricia Dorwin says:

      Take the serger to a reputable dealer, have it checked again, and have them run it while you are with them. If the thread does not break you may have missed one little spot in threading when you threaded the machine or changed thread. I have an ancient serger (30 years +) and one missed point in the threading process will cause the thread to hang up and break.

    • Darlene Doctor says:

      Make sure you are threading it in the correct order. Thread your needles last. If the lower looper thread breaks, unthread your needles before rethreading the lower looper. The lower looper threads MUST be under the needle threads.

  4. This was very informative and I love the blouse. Thank you.

  5. I would dearly love a serger but, I cannot seem to get sewing lessons in my part of the world. People are too lazy these days to sew for themselves. I love the Janome sewing machine that I have, its very, very old and easy to use. I recently lost the screw to my bobbin holder whilst cleaning it and had to buy a new bobbin holder, they do not supply screws on their own!

    • Vernita says:

      Hi Margureite, what part of the world are you in? :) I know several people in different states that sew. I could probably help you get sewing lessons.
      Let me know.

    • You can check online with the American Sewing Guild to see if there are any chapters or neighborhood groups in your area. This is an organization of sewers who get together to learn from each other and from special guests. I have been sewing for over 55 years and still learn new things from my fellow ASG sewists!

    • Karen Poole says:

      There are also a lot of great online lessons and you tube videos that are very good!