Decorative Effects with Your Serger

If you’re only using your serger for construction, you’re not taking full advantage of everything it can do. Learn more about a variety of decorative techniques, garment details and finishes that your serger can help you achieve.

Cover Pro 2000 CPX 02 Decorative Effects with Your Sergerchemistik partner logo janome 2 300x105 Decorative Effects with Your SergerSome sergers handle specialty techniques and thread better than others. Familiarize yourself with your serger’s capabilities and practice each technique thoroughly to get the most out of the machine and the best results. Specialty techniques are often a juggling act of manipulating fabric and several other components while also avoiding pins.

Gathering 

Gathering using a serger is a snap, even if you don’t have a gathering foot. This technique works best on light- to mediumweight fabrics. Use a sewing machine to gather heavyweight or stiff fabrics.

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Machine set-up: 4-thread overlock stitch

Differential feed: 2.0

Stitch length: longest possible

Stitch finger: engaged

Knife: engaged

Upper and lower looper tension: 1.0 or normal

Needle tension: 6 to 8

Test-serge to determine how much fabric to allow for gathering (multiply the desired finished length by 2 to 2 1⁄2, depending on the desired ruffle fullness).

Overlock the fabric edge, trimming off the desired amount. When the differential feed is above 1 (or normal, depending on the serger make and model), the front feed dogs feed fabric faster than the back feed dogs, causing the fabric to gather.

Leave a 12” thread chain at the stitching beginning and end to loosen gathers if necessary. Pull the needle threads or raise the needle tension for more gathering.

TIP: Use decorative thread in the upper looper and matching or coordinating serger thread in the right needle and lower looper for an extra decorative touch.

Covered Elastic Loops 

Thread loops are fragile, especially if used at a stress point on a garment or on a heavy tote bag. Plain elastic loops are stretchy and durable but not very pretty. Jazz them up with this easy technique for a unique and functional embellishment.

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Machine set-up: 3-thread rolled hemstitch

Differential feed: 1.0 or normal

Stitch length: 1.0 to 2.0

Stitch finger: disengaged

Knife: locked

Upper looper tension: 2.0

Lower looper tension: 7.0

Right needle tension: normal

Use 1⁄8”-wide flat elastic for the loops. Adjust the serger so the rolled hemstitch is slightly wider than normal. Place the needle in the left overlock position with the thread through the right needle route. Experiment with stitch length to achieve the desired look.

Use heavyweight decorative thread in the upper looper for a beautiful embellishment. Don’t use rayon embroidery thread in the loopers, as it’s not durable enough. If available, use an elastic presser foot for better control than a standard foot.

For multiple loops, use one elastic length equal to the desired loop lengths, plus seam allowances. Don’t stretch the elastic as you stitch. If using an elastic foot, loosen the knob to eliminate stretching as it feeds through and adjust the guide to feed the elastic to the right of the needle.

Insert the elastic into the elastic foot guide or under the standard foot to the right of the needle with at least 2” behind the foot to grasp while stitching. Cover the entire elastic length with stitches, as per the wired ribbon instructions. The thread thickness determines the elastic coverage. If stitches bunch up or stack on the elastic, lengthen the stitch and gently pull some of the stitches off the elastic end. Smooth the stitches until they lay flat and fully cover the elastic. If the elastic shows through the stitches, shorten the stitch length. Cut the elastic to the desired button-loop length and stitch onto the project in the same manner as thread loops.

Serger Braid Trim 

Make custom trim using  serger chain in the desired color. Create braid trim by stitching three components and joining them together: a center band, which is stitched over a filler, such as yarn or narrow ribbon, and two serger chains.

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Serger Braid Trim

Center Band

Machine Setup: 3-thread rolled hem

Differential feed: 1.0 or normal

Stitch length: 1.0 to 2.0

Stitch finger: disengaged

Knife: locked

Upper looper tension: 2.0

Lower looper tension: 7.0

Right needle tension: normal

For a 1⁄8”-wide center band, adjust the rolled hemstitch slightly wider than normal. Place the needle in the left overlock position with the thread through the right needle path.

Thread the upper looper with decorative thread and the needle and lower looper with matching or coordinating thread. If available, use an elastic foot to easily feed the filler through the serger. Or manually hold the filler to the right of needle so the thread wraps around it during stitching.

Chain Stitches

Use heavyweight decorative thread in the loopers for a beautiful chain. Experiment with a variety of thread to achieve the desired look.

Machine set up: 3-thread rolled hem

Differential feed: 1.0 or normal

Stitch length: 1.5

Knife: engaged

Stitch finger: engaged

Right needle tension: normal

Upper looper: 2.0

Lower looper: 7.0

Engage the stitch finger to widen the stitch slightly and create an open, lacy chain.

Stitch a chain twice the length of the center band. Press the chain using steam, stretching slightly to smooth and evenly distribute the stitches.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse a 1⁄2”-wide strip of double-sided fusible web onto the base fabric according to the center-band length and desired placement. Center the band over the fusible web; finger-press firmly. Abut the thread chains against each center-band long edge. Reposition the components as necessary. When satisfied with the placement, press the components to secure.

Thread the sewing machine needle with monofilament thread and the bobbin with all-purpose thread. Loosen the upper tension slightly to prevent puckering the trim when couching. Select a 2mm-long zigzag stitch on the widest setting. Couch the trim onto
the base fabric. If the widest zigzag setting doesn’t catch all three components, zigzag stitch the center band, and then straight stitch the thread chain edges using a 3.5mm-long stitch.

Stitch or fuse the trim onto base fabric and combine with hot-fix crystals or other embellishments, if desired.

3-Thread Reverse Flatlock 

Use this technique to join two abutted fabric edges or along a fold of one fabric piece. Stitch with the fabric fold just to the left of the locked blade. Experiment with different stitch lengths to achieve the desired look.

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Thread Reverse Flatlock

Left needle tension: 0 or bypass tension disk

Upper looper tension: 1.0

Lower looper tension: 7.0

Differential feed: 1.0 or normal

Knife: disengaged (optional)

Stitch length: 1.5 to 4.0

Use heavyweight decorative thread in the needle to create bold “ladders.” A topstitch needle has a longer eye and deeper groove to accommodate hefty threads. Some sergers have a 2-thread flatlock and reverse flatlock stitch feature. Check the machine manual for the machine set-up.

With right sides together, stitch the seam. Open the seam and gently pull both fabric pieces to flatten and reveal the stitching. Press to smooth the fabric.

Weave ribbon, embroidery floss or other decorative fiber through the exposed stitches, if desired. Using a double-eye needle or bodkin, weave two pieces of narrow floss through the same seam to lend visual complexity to any project. Alternate the weaving pattern for different effects.

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Ribbon in flat lock stitching

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Janome of America provided the CoverPro 2000CPX serger.

 Decorative Effects with Your Serger
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One Response to Decorative Effects with Your Serger

  1. June says:

    Thank you- I have a serger now going on 4 yrs and never used as I had no clue what or how to do anything with it. Thank you for this site that shows me possibilities I never thought of.