Sergers - a little explanation
A serger compliments a sewing machine. It is like a huge sewing machine attachment! except it is a whole other machine. If you had to pick one machine.. pick a sewing machine. A serger only does one thing.. edges. It can do rolled hems, heirloom sewing, fancy edges, uses heavy threads and more, but it can't sew through the middle of fabirc, can't put on a pocket on a t-shirt and so on.
Sergers cut the edge of the fabric and stitches the fabric at the same time. It makes a nice finished edge. It sews very fast between 1200-1500 stitches a minute.
When it comes to sergers, there is a whole new language has to be learned and it is confusing. there is also a learning curve that has to happen and as we get older we get frustrated and less likely to want to deal with it.
Looking at a sewing machine it has a thread spool on top and a bobbin on the bottom. the stitch is formed by interlocking the two threads. A serger (used to have 3 threads but all the new machines are 4 or 5 thread up to 10 threads with a pfaff. I will talk about the 4 thread to keep it simple. the 5thread is for the cover stitch or to convert to a chain stitch.. see why I will stick with 4 threads for now? <smile>) uses 4 threads and threading them can be confusing, frustrating, makes you want to tear out your hair, say bad words or throw the machine across the room.
Many sergers are purchased, the buyer is given a 2-3 hours class, the instructors talk fast over your head.. you think you have it and then go home. you take the machine out of the box and there is sits! the machine goes back into the box and sits in closet to hide it and collects dust!
I said an little explanation? I lied!
So lets get to the serger....
a serger uses 4 threads and lets start from left to right...
there are two needles side by side (one is a little front and longer then the other.. not to worry if you replace a needle and see it isn't even)
the needle on the left is called.. left needle!
the needle on the right is called ... right needle!
since a serger doesn't use a bobbin it has loopers! this is where people get lost... stick with me.
The Number three thread is called the Upper Looper and the last one is the Lower Looper.
the loopers do just what they say.. the create loops!
now how a serger forms a stitch...
The Upper Looper forms loops on the upper (top) side of the fabric. the Lower Looper forms loops on the lower (under) side of the fabric. They do this at the same time. the needles come down and stitch the loops in place!
that is it! now you all know more the 99% of those at Joann's or Hancocks selling sergers!
there is a blade that cuts the fabric. How that works is you push the fabric under the foot, the feed dogs grab the fabric and pull it through (same as sewing machine but you don't have to lift presser foot on a serger). the blade cuts the fabric 5/8" before it starts to form the stitch.
bored yet? below is why bad words are said!
threading sergers can be a nightmare! if you miss one thread guide it won't form a stitch and you have to start over. you can look at it and miss that one guide over and over and not see it until you are about ready to pitch it!
when threading a serger the first thing you thread is the UPPER LOOPER! the next is the LOWER LOOPER, this is so.. here comes the confusion... the lower looper goes over the upper looper arm.
this is where problems happen. when a thread breaks, the broken thread is threaded and no attention is paid to this little fact. the lower looper having to go over the upper looper arm doesn't make sense until you actually see it in action.
Another problem is once the loopers are threaded you thread the right needle then the left needle. If a looper thread breaks and you have threaded it correctly... it still isn't forming a stitch, it is because the needle threads got caught under the looper threads. Ok, I have lost non serger owners but those with sergers are getting this. Gotta have a serger. Just print off the information and put it away.. when you get a serger this will help.
So make sure you unthread those needles when you have to rethread the loopers.. then rethread the needles.
If you take one thread at a time... pay no attention to them all.. as looking at 4 threads going every which way is stressful... focus on only the thread and path you are working on.
I will stop here because I can write a book on sergers. I love all of mine and try to buy a new one every couple of years to stay up on current technology.
It is actually less confusing when you have a serger in front of you with the door(s) open, hand wheel through and see what is going on.
I hope I have helped those looking at getting a serger or those of you with then sitting in a closet. get your serger out! thread it over and over and over and over until you can thread it in a matter of a couple of minutes.
a little helpful hint... for those that made it this far.... to make it easy to thread your loopers....
put thread through the loop. Poke the end through the looper hole.. pull through.. wella! Loopers threaded!
and... a gift.. hence forth.. use a form to write down all of your tensions numbers as well as the stitch width and length and more. take a sample of that stitch and attach it to the form. Need me to explain further I will be happy to. but in the mean time... here is a form you can have. Change it to your liking.
copy and paste to word or notepad and adjust to print on one page. If you are having a problem let me know and I will send the link to the page.
Fabric Type:__________________________Fabric Weight:____________________________
Accessory Presser Foot Type:_________________________________
Stitch Width __________Stitch Length __________Differential Feed _______________
Tension Dial Settings and Thread:
Left Needle____________ Thread Type _____________
Right Needle___________ Thread Type _____________
Upper Looper___________ Thread Type______________
Lower Looper___________ Thread Type______________
pin sample here
Notes and comments: