Can You Serge With A Regular Sewing Machine

Earl Hamilton
• Saturday, 07 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Servers typically have three to five bobbins, which means there are at least three or four other threads running through to create a professional and clean result. Quilting and garment making often call for servers, resulting in a much higher quality end product.

machine stitch serger vs machines coverstitch sewing between thread sergers sewway
(Source: sewway.com)


In the UK, “over locker” refers to the machine, and “merger” is the American preference. But, an overlook stitch is a way to manage a similar effect without purchasing another expensive machine.

A pin stitch is usually used to attach lace tape onto fabric; they can be pretty, and they are always secure. One of the biggest things to consider when you're finishing an edge is the stitch width and length.

Ladder stitches require even shorter lengths, even coming down to 1.5 depending on personal preference. To understand your machine, you should run through a few test strips to see which creates the tightest and most uniform finish.

This method for quilting and finishing edges does take a bit of patience, be sure to give it time to develop this new skill. In terms of sewing hacks, I've seen a few people mention that toucan use merger thread with your sewing machine.

I've been wondering for a while whether this is really feasible, so I investigated whether toucan actually use merger thread with your sewing machine. The cones are large and economical, but they don't usually fit on your sewing machine without some modification, such as a thread stand, cup, CD case spindle, or paper towel holder.

monks cloth prepare sewing machine
(Source: doodledogprimitives.com)

The SewingMachine Master Guide has a comprehensive chapter on thread, including information on the Tex System, which is the most widely recognized thread measurement system. To put this in context, the author of the SewingMachine Master Guide recommends at least T-50 for jeans/denim, T-70 for upholstery, and at least T-40 for soft leather.

It's not a huge difference, but the merger thread is weaker. I think the sewing machine had to work a little harder to spool the large cone, which caused this rippling effect.

I put together two straight-stitched samples of each type of thread, as well as a served seam. Toucan see how the Sure lock and German pieces are curled a bit, and the fabric itself ripped during the process of tearing out the seam.

The first Maxi-lock pieces came apart fairly easily, with the thread offering little resistance. In the final, served Maxi-lock pieces, however, the thread didn't break at all.

The fabric gave away, and the serving stayed intact. I'll probably stick with German thread for most projects, just to be safe, though.

(Source: uyii.com.sg)

Instead, you could use an overlook foot with your sewing machine to give your pieces a faux-serged finish. I tested out different stitches on my machine to see which ones created a finished edge closest to serving.

First, I checked out the overlook and over edge stitches offered by my sewing machine. Numbers 10, 11, and 14 looked promising because they were described as over edge and overlook stitches, specifically for finishing the edges of fabric.

Toucan see that it has a bar in the middle of the foot, so make sure you've set your machine to something other than a straight stitch, or your needle will smash into that bar and possibly break. You'll also want to test out different stitch widths to make sure you have clearance around that bar.

In fact, I recommend doing the first couple of stitches with your hand wheel any time you switch your presser foot. It's easy to forget to change your settings, and whenever your needle smashes into something, you run a high risk of damaging your machine.

Ladder stitch looked best when I reduced the tension a bit. However, it takes a long time and a lot of thread to sew these edges, so you'll have to have some patience.

singer machine sewing serger duo duty heavy
(Source: www.ebay.com)

It not only gives a more professional look but also strengthens the seam line and keeps the edges from fraying. Depending on your fabric, the project and the purpose of the garment, toucan choose a different finish.

With a merger toucan trim the raw edge a little and enclose it inside a thread casing. It’s a UK MO-654DE and for the moment I only have 2 colors of threads, black and a very light gray.

So when I have a small project and I don’t want to use black or gray thread for my finishing, I switch to my overcast foot on my regularsewingmachine, my Brother Innings 10. If you don’t have an overcast setting on your machine, toucan use a zigzag stitch.

If you are looking for a neat finish and don’t want to spend money on a merger, I advise you to look into the overcast foot. Toucan purchase it separately And it’s also one of the feet in the 32 PCs Ultimate Presser Foot Set, number 28.

An overcast stitch for attaching ribbons or other flat trims. Two slant overcast stitches, they can be used to sew a seam and raw edge simultaneously.

(Source: www.woot.com)

And of course toucan choose an overcast stitch with a regular presser foot, but staying on the edge is difficult and the fabric tends to curl or bunch up. Another option is to sew the stitches away from the edge and cut the excess fabric afterwards.

It’ll take longer to complete your seam, but the results are worth it. Hand crank first to make sure the needle passes the bridge, left and right.

When you are finished, do not pull your fabric to the left or the right to cut the threads or your stitches will be damaged. Overlooking lightweight fabrics, such as chiffon, batiste, voile or organza can be difficult.

If the fabric is really thin, it’ll get pulled into the feed dogs, which will chew it up. One solution is to overlook your seam allowances together and press them to one side.

If you never tried the overcast foot in your sewing box, or you just discovered overlooking, I hope you give it a try and let me know how it went. If you’re stuck or have any questions or suggestions, don’t hesitate to email me: an@madamsew.com.

fleece sweatshirt sew stitch length burdastyle along spoonflower fabric sewing narrowed bit
(Source: blog.spoonflower.com)

And do share your projects in our Facebook group or on Instagram with the #madam sew hashtag and inspire others! I find knit dresses to be great for traveling when I’ll be spending a long time sitting on cars or planes.

Whether you have a regularsewingmachine or a merger, rest assured that there’s an easy way for you to sew knit garments that look great. If you were to try a regular stitch on a knit, it would pop over time because it can ’t stretch with the fabric (I’ve had this happen to me, long before I knew about such things).

Although sometimes I will go back in with a pair of embroidery scissors to trim it a bit if I wasn’t as accurate as I had hoped! With a merger, little knives trim your fabric and Incas it in thread while you sew the seam.

Here I’ve also added a strip of elastic at the shoulder seam when I served it on. I’ve found that it helps to stabilize seams that get a lot of wear, like your shoulder and waist.

If you are interested in finishing your edges a different way than with a zigzag, you might find a cover stitch machine to be very useful. These are sometimes combined with a merger, in which case they’ll have six threads, or they can be purchased as separate machines.

serger sewing
(Source: www.pinterest.com)

A cover stitch machine acts a lot like a merger, except there are no knives to cut your fabric. A cover stitch machine will allow you to create a really professional finish to your knit garments.

Whether you choose to use your regularsewingmachine or buy a specialty machine to sew your knit garments, you’ll end up with a finish product that is lovely and comfortable.

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