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Sergers Unstitched

Emily Achondo

Open up a serger and it may appear to be a complex piece of machinery, but this creative tool is made to bring ease to specific sewing techniques and projects.

Upon first thought, the stitches created by a serger may seem intricate, but achieving them isn’t actually all that difficult.

Features of the Baby Lock Enlighten Serger include Jet Air Threading, 4/3/2 thread serging and the exclusive wave stitch.

In fact, sergers are just one way to expand the resources for achieving inspiration.

Matt Beausoleil, who has been a factory-trained technician at Meissner Sewing and Vacuum Centers for almost 10 years, unravels a few intricacies of the machine.

“A serger is made for finishing off a seam,” Beausoleil said. “They cut and at the same time join the materials together.”

Generally, sergers are used on projects where a more secure stitch is required, such as creating hems in garment sewing. It is the mechanical differences in a serger, compared to a sewing machine, that allow the machine to function in a way that provides the added strength to each set of stitches.

“Mechanically, a sewing machine will have a hook and a bobbin case, whereas a serger has a looper instead of a hook,” Beausoleil said. “(The looper) performs the same function, but there is no bobbin case or bobbin. Sergers are made to run with a three-thread or four-thread stitch.”

The stitches from a sewing machine are created from two threads, a single top and bottom thread. Whereas a serger uses multiple, three or four, threads, which is what makes serger stitches more secure.

In addition to various types of multiple-thread stitches, sergers can also perform a chain stitch, which is a two-thread stitch and most closely resembles a straight stitch on a sewing machine.

A chain stitch is created when the thread comes down and the lower looper is coming around, picking up the thread in the front and taking it back around as it comes up, Beausoleil explained. A cover stitch is created in a similar way, but this stitch uses three threads.

“There are quite a few different types of styles of sewing that can be done with a serger,” Beausoleil explained. “There’s a cover hem, a chain stitch and an overlock.”

Each serger is equipped to create various stitches, and as you upgrade in levels of machine the type and number of stitches available from its toolbox grows. Most modern sergers are capable of creating four-thread stitches, and some machines, like the Baby Lock Ovation, can produce up to eight-thread stitches.

One of the most commonly used serger stitches, however, is the four-thread overlock stitch.

“There are a lot of differences in sergers,” Beausoleil said. “Some machines are purpose made; they’re only cover hem or only chain stitch machines. And some of them can do all of them. And some of them only do four-thread.”

Similarly to sewing, quilting and embroidery machines, crafters can have one of each type of machine or can have one machine that will perform each type of stitch.

Understanding Serger Stitch Types >>

Simply put, a serger functions to create stronger stitches. It is a great tool to have specifically for garment sewing and can be great alone or as a companion to your sewing machine.

“They may look complicated, but they’re actually simpler than sewing machines,” Beausoleil said. “The machine itself has a simpler design. They’re just made that way.”


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