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The Overlocker Technique Manual


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Table of Contents

Prelims (5 pp)
Introduction (2 pp)
A serger can seem a little daunting at first but once you've used one and got to grips with it you will never look back. No more conventional zig zag to edge your seam allowances-these machines will give your home sewing projects a more professional finish. In this book you will see just how easy your machine can be to thread up and sew, edging your fabrics quickly and creating a perfect finish to any project. Step-by-step instructions ensure you set your tensions and differential feed dials correctly to get the best results with any fabric. The troubleshooting section provides tips and quick fixes for all serging problems.
* Why I love my Serger-Julia Hincks on the joy of Serging
Chapter One: What is a Serger? (8 pp)
A serger will trim the edges of your fabric, sew a seam, and overstitch all in one go. It won't replace your conventional sewing machine-you'll still need this for sewing buttonholes, zippers, and regular stitches but the serger will allow you to finish seams quickly and edge fabrics in a way that a normal zig zag or overcasting stitch won't do.
* Diagram of an serger-labeled and explained
* Different types of sergers and what they do: 3/4/5 thread/cover hem/chain stitch machines
* Why do I need one?
Chapter Two: Serging Basics (16 pp)
Too scared to get your serger out of the box? Think it's impossible to thread? This chapter gives you the confidence to get your machine out and start serging. Step-by-step photographs, diagrams, and illustrations show you the basics and get you started. Chances are your machine is already threaded up and you were worrying over nothing. Many machines even use color coding to make it really easy to thread.
Setting up the machine
* Threading
* Getting comfortable: how to sit and use the foot pedal
Getting Started
* How to start and finish
* Where do I sew?
* Using the cutting blade/adjusting cutting widths
* Finishing and securing ends
Fabric Selection
* Guide to the different fabrics you might use with a serger
machine SettingS
* Thread tensions
* Stitch length
Tools & Equipment
* Different threads
* Needles
* Scissors
* Screwdrivers
* Spool holder
* Spool cap/net
* Tweezers
* Looper threader
* Needle threader
* Tray to catch waste
* Foot pedal
Chapter Three: Techniques (76 pp)
This section explains all of the core techniques you need for professional serging results, illustrated with clear step-by-step photography for ease of use and clarity.
Basic Serging
* Basic stitches (4 thread/3 thread/2 thread)
* Serging round corners
* Serging in circles
* Stabilizing seams
* Simple hemming techniques: simple serged hem, blind hem, mock band hem
* More seam techniques: french seam, welt seam, fell seam
Fancy Stitching
* Decorative serging
* Rolled hemming
* Picot edging
* Narrow hemming
* Pin tucks
* Flatlocking
* Chain stitch
* Cover hem
Feet & Accessories
Most sergers only come with the standard foot although there are many more useful feet and accessories. Discover how to make sewing jobs easier by using a range of different feet and accessories.
* Gathering foot attachment-create gathers for ruffles, frills, attaching gathered sleeves
* Blind stitch foot-for blind hemming any garment
* Piping foot-to add piping to an edge
* Corded foot-add decorative cording
* Taping attachment-sew tape onto garments (ideal for stretch fabrics)
* Beading attachment-attach strung beads easily to fabrics
* Cloth guide-keeps serging straight, sew even seam widths when creating pin tucks or flatlocking
* Elastic attachment-sew elastic more easily
Quick Construction Techniques
Practical serger uses to speed up your dressmaking and project construction time:
* Applying front bands
* Quick cuffs
* Attaching collars
* Creating drawstrings and straps
* Altering garments
* Attaching and finishing waistbands
* Serging with elastic
* Working with lace
* Quick patchwork
Chapter Four: Maintenance and Troubleshooting (10 pp)
To get the most out of your machine and keep it going for longer you'll need to look after it.
* Cleaning your machine
* Changing the needles
* Changing the bulb
* Oiling the machine
Trouble Shooting
When things go wrong you'll need some help-this chapter provides tips, suggestions, and solutions to get your machine serging smoothly again.
* Correct tension/adjusting tension
* Skipped stitches
* Needle breaking
* Thread breaking
* Fabric not feeding smoothly
* Fabric not cutting
* Seams puckering
* Machine not working
Chapter Five: Buyer's Guide (6 pp)
Choosing your first serger can be difficult-this guide takes you through the questions you should be asking when buying and helps you to think about what you want to get from your machine.
* Basic sergers
* Multifunction machines
* Specialist machines
Glossary (2 pp)
Index and Credits (3 pp)

About the Author

Julia Hincks is a teacher and textile artist. From an early age she has sewn, knitted, and crocheted, learning these skills from her mother and grandmothers. She has managed what many of us dream and aspire to do and combines her hobbies with a successful career. She began her teaching career in 2002, initially working with primary school children and running an after school craft club. As a mature student, Julia returned to college to study Art and Design at City College Brighton and Hove. She completed her diploma and soon after began working for City College teaching Dressmaking. She currently teaches Dressmaking, Pattern Cutting, Knitting, and Crochet classes at City College and Friends Centre in Brighton, where she has developed a loyal student following and many return time after time to ensure continuous improvement in their skills. She inspires adults to take up these crafts and develop their skills. Julia also undertakes commissions and is currently developing a range of ethically sourced childrenswear for a local upcoming business.


May 14

Are you too scared to get an overlocker out of its box? This book for all skills includes photographs, diagrams and illustrations with every basic detail to get started. Once you've got to grips with an overlocker, you'll never look back. It's easy to thread up and sew, edge fabrics quickly and create a perfect finish. Step-by-step instructions ensure you get the best results with any fabric, including knitting.

* Machine Knitting Monthly *

June 14

Whether you have just bought an overlocker for the first time, or you have had one for years but barely used it, this manual will enable you to get the most out of your machine! An in-depth introduction to the basics answers any questions you might have and explains with clear illustrations exactly how to use and adjust your overlocker for professional results. Once you are confi dent overlocking simple seams you can move onto the techniques section which is a comprehensive guide to the more decorative uses of an overlocker, including using different feet for gathering, beading and bias binding amongst others. Each technique is well illustrated with photographs and step-by-step instructions and the quick constructions allow you to practice the techniques you have learnt whilst simultaneously making desirable projects.


Feb 14

Want a professional finish to your sewing? An overlocker is the answer. It provides professional seams, hems and edges. This manual provides step-by-step instructions to guide you through the essential techniques. Find out how to get the very best from your overlocker - it is more versatile than you think. A range of projects will help hone your skills. Useful for all skill levels; to learn, remind or keep as a resource. Clear instructions and photographs.

* Karen Platt *

Aug 2014

This is the third of the books that Search Press sent to me for review purposes. I chose to review it because although more and more home sewists are investing in overlockers (or 'sergers'), it seems to me that they are often perceived as 'scary' machines - so I thought this book might appeal! I bought my overlocker in 2011 and it probably wasn't until last year that I actually nailed how to rethread the thing quickly. To be perfectly honest, it wasn't the threading that was an issue: although a bit fiddly, I can do that bit in a couple of minutes. No, it was getting the tension of all the threads right that took hours. It became like a jackpot - sometimes I would rethread and it would be fine straight away, and other times I would fiddle about for hours. One day last year, out of pure frustration, whilst feeding my test scraps of fabric through and trying to get the right tension, I manually pulled each of the four threads in turn as they were feeding through, making the tension incredibly tight for a short time and then letting go and letting it feed through normally. For some unknown reason, it worked a treat, and this is what I do each time now if it isn't working properly.

So, it took me two years to be able to confidently rethread my machine. I knew my machine had uses other than finishing raw edges and sewing knits, but until a few weeks ago when I sat down in front of the overlocker with this book at hand, I hadn't experimented at all. Why? I suppose time was a factor. Who wants to spend hours on end faffing around with an overlocker? I could make a dress in that time! But this book review was the incentive I needed to get down to business - how could I review a book properly without putting it to the test?

Readers - I gave this book a thorough test. I worked my way through this book in maybe 5 or 6 hours, starting right at the beginning and working through in order. As I began to work through the book, my main question for the purposes of this review was: how is this book different to my instruction manual? After all, there is no value in buying a book that is the same as the overlocker's manual (unless, of course, you don't have the manual for your machine).

The book is divided into three chapters: 'Overlocking Basics', 'Techniques' and 'Quick Constructions'. Working in conjunction with this book and my overlocker instruction manual, I familiarised myself with what each bit of the overlocker is called and what it is/can be used for. Some of this I already knew, but I did learn some new things and as a result of the exercise I now have quite a thorough understanding of the machine.

In the three years of owning my overlocker, only once have I changed the differential feed - I did this to help gather up the hem of a circle skirt. The book taught me that when the differential feed is a higher number than 'N' (normal), the front teeth of the feed dog move more quickly than the back teeth, and this creates gathering. When the differential feed is lower than 'N', the front teeth move more slowly than the back teeth, to create a stretch effect (depending upon the fabric type, of course).

One thing that I had always found confusing in my overlocker manual was something it referred to as 'size of bight', and elsewhere in the manual 'width of bite'. This 'bight'/'bite': I had no idea what it was - only that I could widen it if I wanted. But the book taught me that it's the cutting width - perhaps this 'bight'/'bite' is a translation error in my manual or something? Either way, I'm glad to have finally got that information straight!

Under the guidance of this book, I learnt how to retract the upper knife, how to adjust the stitch width, and how to remove the stitch finger. This enabled me to stitch a teeny tiny rolled hem! I'm so pleased I learnt how to do this, I can definitely see me using this function a lot. I also learnt how to make pin-tucks on the overlocker, French seams, welt seams and fell seams. I would never have considered using my overlocker before for any of these seam finishes. It isn't exactly rocket science, but it was good to learn some alternative methods. The book tells you how to use a variety of different attachments, such as elastic and beading attachments and piping, blind-hemming, gathering, bias binding, taping and cording feet. My machine only has one foot, but this foot doubles up as a cording foot due to the small hole in the top of the foot through which one can feed cord. With the help of the book I learnt how to overlock over a piece of cord or yarn (for decorative purposes), and how to overlock over stabilising tape, which will be useful when constructing seams of knit garments that need extra stabilisation, such as shoulder seams and waist seams. I didn't have any clear elastic to practise with, but I imagine that would work on the same principle as the seam tape. So far so good. The techniques section of this book really did enable me to get to grips with my machine. I learnt new techniques that I will definitely use again, and these techniques were explained in a much clearer way than in my manual, and with clear photographs too.

The 'Quick Constructions' section is comprised of a series of simple projects in which you can test out your newly acquired overlocking skills. The projects are basic, and nothing to write home about. The chapter does finish with a 'Guide to Fabrics' section though - giving guidance on different fabrics and what size needles they would be best paired with, what differential feed to use, what stitch length is best, suggested tension settings and tips on hemming techniques. These four pages are very, very useful.

The biggest disappointment of this book was that there was no mention of the care and maintenance of your overlocker - for instance how (and where) to oil it, how to remove the needle plate and clean the feed dogs, how to change the bulb, the blades etc. After all the time I spent learning about how to use the machine, I felt so invested in it that I was willing to spend another hour giving it a mini home-service, but the book doesn't touch on this at all, which I think is a great shame. I may have learnt a lot about the functionality of the machine, but I'm still a bit nervous about taking it to pieces to clean it properly! Boo!

One other, small, gripe: it suggests overlocking with different types of thread to achieve different effects, for example using thread that changes colour, metallic thread, woolly nylon, embroidery thread, even yarn...which is all very well and good if these are wound onto a bobbin, but when I attempted to use some metallic pearl cotton from a skein, I was left wondering how on earth to wind it suitably and place it securely onto the bobbin holder??

Overall, this is a good book to have. I've learnt a lot from it and, although it is not tailored specifically to my exact model of machine, it has been a lot more useful than the manual itself has ever been. I would recommend the book to people who have overlockers with no manual, or to people who want to get more from their machines and try new techniques.

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