I need help with a serger technique!

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Hi.  I'm not sure I've even made it to the right group, so please feel
free to redirect me.

I got a serger in November, and I also bought a couple of books that
seem to cover the basics.  Except one.  Or, maybe the instructions are
there but I'm too dense to translate them.  My problem is that I cannot
for the life of me figure out how to turn an outside corner while doing
a narrow rolled hem!  I've tried following the general instructions for
an outside corner, but I still wind up with a small length of unrolled
(and very wadded!) non-hem as soon as I go around the corner.  Judging
from the way sergers are touted as being the perfect way to hem items
like napkins, scarves, and tablecloths, this surely has to be an easy
thing to do, for everybody but me.

I know I have to be missing something very simple and obvious.  Could
someone please give me instructions, provide a link, or even recommend
a book on serging techniques that I can add to my small library?

Thank you!


Re: I need help with a serger technique!
OldKnitter wrote:

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I serge off the straight end and start again after turning.  That way
you roll the corner nicely, and the tail just gers threaded up the
stitching of the adjacent side...

--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: I need help with a serger technique!
Your technique seemed so reasonable, that it's what I'd been trying to
do.  When I did it, though, the first half to three quarters of an inch
on the next side didn't roll.  ???  Is my thread too heavy?  It's an
all purpose Guterman (sp?) thread, and I'm trying to roll a piece of
average weight plain cotton fabric.  I tried several different width
adjustments, but the result didn't change.

I still think I'm missing something very simple.

Kate XXXXXX wrote:

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Re: I need help with a serger technique!
OldKnitter wrote:

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Use serger thread (120's poly for sergers) in needle and looper, or
textured polly (or 'woolly nylon) in the looper...

If you are three-thread rolling, make sure the looper with the 120's
poly is nice and tight: you may also have to tighten the needle thread.

Make the cutting width a tad wider than the manual recommends...

Make the stitch a leeettle longer if using textured poly.
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I start with the book settings and adjust until I get the look I need.

What do you mean by 'average weight?  The rolled hem is really for light
weight fabrics: you don't want to roll something much heavier than
quilting cotton.  You can get a very similar look on heavier fabrics
with a two or three thread over-edge stitch.

Here are a couple of my rolled hems:

http://tinyurl.com/yxa898 (Poly chiffon: rolled perfectly with 120's poly)

http://tinyurl.com/y53tuw (poly Duchess satin: pain in the bum and gave
'pokeys' even with a floss thread...  )

http://tinyurl.com/wn69u (Cotton lawn shirt - perfect!  :)  )

--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: I need help with a serger technique!
My fabric isn't particularly heavy, and I think it's probably the same
as a cotton quilting fabric, which may have been its intended use.  It
would also be about the weight I'd use if I wanted to do a tablecloth
or napkins, so mastering this is important to me.  :)

I've looked at the thread spool, and it is poly, but I can't find a
weight notation.  I'm sure it's secretly encoded within the stock
number.  All I remember is that it's heavier than an embroidery weight
I used on chiffon and sold as being "all purpose".  Keep in mind I'm
new to this serger stuff!

There are things to do today that will interfere with my serger
playtime, but I will round up more scraps and try your suggestions,
especially the one about cutting width.  I don't think it's a tension
issue, because the rolled hem itself looks fine, except at the
beginning of a side, right after turning the corner.

Thank you!


Kate XXXXXX wrote:
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Re: I need help with a serger technique!
OldKnitter wrote:
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You should be able to roll that no problem.  It'll just be a matter of
getting the cutting width and tensions sorted.  Remember that you'll
have to work it out anew for every fabric/thread combination!
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That stuff is WAAAAY too expensive for serging!  You us ut up FAR TOO
fast!  Remember that sergers use MASSES of thread.  You want to be
buying serger thread in 3,000 or 5,000 metre cones.
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Also try pulling VERY GENTLY on the chain as you start rolling the edge.
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You're very welcome.  :)

--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: I need help with a serger technique!
Well, I've fiddled more, and I don't seem to be getting any closer to
mastering this.  :(  (By the way, I got a very good buy on that
particular thread and will be going to the huge cones the next time I
buy.)

I have NO trouble getting the edge to roll properly, until I round the
corner.  The first side of the four is beautiful - rolled properly and
good stitch/thread tension, so I hesitate to mess with the settings too
much, or I'll mess up the 98% that's good!  Once I get past the first
messy half inch, the roll again looks fine on the next side, but I just
can't get the corner to settle down.

Arghhhhh!  Can you guess I'm getting frustrated?  Sigh.

Kate XXXXXX wrote:
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Re: I need help with a serger technique!
OldKnitter wrote:
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How does it go if you do it the other way?  Serge one edge, then rather
than starting with the rolled corner, start at the *other* end and serge
*to* that rolled edge?

The other thing I find works is to keep the chain out of the back under
slight tension by holding it and pulling VERY GENTLY straight out the
back, until the first inch is serged...

What make and model have you got?  I've owned and used two Toyotas, a
Huskylock 910, and now a Bernina 1150MDA and a Brother 1034D.  I've also
used a Janome and several others, and they all liked the chain to be
kept under a leeeettle tension as you start the rolled edge, especially
when starting on a previously rolled corner.
--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: I need help with a serger technique!
Light back tension on the thread while starting doesn't give me enough
improvement.  It's better, but there's not enough improvement to be
acceptable.  I haven't tried doing it "backwards", but that might work.
 Of course I'd still run into trouble by the time I got to the fourth
side.  Hmmm, it looks like I'll have to master this eventually, huh?

This is a new Brother 1034D.  I got it on sale for much less than I
thought I'd have to pay for a serger, so it's my starter machine.  It
seems to run properly; the only problems I've had so far have been
traced back to good old user error.

I'd never heard of a Toyota serger until I found this site.  I DRIVE a
Toyota, but I didn't know I could sew with one, too.  :)

Kate XXXXXX wrote:
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Re: I need help with a serger technique!
OldKnitter wrote:

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Pull that tail a little harder...  So long as you pull straight back,
you won't do any harm.  I'll experiment later and see what else I can
come up with...
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I love mine!  :)  It's my 'second string' machine, bought as a back-up
for the Bernina workhorse, and for the free arm feature.
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It's a massive corportsation with fingers in many pies!

--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
We've slightly trimmed the long signature. Click to see the full one.
Re: I need help with a serger technique!
I'm about ready to give up.  It didn't make me feel any better when I
posted on another forum and got in touch with a couple of other people
who use sergers.  They haven't been able to master this either!

In theory, after reading the instructions on how to turn an outside
corner, there shouldn't BE a tail to pull on once you begin to stitch
down the other side.  :(

My comfort comes in knowing that I was able to do this successfully on
chiffon, so it has to be a combination of the heavier fabric, heavier
thread, and an inexperienced user.  At least the little project I'm
currently working has a regular machine hem as an option, so that will
have to do.  I've wasted more time, thread, and fabric scraps than this
warrants by now.

It's probably time to shift my attention to something simple, like
rebuilding my computer - something I understand!!!  :)

Thanks for your help.  The next time I go into town to the fabric store
I'll try to trick somebody into giving me a demonstration.  Maybe if I
can actually watch somebody doing it, I'll spot the point at which I'm
doing something wrong.  Or not.  Ho hum.

Kate XXXXXX wrote:
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Re: I need help with a serger technique!
OldKnitter wrote:
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Don't give up! It takes time to learn how to use a serger. It's an
entirely different animal than a sewing machine. It's sort of like
saying just because I can play the piano doesn't mean I can pick up a
harp and play as well.


.  I've wasted more time, thread, and fabric scraps than this
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You really haven't wasted time. You tried and didn't get it, yet. I
really must emphasis yet. It will come. You may need a couple of lessons
but it will come.

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It probably is time to take a break. Again, you'll get it.
Juno


Re: I need help with a serger technique!
I'm certainly no expert with a serger, but here are the instructions I
got when I took a class in basic serger techniques (not one of the
classes offered when you buy one--an actual go for several hours a
week for eight weeks class).  I don't know if they'll help you or
not....

1:  Clip off 1/8th inch of corner
2:  Clear stitch finger of thread
3:  Start serging on material midway between corners
4:  Serge up to 1/8th inch from end (corner) of material
     (I mark my fabric at 1/8th inch, as it's always closer to the
corner than I expect!)
5:  Leave needle up
6:  Loosen needle thread a little bit
7:  Presser foot up
8:  Clear stitch finger (pulling material a bit back)
9:  Then pivot the fabric
10:  Presser foot down
11:  Lower needle back in same stitch (may need to move material a
little)
12:  Hand wheel forward s-l-o-w-l-y, watching the lower looper thread
slide off the upper looper (it you're very quiet, you'll hear it come
off).  Stop immediately!
13:  Tighten both upper looper and lower looper thread by pulling
thread above the tension disk.
     (You may not need to tighten the upper looper thread for a rolled
hem, I can't remember.)
14:  Tighten needle thread from above the needle by first loosening,
then by tightening from above the tension disc.  Don't pull too hard
or the thread will snap.
15:  Serge each corner until you meet with the first stitches. Overlap
carefully by one inch.  Loosen needle thread.  Clear the stitch finger
and finish.

I don't think I've done this since the class, so I'm a little fuzzy on
the details, but it did work on quilting cotton after a little
practice.

Sue

Re: I need help with a serger technique!
Thanks to both you and Juno for the additional posts.  I did finally
give up and go back to the sewing machine for the project I was working
on, since I was running low on time, serger thread, and patience!  I'm
going to print these instructions and have another go at it in a few
days.  I can certainly see the advantage to starting midway between
corners, although, interestingly, I see these instructions assume the
stitch finger is in place.  The instructions I'd been following, which
came with the serger, said to remove the stitch finger for a rolled
hem.  Hmmmm.  That's an interesting variation and could, I suppose,
account for why I wasn't able to master this.

I would like clarification of step 1, though, please.  The way I'm
reading it, I clip off 1/8th inch of the corner diagonally, right?  I'd
read another set of instructions that said to clip off about one inch
of the seam allowance, although that sure didn't work for me.

Assuming I get the attention of somebody again, do any of you have an
favorite brands of serger thread?  I see that JoAnn has all of their
thread for 50% off over the holiday weekend, and I also saw a Hancock
flyer advertising 3,000 yard cones of Maxi-Lock for $1.77.  Is
Maxi-Lock decent?  I recently had a bad experience with cheap Talon
thread in my sewing machine, and I don't want to repeat that fiasco!

Thanks for sticking with this, and I'm sorry I didn't get back sooner
to respond; I went on to a couple of other projects, and I even used
the serger - just not for a rolled hem!

S wrote:
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Re: I need help with a serger technique!
Maxi-Lock is the only thread I've ever used in the 3 sergers I've owned.  I
usually buy it from Atlantic Threads? 9correct name & address escapes my
senior brain at the moment.
Emily



Re: I need help with a serger technique!

CypSew wrote:
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Do you mean "Atlanta"?

http://store.atlantathread.com /

http://store.atlantathread.com/maxilock.html

Beverly



Re: I need help with a serger technique!
Thanks for the thumbs up on Maxi-Lock!  I hope Hancock has some left by
the time I finally get there; the roads are still a little too icy to
risk life and limb for thread.  :(

BEI Design wrote:
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Re: I need help with a serger technique!
Yes, Beverly, that's it.  Thanks for correcting me; it's been some time
since I've needed to order anything from them.
Emily



Re: I need help with a serger technique!
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*nod* That's correct, 1/8th inch diagonally, which isn't really a
whole lot of fabric.  It's meant to keep the corner from poking
through/bulking up.  Looks like I'll be keeping those instructions out
for myself--I need to finish the edges on a couple of receiving
blankets and a bunch of baby wipes.  Nothing like practice on
something that's going to someone who won't mind in the least if it's
a little off....  *smile*

S.



Re: I need help with a serger technique!
S wrote:
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When I make receiving blankets I found it easier to round my corners
first and use a blanket stitch on the serger. It's a nice clean finish
and gives a more professional look. Just don't forget to start down a
few inches from the ends. Makes life easier.
Juno

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