My wife sews, a lot, and recently bought a used Serger. This is her first
time using it, and she's running into a STRANGE problem. With four spools
threaded through the needles, she runs it for a while... and when she stops
the thread is no longer through the eye of the needles. The thread didn't
break (she had to cut it), but all four threads are no longer through the
Any idea what is happening, here?
First, before your question can be answered we need to know the make and
model of the serger. Non of them all thread alike and you definitely have a
threading problem, as in "it isn't threaded properly". Did you get user
manual with the serger? Many of the manuals can be found on the internet and
printed out. If you bought the used serger from a dealer you should take it
back there and sit down with the dealer and get a threading demo. If you
didn't buy it from a dealer, and there is a dealer of that brand of serger
near you, take it in and get a demo.
You are not threading it properly, that much I can tell you, HOW to thread
it properly I doubt anyone can tell you without knowing what kind of serger
It's a lot easier to tell you with the make and model number, but for
basics, try this:
Firstly, the two right hand threads go through the loopers, which wrap
the thread round the fabric, and the two left hand ones go through the
Remove all threads. Check you threading diagram: find out which looper
to thread first, and thread the loopers in the correct order. Sergers
often have this diagram printed on then inside the front flap that
covers the loopers. They are frequently colour coded. For learning,
try threading the machine with threads that match the colour coding. If
the diagram doesn't tell you which to thread first, start with the LOWER
looper - the one that passes the thread under the cloth (you can tell
them apart if you wind the machine slowly by hand, using the 'handwheel'
on the right hand end: the lower looper stays under the stitch plate
that the needles go through and the upper looper pops up above it.
Remember always to wind that knob towards you - there's usually a
directional arrow on or near it). Once you have the loopers threaded,
thread the needles, right then left. Try the machine S L O W L Y: if
you get a problem, unthread completely and try threading the other
Things to check:
Did you release the tension before threading? Some machines need to be
dialled back to zero, some have tension release when you lift the
presser foot. The thread needs to be properly in the tension disks.
Thread it through and give it a tug to make sure. Then dial up the
tension again to where it was before.
Did you thread all the guides? Some are easier to miss than others!
Did the needle thread catch in the take-up lever properly? This lever
goes up and down, pulling the needle threads like a standard sewing machine.
Is the machine full of wicked gremlins? Unthread completely, turn it
off, and go and have a cup of tea. When you get back, they will have
I am now the proud owner of my FOURTH serger since 1996. I've had two
Toyotas (a 3 thread and a 4 thread, both pre-loved, and both now with
other users), a Huskylock (which I wore out!), and now a Brother: I'm
about to buy a fifth, a Bernina. I've also used* a Frister & Rossman, a
Bernette, and a Janome, and tried others on and off over the years.
They are all slightly different, but like ordinary machines, they all
have a lot in common, and that thread/needle problem is one of them. If
you trace the thread through the chain off the back, you'll see it HAS
broken somewhere, and the loose end got caught in the chain, giving the
impression that some magic is at work and the unthreading demon has got
to it! It occasionally happens with loopers as well. It also happens
to all of us! The only solution is to unthread and start again from
A lot of folk are overwhelmed by the threading. Just keep doing it. It
now takes me about two minutes to rethread my new Brother, and I've only
had it a week! I was down to 30 seconds on a good day with the
Huskylock before it went belly up and will now only accept two or three
threads and rattles like a Gatling gun!
*Used: made more than one garment on them.
Okay, sorry. The machine is a Singer Ultralock with differential overfeed,
number 14SH654. She has the manual, and says she followed the threading
directions closely while making several attempts.
I don't understand, though, how a thread that is through the eye of the
needle can suddenly be outside the needle if the thread or the needle didn't
break. Stage magicians make pretty good livings on tricks like this one...
What kind of serger is it? If we know the brand we can probably give
here more help.
Does she have a manual. It sounds like it's threaded wrong and she needs
to study the manual before threading. She should only be threading 2
needles and also 2 loopers. It's best to practice threading with 4
different colors first. Then she can find the problem faster.
Has she any books on serging? The give lots of good suggestions as well.
Unlike a sewing machine you have a lot of new areas to learn about.
One more thing, sergers have minds of their own. They are beyond
reasoning. That happens to mine when the needle is not seated all the up
in the slot. Sharon Hayes recommended a needle inserter that can be
bought through Nancy's Notions. Best thing ever. It's a bright orange so
it's hard to lose and it gets the needle up into the proper position.
Actually if you follow the thread back you will find it was cut and just
tucked back in to the seam. It happens and can be anything from user error,
the most likely problem to dull knives, looper adjustments, etc. I recommend
you let it sit overnight then come back fresh and thread it very carefully
again all it takes is one tiny thing off in the threading and it will not
I looked through the other replies really quickly (and without coffee as
it's not done brewing yet....) so I may have missed this but I didn't see
where anyone else said it.
I have had this happen from time to time on my serger. When it usually
happens is after I've been using the same needle(s) for a while. I normally
change the needle(s) in my serger after every project (same as I do with my
sewing machine) however there have been times I've forgotten or it's a
really big project and needs a new needles in the middle of it. I'm not
sure exactly what's going on in there, but I've seen what you're describing.
The thread isn't cut. The needle isn't obviously broken. My best guess is
the needle gets dull enough that it's bending the eye (which may also have a
tiny crack in the side) enough to allow the thread to pass out of it. A new
needle always fixes this for me. So try changing the needle (both if she's
using two) and see if that helps you out.
Why not get your wife to join us Matthew? We won't eat her! Sometimes
things get twisted in translation when going through multiple parties -
a bit like chinese whispers!
If she's got all 4 threads through 1 or 2 needles it's definatley
threaded wrong! ;-) I suspect you mean to say she has all 4 threads
through the 2 needles and 2 loopers. I've seen it happen on my machine -
it's a pain in the $&*!¬! The other interesting similar problem is
finding that the thread is coming out the front of the needle rather
than the back!
The others have all made excellent suggestions to help your wife, so I
won't repeat. I hope she gets it sorted. Sergers have a bigger learning
curve than sewing machines.