I need help with a serger technique!

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!
Reply to
OldKnitter
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...
Reply to
Kate XXXXXX
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.
Reply to
OldKnitter
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.
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:
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(Poly chiffon: rolled perfectly with 120's poly)
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(poly Duchess satin: pain in the bum and gave 'pokeys' even with a floss thread... )
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(Cotton lawn shirt - perfect! :) )
Reply to
Kate XXXXXX
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!
Reply to
OldKnitter
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!
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.
Also try pulling VERY GENTLY on the chain as you start rolling the edge.
You're very welcome. :)
Reply to
Kate XXXXXX
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.
Reply to
OldKnitter
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.
Reply to
Kate XXXXXX
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. :)
Reply to
OldKnitter
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...
I love mine! :) It's my 'second string' machine, bought as a back-up for the Bernina workhorse, and for the free arm feature.
It's a massive corportsation with fingers in many pies!
Reply to
Kate XXXXXX
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.
Reply to
OldKnitter
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
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.
It probably is time to take a break. Again, you'll get it. Juno
Reply to
Juno
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
Reply to
S
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:
Reply to
OldKnitter
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
Reply to
CypSew
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. :(
Reply to
OldKnitter
Yes, Beverly, that's it. Thanks for correcting me; it's been some time since I've needed to order anything from them. Emily
Reply to
CypSew
*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.
Reply to
S
S wrote:
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
Reply to
Juno

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