A Quick Technique for Serging Smooth Hems
Serger expert Gail Patrice Yellen offers a quick solution to a serging problem.
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Any time you serge a circumference, for example a hem, you confront a slight jog at the beginning/end of your serging. There is a simple way to prevent this serging problem. Just cut a “gate” in your fabric to get your serger blade in the right place to trim the cloth from the start.
Unevenness occurs at the spot where you angle the fabric to the right until the knife trims the fabric to the correct depth. This is the same spot where you must angle the fabric to the left to chain off and extract your work from the serger, as you finish serging the hem.
A quick solution for this situation was shared by serger expert Gail Patrice Yellen when she came to the Threads photo studio. She stopped by our offices in Newtown, Connecticut, to photograph her story “Specialty Serger Feet: Part 1,” featured in Threads #194, Dec. 2017/Jan. 2018. Gail was showing us how to use a lace applicator serger presser foot to attach lace trim to a skirt hem when she demonstrated this technique. The samples shown were made with the lace applicator foot and a hem lace application. Gail also has tips for successfully placing the lace to match smoothly.
Cut the starting gate in your garment to the same depth as you anticipate trimming off with your serger, and about 1 inch long. In this case, the gate was 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch long.
Our example is shown for a lace application technique, but the same principle works for simply serging around an edge. Don’t cut the lace trim to the exact length; you’ll apply it almost completely before cutting the end carefully for a precise overlap.
Raise the serger presser foot and slide the fabric beneath, aligning the gate right up to the knife.
Lower the presser foot and serge, trimming off 1/4 inch or your chosen gate depth.
This technique works with an overlock or rolled-hem stitch—as you finish the hem and approach the gate again, just serge a small amount over the starting stitches and then shift the fabric to the left, chaining off.
If you are applying lace trim, as shown, pause your serging close to the end, a few inches from the starting point. Gauge the remaining length of unattached lace, and trim it to have a slight, 1/8-inch overlap. Adjust this amount if it will help you arrange the lace trim to diminish the join.
Serge/apply the lace trim until you reach the gate again, and chain off. Trim the thread chains (beginning and end) and use a few hand stitches in matching thread to securely, but invisibly, join the lapped lace trim ends.
Do you have any serging tips to share? You can always send them in to ThreadsTips@Taunton.com to be considered for our Tips department. We pay for every tip, and award a “Best Tip” in each issue. If you love sewing short cuts, you’ll enjoy the more than 800 handy ideas in the book “Sew Smarter, Better & Faster” written by the editors, contributors, and readers of Threads.
If serging is your particular interest, check out this content collection: “6 Serger Secrets.”