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Can anyone tell me how to thead my serge

plp1221 | Posted in General Discussion on

I am just getting back into sewing, [I never did much brfore] but about 10 years ago I got talked into purchasing an $800 Pfaff hobby lock 776 serger and I have used it twice. [That was ten years ago] I now want to try to start learning to sew and cannot find the book….Does anyone know how to thread it? Please tell me you can teach an old dog new tricks. Thanks, Paula


  1. SewFit | | #1


    Click on the above link for a source to purchase a manual for your serger.

    1. plp1221 | | #2


      Thanks, I think that might be the thing to do, get new book.

  2. Pattiann42 | | #3

    If you open the front to access the loopers, is there a thread chart?  My serger is over 20 years old...Bernetta Funlock and there is a chart inside the front opening.

    I keep all my manuals in binders.  Except for the serger.  That I keep in a drawer with the serger accessories.


    Edited 6/16/2007 11:12 pm ET by spicegirl1

    1. plp1221 | | #6

      It does have a diagram but I remember something about having to loop over or under another, it doesnt go in order of the color code, I just don't remember the order, it's been too long. I was hoping someone has a like machine and could refresh my memory. I asked at Joanne Fabrics and this web sight is where she sent me. someone did send me a link to where I can get a manual. I am so ashamed to have spent that much money for a machine that I have left sit and gather dust. Thanks for your response.

      1. Ralphetta | | #7

        My old serger is NOT that brand and other people may not agree with me, but since it has a diagram I would go ahead and see if you can figure it out.  If you don't "force' anything, and move carefully, I don't think you can do any permanent damage. If you have already decided to have it cleaned, etc.  they can clean it out if you happen to get it knotted up, but that isn't fatal. If anyone knows a serious reason not to try, please correct me.

        You came to this site for help, and I bet if the readers' pooled their knowledge we could help you figure it out. If you are in adventurous mood...go for it!  (I replaced all the plumbing under my sink...it took 3 days because I would give up and go cry at some point but when I got it finished I almost burst with pride.)

        I would use different colors for each looper, needle.  Also, does it have the proper kind of needle.  My machine uses regular sewing machine needles, but I know many sergers don't.

         First of all, with my chart you start from the right and work your way to the left in sequence. On mine, you thread the needle last. You make sure to lay the "newest" thread you are working with over the last one if they cross.  You said you remembered going under/over, etc.  That probably pertains to the fact that as you are threading each looper, etc., you sometimes need to move the wheel to get a better view and they kind of move around.

        Readers out there, do your sergers thread  in sequence from one direction to the other, or do they skip around?  If they usually thread in sequence, I bet you can figure this out!



        1. plp1221 | | #8

          Ok, you have given me the inspiration to give it a go, I know it does go from left to right, it has the original needle that came with it. I made som placemats and napkins and just played around with scraps. Then I left it to sit with the rest of my unfinished projects. Can anyone identify????(please say yes)I had good intentions, but........Now I am serious about getting down to business. You are all very helpful and just as the clerk at Joannes said...nicest bunch of people you ever want to post with. OK, I am going to give it a try right now.....Thanks

          1. sewchris703 | | #9

            Try threading it this way:  lower looper first (it's the one that points to the right and is the lower one),  then the upper looper (points to the left and is above the other one), then the needles.  Usually the right needle is easier to thread if done before the left one.  Also as someone else posted, use  the same color of thread as in the diagram.  Then after the serger is stitching correctly, then cut the thread and tie on the new thread.  After writing down the tension numbers, turn all the tensions to 0, cut the needle threads just above the needles,  and pull the threads through the machine, starting with the looper threads (pull them at the same time), then do the same with the needle threads.  Rethread the needles and turn the tensions back to the correct tension numbers. 


          2. plp1221 | | #14

            Thats making sense to me! Will not try till I have had a good nights sleep and some time to spend on just this with no interuptions. You are awesome...thanks!

          3. meg | | #17

            I've got the Pfaff 796 (and the instruction book which includes the 794) which my husband bought for me almost 20 years ago. I wonder if they're similar enough. You may email me if you need questions answered from my book. Meg

          4. Ralphetta | | #10

            Please let us know how it's going.

          5. plp1221 | | #13

            I tried following the diagram last night and finally gave up. I probably wont get a chance to mess with it till the weekend now. I have located a Viking dealer but its out of town and so again, have to wait till the weekend. So hard when you want it yesterday....right???? Iv'e gone this long so I will be a little more patient.

  3. MaryinColorado | | #4

    I think the best bet is to get the manual, I have them for all my machines, not just the booklets that come with them, but the actual manual which is much more informative and helpful.  Looks like you lucked out with the previous post with the website.

    You also might take the machine in to a Pfaff dealer, have them clean and check the machine, and show you how to use it.  Ten years is a long time to sit, it probably needs to be cleaned and oiled.


    1. plp1221 | | #5

      Didn't think about needing it cleaned and oiled. Our Pfaff dealership has closed so I need to check the closest to me, guess I won't be using it this week. Good advice, thanks.

      1. Pattiann42 | | #11

        Mary has a good point about getting your serger serviced.  You may not need a pfaaf dealer to do so.  My sew & vac dealer services all brands.

        Edited 6/18/2007 2:08 pm ET by spicegirl1

        1. MaryinColorado | | #12

          Oh, also, the Husqvarna/Viking dealers also carry Pfaff.  Lots of changes in the works as the major brands are combining on alot of fronts.  SVP Worldwide is now Singer, Husq/Viking, Pfaff.  Martha Stewart is now involved too.

  4. fabricmaven | | #15

    Hi, I have a very old baby lock. I wouldn't think of just removing the thread and starting over. what I do is to cut the thread at the old spool place the new cone of thread on the spindle and make a knot from the new spool  joining the new color to the old and pull it through all of the channels. I do each looper seperately and run the machine to start a new chain. Depending on whether I'm using one or two needles up top, I do the same except that I pull the thread upto the needles then then cut the thread at the knot and hand thread through the eyes. It saves a lot of time and aggravation for me. Hope this helps.

  5. Betakin | | #16

    Usually thread the upper looper first, then thread the lower looper. The lower looper thread should go over the upper loopers little arm and then both threads should be brought to the back left of the foot. It depends on the brand of serger if the left or the right needle is threaded first. Sometimes the needle threads go through the same grooves then brought down to the guides to thread on each side of the needles.

    If you should break a looper thread while serging remember to clear your needle threads from the serger and rethread your needles again also after rethreading the looper thread..rethread needles last..or you will have some more thread breakage.

    If you use the tie on method of threading, to save wear and tear on your tensions it is a good idea to set the tensions on "0" as the knot runs through the tension disc.

  6. carool | | #18

    I do hope you've been lucky with this. Yes it is best to cut the threads and pull them through but if a thread breaks or runs out without you noticing then you have to thread from scratch, so it is worth knowing how.

    I took my machine back to my dealer several times before I learn't to thread it I've since done a basic course with them and will do their advanced course when they have their next one if I am free.


  7. ctirish | | #19

    I just googled your machine type and came across an article that said the machine is easy to thread because the threading is colorcoded. That is the way my Bernina is done. You need a bright light so you can see the color tips inside the machine. If you look at your machine open you should see the path by using the colors if you think of threading it in a down and left path. On my Bernina, I just bring the thread down to the same color markings and then it threads to the left until you get to the loopers or to a spot where you can go up to thread the needles. I hope this helps until you can find or get a book.


    1. plp1221 | | #20

      Mine is color coded and has a diagram but  I get lost when I try the loopers. There is a very wonderful lady from here who is sending me instructions copied from her book. Everyone that has responded has been very helpful. I appreciate you all so very much. I am going to do some serious fooling around with it this weekend and I will let you all know how I come out. Thanks again.

      1. Cherrypops | | #22

        How pleasing to read your post. You are amongst friends, who are willing to share as much information as we can. I am so happy you were able to find the information you needed. Good luck with it, and please don't forget to let us know you went.


        1. plp1221 | | #26

          Believe me, I will be jumping with joy when I get this tackled and you will definitely know. Thanks for the warm welcome.

          1. MaryinColorado | | #34

            If you go to http://www.marthapullen.com Cathy McMakin has a book Serging for Babies that has cute, easy to make infant/baby clothes.  DGD and I made them for her baby dolls.  Sew fun!

      2. User avater
        Becky-book | | #23

        The loopers can be a bit difficult to thread, especially the lower one. 

        Try this trick... first visit the dental aisle of your favorite store and get a package of Dental Floss Threaders (the orthodontist gave my son a pkg) They are little plastic loops with a stiff point on the other end, flexible enough to negotiate the bends in the serger thread path. Put your serger thread in the loop and push the stiff end through the little hole in the looper, then voila! pull it through!  A pair of bent tip tweezers is handy to use in those small places too.

        On my Singer serger the lower looper thread passes through some obvious hooks then through a curlicue, then into a tiny hole on the left side of the looper "finger".  If my eyesight were any worse I'd need a magnifying glass to see it!  Also there is a cover piece on the left side that comes off so I can get at that looper from the left. Then the thread passes through the little hole in the tip of the finger.

        The upper looper is a little more obvious on my machine, just follow the colored hooks then through the little hole in the finger.

        Keep at it until you get it right, a serger is a great tool!!


        1. sewchris703 | | #24

          To add to your advice:  be sure that the needles are unthreaded when threading the lower looper.  Because the needle threads loop around the lower looper, the lower looper thread can lay on top of the needle threads when threading the lower looper.  If that happens, the lower looper thread will break when you start serging after threading the serger.


        2. plp1221 | | #25

          Oh Becky, what a great idea, bet you wish you had invented the floss for just this trick. I was hoping to have it threaded and a pair of curtains made for my bathroom today, but my daughter gave birth 3 weeks early and 2 weeks before C-sec so I have 3 little Munchkins running amuck,,,,so not only am I not going to work today, but I wont be doing any sewing today. The trade off seems worth it. we have a 6lb 8oz baby boy. I think he might have been a good 8lbs full term. I am off to Wal-Mart to p/p floss this morning....and pictures of baby to show off. Thanks so much for your idea and I am sure others that read this will love it too.

          1. User avater
            Becky-book | | #28

            Congratulations on the new grandBOY!

            While you are at Wal-mart look for some flannel and you can make bibs and blankets with your serger (when we get it threaded!)

            Becky (grandmum to 11)

          2. sewchris703 | | #29

            Congratulations on the grandbaby.  Now we just have to get that serger going so you can make baby clothes.


          3. MaryinColorado | | #33

            Congratulations, busy grandma!!!  Such an exciting time for you all!  God Bless You and Your Family!!!

          4. plp1221 | | #35

            Thanks Mary,Their Mom came home tonight so I was able to do a scrapbooking night at Archivers....sure needed the break even though I was drop dead tired. The one year old didn't want anything to do with his mom and screamed for me when I left him there. that was a good feeling and a bad feeling. He must have really liked being with Grandma for a few days.

      3. ctirish | | #30

        Congratulations on the new grandson.  I am also glad you found someone with the same serger to send you the instructions.  I can't wait to see what you make for the little ones to wear.  Have fun with the little ones around.  jane

        1. ctirish | | #32

          Hi, I wanted to tell you I have one of the Baby Locks that pretty much threads itself. I decided to use my old Bernina last week so I could leave it set up for a 4 thread safety lock stitch and my Baby Lock set up for cover stitch as I plan to make several garments in the next week or so.  I spent all of last Saturday morning threading my Bernina 800dL, it took me the better part of 4 hours to get the four threads to follow the right paths and end up where they were supposed too and create a good stitch.  AND I had the book.....so, don't get discouraged about how much time this takes to get set up. Actually after this, you will probably never forget how it threads.  I knew how mine threaded, it was just the minute I had one thread going the right way, the next one would slide under a bar or the needle would come unthreaded and come out of the tensions or some other setting would change and I was sure it was just to annoy me.

          It can be incredibly frustrating at times. When I first got my Bernina I decided I wanted to know how to thread it and I wasn't going to tie the threads to the next set. Well, within six months I went out and bought the Baby Lock Evolve because I couldn't cope with threading it. Now I find I use them both because sometimes being able to adjust the tensions is more important than the ease of threading it. Now, I always try to remember to tie my threads so I don't have to thread from the beginning.

          This morning the Baby Lock was acting funny and I realized I had some help from a 2 yr old in my sewing room on Thursday and all of the settings where changed. I have learned to keep a little 5 x 7 notebook with each machine where I list what I am working on and what the settings where and tensions where for each project. It is the only way I can go back to change something or redo an area where it didn't sew the way I expected.

          Hang in there, it will work out,


          Edited 6/30/2007 10:15 pm ET by ctirish

          Edited 6/30/2007 10:18 pm ET by ctirish

          1. plp1221 | | #36

            Oh my, am I glad to hear that. I feel so stupid because the diagram is right on the machine and I still have trouble with the loopers. Now that the little ones are gone, I can concentrate again. Was hoping to have curtains in my windows this weekend. Maybe tomorrow?  The dental floss loops sound like they may make life a whole lot easier.  Bless you all for your help and well wishes.

          2. ctirish | | #37

            I  think everyone has moments with their sergers, sewing machines and embroidery machines. Threading the serger is the hardest part of sewing with a serger. Once that is done everything else is easier.  If you try to sew with it once a week or once every two weeks you will discover it becomes second nature to you.  You can use a serger to sew on woven as well as knit fabric or to just stay in practice finish off all the pieces with an overcast edge.  I promise it will get easier.  jane


          3. plp1221 | | #38

            I have been sitting at my machine for the last 3 hours and I finally got everything  looking like it was threaded just like the diagram so I proceed to try it out. Both needles came out and one flew and the other jammed into the fabric which took me 10 minutes to get free of the machine........What am I doing wrong???

          4. meg | | #39

            If the needles came out, then they were not tightened into their sockets. That's happened to me. Might the needles have gotten bent? Also, it's possible that your machine's timing is out of whack. If this is the case, you must bring it to a repair shop for a tune-up.

          5. ctirish | | #40

            I have done this. When it happens to me it is because the needle is not up as far as it can go in the slot. On my machine the needles are at different heights so when one is up as far as it can go I have to be very careful to make sure the one next to it goes all the up to the top too.  If they aren't up all the way, even if you tighten it, when you start the machine they will come out and go various ways.  Do you have a little flashlight you can use to check the needles once they are in place. On my BabyLock I can see the top of the needle in the slot. On my Bernina it is more a matter of feeling like it can't go in any further. The other thing is too make sure I tighten the screws all the way.  With some of the little screws if they don't go in perfectly straight, they won't tighten all the way.  They have mechanical parts to them and all you can do is try and feel how the needles feel when they are put in correctly. It will get easier, I promise, I think the machines get to know you and you get to know the machine and then you will get along better.

            Yes, I have had the point of a needle stuck in the fabric too. Working with a serger can be a humbling experience. I promise, it does get easier the more you work with it.

            Just today, I was putting a neck band on a size Toddler 1 tee shirt and I have no idea what I did, but when I was done I had one area where the neck band was only about 1/2 inch wide and the rest was over an inch high.  So, I took out the neck band again (I had already taken it out once and cut a new one) and put it in again.  It has one little catch in the back but I am going to wait and see if I can get it over her head before I try to fix it.  I figured why take it out again unless I am sure it fits.  I want to make several of these T-shirts so I am determined to be able to do these neck bands well. 

          6. Crazy K | | #41

            Just a tip for sewing neckbands on.  I have had trouble with certain knits and the smaller sizes are worse than larger.  When I think it will be a problem I sometimes use a large straight stitch on my sewing machine to 'baste' the neckband on.  Then when I go to the serger, it's a piece of cake! 

            Hope this helps you.


          7. Cherrypops | | #42

            I'm reading this late. I do the same as you , baste, it works like a dream on the serger this way. :)

          8. ctirish | | #43

            Thank you for your suggestions; that is exactly what the instructor said to do, I should have reread the class notes.  I tried the top on my little one and it barely went over her head and then taking it off was worse. So I cut the neckband and the neckline off and it made the neckline a much better shape for her to wear and for me to sew.  Although I haven't sewn a new one yet.  It gave me time to think about it and I am considering making the neckband a different color, maybe white. 


          9. Ralphetta | | #44

            This might be silly but be sure the screws are fullly open before you try to insert the needles.  If they aren't, they will prevent the needles from going in deep enough.

          10. Brine | | #50

            As Ralphetta suggested, make sure that the screws are loosened before you try to insert the needles. On my serger I discovered that I have to loosen both needle screws even when I am planning to insert just one needle!

          11. plp1221 | | #51

            Well, I have my machine threaded with the new needles in, that job was worse than the actual threading. Now I am ready to try it out, but..................that bar that the needles slide up into moves up and down and I don't think it looks like it should do that and I don't want to break another set of needles. It also pivots and I think maybe that's ok. I was just about to put the thing on Ebay. the needles were very hard to get in and then they didn't want to tighten. I do think I have it now. Am I ready to sew or is something wrong with that bar??? that slides  up and down?

          12. Minnie63 | | #52

            I hate putting in needles cause of the problem you are having. Can you tighten the screw on the needle holder?

          13. plp1221 | | #53

            The needles feel like they are going to stay in, but that took a lot of fooling with. what I am concerned about is the pivot on the bar that holds the needle and it slides up and down. I would think it needs to be tight. I am so close to putting it on Ebay 

          14. Minnie63 | | #54

            I just checked my serger again and the only thing that moves by the needle is the thread guide, but not a lot. What brand is the machine? Have you taken it to a repair person? They can be touchy if they are old like mine. Don't know what the new ones are like.

    2. kidnurse | | #55

      I have an older Brother serger and what I have learned (it is color coded as well) The most important thing for my machine is to thread it in sequence--left to right--lower looper, upper looper, right needle, then left needle. Also it helps if you loosen the tensions before you start threading and the dental loop is also handy when getting to those underneath tight spaces for my lower looper. Good Luck. Kidnurse

  8. Minnie63 | | #21

    I have that same serger and mine has the diagram inside the door that folds down. Some day I want the one that threads itself!

    1. plp1221 | | #27

      Amen to that, with all the help I have gotten, I think I can do this. I just had to have this and then didn't use it. I am going to justify this need really soon here. Thanks for keeping me encouraged.

  9. sewfineinballantyne | | #31

    Some of these serger manuals are so confusing, it's no wonder so many sewers are intimidated by these machines!  My Bernina serger has a horrendous manual, but I was able to overcome my fear and master my machine with the help of the book The Complete Serger Handbook by Chris James (see link below).  It's not specific to any particular make or model, but has WONDERFUL color photographs and very clear explanations of the whats and whys of serging. 


  10. Pattiann42 | | #45

    We've been trying to get this darned serger threaded since June 16......I hope you have threads and needles in place and are happily serging away.

    You should never have to re-thread again, if (1) you tie off before the thread runs out 

    (2) when changing thread or replacing an almost empty cone, tie off the new thread and tug to be sure the knot is tight, then trim the tails close to the knot. 

    Loosen the tensions and slowly serge on scrap until the knots come though the loopers. 

    Pull the new needle thread to the needles, cut away the knots and re-thread the needles. Re-set the tensions.

    Serge away!







    Edited 7/8/2007 11:34 pm ET by spicegirl1

    1. plp1221 | | #48

      I have instructions now (thank you Meg) and now I have to get new needles. I do think it looks like its threaded right. I am hoping Sat I can make a run to P/U needles. The closest dealer is 25 miles. I work 2 jobs so I am not always able to make it places during hours of operation. I am getting very anxious now that I have the instructions.

  11. billsgirl | | #46

    I can't help you with how to thread your machine but I do have a tip for tying on the threads for any serger.  I worked as a sample maker in the garment industry and although I mostly use an industrial serger, I also have an Elna Pro 5.  When changing threads in the loopers, use an overhand knot (where you take the 2 threads together-make a loop and pull the ends thru the loop).  However on the needle thread - use a square knot ( tie a knot, reverse the threads and tie another one) pull it tight and cut off end of threads close to knot.  These should pull thru easily w/o breaking.  You can even just sew it thru also.  Hope this helps some.  People often let little things like beaking threads etc keep them from sewing.......Sharon in rainy Lewisville, Texas.

    1. plp1221 | | #47

      Cant wait to try that little trick. I need to get new needles right now because I thought I had it all threaded  correctly and when I tried to sew the needles came out and one went flying and the other got stuck into the fabric. Was a job trying to get that out. Now the needles are bent and the lady at Joanne Fabric says their needles wont work so I have to find a pfaff dealer. We have one about 25 miles from here but I need time off to go their during business hours and that just hasn't happened yet. Curtain fabric still on chair by machine. Hopefully soon. Now I know why I stopped sewing ten years ago. It is very frustrating. Thanks for the tip.

      1. MaryinColorado | | #49

        I bet you could call the shop and order them by phone and have them mailed to you!  I'm surprised the fabric store doesn't carry them!  I'm glad my Huskylock uses regular Schmetz needles as long as the size is ok. Mary

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