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I need to learn…..

Pammypoo | Posted in General Discussion on

I have been sewing for 43 years and have been flying by the seat of my pants quite well for all this time.  I now own my own sewing business and have  had my first successful year.

I bought my first serger yesterday to get a contract sewing job.  I now have visions of new things I can make for myself, but I have no idea what kind of fabrics will do what I want them to do in my mind.  I want to design clothes for me as well.

I also have to admit that I have no idea of what use or how to use the different feet that I keep hearing about.  There are no schools up here, as I am in a rural, very northern part of MN.  I have to teach myself and any help would be appreciated.

Any suggestions on how I can learn?

Edited 10/4/2008 11:12 pm ET by Pammypoo


  1. KharminJ | | #1

    Congratulations on a successful starting year ~ Welcome to Gatherings, and Happy New Serger, too!

    There are many ways to research how different fabrics behave with your new toy - but to really get the hang of it always involves lots of play and practice. I don't have a serger, so others will have to suggest specific books, websites or classes.

    ... BUT ~ read all the books that came with it, and try all the techniques on bits and pieces that you already have - or get remnants or 1/4 yard chunks of interesting stuff from your favorite fabric source.

    The most important part is the PLAY! (You might want to take notes, too)

    Cheers to you!


    PS: See also the new thread called Serger for some other suggestions

    Edited 10/4/2008 11:33 pm ET by KharminJ

    1. sewslow67 | | #4

      I agree with Threadkoe and the others.  And one of my favorite serger books is: "The Serger Book" by Palmer and Pletch.  Another one is: "The Ultimate Serger Answer Guide" by Baker and Brown.

  2. Betakin | | #2

    I agree with Kharmin. Get to know your machine by playing with it and learn how it operates and all that it will do. To learn more of what it can do, I also suggest to read all the books on serging that you can.  The public library usually has many books and even videos in regards to serging including used book stores and sewing machine and fabric stores. If you purchased your serger from a dealer, they usually give classes on the use of the machine. Some fabric stores also give classes. You might find a serger group on line too that offers help plus sewing sites like this one.

    As for the feet for your serger, they do vary by brands but your serger might have an all purpose foot that can be used for inserting ribbon, elastic, pearls and braid etc. Your manual might tell more about this.

    I hope you enjoy your new serger to the fullest. Using a serger saves so much time and gives professional looking results and they are so much fun to use.

  3. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #3

    It is play time with your new toy! Best bet is to get out a few leftover scraps of different fabrics, open the manual, and go through the different set ups, and try them out on all the different fabrics. This will give you a feel for what is possible. The other ladies are right as well. Get a good serger book, and try the techniques in the books. Then keep a record of what you have done in a binder with notes for future reference. Have fun! Cathy

  4. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #5

    The two books I have, both by Naomi Baker, are Know Your Serger (with Tammy Young), and ABC's of Serging, are not brand specific, and take you through techniques and projects to learn what the machines are capable of. I got the books when I bought my machine. I use them more than the manual. Cathy

  5. kapnoel | | #6

    I found it strange that there are no good instructions for serger feet, the only ones I found online are from Singer. Look here under Serger presser feet at the end of the page: http://www.singerco.com/support/presser_help.html

    I had the same questions as you did as I got my serger a year ago. I first read The Complete Serger Handbook by Chris James which is a beginners book. After some time, when I was quite confortable with my machine, I bought Serger Secrets, a book written by America's top serger experts. I was exactly what I wanted to know: how to manipulate fabric with a serger to give it a totally different look, how to achieve the finish you want the easy and quick "serger" way, short cuts to time consuming techniques and lots of pictures etc I loved this book and I ofter look to it for inspiration.


    Good luck with your business!


    1. Pammypoo | | #7

      Thank you so much for all the advice and the suggestions.  I wish I had time to sit and play, but I am so busy that the poor serger sits in amongst the other 44 machines that I own.  I on the other hand am spending my time working on other peoples clothes, shoes, horse blankets and anything else that comes into my door.

      Never a dull moment, but I hope this weekend will prove to give me some time with my new toy.

      Again, thanks for everything.

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #8

        I wish you well in your business. Consider this tho. Your serger is a tool. It is needed to improve your ability to do business in a more efficient manner. Learning to use it is TRAINING, not playing. A woodworking shop will spend a day training their workers on how to use a new machine to make it more efficient. A few minutes spent learning how it works each day will save you HOURS in the end. Just 'cause we call it playing, 'cause it is fun, does not mean it is not worthwhile training. Just a thought. Cathy

        Edited 10/9/2008 8:20 am ET by ThreadKoe

        1. Pammypoo | | #9

          I know it is training, but I am busy, so I will go in one day this week end playing with my "new toy".

          The strangest thing happened today.  A customer came in today with some work for me and he gave me a serger that had been sitting in his garage for many years.  It is a 3 thread, one needle Bernina.  I think it is called a Bernetta (?).  I have been cleaning that up and now I am not sure what to do with it.  It sounds better than the Elna in that it is all metal and isn't nearly as noisey as the Elna either.

          Thanks for all the advice and sharing of knowledge.  I can't tell you how much I have learned and the confidence you have all given me.

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #10

            Lucky you! even learning a bit on either machine is good! means you can set up both machines. Once you have one set up with one colour for basic work, you can often leave it that colour for a while, and use the other for a specific colour. Cathy

  6. Sunshine | | #11

    Everyone's suggestions for books (esp from the library) and self-practice are right on the money.  Another helpful approach I have done is to watch videos and DVD's.  Palmer-Pletsch and Nancy Zieman are great sources for DVD's.  I like that I can repeat a section many times to see and understand exactly how to do something, either on my TV or my computer in my sewing room.  Other sources of videos are online -- even YouTube has serger/sewing videos!  We all know Nancy Zieman does a great job of explaining things on her PBS TV show, but my local station no longer carries her show.  However, they now exist in cyberspace for your convenience at http://www.qnntv.com/aspx/qnn/ProgramSeries.aspx?ShowID=11.  There are 5 series of shows listed. 

    I bought my serger online and have taught myself all I need to know thru books, vidoes and experimenting on my own.  My clothing and projects have never looked better!  You can do it too -- Good Luck!

    Creativity is play in fabric form.

  7. MaryinColorado | | #12

    Congratulations on surviving that first year!!!  Hooray for you!

    Serger Secrets is my favorite book, it has many techniques for all levels and lots of great photos and instructions for many techniques and how to use them in some beautiful clothing.  Co written by 5 experts.  One of them is the "Serger Lady", Linda Lee Vivian, and she also has a serger workbook that is good.  http://www.lindaleeoriginals.com  (not the same Linda Lee as in many Threads articles.)  She also has serger specific patterns on her website.

    http://www.sewingwithnancytv.com has many video tutorials that are quick and expert.  She also has books, etc. that teach how to make bias binding, wrapped cording, put in zippers, etc. with your serger. 

    I've been serging with my Huskylock 936 for over 10 years and just love it.  I am self taught and use it for such a variety of techniques from heirloom delicates, to rayon clothing to blankets and some quilting.  You can put yarn and heavy threads in the loopers and loosen the tension and get beautiful rolled or serged or even blanket stitched edges.  I think the hardest part is learning to do inside curves, I still have to practice that when I do it. 

    I've serged every type of fabric, just be sure you can use the appropriate sized needles for your fabric.  (some sergers say only 80 and 90 size but I am able to use  all sizes in mine.)  You can gather even heavier fabrics by opening the differential feed all the way. 

    I have alot of accessory feet with mine, but you can do almost anything without changing them.  (There are even a couple beading feet than can also be used for inserting zippers.)  

    Hope this is helpful.  I wish you all the best success in your business!  Mary

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