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Instead of a serger…?

StraightSewer | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Am I the last person in North America to get a serger? I’ve been doing fine these last 50 years without one, and I have been happily using up a product called Stitch Witchery that WAS NOT a iron on glue-thing, but a 5/8″ bias nylon tape that covered raw seam edges very nicely. Today I ran out and the girl at the fabric store (who looked about 12) told me that there was no such thing as the tape I was describing! I have some in my hand, and I was just wondering if ANYBODY knows where I can get some? I just want to cover some ravelly raw edges of a decorative linen fabric, and I don’t have a serger. The older notions clerk at a bigger fabric store knew what I was talking about (!), but she said she hadn[t seen any in years. Ok, I now admit to keeping a handy item in my sewing basket for years. But, I liked it! And I want to keep using it. Is this going to cast me hundreds of dollars just to cover a raw seam edge? What does one do if one is scared of sergers? I’ll promise to learn more about them, if I can just get a couple yards of the old-fashioned Stitch Witchery! Anybody got any idea?


  1. NH | | #1

    Are you sure you don't mean "Seams Great"- a sheer bias nylon tape? I used it all the time before I got my serger. I just "googled" it & found it at both JoAnne Fabrics & http://www.thesewingplace.com.

    1. StraightSewer | | #2

      Thank you so much! I knew I'd find help here! The fact is, you lose your memory of what the name is for things after a few decades, and even though you describe what you want to do with it, it still comes out like charades! LOL! I'm going to the store now! Thank you again!

  2. autumn | | #3

    I have been getting along without a serger for 60 years!  And Yes, I also like Stitch Witchery. Amazingly, I found ONE package of it at JoAnns in Colorado Springs a couple of weeks ago.  I looked and looked, and the clerk looked with me, until I finally found one hiding on a rack. It was the only one there. She did not know what I was talking about either. All the other Stictch Witchery spools were the iron on kind that I did not want. So I don't know if I got the last spool in the whole world, or if there are others hiding out there.  In place of a serger, I just trim the seam to 1/4" and do a close zigzag. It works fine.

  3. diday | | #4

    There are 6 different size/packages of Stitch Witchery online at http://www.joanns.com. Just type Stitch Witchery in the search box. Four of the items are on sale, and another item is available on the web only.

    I'm pretty sure I have some left somewhere, too.


    1. carolfresia | | #5

      Be sure to check that Stitch Witchery is what you're looking for, though. If I understood the original question, it's Seams Great that was being used to bind seam allowances. Stitch Witchery (unless I'm mistaken?) is a fusible web that's available in interfacing-like widths, or as tape in various widths.


      1. autumn | | #6

        Stitch Witchery is also made in NON-fusible, but it is hard to find.

        1. carolfresia | | #7

          That's interesting--I've never heard of it! I'll have to keep my eye out, 'cause now I'm curious!


          1. Teaf5 | | #8

            Stitch Witchery was the fusible seaming web, best for quickie hems. I still have a couple rolls from my mother's stash. The seam finishing product must be called something else.There are a lot of us without sergers. With all the seams I rip out, change my mind about, decide to experiment with, I wouldn't get far on a machine that so decidedly finishes every seam the first time!

  4. Kiley | | #9

    Years ago the type of Stitch Witchery I used was the type to iron in hems for a quick fix on my kids clothes etc. I have never used the seam binding type mentioned that I remember. I never used The witchy stuff for anything I use my serger for. I use my serger for much more than finishing off edges. I use my serger as much as I use my sewing machine and it saves so much time. Gathering and shirring, installing ribbon and lace and binding, pin tucks and felled seams, inserting zippers, blindhemming, couching, cording and flatlocking, chainstitching now coverhem and deco work are all things done on a serger. When it comes to creativity, sergers can open up a whole new world and they are so much fun. For quilting you can get a perfect 1/4 in. seam when piecing etc. I really could not get along without one especially when it comes to making clothes for the grandkids, and all those baby blankets, bibs and little clothes.  I have even cut out patterns with my serger on items that are especially large by just feeding the material through and letting the knives do all the work for me..(which is not recommended in sewing 101 :)..but it sure saves time and is kinder to old arthritic hands.

    Edited 5/12/2006 5:41 am ET by Kiley

    Edited 5/12/2006 5:45 am ET by Kiley

    1. Teaf5 | | #11

      My dh isn't going to be very happy that I'll be looking at sergers...your post makes me curious about all the things that the first-generation sergers couldn't do! Thanks for the update!

      1. Kiley | | #12

        Teaf5, if you have one of the older sergers you can still do much of what I posted earlier about sergers capabilites. Having differential feed of course helps with gathering etc. and the newer coverhem sergers add much to the capablilities. My first main serger was a Babylock that was a bit limited. It did have DF but it was one of the few sergers that did a mock safety stitch. I believe some sergers today still have the stitch but not many regular basic sergers do have it. The mock safety stitch has a serged edge but with a separate straight stitching to the left of the overedged stitch. It is wonderful for seaming kids clothes and that is why I wanted this type of serger. Most 4 thread overedge stitches have the straight seam inside the serged seam. Today the 5 thread safety stitch is used more and is similar but it has a chain stitch running to the left of the serged edge instead of just a regular straight stitch like the 4 thread mock safety. A 4 thread mock safety machine can be limiting when it comes to deco work etc. because this type of machine though it has 2 needles and can do a 4 thread stitch and a 2 thread  and flatlock can only do a narrow 3 thread  hem by only using the right needle. It cannot do a wide 3 thread stitch.The left needle does not interlock with the upper looper in a 3 thread stitch on the upper side of the material but both loopers do interlock with both needles underneath. I no longer have this type and found out the lovely edges that can be done on a machine with more features. I still have only a 4 thread serger but it has 16 stitch programs, 3 coverhems and chainstitch. A basic serger without coverhem or chain can still do many things including serging an entire garment without using a sewing machine. Have fun if you go serger shopping. I hope you can test drive some sergers. If the salesperson shows you all that the newer sergers can do..you might be surprised that the older sergers can do some of the same.



        1. MaryinColorado | | #13

          This is really to anyone thinking of buying a serger.  I agree!  I love serging and use my top of the line Huskvarna Viking Huskylock 936 for just about everything, including heirloom work.  I started out with a basic serger for about 300 dollars, only used it for edging finish, never could quite get the threading, tensions, etc to my satisfaction, a few years later I bit the bullet and put out the money for the top of the line and it has been worth it's weight in gold. I rarely "sew" with my sewing machine anymore. 

           It has a sewing advisor for fabric types, etc.  You push a button for the stitch you want and it tells you what to set the tensions at, etc.  You can even make jewelry, cording, bias binding, you name it.  They have really come a long way.

          Sewing With Nancy is on PBS here and she often uses a serger.  Her sight Nancy's Notions is great,  have you tried making fusable binding?  She has the products for that.

          A good sight to check out is Linda Lee Originals, Home of the Happy Serger

          There are many many many books on serging to peruse.  My favorite is Serger Secrets.  Mary

        2. Teaf5 | | #16

          Nope, don't have a serger, old or new, so the whole concept is somewhat foreign to me. A recent trip to a sewing machine store revealed that many cost more than my car is worth, so I doubt that I will be shopping for one anytime soon!

          1. Kiley | | #17

            Oh no, you can find a serger for much less in price. I suggest to give it another go and check out some other places. I wouldn't spend money for a serger or a sewing machine that cost more than my car is worth and I drive an old Ford. Some newer sewing machines cost almost as much as my first house. I purchased a nice new Janome New Home little 4 thread serger with differential feed for my daughter to use to sew for her 5 kids and grandson) from an on line dealer for only $199 with free shipping. Sears sells basically the same model under the Kenmore name for around $249 when on sale. Many stores sell sergers for around the same price including Joann's, Hancocks etc. These are basic models with no coverhem but do the job well. It really is not a terribly large investment to make to save time when sewing plus have your work look more professional and help in creativity and sergers are so much fun.  

          2. StraightSewer | | #18

            Wow! Thanks for all your generous advice! I DID finally find what I was looking for -- it was Seams Great, not Stitch Witchery. But the store had just had one of those sales and didn't have any, and were VERY unhelpful about any such product even existing! But the main chain managers were much more helpful and I found it nearby.
            And I am so encouraged about finally learning how a serger works. There is a store near me that will do lengthy demonstrations and try-outs for sergers, so I am looking forward to spending some time in the new world of serger wonder!
            Thanks so much to all of you for your helpful words!

          3. Vick | | #19

            I'm dealing with the "should I buy or not buy a serger battle."

            I saw an advertisement for a book called "Serger Secrets",

            Its supposed to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about how a serger works. I'm thinking about finding it and seeing just how the different serger work. I think that's what confuses me most. When I go to look at them they are all so different. The Saleslady seem to not know how to thread the Servger. So, If they demonstrate how to use one all day long and STILL don't know how to thread the thing , its not too encouraging to buy one and take it home.

            I would like to think I could get help from a dealer, however they don't seem to be too knowledgeable.

            The way I learned to use my Janome 1001 was by trial and error and the internet and the workbooks.I guess when I make the serger leap it will be the same thing again, Just flying by the seat of my sewing chair.

            Some sewing machine manufactures make models that 'go along with others in the same line" is there such a thing with the Janome?





          4. Kiley | | #20

            Vick, to answer about Janomes.. the Janome website shows the different Janome serger models as well as their sewing machines. Janome also makes the Kenmore sergers and has also been known as New Home. Most of their sergers are basic and known to be work horses with need of little repair according to machine techs. The higher computerized touch screen 5 thread model Compulock seems to be a bit difficult for new users compared to other brands. There are many brands of nice sergers on the market today at various prices with a few differing features. I hope you can test drive some to see which one you are most comfortable in using. There are also many books out for sergers..maybe some of those salespeople should read them.  Besides Serger Secrets just to name a few more..The Ultimate Serger Answer Guide, Singer's Sewing with a Serger, Serger Shortcuts, ABC's of Serging and Palmer/Plesch's Sewing with Sergers. One of my old favorites is Know Your Babylock. Also many new sergers come with a video in the box on how to use them where all is shown to you without having to call a salesperson or dealer for help.

          5. Vick | | #21

            Thank you Kiley, I apperciate any help on the Serger thought. I keep thinking I would use one since I do such a varity of sewing. I do like to sew intresting things for myself and my youngest son. he is involved with a renasance reinactment group. So he need some unusual items. Have you seen a serger made by Singer called the Fronter ? It seems very reasonalble in price. what do you think of it?



          6. Kiley | | #22

            Vickie, I don't know of a Singer Frontier but I know of a Simplicity Frontier model SL390. This serger is supposed to be the same as the Babylock 450 as stated on a dealers website. I'm sure the Babylock would cost much more than the Simplicity however. They are both basic 4/3/2 thread sergers. I checked the Babylock 450 out at the Babylock site and they do appear to be the same. Both the Babylock and Simplicity brands are distributed by Tacony. In the past the Simplicity sergers have not had good reviews as you can check out on line. Complaints were mostly about tension problems. I have found the stitches on the 390 to be excellent when I used it..you just need to know how to set the tensions. (I'm spoiled because my Elna has automatic tensions) I don't know if this model is any different than the Simplicity models with the bad reviews but I did find it to be nice and it reminded me of my old Babylcok. The Frontier comes with a manual plus a video on how to use it. The lower looper on the Frontier model is a bit harder to thread than most sergers being it has a tiny hole on the end of the looper that needs threading without any levers to flick that automatically thread it. I think both the Babylock and Simplicity models require a plate change to do a rolled hem. The free arm is nicer than many sergers because the arm is smaller than most and baby items are easily serged on this smaller arm. Some sergers have a huge free arm or none at all. There are many sergers out that have threading helps and no need to change the plate but that does not necessarily make these models better. Not all sergers have the 2 thread capability to flatlock ect. and do finer seams as the Simplicity. I suggest to just give some models some test drives and see which model suits you best that way you will surely use it more often and have more fun. LOL..and you might even end up with more than one..:) 

  5. midnitesewer | | #10

    I think that it is called Seams Great and is made of bias cut nylon tricot. In the past I have ordered this from Nancy's Notions. Nancy demonstrated using it to finish seams on one of her shows.

  6. sapphires2000 | | #14



    I found a ton of stitch witchery at Wal-Mart after trying to decide how I would best hem my dupioni silk drapes. I ended up sewing them instead, so now I use all that stitch witchery to help secure my ribbon on my tote bag handles! Good luck and hopefully you'll find it on the aisle with the needles and such.




  7. Vick | | #15

    I find stich wichery at Jo-Ann's. I hope you have a Jo'Ann's shop in your town.

    Sometimes they throw S. W. on sale with other notions. They seem to run the Notions sales every few months.

    Stich witchery is really good for fixing knits and other strechy fabric.

    I'm debating how much I would use a serger if I bought one I sew with a Jenome 10001 and it seems to do just about everything I would want.

    I know a serger would be a good compliment though. I just don't know which one would be the right one to get.


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