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Need a Good Book on Sergers

user-263598 | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I have been sewing for many years, and consider myself an intermediate level sewer, capable of fitting and modifying, and have even made some of my own patterns. For mother’s day I finally got a serger. I’ve wanted one for years, so I was thrilled. I took it out of the box right away, but am too intimidated to begin sewing with it. Can anyone recommend a good book that will get me started? I’d like something that will work me through projects from simple to complex, learning all that the serger is capable of doing along the way. I’d appreciate any advice you can give. I really want to learn. 


  1. MaryinColorado | | #1

    Make Friends With Your Serger by Linda Lee Vivian is a good workbook type book.  It is all black and white, has good photos of the stitches.  Her website is http://www.lindaleeoriginals.com  She also co wrote my favorite book:  Serger Secrets. 

    Nancy Zeiman has books and videos/dvds that I have heard good reviews on.  http://www.nancysnotions.com is her site.

    Congratulations on your "new" serger.  Now take a deep breath and dive in!  You'll have lots of fun using this wonderful machine!  Enjoy!  Mary

  2. KimK | | #2

    After years of telling myself I didn't need a serger, I finally bought one last March and now I can't believe I waited so long.  What a time-saver!  When I bought the serger, I checked some book reviews on Amazon and bought 3 books, all of which have been useful:

    The Ultimate Serger Answer Guide, by Baker, et al.  Primarily troubleshooting information, also includes guide to buying a serger (too late for that!), thread chart, foot chart, hints for specific machines and some tips.

    Serger Secrets, by Griffen, et al.  Some troubleshooting, a lot of nice pictures of stitches and their uses in various seams and edge finishes, basic how-to information.  Maybe half of the book is devoted to what I would consider to be advanced use:  heirloom, quilting, beading, fagoting, lace, even zippers.  This is a very nice book with a lot of great ideas, but not if you want to keep it simple and basic to start with--maybe something for your Christmas wish list!

    Serge with Confidence, by Nancy Z.  Probably bought this from her website.  This may be the most up-to-date book, because it does include some info on the Babylock Wave and some > 5 thread sergers.  It also has basic info, and some very helpful color-coded stitch diagrams that show where each thread in the stitch comes from:  upper vs. lower looper, etc.  It has some information on garment sewing, but less than Serger Secrets.  Most of the "projects" are accessories and crafts.

    So a while after I got all of these books, I was looking through my obviously-too-large library and discovered I already had what might be the most useful book of all.  It's Sewing with an Overlook, from the Singer Sewing Reference Libray.  It was published in 1989, so it's not exactly up-to-date, but I think the basic how-to information is still valid. I like it because, of the 4 books I have, it has the most information on how to use a serger in general garment sewing, including collars, cuffs and plackets on blouses, waistbands, and knit dresses.  I think that if you have a good owner's manual to help you with threading and set up, I personally would recommend starting with this book, if it's still in print.  If not, you might be able to pick up a used one.

    Hope this helps!


    1. user-263598 | | #6

      Wow. It's great to know there are others out there who have been where I am, but have gone beyond to learn to use their machines with confidence. I loved your suggested titles. I now have Serger Secrets and Serge with Confidence on my Christmas wish list (since these were the most frequently recommended titles), and will look into the others you mentioned as well. I look forward to many happy hours of discovery. Thank you so much.

      1. KimK | | #8

        You're most welcome!  Enjoy your new toy!

  3. Cherrypops | | #3

    Palmer/Pletsch DVDs Serger Basics and Creative Serging ( two books of same name also). DVDs are great.

    I also have;

     Serge with Confidence -  Nancy Zieman

     Serger Secrets - Rodale Press; and it is My Favourite. I bought it in Australia. LindaLee Originals have it on the website as do Barnes and Noble.

    Edited 11/7/2007 7:33 pm by Cherrypops

  4. MaryinColorado | | #4

    Whenever I buy my machines, I ask if there is a larger manual or workbook that can be purchased.  Having bought machines from 3 different dealers, none of them offered these books.  They all had them available for the specific machines I bought.  The Manuals for the Husqviking Rose, Designer1, and Huskylock 936 have the most valuable information.  Also, every time I buy a new foot, I go to thier website and download the instructions/tips/hints/projects that relate to it.  This is a wealth of info, often what they base thier classes on too.  Mary

    1. user-263598 | | #5

      This was a wonderful idea. My serger came with a manual, but I had only given it a cursory glance to discover that what looked like the first half was about threading the machine. I tossed it aside thinking I might need it if a thread ever breaks, but not until. After seeing your suggestion, I went back to my manual to give it a closer look. Lo and behold! It actually has a section for each function that the machine can do. If I work through each of these sections trying the functions out on scraps of fabric, I will have learned a lot! I'm still going to look into some of these books that people have suggested, but now I know that I'll learn a great deal from the manual that I already own! And the best part is that when I read those other books, I will have a better idea of which technique might work on my manchine. Thanks a million.

      1. MaryinColorado | | #7

        Glad to be of help!  You will be pleasantly surprised to find that most sergers are able to do so much more than finish seams!  I love doing decorative techniques with novelty threads.  For awhile I was into Heirloom serging.  So many possibilites!  Mary

  5. solosmocker | | #9

    My favorite book, that I refer to to this day, is the Cy Decosse Singer series of books, the one that KimK recommends. What sets this book apart is the pictures. There are huge, very clear pictures of every step of the process of serging, threading, flatlocking, etc.... I have been serging for about 15 years and still refer to this book now and then.

    Edited 11/6/2007 6:48 pm ET by solosmocker

    1. user-263598 | | #10

      Thanks for your help. I looked on Amazon, and couldn't find the edition of the book that you recommended. They did have this:

      The New Sewing with a Serger (Singer)

      Could this be the latest edition of the volume you mentioned? It was the only one I could find that was from Singer.

      1. solosmocker | | #11

        I really don't know, but since I bought my book appx 15 years ago I would not be surprised if it has been updated. My serger's age is the same as the books so it still works for me. If the book you mentioned yses the same large photography I say go for it. Those pics really help.

      2. KimK | | #12

        I compared some of the info posted on Amazon to my book, and my guess is that this is an updated version of Sewing with an Overlock.  Some of the pages in the index match my version exactly, while others do not (this one may have a few more pages, unless they count the index, in which case they match exactly).  The "surprise me" page was Pullover Tops--the picture is different, but most of the text matches word for word.  You might want to check the Amazon reviews--someone with a 5 thread serged didn't find this book helpful (for threading). 

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