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Serging Sunbrella – ack!

Ckbklady | Posted in Fabric and Trim on


I am finally cutting up the yard of black Sunbrella I have had in my cupboard, and am appalled at how hard it is to cut, and am dreading wrecking my sewing machine and serger with it. It will be the lining in a Pendleton wool tote bag, and therefore will also have to be sewn to the wool – a massive layer my machines have never before faced.

I have found good advice here in the archives about sewing Sunbrella with a machine – long stitch length, check lower bobbin tension, heavy thread, large needles, etc. That’s really going to help for the sewing part, but I also need to put it to my serger. It’s a Janome 534D, and takes regular Schmetz needles.

Is the advice the same for serging Sunbrella? Are there other machine features I should tweak so I don’t break needles or hurt my serger? I’ll set the project aside and hope for help here. I have to clean the house anyway. 🙂

🙂 Mary


  1. Betakin | | #1

    I used the same exact model serger to do my daughters outdoor furniture. The serger worked just great. It went through several layers of plastic coated canvas with several layers of lining without any problems and no broken needles.  My oldest DD is using this serger now for her family and it is still going strong.

    1. Ckbklady | | #2

      Great - thanks!

      Do you recall anything about the serger settings I should know? I fiddled with scraps last night but only got them jammed in the works. I'll spend some time this morning disentangling the mess.

      :) Mary

      1. Betakin | | #3

        It has been several years since I used that serger but I remember setting all tensions on 3 is like their normal setting that seems to be able to do a good job on most fabric and rarely needed adjusting. You can check the threads after serging to see which thread tension might need adjusting. This serger is not a fussy serger as some are but I remember it required a lot more oil and was a little noiser than my Pfaff 4842 (the other serger that I had at the time). I really didn't expect it to be as heavy duty as my Pfaff but it really did a good job on that outdoor fabric. It does great when serging fast but I would say to take it slow in some bulky areas so as not to ask more of the serger than it is designed to take, because you don't want to break a looper or knock the timing out.

        1. Ckbklady | | #4

          Yes, the serger is terrific, and has never given me any trouble (breaking a LOOPER? Crikey!). It is noisier than some, but its powerful enough. I don't go fast at all, especially with thick fabric, although I know from experience that needles will also break at slow speeds.

          Thanks for the advice and encouragement. I'll give it a shot.

          :) Mary

          1. Betakin | | #5

            Good luck to you. BTW, I think my serger was a 504D not a 534D.

          2. Ckbklady | | #6

            Oh, no - well, that changes everything!

            Kidding. I've been noodling about with it, and think if I just go slowly and gently all will be well.

            :) Mary

            Edited 5/9/2007 6:54 pm by Ckbklady

          3. MaryinColorado | | #7

            With heavy fabrics, I like to support it on the ironing board or cutting table butted up next to the sewing table.  Good luck!  Mary

          4. Ckbklady | | #8

            Hiya Mary,

            I am only stitching a medium-sized tote bag lining, so I am not so worried about the heavy drape off the side, but, you know, I had never thought of rolling my cutting table over to the machine to support other large projects. And the table is on WHEELS, for Pete's sake. Thanks for the advice - I needed it!

            :) Another Mary

          5. blakney | | #9

            Just wondering why you are using the Sunbrella for the lining as opposed to something else?

          6. Ckbklady | | #10

            Why use Sunbrella as a lining? Good question - because it's the heavyweight super-stiff variety that will give the bag some body, because nothing else in my stash is as heavy, and really because my dear hubby is now working from home and it's getting too hard to smuggle more fabric past him. Oh, and I felt it was time to do something with it.

            :) Mary


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