Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

Swimwear Serging problems

ChrissyS3 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Hi, my name is Chrissy and I have attempted to make some swimwear for the first time this year, using my serger and coverlock machines.  However I am having trouble with missing stitches and not great stitch finish.  I think it is due to the swimwear elastic ( a type of rubber) sticking when the needle tries to come out of it.  The serge finish is much worse than the coverstitch, I guess because the coverstitch has the swimwear fabric covering the elastic.

Does anyone have any tips for stopping this happening or at least some tips for a better finish.  I have tried a ballpoint needle and a sharp needle but neither saw much improvement.

Would love to hear from anyone as I will be going on holiday soon and would love to wear my creations.


  1. crwritt | | #1

    Hi maybe this suggestion is a little late, but sometimes the stitches skip due to sizing

    in the fabric, if it has not been washed prior to sewing.


    1. ChrissyS3 | | #2

      Hi, thanks for your suggestion, unfortunately I don't think that is the problem in this case as I prewashed everything before starting and I am on my third bikini and have had the problems with all of them.  I can't source the soft elastic treated for swimwear only the rubber variety and I think that is the cause.  I just can't think of a way round it.

      1. NansiM | | #3

        Just for comparison, what happens if you try a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine istead, trying reg. and ballpoint needles.  Also do you have the ballpoints in different sizes and have you tried each of those.  Rubber can be tough but something should work.  Also what serger do you have, one that uses household or industrial needles?  Stitch length may alos be a factor.  Just thinking out loud.

        1. ChrissyS3 | | #4

          Hi, thanks for the tips.

          I have a Baby Lock Coverstitch machine  and a Fister Rossman 2 3 4  Serger.  I am not sure if they are the same models in the US.

          My last attempt was the best, using a stretch needle and just using the coverstitch, not serging the elastic first.  I also tried to ensure that the elastic was completely covered by the Lycra. 

          Perhaps it is just one of those tasks that trial and error are the best advice, I hope I have got it sorted as my next task is to make my husband some swim boxers (sort of short cycle shorts), and he is much more fussy than the kids.

          1. NansiM | | #5

            Glad to hear it's going better.  I find that most of what I spend time on with my serger is TESTING.  Once I get what I want, I can zip right thru things.  There are so many variables with each project and I feel like I'm really learning something with each one--if I don't focus my thinking that way, I get discouraged.  A friend recommended keeping a file of index cards with notes jotted down from each project and that's been a big help--kind of like those boxes you keep recipe cards filed in.  If only I cooked as well as I sew...sigh!

               Just curious-is your coverstitch the only thing that machine does?  Do you like it?  I suppose it saves you from having to change your machine set-up too much.  I have a Pfaff 4872 which does everything and I don't find the changover that much of a big deal unless I'm really in a super hurry.

              One more thing about the needle selection.  I just helped a student with a knit fabric similar to the old Qiana but it had shiny metallic little bows embossed on it (not knitted in, heat set on top I think) and the only way we could get it NOT to skip stitches was when we went to the stretch needle.  A ball point didn't do the trick.  So all those different sizes and types DO make difference!

               Good luck on hubby's project!

          2. ChrissyS3 | | #7

            Hi, yes the coverstitch machine only does that and chainstitch, however it does it in two widths. When I was searching for a machine I also looked at a Baby Lock with 8 threads which did Coverstitch and regular serging,however it only had automatic tension (no ability to fiddle) and when testing in the shop just with standard thread etc the stitch quality wasn't great.  Since I am always sewing something not quite standard I decided to keep with my basic 4 thread serger and go for a Coverlock machine.  The only downside I have is that when stitching a project you need to ensure that you have enough thread for all 3 machines (serger, coverstitch and regular machine).  Just for information it was also cheaper to buy a standard serger and a coverstitch machine than to but a machine that did both.  With a little reorganisation of my sewing space I fitted in the three machines and use all three on most projects.

            You are the first person I have talked to with a combination machine, I was put off a little by sales staff telling me it was cumbersome to change over to the coverstitch.  I guess you would just get used to it.  I will be attempting my husbands swimwear this weekend as we have a public holiday, so perhaps I will have news regarding the stitch quality later on.

            Thanks for the index card tip, I am a bit of an organiser fanatic so shouldn't be too much trouble to keep set up and up to date.  I already have my patterns organised so that the picture envelopes are in plastic wallets in a file, with the patterns indexed in plastic bags (larger than the normal wallets so that refolding is not so much of an issue).

            Have a good weekend.

          3. ChrissyS3 | | #8

            Hi, thanks for all your help.  I have also found a new tip which may be useful, which was to spray both the needles and thread path with silicon spray (I had some for an old knitting machine).  If I did this frequently the stitch quality improved no end.

            I have moved on now and am making nice simple to sew cotton nightclothes and summer dresses.  It's much more relaxing not to have to fight with your sewing.

            Bye for now

          4. NansiM | | #9

            Glad you found a solution!  what needles did you end up using ,by the way?  the silicone spray sounds like something I'll want to remember.  I've used a product called Needle-Lube before when stitching thru a knit fabric with heat-set sequins(as opposed to the stitched on kind).  I could only go thru them for about 15-20 inches before I could see "gunk" on the shank of my needle.  If I didn't use the Needle-Lube, I'd have skipped stitches.  Don't you just love challenging fabrics???!!!

          5. ChrissyS3 | | #10

            I used a stretch needle not a ballpoint and I think it was a  size 80 (definately my favorite size at the moment.

            I am sewing that crinkle rayon at the moment and that is almost as much of a pain, need to set the serger to stretch the fabris or it just puckers.

            It feels a bit like a production line here, we go  on holiday on Friday and of course I didn't have what I needed!  Mind you we will probably go on a spending spree when we get to Florida, almost as much fun as sewing.

            Bye for now.

          6. SewTruTerry | | #12

            I would like to caution anyone from spraying anything into or on or near your machine as the build up of the gunk caught in the silicone or what ever you might spray can reek havoc on the machine.  I was told this by my dealer and adhere to it religiously.  Better to be safe than sorry.  I use instead a product called "Sewers Aid" which is a silicone liquid that I can appy a drop or two on the needle and have great results.  The other possiblility for the skipped stitches may be that you are using the wrong brand of needle. This happens to me whenever I use anything other than Singer needles in my Singer machine. Just a thought.

          7. momcat50 | | #11

            I am looking at the Bernina 009. Is this the machine you have?

            Do you like it? It was this or the Juki 3-4-5. tht looked interesting. I have an Imagine by Babylock. I am not crazy about the rolled hem.

            Anyway - yours is the only message about a coverstitch and chainstitch machine, and those do look interesting.


  2. DorothyH10 | | #6

    All swimsuit elastic is not serger compatible. The flat plastic was made for serging. 

    If you have a narrow enough rubber you might couch it. Lay it down and just let the thread cover it without needles "cutting" it. 

    Used dryer sheets make good needle cleaners just sew through them as you clothes-line the pieces.  

    Hope this also helps .




  3. Kiley | | #13

    Hi ..I just wanted to pass a bit of info on serging on swimwear. I have an Elna 744 serger that also does 3 coverlock stitches and chain. It is very easy to convert to cover and has tilt needles and auto tension but the tension can still be adjusted. For swimwear it is recommeded to do a stretch wrapped stitch. It is the stitch with the maximum stretch. It uses 2 needles and the lower looper.  I thought this also might help with serging on the elastic.

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All


Shop the Store

View All
View More