How to use an overlock sewing machine

Those who like sewing at home will love an over-lock machine, or serger as they’re sometimes called. The machine is made to give home sewing jobs a factory finish. Look at the side seam of almost any garment and you’ll see the work of an over-lock. The machine is much different than an ordinary or even an extraordinary single-needle machine. The over-lock has only one needle but also has two loopers. The loopers and the needlework together to form the finished look. As you sew along, a sharp knife moves up and down to trim the edges of the fabric, just before it passes through the needle and loopers. As it trims, two threads overlap to form a covering for the edge of the garment and the single needle puts in a barrier stitch.

The machines are available in household or industrial models. Although the industrial models are faster and more durable, the household models can be quickly turned into strictly a single-needle machine at any time. The feature is extremely handy, since many sewing jobs require a single-needle step, then an over-lock step, then single-needle again. The industrial models can be put on a table with a small or large motor, allowing the operator to perform jobs quickly. Both machines use cones of thread rather than a traditional spool. Three cones of thread run at the same time: the needle thread, top looper and bottom looper.

Both types of over-locks are difficult to thread. The needle thread isn’t quite as hard as the loopers. It usually goes from stand to thread guide, to tension device and another thread guide before insertion into the needle eye. The loopers are much tricker. Depending upon the model, the thread is usually taken from the cone over and through a couple of thread guides. Then the thread is pushed inside of the machine through a chute or a door that opens.

From there implements like a flashlight, tweezers and broom straws are put to good use, pushing and pulling the thread through various holes and chutes. If the machine is threaded correctly it will entwine all three threads together to form a chain stitch. Because the machine is difficult to thread many users keep it threaded at all costs. When it’s time to change colors the new cone is tied onto the old thread and pulled through. The knot for the needle thread must be cut just before entering the eye, then the needle threaded manually.

Over-locks are useful to those who want a more professional finish to their work. There are many attachments available for sewing specific things like ruffles or piping. Other attachments allow the user to back stitch the over-lock thread to prevent it from unraveling.

The industrial models require the foot pedal to be pushed completely backwards to lift the put foot pedal, partially back to stop. The household models usually have a lever that is lifted to place the fabric under the foot.

Either model requires some maintenance from time to time. The knife needs to be sharpened often if the machine is used frequently. Needles are to be changed when the thread begins to look as though there are small knots in it upon sewing. Loopers break frequently on the household models and have to be ordered from the manufacturer.

Either model

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