Thread tension on the serger is very different than the tension
on your sewing machine. Often one of the biggest concerns for
the sewer just learning to use her serger is dealing with the
tension adjustments as most overlock machines have 4 to 5 tension
dials or knobs to adjust. At first, these adjustments seem somewhat
intimidating but become less so once their function is completely
understood. Each tension dial or knob controls the thread for
its corresponding needle or looper. The higher the number or a
move to the +(plus) side means there is more tension on the thread
-- less thread will pass through the machine. The lower the number
or a move to the -- (minus) side means that there is less tension
on the thread -- more thread will pass through the machine.
The trick is to find the perfect balance between all the threads.
The upper and/or lower looper threads should lay on the fabric
with the needle thread(s) looking like a straight stitch on the
right side of the fabric. The looper threads should meet equally
along the trimmed edge of the fabric. You will immediately know
if the tension is incorrect by the appearance of your stitch.
There are many factors that can effect the
thread tension such as the type of thread you use, the weight
of the fabric, the stitch length and the stitch width. As with
all sewing projects, it is also important to start with a new
needle and double check your threading before starting to turn
dials. Be sure to test your stitch on a swatch of fabric before
starting any garment.
Most sergers today use standard sewing needles as described
in a Needle
and Thread Chart. As the serger can
accommodate a variety of decorative threads, it is equally important
to use the correct needle for the thread. A special needle is
recommend by some overlock machine manufacturers if you are
experiencing difficulties with your cover stitch.
There are a number of special presser feet and accessories
available for your serger. Check with your sewing machine dealer
to learn more about them.