Welcome back! I hope your adventures of learning to thread your serger machine were successful! If you are new, check out the Learn to Serge Series home page.

Today let’s review how to serge. Serging can be very easy, once you understand how the basics of how to start and stop a serger. I was intimidated at first since it is faster than a typical sewing machine. However once you know the basics of how to serge you will feel more comfortable.

Finally learn how to serge tutorial about starting, stopping and unpicking your serged stitch!


To Prepare: 

  • Turn your serger on
  • Make sure your serger is threaded properly (check here for threading your machine tutorial)
  • Raise your presser foot (But make sure when you serge, your pressure foot is ALWAYS down!)
  • Get scrap piece of fabric (have a few near by that you don’t mind cut up)

Start and Stop Your Serger Stitch

Start with a Raw Edge 

  1. start with the raw edge of one of your pieces of scrap fabricstart with raw edge
  2. lower foot
  3. sew like you would a normal sewing machine

how to serge

Start in the middle of a fabric 

  1. if you are serging a section that is not on an edge, rather somewhere in the middle:
    tutorial on how to serge
  2. raise foot to highest position
  3. raise needles to highest position (this is crucial – if you don’t, the fabric won’t go in all the way)
  4. slide fabric at starting point where it meets at the needles
    serge in the middle of fabric
  5. align the fabric seam allowance and the blade
  6. lower foot
  7. begin serging

Stop at a raw edge  

  1. if you want to stop your serge at a raw edge:
  2. continue serging off the fabric until you have a chain
    how to stop serging
  3. Cut chain
    learn to serge
  4. See below for how to lock the stitch

Stop in the middle of the fabric  

  1. if you want to stop the serging stitch in the middle of a fabric:
  2. serge until your stopping point reaches or meets with the needles
    tutorial on stopping a serged stitch
  3. pull the fabric towards the left
    overlock tutorial
  4. continue serging until you have a chain
    stop overlock stitch
    learn to serge
  5. cut chain
    serge tutorial with pictures

Serge with a seam allowance

  1. Some projects require that you serge with a seam allowance
    serge with seam allowance
  2. Start by measuring out your seam allowance, and cut a small portion in the fabric (It will look similar to the picture above). You can mark the back of the fabric with a pencil or use pins to measure your seam allowance. However if you use pins, be very vigilant to take them out before they approach the needle!!
  3. Place the cut out section right where the needle sits
    serging seam allowance tutorial
  4. Begin serging – make sure you continue to honor your seam allowance. To do this, I usually measure how much the seam allowance is (for example 3/8″). I place in the fabric seam allowance according to the blade. Then I hold my fabric in line with that measurement
    *This is where being in control of your pedal comes in handy – learning to start and stop your pedal at any moment. Read more about that tip here
  5. To finish your serging seam, follow the same guidelines described above for finishing on a raw edge, or finishing in the middle of your fabric.

How to Lock / Finish a Serged Stitch

There are multiple ways to lock or finish a serged stitch. What do I mean by lock? You know on your sewing machine when you start or stop you can use the forward and backward button? It helps lock the stitch in place. On more advanced sewing machines, it will automatically lock the stitch to begin, and you can lock the stitch at the end; it ensures a strong stitch.

It is the same concept with the serger. However on a serger, you can backstitch. Here are a few ways you can Lock your stitch. Here is a great tutorial {by reallyhandmade}. She does a great job at showing the different ways. I put pictures below of my favorite way though and a summary of the other methods…

  • My first and favorite way is to knot the stitch. (This is the most common way I lock my stitch – I feel it works best for stretchy/knit fabrics.) You do this by cutting the chain about 1/4″ away from the fabric. Pull the remaining strings. Two pieces of thread will come out, two will pull tighter. As you pull those tighter, they will tie a knot – locking the serger stitch.
    cut the serged chain
    serger chain
    lock a serged stitch
    serger tutorial

    I’ll be honest, some people don’t agree with this method. Some think that it can appear sloppy. But in my opinion, if you do it correctly, then it looks the absolute best. 🙂
  • Another way to lock your serger stitch is to thread the remaining chain thread back into the previous stitches.. :/ tedious? yes.. I think the same thing
  • You can also cut the remaining thread and use fray check. That helps the thread from … well, fraying
  • You can serge back over the remaining chain
  • The only reason I leave a chain uncut, is when I’m serging something that I am flipping inside out. Like a square (i.e. a blanket).


How to Unpick a Serged Stitch 

Unfortunately at some point, you will need to unpick your beautifully stitched project! 🙁 It always is a major bummer, but we all make mistakes.

There is a really easy way to unpick a serger stitch though..

how to unpick a serged stitch

photo credit: melissaesplin.com



Okay, you did it! Deep breath…I hope that wasn’t too much information…

Your homework…..Yup, you guessed it. PRACTICE!

  • practice starting 2 different times with a raw edge (play with the speed of your serger – try to control your fabric don’t just let it run wild)
  • practice starting 2 different times in the middle of your scrap fabric
  • practice stopping 2 times {if you haven’t noticed… this will come automatically when you practice starting ;)}
  • Practice each way to lock your serger stitch. Get a feel for each method and what you feel most comfortable with
  • Once you’ve done all that, practice unpicking at least one of those beautifully serge stitches 🙂 just to get the hang of that too

practice learn to serge series

Learn to Serge Series is the best way to learn how to serge! 12 awesome lessons to reduce your fear of the serger overlock machine!

Since the Learn to Serge Series has been so popular, I have put all of the lessons in one easy-to-read ebook. Click here to have all 12 lessons right at your fingertips!  Add to Cart