If you own an overlocker (also known as a serger), then you probably love how quickly it sews and finishes your seams. You probably also find yourself swearing at it at other times. Here are some tips I use to help you get your overlocker purring along rather than juddering to a halt.
Thread the loopers first
When you have no option but to start threading from scratch, I always begin with the upper looper, then the lower looper, then the right and left needles. I find this works more often than doing it any other way. It does says this in the manual for my machine, but it took me over a year to notice that and heed the advice.
Pass each thread between the presser foot and the blade
After you’ve threaded it up, pass each thread between the presser foot and the blade (as you take the thread to the back of the stitch plate before you make your stitch chain). Layla, the tutor on the overlocker workshop I took at Guthrie & Ghani, gave the class this tip – and I’ve no idea why it works but it does!
Don’t bother lifting the presser foot when you sew
To put the fabric under the machine, I usually just lift the toe of the presser foot with my finger, rather than groping for the lever all the time. And because you stitch off the end of the fabric most of the time, you won’t need to lift it to take the fabric out either. In fact, the only time I do lift the presser foot with the lever is to get the threads in between the tension discs.
Sadly you do need to clean and oil it sometimes
Because overlockers work so quickly, and get covered in fibres all the time you will need to clean it out regularly (a vacuum cleaner will do the job), change the needles now and then (no, they’re not supposed to be level) and potentially even replace the stationary cutter blade if the fabric isn’t cutting cleanly any more.
So you might as well keep your manual handy and set a reminder to show it some love after every three projects. I’ve discovered mine makes a hideous shuddering noise that shakes the whole house if I forget to oil it…
When the sewing gets tough
If all your efforts fail, you can always take it for a service at your local repair centre (or even better, track down a repairer who’ll come and visit you). I’m booking mine in for a service next month – after three years of hard use I think it’s time for a check-up.
Have you got a great tip for bending your overlocker to your will?