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Message Board > Beginner's Forum > Seam allowances when using a serger ( Moderated by EleanorSews)

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Seam allowances when using a serger
Basic question
HarrietHomeowner

HarrietHomeowner  Friend of PR
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Date: 9/8/11 8:58 PM

I finally got over my serger fear and am getting ready to sew a knit top. For my maiden voyage in using the serger for construction (so that I don't mess up my top), would it be better to

-sew the seam on the sewing machine, trim, then serge the edges?
-trim the seam down to some amount and serge without sewing it first?
-serge without trimming first?

Also, for the shoulder seams, I want to stabilize with something (probably just some interfacing). How to handle this?

Sorry if this is an overly basic question. I have searched and haven't found an answer. TIA.

MNBarb
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MNBarb  Friend of PR
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Date: 9/8/11 9:58 PM

Whatever method you use you don't need to trim the seam. The serger will do that for you.

You can...
-Serge only, without using the sewing machine. It takes some practice to get the right seam allowance since there aren't marks like on the sewing machine plate.
-Sew a 5/8 inch seam, if that is what the pattern suggests, and then overcast/trim with the serger.

If you are making a KS or Jalie pattern the SA is usually 1/4 or 3/8 inches and you can just serge it.

I use the clear elasic on the shoulders and just slip in between the fabric and the serger foot and start serging. It pulls together nicely but others haven't had good luck with this.

Alternatives are...
-Fuse a skinny strip of interfacing along the shoulder seam line before sewing/serging.
-Use a skinny strip of the same fashion fabric cut with the grain, use a washable glue stick to hold it in place along the seam line and sew/serge over the top.

HTH,
Barb

------
Barb
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." Thomas Edison
"I not only use all the brains I have, but all I can borrow." Woodrow Wilson

Skye
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Skye  Friend of PR
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In reply to HarrietHomeowner


Date: 9/8/11 10:03 PM

I like quick and easy so I serge in one swoop for knits, wovens I often use SM and then serge to finish the seams. I am lucky I have a 5 thread so if I know that it is a TNT pattern I will use the 5 thread.
Having said that I often mark the seam allowance with my pencil to get my eye in for how much I need to trim off.
Stablising the shoulder is fine to use iron on interfacing or I usually use clear elastic but you need to practice the technique before you try it for real.

------
Wellington, NZ

HarrietHomeowner

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Date: 9/9/11 0:06 AM

Thanks. I know it's quick and easy, but I'm worried about sewing the seams crooked since I have so little practice at it. It's probably safer for me right now to sew first on the SM and then finish the seams with the serger.

This is a McCall's pattern with 5/8" seam allowances. The fabric is a cotton/poly knit.

easterbun
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Date: 9/9/11 2:04 AM

There's really no need to sew the garment twice... you could effectively remove the ability of the seams to stretch with the fabric if you sew them with the machine first, ultimately eliminating one of the biggest benefits of using a serger on the seams.

lisalu
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lisalu
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Date: 9/9/11 8:21 AM

I am still a novice with the serger as well (and mine is only an older 3 thread model) so I almost always sew first, then serge. If for some reason need to do-over, it is much harder to undo a serged seam, plus the SA has been trimmed off. If you need to unpick the seam it can be a mess.

Also, with a 3 thread serge stitch, it isn't strong enough by itself for most seams so that isn't even a possiblity for me. Most sergers, though, can sew a true seam so you can jump right in and do that once you are confident enough.

But whatever you do, you DO NOT need to trim the seam allowance before serging. The machine does that for you!

------
Jim (Singer 301), Margaret (Singer 201-2), Betty (Singer 15-91), Bud (Singer 503), Kathy (Singer 221), Liz (Singer 221 Centennial Edition)
http://runningstitches-mkb.blogspot.com/

HarrietHomeowner

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Date: 9/9/11 12:38 PM

I see now (after practicing a little bit) that one thing I was doing wrong was trying to get the beginning of the seam under the needles as you would do on a sewing machine.

I tried drawing a chalk line at 5/8" from the edges on a scrap and sewing along it; then I tried it using pins parallel to the edge. Both worked fine. I think a little more practice will do it, at least for this project.

Thanks!

(I have a Brother 1034D 4-thread serger.)

lisalu
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lisalu
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In reply to HarrietHomeowner


Date: 9/9/11 1:23 PM

Okay, yes, you start with the presser foot DOWN and just start feeding the fabric in. Not the same way you start on a sewing machine. It is tricky, too, to get the seam allowance. Although there should be a seam allowance guide on your machine, it isn't right next to the fabric like on a sewing machine so you can't line it up. But trust me, with a little practice you will "get it". I am still very new at it too, but its not hard at all to do the basics.

------
Jim (Singer 301), Margaret (Singer 201-2), Betty (Singer 15-91), Bud (Singer 503), Kathy (Singer 221), Liz (Singer 221 Centennial Edition)
http://runningstitches-mkb.blogspot.com/

cimmanon
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In reply to lisalu


Date: 9/12/11 7:24 AM

Quote: lisalu
I am still a novice with the serger as well (and mine is only an older 3 thread model) so I almost always sew first, then serge. If for some reason need to do-over, it is much harder to undo a serged seam, plus the SA has been trimmed off. If you need to unpick the seam it can be a mess.



Also, with a 3 thread serge stitch, it isn't strong enough by itself for most seams so that isn't even a possiblity for me. Most sergers, though, can sew a true seam so you can jump right in and do that once you are confident enough.



But whatever you do, you DO NOT need to trim the seam allowance before serging. The machine does that for you!

Actually, the stitch that nearly all sergers produce (including industrials) is a type of chainstitch. This makes it *easier* to remove than the lockstitch that a traditional machine produces. Find the end of the stitch, carefully pick out the needle threads until you can grip them, then gently start tugging. My domestic 3-4 thread can be done by holding the needle thread in one hand and both looper threads together in the other. I've found stitches in commercial garments require holding the needle thread firm while separating the looper threads from each other. If you can't get the chainstitch to unravel, the needle thread generally slides right through the fabric.

If I am uncertain how the garment is going to fit, I would baste it together with a very long zigzag. Otherwise I would use a 4-thread overlock with a 1/4" seam allowance.
HarrietHomeowner

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Date: 9/13/11 1:16 PM

I finally just plunged in and sewed all the seams on the serger. No problem! For the sleeve, instead of gathering and inserting in the round, I pinned it in on the flat (before sewing the side seams) and basted across the sleeve cap and then serged it in place, but the other seams I just pinned. To stabilize, I cut a narrow strip of sew-in interfacing and serged that into the shoulder seams. I think the seams ended up being 1/2" instead of 5/8", but for this top it's okay.

This is really more of a test garment because I have a sad feeling the fabric is going to start pilling immediately. But it has been good practice in getting over my serger fear.

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