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Serger Tension Settings for Knits
Tension settings
MariaESchneider
MariaESchneider
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Date: 11/30/12 10:02 AM

Due to this great forum...I bought a serger (used). I've been perusing the forum for, oh, probably 8 months or so while I shopped for a used serger. Now I have one! I did my first alterations with it this past week and didn't actually ruin anything. Yay!

I sew mostly knits. The first alteration I did with the serger, I used polyester thread. Then I switched to cotton thread (I normally use cotton because quilting was my past and usual projects.) At any rate, when I tried to adjust the Riccar 734 for the cotton/knit...I get a lot of extra loop thread at the top of the cut. I did some searching here and found a couple of references to people and how they set the tension.

It seems that the tension is set much higher for knits than I've tried thus far (I followed the manual's advice, but there is only one example/chart and it is for poly thread and vague at best.) The things I've seen on this forum lead me to believe that I should be starting my experiments at 5 or higher on the needles and...? 5? or less? on the loops?

I haven't tried anything above 4.5 on the needles because the sample in the manual doesn't cover anything like that.

So the long and short of it: What tension settings do y'all use for medium and light-weight knits (jersey cotton)? I know the machines all differ, but is it generally a higher tension?

Or is it the cotton thread I'm using that requires higher tension?

Or am I just totally offbase...I do know that the tension I used for the fleece worked fine with the poly thread and was about 4.5 for the needles and somewhat lower 4 and 3 for the loops. That worked consistently for that project, but is way off for thinner knits.

Thanks for any help.

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I don't sew, I just shout and plead with fabric. Sometimes something wearable results. BearMountainBooks.com

sewsally
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Date: 11/30/12 12:47 PM

Tighten up the looper tensions if the loop are too big. Leave the needle tensions as the manual recommends.

I recommend you buy some serger thread cones such as Maxilock. The loopers use lots of thread.

Also check that your threads are really running through the tension discs.

MariaESchneider
MariaESchneider
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Date: 11/30/12 1:27 PM

These are very large serger cones, they just happen to be cotton. So I'm good there and using lots of thread trying things out... :>)

The manual really says zippo about cotton thread so I wondered if that was my problem because the poly was within the ranges (everything was under 5 and there wasn't a lot of difference for each material type.)

I'll try the higher tension on the loops!

I did make sure they were going through that tension disk area. I may take everything out and clean it again or something if the higher tensions don't work.

Thanks for the input.

------
I don't sew, I just shout and plead with fabric. Sometimes something wearable results. BearMountainBooks.com

PattiAnnJ
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Date: 11/30/12 1:36 PM

I would use poly as it has a bit more give than cotton.

You might also try lowering the pressure for the presser foot. This is usually a knob above the presser foot, on top of the machine.

Here is a PDF that does refer to different thread types.


-- Edited on 11/30/12 1:43 PM --

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"Improvise, adapt and overcome." - Clint Eastwood/Heartbreak Ridge

MartiP
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Date: 11/30/12 2:40 PM

You might also try adjusting the width of the seam. A wider cut will take more thread to cover and thus tighten tensions.

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MartiP

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MariaESchneider
MariaESchneider
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In reply to PattiAnnJ <<


Date: 11/30/12 3:49 PM

Okay, I'll try lowering the foot--I did have it quite high for the thicker fabric.

Thanks for the PDF. Will read!

------
I don't sew, I just shout and plead with fabric. Sometimes something wearable results. BearMountainBooks.com

MariaESchneider
MariaESchneider
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In reply to MartiP <<


Date: 11/30/12 3:51 PM

I have tried a bit -- It was at the largest setting with the fleece and worked well there. I had it somewhat smaller when I first got the machine and was testing with the poly thread on various knits. I kind of got it working on the knit at one point, but always felt like the loops around the cut were kind of...loopy. Now they are worse than ever with the smallest setting (or should that be shortest setting.)

I have to completely rethread since the threads busted again. Of course.

------
I don't sew, I just shout and plead with fabric. Sometimes something wearable results. BearMountainBooks.com

MartiP
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Date: 11/30/12 5:26 PM


Also, be sure the thread is completely in the tension disks. Grab the thread on both sides and give a little tug to be sure it is all the way to the center. I always use a good quality serger thread (not necessarily an expensive name brand) in needles and loopers, or sometimes a wooly nylon in the loopers. Some of the Gutermann thread I purchased was not as even as the JoAnns bargain brand. Maxi-Lock is usually always good. Use a stitch length that is appropriate for the weight of the fabric. Hope this helps!

------
MartiP

Ruckertt's Law; There is nothing so small that it can't be blown out of proportion.

Bernina 1230 Bernette 007D
Brother CS6000i Brother 2340 CV
New Home L372
Singer 221K (off white)
U.S Blindstitch, Model SL 718/2D
Simplicity SE2
Brother 700II

MariaESchneider
MariaESchneider
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Posts: 34
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Date: 12/1/12 3:18 PM

Adjusting the width of the seam works. I don't understand why though. I wanted the smallest seam possible, but it just doesn't work there. I probably am missing a key bit of information in what each setting does. But at any rate, I've been able to sew one side of a t-shirt and it stays mostly on target with the serging looking very nice (a bit loose in a couple of spots, but yanno, I'm not a seamstress and I'm just thrilled to have a serged finished look period. Tucking all those knit ends made for very bulky seams. The serger is a huge improvement.

Thanks for the advice. I'm halfway done or so with the t-shirt. It needs some adjustments and I haven't done the collar. Somewhere in there I lost track of what is front and what is back...

------
I don't sew, I just shout and plead with fabric. Sometimes something wearable results. BearMountainBooks.com

beauturbo
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In reply to MariaESchneider <<


Date: 12/1/12 4:44 PM

A manual is only so good, and it was written a long time ago for that one, and the machine is kind of old now too, and there are just too many numerous combinations of threads and fabrics and stitch types, that really no manual could list exact tension settings for everything in any kind of exact way, considering all possible sewing combinations of anything. Also, what worked best for them, probably was with a new and very clean machine too. And just the thread and fabric they were using at that moment. Which is not yours right now either. Tension devices might even change over the years, and with how worn and dirty they are too.

So I would not go with just any #'s written in the book, or give them too much credibility there, as I don't think that would be all that useful right now, with what you are doing right now. Especially as you want to use all different kinds of thread and not only even one kind.

Instead I think the better way, would be to use for testing purposes, 4 colors of thread, of the same kind you are using to create the real item, that match up to the color coding of the thread paths there, just on a test sample first, just so you can see what thread is doing what, when you sew each time. Then what ever thread you don't like the tension on, when sewing out the test sample on anything, you can see that easy, and just twirl that particular inset tension knob, up or down a bit each time, to suit anything you would want. At least that makes it very easy to see what is happening each time. And would always work.

Of course you don't want to sew your real item out with 4 colors of miss-matched thread that do not match to it's fabric, so after you have done that on a test sample each time, then you would save that, write it down as a note to your self, for that particular fabric and particular thread in the future, and put the right color of threads to match the fabric into the machine later, and sew the real garment like that.

I think after using it for a while like that, you would get so you no longer had to do that with 4 different colors of thread to ytest like that at all, and eventually even if all the same color of thread in there at once, you would be able to just tell which tension knob to tweek each time by just how it looked sewn out. But maybe not at first at all, with a new to you overlocker until you got used to it a lot more.

Maybe not as quick and easy as you would like it to be, but a lot of factors going on there with different kinds of threads and fabric for any garment, and at least that way, it would be pretty fool proof and easy for you to set the machine, for the results you wanted each and every time no matter what thread you used and no matter what fabric you were overlocking through. Just a thought.

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