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Forum > Sergers, Coverstitch and Blindhemmers > Please help—my 4-thread seam is narrow/falling apart ( Moderated by CarolynGM, Deepika)

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Please help—my 4-thread seam is narrow/falling apart
Problem with my Kenmore serger
m1khaela
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m1khaela  Friend of PR
Intermediate
New York USA
Member since 8/19/05
Posts: 133
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Date: 7/16/13 7:19 PM

Hi everyone,

Any idea why my 4-thread seam which normally looks like the below left image is suddenly not working? It's coming out


I sent photos to my sewing repair shop (and I just had this machine tuned up) but they want me to bring it in and they are very far away and I don't have a car. So I wanted to see if anyone here might have an idea first.

I'm feeling a bit desperate and ready to give up on serging and just stick with my sewing machine for now because it gives me less trouble. I would love to buy a better serger (used so I could get something decent) but I don't have the budget right now.

The problem: 4-thread seams are coming out very narrow (like a three-thread seam) and although all four threads are in the stitch, they are not constructed properly and the seam opens up very wide.

How it started: My serger was fine last time—I took off the cover to sew last night and this is what is happening! I'm using regular thread in the two needles and wooly nylon in the loopers.

What I've tried that hasn't worked: Playing with the tension, rethreading (several times), oiling, replacing both needles, cleaning out dust and lint, adjusting cutting width, making sure the machine is set to 3/4 thread serging, making sure everything is properly threaded. I have the troubleshooting book the Ultimate Serger Answer Guide but nothing in there has worked either.

Also, I JUST got my machine serviced and tuned up in April, and it was working great then.

Details: My serger is an older (20 years old? 15?) Kenmore 385.16644 4-thread model that my grandmother left to me when she died. I've taken one serger class and can usually get it to work, but I've also spent many hours swearing and the machine and repeatedly rethreading it.

Seriously, do I need to be a licensed mechanic to operate a serger? I just want to sew the knit dress, top and skirt I have all cut out and waiting...

Any help or ideas HUGELY appreciated. Could this be an issue with the little fingers that create the stitch chain? I'm so lost... here's a picture of those fingers:



thanks!
-Mikhaela
-- Edited on 7/16/13 7:24 PM --

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http://www.polkadotoverload.com/

misschris
misschris
AUSTRALIA
Member since 2/3/06
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In reply to m1khaela <<


Date: 7/16/13 7:34 PM

Is it only doing this with wooly nylon?
Are you threading with the presser foot up? (opens up the tension discs so the threads seat properly).

I know you've done all this but sometimes you just need to stick your tongue out the right way

I'd suggest rethreading completely with normal thread. Follow the manual as if it were all new to you - read every step carefully.
Check that you have the correct needles inserted correctly.
Set the tensions to whatevers recommended in the manual.
Test on plain woven cotton.

If it's only doing it with the wooly nylon, try using thread nets.

------
chris

Melbourne

m1khaela
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m1khaela  Friend of PR
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New York USA
Member since 8/19/05
Posts: 133
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In reply to misschris <<


Date: 7/16/13 7:55 PM

Thank you for the quick response! That "sticking your tongue out the right way" is a great metaphor!

I did make sure that the tension discs were open when I threaded the machine...

I did go through the manual step by step as if I was totally new to the machine...

BUT I have not tried this on plain woven cotton with plain thread and no wooly nylon. Will attempt that now!

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a.rose.sews
a.rose.sews
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Utah USA
Member since 6/14/13
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In reply to m1khaela <<


Date: 7/16/13 8:15 PM

I can see that the white thread hasn't got any tension on it. Just pull that outer needle thread in as snuggly as you can. And if that doesn't work, pull the thread out of the tension, then visually make sure it is going between the tension disks, and not on one side or the other. Happens all the time at the shop.

Your needle plate and pins look great!

If that's not it, keep me posted, and I'll try again.

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Annette -- Sewing Machine Mechanic
Bernina 230, Bernina 800DL serger, Kenmore (60 lbs), Singer Treaddle 1901, White serger, Mercury MO111 industrial, shell-stitch machine, plus several to fix and sell or use for parts.

skae
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skae  Friend of PR
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In reply to m1khaela <<


Date: 7/16/13 8:16 PM

wooly nylon thread stretches. you need to loosen the tension
so the wooly nylon flows with out a lot of stretch.

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Ecclesiastes 11:7,8 Nothing on earth is more beautiful than the morning sun. Even if you live to a ripe old age, you should try to enjoy each day, because darkness will come and will last a long time. (CEV)

m1khaela
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m1khaela  Friend of PR
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New York USA
Member since 8/19/05
Posts: 133
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Date: 7/16/13 8:47 PM

Thank you all! NO idea why that worked (I use wooly nylon ALL the time!) but maybe it was just rethreading it for the million trillionth time...

Anyway, I put in regular thread for all four, then tried it on cotton and it worked. Tried it on knit and it worked. A serger miracle! I'll just leave the wooly nylon alone for now as I only have one thread net.

But what frustrates me is things like this seem to happen to me with my serger all the time (never with my sewing machine)... I swear I've spent more hours SWEARING and CRYING and rethreading my serger than actually sewing with it!

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http://www.polkadotoverload.com/

Doris W. in TN
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Doris W. in TN  Friend of PR
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In reply to m1khaela <<
thumbsup 2 members like this.


Date: 7/16/13 10:37 PM

Quote: m1khaela

But what frustrates me is things like this seem to happen to me with my serger all the time (never with my sewing machine).

Then be grateful that it is only your serger that misbehaves.

Seriously, it might be time to look for a new serger if it gives you that much trouble.
SandiMacD
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SandiMacD  Friend of PR
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Date: 7/17/13 5:32 AM

Sergers should be fun and rewarding to use. Sounds like a much needed item to start saving up for. I started with the $250 model from Nancy Z. It did OK, no problems really but a pain to adjust by screwdriver and plate changes. Stitches were fair to good.
I was hooked and saved up for a BL. What a world of difference! It is so much fun to serge on it. Just love it. Stitches are great looking every time. But I know folks with other brands priced lower also enjoy their sergers.
I hope tou can eventually find one in your budget that makes serging a fun thing to do.

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sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

sewinggeek
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sewinggeek  Friend of PR
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Colorado USA
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Date: 7/17/13 9:22 PM

Mikhaela,

You are too smart and too competent to let this beat you.

First thing to remember/realize is that you cannot think of your serger as a different type of sewing machine.

Checklist for serging:
Thread with foot up
Threading order - upper looper, lower looper, right/left needle
Adjust tension - learn to recognize which thread is not correct
Serge a sample
Repeat as needed

It sounds like you know how to do all these things, but it also sounds like maybe you are not yet consistent in how you do your serger setup.

You can do this.

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PattiH
Brother 4000D, Brother 650Q, Brother 1034D, Kenmore 117-841, Kenmore 158-1040, Franklin, Singers: 15-91, 66, 221

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