Serger Series – Part 2: Threading

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

And so we come to it. If you have been “dreading the threading” I promise it really isn’t as intimidating as it seems at first glance. With the exception of the lower looper, which is a teeny bit fiddly, the rest is super straightforward. I know I for one had built this up in my head to be super scary; (when I was doing my garment construction course I’d always wait until the thing was already threaded and then jump on. Managed to avoid threading an overlocker for my whole time there, lol!) and when I finally took the bull by the horns, I was all “oh!! is that it?!!” This is a long photo heavy post but don’t let that put you off. The process itself takes 5 minutes. I’ve just taken alot of pictures, ha ha! You can click on each image to open seperately and zoom in for more detail 😉

PREPARATIONHow to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

You’ll need 4 cones of thread. Thread snips and tweezers. The hook nose tweezers are the most useful and if you’re a butter fingers like me then a second pair is handy too. The trickiest part about threading is accessing some of the teeny spaces where the thread has to run; but with tweezers…its a breeze. I’m using different colours here just for illustration purposes. It’s easier for you to follow the route of each thread that way.

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Every machine will come with a threading guide. Either on board like mine, or in the manual. Have it to hand. Note the numbers at the top of the diagram. That is the order in which you thread. So, upper looper (red), lower looper (yellow), right needle (green) and finally, left needle (blue). That’s the order we’re going in. (BTW, If you have a secondhand machine that didn’t come with a manual, or you lost yours, then they are often available for free online as PDF downloads. Check out Manual Owl as a good place to start).

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Start by turning all your tension dials to zero. This sets the tension discs inside at their most open position and helps ensure that the thread passes between them when you’re threading.

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Pull up the telescopic thread bar at the back….

FIRST STAGE (applies to all 4 thread cones)How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Position your thread cone on the appropriate spool holder. (We’re starting with the upper looper). Pass the thread through the corresponding loop at the top of the thread bar…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Hold the thread horizontally. The thread from the cone in your right hand and the loose end in your left and slide it up under that hook like part. Then take the loose end and run it in the channel that leads to the tension discs at the front. This part is easy to get the wrong way round which can lead to snapped threads.  Don’t want those!  This little wire thread guide has two upper loops at the top of it and the larger hook/loop that extends down. The thread runs from the thread bar above, under the right loop and the downwards hook/loop first and then runs over the top left loop and into the tension disc channel. Click the image to enlarge and zoom in.

UPPER LOOPER (red channel)How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

The thread then runs along that channel and round to the front where you run it between the two metal tension discs of the tension dial and down into the next part of the channel…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

…then snugs into another thread guide underneath…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

From there join the  red dots! Each thread position is indicated with a read dot and the thread is held there by a little hook that you pass the thread behind. Once you thread the final part of the upper looper (tweezers are useful there! Also, rotate the hand wheel at the side until the upper looper rotates into the most accessible position) the thread passes under the presser foot and off to the side.

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Upper looper done! See the red thread marked “1” on my threading diagram? That’s what we’ve just done. We’re now moving on to the lower looper. Marked “2” with the threading route indicated by the yellow thread. Note to the left of the main threading diagram there are two separate diagrams of the lower looper in close up. As I said, the lower looper is slightly trickier.  To the extent that it warrants it’s own diagram, lol! But fear not. It’s fiddly rather than complex.

UPPER LOOPER (yellow channel)How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

The steps up until this point are identical to the red upper looper. To recap: from the thread cones, through the thread bar and rear thread guides, between the tension discs and down into the thread guide underneath…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Follow the yellow dots (in the same way as you did the red for the upper looper), until you get to this point. AKA the slightly trickier part; Rotate the handwheel again so that the lower looper is at its most accessible position, and grab the thread with those hook nose tweezers! In this pic I have hold of the thread with my tweezers and the lower looper, the bit we want to thread, is just behind my tweezers, and just in front of the upper looper. It’s the bit that looks a little like a tiny penknife blade running horizontally behind my tweezrs and it has a little threading hole in the end of it. We need to pass the thread behind it, then over the top of it…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

…and then pull the thread towards us until it slides and then slots into a little dip/crevace right on the “elbow” of the lower looper…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Here it is zoomed in a bit. A little blurred (sorry, it was soooo tricky to photograph one handed!) but you can just make out the little nick in the elbow of the upper looper where the thread has to sit….it passes up behind the elbow, over the top and sits in that little cut out/nick….

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

From there thread the pointy end, and making sure you don’t tangle it with the thread from the upper looper (which sits directly behind it) pass the tail end under the presser foot and off to the side (2 sets of tweezers come in handy here!). Exactly as you did for the upper looper…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Another close up for you. That’s the trickiest part done!!

NEEDLE THREADING (blue and green channels)How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

This part is pretty much the same as a standard sewing machine except you need to do it twice! Start with the right hand needle (green channel). Threading process is exactly the same as the loopers up until the point it passes through the tension discs. Then it goes under a small thread guide, under a slightly larger thread guide and OVER the thread guide marked with the green dot…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Then down to the needles. Right needle is marked A. Into the little pig tail curl …

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

use tweezers to thread because the cutting blade gets in the way . Especially if you’re right handed…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Then, as with the previous two thread tails; pass under the presser foot and off to the side…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Lastly the left needle (blue channel). Same as the right needle except it only passes under the larger thread guide then OVER the thread guided indicated by the blue dot…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

thread and pass the thread tail under the presser foot and off to the side as before.  ****YOU’RE ALL DONE AND THREADED!!*** One last thing to do though. Chain off…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Re-engage your tension discs by setting dials to 3…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Plug in and switch on….

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Lower the presser foot and grab hold of your thread tails…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Pull thread tails round to the back, engage the presser foot and serge of a little chain…

How to thread a serger at www.makery.uk

Trim any excess and leave a 3″ tail.  All done!! Hope this was useful and that it helps at least someone out there realise that threading a serger is really not as terrible as it first appears. I know this is a photo heavy post which might make this artificially seem like a lengthy process . In reality it takes me 5 minutes, if that! Please please trust me. Try it. And you’ll see 🙂

You can view the first post in this series here.

Next up is tensioning and getting a nicely balanced stitch. I’ve discovered the COOLEST trick for that. Watch this space!

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29 Comments

  1. Daryl June 2, 2015

    Thank you so much for this serger series. It couldn’t come at a better time, since I purchased a serger recently at a garage sale. I got the threading down on my serger, but it’s the tension that is mystifying to me and were I need the most help. Looking forward to reading about what you have to say about that.

    Reply
    • portia June 2, 2015

      Ah you’re welcome Daryl! Thank you for commenting 🙂 Tension post will be up next week 🙂

      Reply
  2. Sarah June 4, 2015

    Great pics…. You’re right, it’s really not that bad! This might be coming up in a future post but one trick my MIL told me was if you’re changing colours by tying onto threads already there to always raise the foot before pulling them through. Also btw not sure if it comes up on all readers but you’ve got a weird bit of code at the very top of your blog…

    Reply
  3. Sandy June 5, 2015

    Thanks for doing this series on sergers and sharing with everyone . I have sewn for many years and I’ve had my serger for 10-15 years. I do know how to thread it but I must admit It makes me frustrated every time! I really have never taken the time to learn more than the basic serger stitch. I’m looking forward to to your post.

    Reply
  4. Donna June 18, 2015

    Thanks for this series, I know it will help me as well as many other sewists.

    One tip I’d like to share for threading a serger once you have it correctly threaded. Next time you wish to change thread color, simply cut away the current spools, cut near the spool, tie on with single knot the new spool, loosen all tensions to “0”, remove threads from needle eyes, and pull all threads through together. Reset tensions, rethread needles and you are good to go.

    Reply
    • portia June 22, 2015

      Exactly how I do it Donna! Managed to get away without “properly” rethreading my machine for over a year, lol!

      Reply
  5. Cecilia June 19, 2015

    You give great information, with text and pictures. Congratulations, and keep up the good work.

    Reply
  6. Lisa June 22, 2015

    Thanks for this. I love my serger. Getting the tension right is always a problem for me. Looking forward to your next post 🙂

    Reply
    • portia June 22, 2015

      Thanks Lisa! It is coming I promise! Px

      Reply
  7. Cathy Norton October 18, 2015

    I have just been given an early Xmas present of a Lidl Singer overlocker just like yours. Your tutorials are brilliant, thanks so much. My daughter has one too so she Threaded it for me, but now I am having a go on my own. Here goes….

    Reply
  8. Cathy Norton October 18, 2015

    I have just been given an early Xmas present of a Lidl Singer overlocker just like yours. Your tutorials are brilliant, thanks so much. My daughter has one too so she Threaded it for me, but now I am having a go on my own. Here goes….

    Third time lucky!!

    Reply
  9. Magdalena October 19, 2015

    Thank you so much! I’ve recently bought this little machine from Lidl. I’ve never seen an overlocker in my life and, needles to say, used one before. Your guide is so much better than manual!

    Reply
    • portia October 19, 2015

      Ah, so glad it helps Magdalena!

      Reply
  10. Marilyn Fletcher November 3, 2015

    Thank you for the clear explanations and photographs. This really makes threading an easy job. So much easier to follow than anything else I have seen.

    Reply
    • portia November 5, 2015

      You’re welcome:)

      Reply
  11. Beth November 13, 2015

    Thank you so much for this. You made it surprisingly stress-free! I can almost say it was easy! 😀 😀

    Reply
    • portia November 13, 2015

      It’s always easy once you know how 🙂

      Reply
  12. Janet July 25, 2016

    Hi there thank you so much for all your great pictures and easy to follow infomation on overlockers.

    Reply
  13. Leonie October 8, 2016

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! Just purchased one of these machines from Lidl and after looking at the manual was too scared to use it. Read your guide and decided to bite the bullet and pull out all the threads and learn to thread it myself from scratch. SO glad I did, not difficult to understand at all, just very fiddly. Now I’m just scared of sewing, not threading 🙂

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie October 9, 2016

      Ah yay! So glad Leonie!!! Do the “nailing tensione” swatches in the next post and you won’t be scared. Or just sit and run scrap fabric through it for 20 mins…..you’ll soon get the feel of it. Px

      Reply
  14. Sue Tucker October 16, 2016

    Just bought the Singer overlocker from Lidl and after reading your article I plunged in and threaded it myself. The chain looked a bit doubtful – very loose, but when I sewed a scrap of material the stitching was perfect. To make sure everything was OK I then followed your advice for Tensioning. I now feel very confident as I can thread this myself and I would urge anyone else thinking of snapping up this bargain to give it a go. Thank you so much for a great guide. It has been invaluable.

    Reply
  15. Andrea Barrett November 22, 2016

    Thank you sooo much! Like the other ladies above, I’ve just bought the lidl machine. Tried to follow another online guide to threading and I knew I was close but something wasn’t quite right. I started again following your guide and it now works perfectly! No idea what I was doing wrong but whatever it was, it’s now sorted. Phew! I’ve been here for hours! Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie November 23, 2016

      Hi Andrea! So glad it helped you the finish line 🙂 Once you’ve done it a few times it’s nowhere near as scary 🙂

      Reply
  16. Jenni February 2, 2017

    Thanks so much for posting this and explaining everything! I bought the same overlocker just after Christmas, and have only been brave enough to open the box this week! Did your machine also come with a ‘converter’ for rolled hems, and if so do you have any idea how to use it?! I can’t make heads nor tails of the instruction manual! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie February 9, 2017

      Hi Jenni, no it didn’t. As I’ve never used one I can’t really add any insight I’m afraid 🙁

      Reply
  17. Kristel June 12, 2017

    Many thanks for this! I was gifted the Lidl overlocker and was unable to thread it properly when following the manual. Your instructions and pictures were a life saver!

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie July 4, 2017

      Ah awesome! So glad they helped!

      Reply
  18. Peter July 16, 2017

    I have carries out your swathers etc, but here is the rub .nomatter what i do the R/H needle Green alwas loops on the reverse side. all other stitches are fine . I have gone from tension 1 – 9 no difference it alwaysforms little loops on revdeerse side.. could it be due to the type of cotton/thread. Ant advice would be greatly appreciated. and yes, it is a male using the serger. i have always been interested in repairing /mending etc now i am trying to make my wife a nightdress.

    Reply
    • Portia Lawrie July 16, 2017

      Hi Peter. Potentially sounds like a threading rather than a tension or thread quality issue. I would unthread that RH needle, set the tension dial to 0, and then rethread it, making sure that the thread runs between the tension discs. Then reset your tension dial to your desired setting (Ideally unthread the whole thing, set all tension dials to 0, and rethread. But if you don’t have the heart to do that, just try the problematic RH needle). If that doesn’t work you may have a mechanical issue on your hands which is not something I could help with. But it SOUNDS as though the thread on your RH needle is not between the tension discs. But hard to say without seeing. Hope that helps a little. And I love that you are making your wife a nightdress!!

      Reply

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