Overlocker tips: Burying thread tails

I have a few overlocker related posts in the works. Burbling away in the background. One in particular is quite exciting to the geek in me. And if you follow me on Instagram you may already know what that one will be about 😉

I’ve noticed a few “new overlockers” popping up on my feeds courtesy of another Lidl/Aldi deal. And because I have a few knit projects going on I thought it would be perfect timing to take a few pics as I go of the various little techniques involved in using an overlocker, for those of you who are new to this magnificent piece of kit. Be sure to check out these posts too if you’re a little nervous of your “beast”, and you’ll have it tamed in no time. But trust me, (because I’ve been there) it is very much worth your time, getting to know your machine properly at the start. You’ll feel so much more at ease when you come to sew a garment that you care about getting right, with fabric you care about not wasting, if you take a little time before hand to get to know, and have a play with your machine on scraps/samples first. And these posts (covering anatomy, threading, and tension settings) should give you a good jumping off point.  Just click on the image to view each post….

Anatomy of a serger/overlocker How to thread your serger/overlocker Establish the correct tension settings for your serger/overlocker

But in the meantime I thought I’d share a finishing tip for thread tails. Just as with sewing a standard seam, you’ll have thread tails to secure and finish. Firstly, there is no backstitch option on an overlocker obvs. So I always knot to secure, close to the stitching…burying-overlocker-threads-1



Thread the tail onto a yarn needle…burying-overlocker-threads-1burying-overlocker-threads-1



Pass the needle through the looper threads for about 2 inches…burying-overlocker-threads-1burying-overlocker-threads-1


Then pull the complete tail all the way through…burying-overlocker-threads-1burying-overlocker-threads-1

….and snip the excess close to the stitching.

how to bury overlocker thread

That’s it. Thread tails neatly buried 🙂 For an even neater finish you can pass the tail/needle under the threads right on the edge of the fabric (where the upper and lower looper threads meet & wrap round eachother) & inbetween the two layers of fabric of the overlocked edge. So they are sandwiched and invisible. I do that when I’m feeling particularly conscientious 😉  This piece is a neckband. If I’d buried the tails on the reverse of this, then it would be invisible on the finished garment once the seam is pressed to the inside and topstitched down. Depends on how neat you want to be of course. If you’re anything like me that’s often mood related, lol! Whatever you do though, this has got to be better than a dangly tail!


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  1. PsychicSewerKathleen November 7, 2016

    Great tip thank you! I’ve been tying a knot and clipping them but the knot can get a little bunchy 🙂

  2. nicola jarvis November 7, 2016

    Oh I welcome all news about overlockers Portia. I got an overlocker on the back of the jeans challenge. I’m still sewing. Still learning. I’m attempting a patchwork Jean assemble of a throw for a double bed for my sons birthday

    • Portia Lawrie November 8, 2016

      Sounds like an epic project Nicola!

  3. Megan November 7, 2016

    Thank you! These serger posts are extremely helpful.

  4. Ann November 8, 2016

    My first overlocker arrived today and is just about to be unpacked. I am strangely nervous about setting it up and using it – I think I’ll be checking out your overlocker tips regularly!!

    • Portia Lawrie November 9, 2016

      It is nervewracking isn’t it?! Just grab a load of scraps and practice. You’ll be fine!!

      • Ann November 18, 2016

        Well, I went for it with lots of practice on scraps and have now made my first garment – a sweatshirt for my little grandson! The only bit I found tricky was finishing off the circular seams, such as armholes, around the neck, when using the cutting blade. Any tips?

        • Portia Lawrie November 20, 2016

          Serge round until you are approaching the point where you started. As your needles are about to hit your start point, orientate the seam so it is on the inside of the cutting blade, (so you are no longer cutting, but still sewing) then sew 1″ past your starting point (this will give you a double layer of overlock for that 1″). Then stop, raise the presser foot, then gently depress the foot pedal whilst pulling your sewing straight out to the left at a right andle to the machine, until you have a decent size tail to tie off. (By raising the presser foot first the resulting tail will be much looser and, I find, easier to tie off without getting a bulky knot). Snip tail. Tie off. Bury the thread tail. Does that make sense? Px

  5. Janet November 10, 2016

    So helpful, thank you. I’ve always wondered if I was doing this right or not!

  6. Connie Turner November 12, 2016

    I just saw your post from 2013 about using hole reinforcers for marking darts etc You are brilliant that is the best solution I’ve seen. Tailor tacks get pulled out always and chalk marks disappear, marking pencils don’t show up on darks etc. Thank you so much for this idea. I found it on Pinterest.

    • Portia Lawrie November 20, 2016

      You’ve just reminded me I need to restock, lol! Glad it was useful!

  7. Kathy Hart November 12, 2016

    Thank you for the help. I just purchased a used serger and I love it. I was not sure how to finish the ends. Now I do. Have a great time sewing.

    • Portia Lawrie November 20, 2016


  8. Olly November 22, 2016

    I’ve been waiting for you to add some more to your series on overlocking! I found the first three tutorials so helpful and I’ve done a stitch ‘library’ as you suggested, but I’m still a bit unsure about what to use it for. Looking forward to the next posts.

    • Portia Lawrie November 22, 2016

      Funny you should say that Olly! One coming up this week 🙂 The swatches were to help you identify the optimal settings for your machine and demonstrate the effect that too tight/too loose settings have on the edge of the fabric; which will help you in diagnosing future issues. If that makes sense!

  9. Sharon McEwan January 29, 2017

    Hi Portia
    Enjoyed your page, doing a little revision before attempting a project. Has been a while since done any decorative stitches on my serger.
    Interesting comment re Janome sewing machine. I have owned Janome sewing machines and have never had a problem with sewing knits. Have you tried a stretch needle? I would suggest that you go back to your dealer and ask them why you are experiencing difficulties. Even the basic sewing machines should be able to sew knits.

    • Portia Lawrie January 30, 2017

      Hi Sharon! Yes I tried ALL the things. Stretch, jersey AND ballpoint needles. Walking foot. Stabiliser. All to no avail. I emailed Janome to ask for advice and they never bothered to reply. So I’m afraid they have lost my goodwill and I am now in love with my new Pfaff that sews knits beautifully, lol! Shame because otherwise I did rate my Janome quite highly. Px


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