Serging, Sweet and Simple

The Serger- Why would you need one?

I bought my first serger in 1984.  Back then compared to what we have now, it was pretty primitive.

Today, most sergers use standard sewing machine needles (the same as for your sewing machine).  They’re easier to thread, and there are models that are pretty inexpensive.

For many years the Juki 654DE has been my favorite.  It’s reliable, threading is straight forward (if you can do dot-to-dot, it’s all color coded), and the functions are easy to use.  Recently we added a new serger to our line-up, the Juki 2000.  I still love the 654DE, but now that I’ve had a chance to work on the 2000, I’m excited to share the differences that I really appreciate.


For starters, the 2000 is an “air-threading” machine.  What does this mean?  The threading is simpler.  Once you slide the thread into the tension channels, you reach a hole where you insert the thread and with a switch of a lever, some air suction pulls the thread through and WHOOSH! your loopers are threaded.  Threading the needles is fairly simple as well, the needles thread similarly to the way the sewing machine is threaded, and there is a needle threader to thread the left and right needles.

Once your serger is threaded, there are many different stitch options available for you to use.  Should you wish to venture out of the standard 4-thread stitch, there is an LED display that guides you through the settings required for different stitching.  Stitch length and differential feed adjustments are at the ready on the right side of the machine.

But sometimes there are issues…Oh say it ain’t so!  Yep, but I’ve got some suggestions for you-

Always thread your needles last.  If a looper becomes unthreaded, re-thread your looper, and then make sure you are starting with 4 “unbraided” threads.  See below.


Check to make sure everything is threaded properly- no threads are caught up where they’re not supposed to be.  The threads are properly engaged in the tension discs.

Needles- if using two needles, make sure both are the same size.  If it’s been awhile since you’ve changed out needles, is it time to refresh and/or use a needle appropriate for your fabric.  And make sure the needle is completely inserted.  The left needle will be higher than the right.

What are your settings?  Is your stitch length and differential feed appropriate for the fabric/project at hand?  Remember, if you are serging with heavy fabric, you’ll need a longer stitch length.  If using a lightweight fabric, a shorter stitch length is appropriate.

Practice is important.  If you’re unsure about a project, we have a perfect project for you here!

The Serger Tote Bag


This is a simple, quick to do project!  For our sample we used cotton and firmed it up with fusible interfacing.  These go together so quick you’ll find you can’t just make one!  This finishes up at about 15 inches square.  We didn’t box the bottoms or add a pocket, just for now get the basic serging under your belt.

Serger Set Up

  • 4-thread overlock
  • stitch length 3.0mm
  • Differential feed at neutral


  • Two 1/2 yard cuts of cotton fabric (one for outside, one for lining)
  • 1 yard fusible interfacing (we used Heat and Bond Weft Interfacing)

Tools Featured

  • Dritz Quick Turn Tube Turner


  • Cut off the selvage from both fabrics first.  Cut the handles first from the length of the fabric, then cut the body of the bag.  See illustrations below.

IMG_7567                 IMG_7568IMG_7548

Let’s start this bag!

  1.  Fuse the interfacing to the wrong side of the outside pieces (handles and bag body)
  2. Fold handle pieces in half lengthwise and serge the long edges together. *When serging shave off roughly 1/8 inch while stitching.  This will give a cleaner edge and better stitch.
  3. Turn the handles right sides out.  Press seams to center or side (use your preferred method)

IMG_7563.jpg4.  Handle placement- Measure 4 inches from outside edge and place the handles.       Pin far enough down from to edge to make sure that pins won’t interfere with the serging.

IMG_7565 (1)

5.  Lay the lining piece on top of outside piece, right sides together.  Serge across the two short sides.

6.  Side seams- Bring the seams that were just serged together. This will create a fold in the outside fabric and the lining.


7.  Serge one long edge.  On the second side, when serging, leave approximately a 4 inch opening at the bottom of the lining.  This will allow the bag to be turned right sides out.  When serging the sides, leave a 2 inch thread tail at the beginning and end.  This will “lock” your stitches.

8.  Turn right sides out and press.  The remaining opening, simply serge it.  It will be on the inside and no one will know it’s there.

9.  Push your lining to the inside and press again, with your seam at the top.  You’re done!  Wasn’t that easy?


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