August 10, 2014

Kill Me Now! I Have to Change out the Thread Color on My Serger!


Ain't that the truth? Serger threading is nothing less that absolutely, positively mind bending. You get bent out of shape just thinking about it! I know sewing people who've actually purchased two sergers so they don't have to change out thread colors. They keep them threaded in black or white. Yeah. This is the bain of a sewist's/sergerist's/overlockist's existence. I thought that once and for all, it was time for me to give a little insight into the easier tie off version of threading your already threaded serger. In my sometimes sewing teacher life, I teach a very basic class on getting to know your serger. We thread the hard way and then I show you this way once you've got a threaded serger. Every time I teach the class, I'll have you know, everyone always says that they've tried the "knot off/tie off" way of rethreading their serger and it never works. Let me tell you something - it never worked for me either until I figured out how I could do it without ending up in a pool of my own tears by the end of it all. Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated with Babylock. Just so happens that's the serger I'm tutorializing on today. Also, for those of you who have those fancy schmancy self-threading sergers,
you can take your smug serger self and walk on cuz I may or may not be a little green with envy, this isn't for you, obviously. So the following is Sunni's method for re-threading a threaded serger:


Start by clipping the threads off your serger cones. Keep your threads long enough to tie a knot in them easily. Key words here - "long" & "easily." Ask me how I know how to do this the hard way and I'll give you a dissertation. For some sergers/overlockers, its easier to clip the threads before they go into the thread guides (that contraption that goes up and down, you know). Do whichever is easier for your machine.


Now make sure that the presser foot on your serger/overlocker is raised. The key here is that the presser foot acts as another point of tension (this, in addition to the tension discs where the numbers are). When you raise the presser foot, the thread pulls through much easier than if your were to have the presser foot lowered.


Now tie off the serger threads with the new color of choice. I'm using black here, the original color was red just in case that wasn't obvious. When you tie off the serger threads to a new color, make sure that your knots are not going to come apart when you pull on the thread. Give the knots a little tug from each end just to make sure. There is nothing worse - NOTHING! - than having the lower looper knot come undone whilst trying to pull it through. Yes. That damned lower looper and I swore there because that thing was forged in hell by Satan himself!


First we're going to bring the needle threads through and then the loopers. So grab your needle threads by the threads at the point just before the thread goes through the eye of the needles. Keep in mind that I've said we're only working on the needle threads here. One big mistake I find, is that people try to pull all four threads through at once and inevitably they end up breaking. Also, I'm telling you to grab the threads before the eye of the needle as the knots will not got through the eye anyway. Grab those threads, clip them and then pull the threads through until the knots come through. Clip off the knots. Know right now that you will have to re-thread the eye of the needles.


Next, grab the tail of the chained serger thread and pull the looper threads through. Quick note here: Since I've had the pleasure of working with several different brands of sergers, I've found that some sergers do this easier than others. If you're having trouble pulling the threads, try pulling one at a time, or pull each thread individually through the tension discs and then through the rest of the looper.


Rethread your needle threads, however you do that. Sigh.


Last, but not least, hold onto your threads - all four of them - tightly and give the foot pedal a little surge (ha ha, pun!) and chain off. Be sure to hold all four threads too because second only to the knot coming out of the lower looper, there is nothing worse - NOTHING - than having one of the threads get sucked back into the serger and then you have a complete meltdown because a) you have to manually thread the entire serger and b) its all knotted and well, knotted. You die a little inside when this happens. Seriously. All that work and then that happens. The pit of despair opens up beneath you and you huck your serger in there and then throw yourself in there with it. Firmly grab all four threads.

One more thing. If you're having a bit of tension trouble after you've re-threaded this way, before changing all the tension on your machine, make sure that the threads have lodged themselves nicely into the tension discs. Many times I found that the thread wasn't actually caught in the tension discs and then no matter what number it was on, the tension wasn't working. It was mind-boggling! Now go ye forth and re-thread that serger the easy way!

Since none of the bad things happened whilst drawing up this tutorial, I'm off to serge! Enjoy friends!
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30 comments

  1. I love the title of this post. :) thank you for the tip!

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  2. I do this all the time and it works very well, although I often do the needles last. One thing to remember, do not cut all of the threads at once to avoid getting the threads tangled.

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  3. Oh. My. God. Thank you, Sunni!!

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  4. Thanks for these tips! Believe it or not I am one of those who actually prefers re-threading. Every time I tried tried otherwise I was never successful or just found it more fiddly. Might need to give it another try ;o)

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  5. Sunni girl . . . I couldn't have said it any better myself! You are just so perfectly correct and funny at your instructions in this tutorial! I had a good laugh, "needed that!" reading your threading the serger thing. It is such a great description, I felt the agony myself while reading it! ha ha Too funny and so on the mark! Love you and keep these coming!

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  6. As one who has experienced every debacle related to serger threading I humbly admit I am one of those who bought a second serger, one is threaded off white one black. I know, I know, pathetic. But there you have it. The new one, a top of the line, super duper perfect stitch and can't be beat serger is the biggest PIA in the world. Thus I kept the trusty older unit and quite frankly use it much more than the new one. Both have given me fits with the knot re-thread method but I will try again...one of these days. Thanks Sunni!

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  7. This is exactly why I dream of one day owning one of those Babylock's with the jet-air threading. Changing threads on a serger really sucks. I use a similar method to yours. I just do one thread at a time, instead of cutting all four at once.

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  8. Ahh, thanks! After having a meltdown on twitter the last time I had to rethread my serger, someone asked why I didn't try the tie-off method. To be honest, I didn't realize I needed to do more than just tie it on haha! Thanks for a great, informative guide. Maybe next time rethreading my serger will be less painful. ;-)

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  9. So maybe I'm the weird one here, or my serger is just wonderful? But I don't have trouble threading it, al the little 'go under here and through there bits' are coloured such that you know which way to go and there's a clear picture inside the flap bit. My manual also shows the tie off method but instructs me to lower all the tension discs to 0 before I pull the thread through. I forgot that once, and that made it a hell of a lot worse, so I was suprised you didn't mention that. It does seem like your solution works for everyone who thinks the innards of their serger are like a maze from hell, so thanks!

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  10. One thing I always have to remind myself--IT KNOWS WHEN YOURE IN A HURRY. So try to do the re thread some time when it doesn't matter how long it takes. Hmmm. Yeah. Right.

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  11. Duh! I'm pretty sure I had seen this somewhere before, but completely forgot about it.. Thank you for reminding me!

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  12. Ha! Just what I needed! The Sewing Gods are merciful today :-)

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  13. Great photos in this tute Sunni. I admire your industriousness, (is that a word?) but I go the lazy route. Like you, I tie off the looper threads first. But then, I drop the tension discs to zero so they are fully open. Then I put in a piece of scrap fabric and slowly serge until the looper threads have pulled through. Once I have two colors of threads in my serge chain, I switch out the needle threads. Works like a charm!

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  14. I do this for my looper threads, and it's great. My Bernina overlocker has a little thingy that rethreads the needles, and it actually works! I don't hestitate to change colours, so I now have a lot of cones lying around, need a rack really.

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  15. I always do it that way too, and I can even pull the knots through the lower needles (which are a lot harder to thread anyway) because thankfully, those eyes are big enough! I had problems with the knots giving out a few times in the beginning, until I remembered the way you do a surgical knot: first do a half a knot with thread A over thread B, then do the second (half) knot looping thread B over thread A, and repeat step 1 for a third half knot. (And I think it's very funny that I could use some stuff from my medical studies for sewing...)

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  16. to sew.princess and others. turn your tension disks to zero. the needle thread is done w/a sailor knot as described by Alessa. than your needle thread will come thru w/a little nudge. dont forget to put tensions back to where they were. the rest of the directions are fine.

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  17. A great tip! Getting threads tangled is such an unhappy moment.

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  18. Totally understand. As with most things in sewing, sometimes it really is just about finding what works for you and sticking with it. I find that with a lot of things.

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  19. Oh so not pathetic. Actually, I have seriously considered doing the same thing and did! Ha ha! But, my old serger is now the "shop" serger and so I can't keep it at home anymore. Sigh.

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  20. Oh the jet-air threading! It MUST be heaven. Truly!

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  21. I've read about lowering the tension discs to 0 and have done it that way too. I'll admit, I'm very lay when it comes to writing down my thread tensions (oh my goodness I can't even believe that I just admitted that) so I just do it without messing with the tension. I know on some sergers though it just doesn't work unless you lower the thread tensions. I'll update this tutorial with that info shortly.

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  22. So true. It really does know when you're in a hurry. Unless all your stars are aligned, none of this works. Ha ha!

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  23. Oh going to have to try just serging to get the loopers through. Ha ha! Goodness, I think that would make it even easier!

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  24. Awesome tip! Thanks Alessa! Yes, I've had my knots give out more times than I care to admit. It's true tragedy.

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  25. I was taught to tie the needle threads in a square knot when doing the tie off method of rethreading. I think it makes a smaller knot that goes through the needles easier. The looper threads you can just do a loop knot. 9 out of 10 times the will go through the needles on my serger (Juki MO 654-DE).

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  26. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderful tutorials, pictures and explanations! They are really helpful when you are fighting a fitting problem, and especially when are learning how to navigate a serger. Even your subscribers have great ideas. Love your sense of humor AND your red hair.

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  27. Yes the tie off method is the only way to go! Learned that little tip for some of the ladies in my ASG neighborhood group. I try to stick with white thread for summer and black for fall and winter this seems to work for any seam finish uses I need. If its for a project I do solely on the serger then I exact match the thread color.

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  28. Thank you so much. I have successfully changed thread for the first time ever!

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  29. I cut and tie off and then feed them through while serving. When the knot gets to just above the needle, I cut the knot out and just rethread the needle and then continue. I will definitely be checking out your way to see which I prefer

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  30. That was went to say serging not serving, silly auto correct

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