How to Thread an Overlocker

Written by erika geiss
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How to Thread an Overlocker
Detail of an overlock machine, or serger (white thread spools image by Sergey Lukianov from Fotolia.com)

Unlike threading a traditional sewing machine that has one needle and one bobbin, when you thread an overlock machine, or serger, you are threading multiple needles with multiple spools of thread. Overlock machines vary by manufacturer, and there may even be differences among one manufacturer's models. Whatever model you have, threading in the correct sequence is crucial to proper machine function.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • At least two 75/11 machine needles
  • 4 spools or cones of thread
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers or hemostat
  • Needle threader (optional)
  • Fabric

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open the switch plate and insert needles according to the machine manufacturer's directions. Close the switch plate.

  2. 2

    Place the spools or cones of thread on the thread pins at the top of the machine according to the manufacturer's directions. You may need to open the extension bar and move the thread-guide hanger to align each guide directly above the spool pins.

  3. 3

    Pull a 4-inch length of thread out from each spool or cone to make threading easier.

  1. 1

    Open the bottom front plate of your machine.

  2. 2

    Pull the thread from the second spool on the right to thread the upper looper first. Working from back to front, pass the thread through the top guide.

  3. 3

    Pull the thread down, bringing it through the thread guide under the tension disc, through the slot and between tension discs.

  4. 4

    Follow the machine's colour-coded or symbol-coded pathway for the upper looper, guiding the thread through the series of hooks and guides. Pull the thread up and hook it from the top, then hook it from the bottom, using tweezers or a hemostat to grasp the thread if necessary.

  5. 5

    Pull the thread up and hook it from the top, then hook it from the bottom, using tweezers or hemostat to grasp the thread if necessary. Pull several inches of thread through the looper and toward the back of the machine.

  1. 1

    Pull thread from the outer spool on the right. Working from back to front, pass the thread through the top guide.

  2. 2

    Pull the thread down, bringing it through the thread guide under the tension disc, through the slot in the front and between tension discs.

  3. 3

    Follow your machine's colour-coded or symbol-coded pathway for the lower looper, guiding the thread through the series of hooks and guides.

  4. 4

    Move the lower looper with the handwheel or by hand (depending upon your machine's design) until the looper is in its lowest position. Continue guiding the thread through holes in the looper, moving the thread from right to left. (You may need to use the tweezers or hemostat to help guide the thread.)

  5. 5

    Pull several inches of thread up through the looper and toward the back of the machine. Close the extension bar/bottom front plate.

  1. 1

    Pull the thread from the inner left spool. Working from back to front, pass the thread through the top guide.

  2. 2

    Pull the thread down, bringing it through the thread guide under the tension disc, through the slot and between tension discs.

  3. 3

    Follow your machine's colour-coded or symbol-coded pathway for the right needle, guiding the thread through the series of hooks and guides for the right needle. (Note that some manufacturers suggest threading the left needle before threading the right needle.)

  4. 4

    Pull the thread through the eye of the needle from front to back. (You may need to use the tweezers or a needle threader.)

  5. 5

    Pull the thread from the outer left spool. Working from back to front, pass the thread through the top guide.

  6. 6

    Pull the thread down, bringing it through the thread guide under the tension disc, through the slot and between tension discs.

  7. 7

    Follow your machine's colour-coded or symbol-coded pathway for the left needle, guiding the thread through the series of hooks and guides for the left needle.

  8. 8

    Pull the thread through the eye of the needle from front to back. (You may need to use the tweezers or a needle threader.)

  1. 1

    Move the tension wheels or levers for each thread. If you have a programmable machine, set the tension and stitch style with the keypad or touch screen.

  2. 2

    Lift the presser foot and slide fabric underneath. Lower the presser foot.

  3. 3

    Start the machine to test tension and stitch style. Adjust the tension if necessary before working on a project.

Tips and warnings

  • Make sure to set the tension properly.
  • Use the correct types of needles for the specific fabric and thread you want to use.
  • Use the correct thread for the type of fabric you'll use and the kind of serging you'll be doing.
  • Test out stitches on scraps of fabric.
  • Always consult the user's manual that came with your machine.
  • Don't pull thread too hard when you thread each looper or needle. Moving and guiding the thread should feel like threading a regular sewing machine.
  • Make sure that all plates and covers are in their proper closed positions before you begin serging.
  • Always maintain the correct threading sequence for your machine's specific make and model.

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