How to Use an Industrial Overlocker

Put safety first when you use an industrial overlocker, also called a serger. Industrial overlockers are sewing machines capable of making up to, and even over, 1,500 stitches per minute, so being careless on safety issues can get you hurt. Protect your eyes with safety glasses. Keep your fingers out of the needle's path. The overlocker parts you will deal with the most when using the machine are the presser foot that helps to hold the fabric steady when sewing, the needle, and the power treadle, which is also called the foot pedal.

Position the raw edge of the fabric so the needle lines up to make a 5/8-inch seam allowance. Even though you are not actually making a 5/8-inch wide seam, most sewing patterns are designed with a 5/8-inch seam allowance. If the machine does not have seam allowance marks, you can put an adhesive bandage or small piece of tape on the face plate for a marker.

Press down slowly on the power treadle, or foot pedal, with your foot and let the overlocker's feed dogs pull the fabric under the presser foot. Hold the fabric straight as you sew, keeping the raw edge lined up with the 5/8-inch marker. The machine's cutters will be trimming off the excess fabric.

Keep sewing after you reach the end of the fabric. Sew about five inches past the end. This will give you a tail made of looped thread, and will leave the machine ready to sew the next piece.

If the thread pulls out of the overlock machine's loopers, pinch the thread end with the pointed tweezers and feed the end back through the looper's hole. Loopers on industrial overlockers have a groove on one side and the thread goes on the side of the looper that has the groove.


Remove pins before they go under the overlocker's presser foot because when a needle moving at 1,500 stitches per minute hits a metal pin, the machine can be damaged. Metal shards from the needle can also shoot out and cut you.

Things You'll Need

  • Scissors (optional)
  • Pointed tweezers (optional)
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About the Author

Laure Justice is a professional copywriter, since 2008. Justice has a broad-based business education, holding an AA in business administration and a Bachelor of Arts in management, plus certifications in accounting and international trade. She has written for GMC, Bounty Paper Towels, Purina's Petcentric, Colgate, Type F, Kudzu, eHow and many others.