How to use a Serger

“Who here knows how to thread a serger? Anyone? Anyone…?”
If y’all thought sewing was a lost art, you clearly haven’t met it’s cousin: serging.

What serger do you recommend?

What is serging even used for?

How in the world do you thread that crazy thing? 

I’m about to answer all FAQ serger questions you’ve had. You’ll be using your serger like a pro before you know it!

Which serger do you recommend?

The Singer ProFinish. Not only is it affordable, it’s available! You can swing by your local fabric store and find it there. It also regularly goes on sale. I found mine on Amazon for a very competitive price!
It’s simple to use, and there are a lot of tutorials online (including this one!) that will help with threading and troubleshooting.

What is serging even used for?

So many things, the list is endless! Here are a few things my serger works hard at regularly:

  • Cleaning up raw edges on garment clothing (let’s all breath a sigh of relief that we can avoid pesky zig zag stitching and pinking shear fiascos!).
  • Quickly make tablecloths, drapes, curtains and other long, large sewing projects in half the amount of time.
  • Whip up beautifully edged napkins, placemats and dishcloths in no time.
  • A serger can be used *alone* (read: without a sewing machine) to make *anything* in knit, lycra. jersey, any stretchy fabric. Sergers are much faster than sewing machines and they prevent any swayed seams on stretchy fabric’s seams. Make this t-shirt dress using a serger alone!
  • Give all of your sewn products a professional finish! It’s a valuable tool for budding entrepreneurs.
  • Sew a t shirt quilt in record time by using a serger instead of a sewing machine to sew the t shirts together!

How in the world do you thread the crazy thing?

Apart from actually pressing the pedal, threading the serger is the most intimidating thing about the machine. I am going to give y’all the tips and tricks I have learnt, and I am confident you’ll educate those fears away!
Before threading, open up the box your serger came in. If you have purchased the ProFinish, You should have a manual, DVD, pedal and plug, and a small baggy with tools (this is found inside the white plastic cover on the left of the machine. Yeah. That thing is removable! There’s a “button” underneath it, and if it’s pressed up you’ll be able to pull the left cover out).

I’ll be threading my serger with the colors that coincide with the colors indicated on the machine. Blue is the straight stitching on the left, green is the straight stitching on the right, red is the upper looper thread and yellow is the lower looper thread. If all of those terms sound like rocket science to you, don’t worry! I barely remember what their names are either. You don’t need to unless you are a sewing teacher (I don’t get any breaks for not knowing terms! 🙂 ). 

  1. Start by turning the tension knobs (the 4 knobs on the front of the serger that have numbers) to zero. This is really important because when you are threading the serger, the thread needs to be wedged between the two metal discs(located on the inside of the knobs), and not on either side of them. 
  2. Pull the metal thread rod all the way up and open up the plastic front plate. Try not to freak out. It does look a little crazy up in there!
  3. Place the 4 threads in the thread holders. 
  4. Starting with any color, pull the thread through the first hole at the top of the metal rod. Repeat until all 4 threads are weaved through their holes. 
  5. Now you’ll need to thread through the next metal hole/slide right at the top of the machine. Threading this one will be easier if you hold the thread tight horizontally, and the shove it through. Repeat with all thread. 
  6. Next, bring the string down and through the tension knobs. Make sure the threads are in between the two metal discs and not on the side of them! This is where it’s helpful to turn the tension knobs down to 0. The ProFinish serger’s “0 button” is a little confusing. It’s the blank one indicated by the below photo: 
  7. Continue bringing the thread down to the two metal “hooks” below the tension knobs. Repeat with all remaining thread. 
  8. Now it’s time to only thread one thread at a time. We will start with the upper looper (red) thread. It’s important to thread all threads in the proper order: red, yellow, green, blue. If you forget the order you need to thread in, there is a photo on the inside of the plastic cover indicating this, as well as how to thread the entire machine. 
  9. Following the order on the picture as well as the red dots on the different hooks, weave the red thread through each of the 3 inside hooks.
  10. Next, you’ll need to thread through the needle. We will be threading the needle coming out from the right side. If that needle is behind the needle coming from the left side, you’ll need to turn the knob on the far right side down until the needle is more accessable. (It’s hard enough to thread those needles!). I photographed these steps here: 
  11. To thread that bad boy, you’ll really want to use the bent tweezers provided by Singer! Seriously though, don’t ever lose it! (I probably will. Why do we always lose tweezers?) Thread the needle from the front to back, and pull the thread up and under the presser foot when you are done. 
  12. Whew! Red is complete! On to yellow. The yellow is threaded similar to red’s at first; follow the order on picture and the yellow dots on the hooks.
  13. It gets a little more complicated when you have to thread the needle. You’ll definitely need those tweezers! First, make sure you don’t forget the yellow hook right below the needle. It’s easy to miss! Then, wrap the thread around the needle from back to front and slide the loop to the end of the needle. There is a little scoop on the back end of the needle where you want the thread to catch on. When it does, all you’ll need to do is thread the needle from front to back and pull the thread up and under the presser foot as you did with the red thread.
  14. The hard part is over! Threading the green and blue thread is like a walk in the park in comparison to red and yellow! Let’s start with green: follow the color coding and weave the thread down and up through the 3 hooks. 
  15. Bring the green all the way down, twirl it around the “pig tail” hook……and thread the left needle from front to back. This one is tough to get to, but take a deep breath (and your tweezers), and you’ll get it! 
  16. Blue is threaded in the same way, except it skips the hook directly under the green. It will overlap green on the first hook it needs to go under, which looks weird, but it’s right. 
  17. Finally! The machine is threaded. Don’t forget to change the tension knobs! It is best to start with every one on 3, and adjust from there. Your manual will tell you the basic numbers most stitching types start on with different fabric weights, but let’s be honest… who ever wants to read a Manual?! has my favorite tutorial ever on serger trouble shooting and adjusting the tension knobs! As before stated, there’s so many cool tutorials and ideas for Singer’s Sergers! It’s a huge reason I love it. 

How do you serge?

  1. Lift the presser foot up. There is a lever located behind the foot that raises the foot up when it’s lifted. It’s easy to forget to put this down, so get in the habit of always checking to make sure it’s down before pressing the pedal.  
  2. Line the fabric you want to serge with the edge right up to the blade. Remember that the blade will cut off any fabric that is underneath of it! Also remember that if the fabric is not close enough to the needles of the serger, stitching won’t even make it on the fabric. This takes practice! 
  3. Lower your pressure foot, press the pedal. To end serging, simple continue to press the pedal while guiding the fabric to the side. The serger will continue to make stitches. Leave around 3″ of stitch length and cut it off to free the fabric. Awesome work! 
  4. You can examine the stitches now, and adjust the tensions following your manual (or other awesome online tutorials!). 

Obviously I can’t cover everything here, so here are some really good tutorials to expand your serging knowledge:

  • Frustrated with those pesky serger tails? Amy Allan writes an incredibly detailed and easy to read post on cleaning up those ends here!
  • Did you know you can make ruffles with a serger? Sew Delicious writes a beautifully detailed post here!
  • The top 10 best serging tips are found here: (I want to shout from the mountaintops what Serger Pepper writes regarding quality thread!)


I hope you’ve gained the confidence to thread your own serger! Please comment any more ideas or questions y’all have! I love hearing from my readers.

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