New to sergers

pvaughn2241December 29, 2005

Just bought the Singer Ultralock at the local Walmart. Have no idea how to use it. I have been sewing for over 30 years but this is my first serger. The manual isn't very helpful. Anyone have this serger? Would appreciate any advice.....return it another brand ......give up completely !!!!!


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I bought a used Baby Lock from a dealer several years ago & was offered some lessons, but due to DH's health was unable to take advantage of it, and oh how I regret it! Once I retired and we moved I have time to sew, but there are no classes nearby. Arrrgh!

To tell the truth, I'm scared silly of a thread change, one breaking, etc. The book is confusing to me too.
If I could do it all over again, I'd definitely get some lessons before I ever tried to use it.


    Bookmark   December 29, 2005 at 10:45PM
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Return it to Walmart and go buy one where you can get lessons. Most sewing places have used ones on sale from people who upgraded and offer at least one free lesson. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 9:19AM
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I bought a serger from Walmart and signed up for lessons through my local Joanns store ($60). The instructor could not get the machine to work properly even after hours of trying. I took it back to Walmart and bought a White 1934D through Joanns and got free lessons. I love my new machine and it only cost me $100 more than the Singer, but the lessons were free so it really only cost me $40 more and IT WAS WORTH EVERY PENNY. The threading on this machine is so easy and with the Singer you had to actually thread a part of the machine without being able to see was crazy. Take your machine back (Walmart gave me absolutly no problem with the return) and get yourself a machine that comes with help. Good Luck.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 9:47AM
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Thanks for all the prompt replies. I am totally ignorant of this machine. I have read the instruction manual over and over and cannot for the life of me figure out if I have to sew the side seams of skirts or pants first on my sewing machine and then finish the edges on the serger or if the serger will do that for me? I have played around with it,, making chains, and the different stitches, but it doesn't show me what to set it on in order to sew the 5/8 inch seam. I am difinitely missing something.Does any serger do that? There is a local sewing center here. Will take this back to Walmart( it was a Christmas present from my mother-in-law ) and check out the others. I think the sewing center here carries Bernina and Singer. The cloth store here carries Janome. Choices.....choices. Will definitely check into lessons.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 10:02AM
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You have to change your thought on the 5/8" seam and how a serger works. sews and finishes a seam. All sergers work the same, it's the different features the sergers have that set the brands apart.

Until you read a few books, watch a few PBS programs on how a serger works and how to use it, actually sit down and read the manufacturer's manual several times before you practice, you will have your same problems using any serger.

How do I know you glossed over the instruction manual? I bought the same Singer serger as you from Walmart and love it dearly without a problems using it as a first time user. I took the time to sit down and actually read the manual several times as it's loaded with vital information, photographs, charts, and explanations. I then practiced the manual page by painful page even though I've been sewing more years than you and do the same procedure with any sewing machine, serger, embroidery machine, new appliance, or item I have never used in the past.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 12:10PM
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The serger sews the seams and finishes them off at the same time. If you are unsure of the machine, you should take it back and buy one at a store that will give you lessons. I have a White serger which is made by the people who make Viking. I love it. I took some lessons when I bought it. Don't buy a serger just to get a serger, you have to know what features you want, such as a cover stitch and differential feed.. Good Luck with whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 12:24PM
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Lessons are a definite plus. I have a White 4-thread serger and a Viking 5-thread (that machine enables me to do a cover stitch which is what you will find on hems of a lot of ready-to-wear sportswear). It is really important to decide what features you want as Colleen said. There is also a chain stitch available that sews an ultra strong seam plus overlocks the edges. Another nice feature is a two-thread converter which will let you make nice rolled hems (great for table linens, etc. and I use that a lot).

Two good books to study are "Serger Secrets" and "Creative Serging", although they are no substitute for hands-on classes. I agree that the manuals are sometimes pretty much worthless, but most sergers have a color coded threading track to follow. Also, the order in which you thread the machine is very important. First thread the upper looper, then the lower looper, then the needles. If you don't do them in the proper order, the stitches will not form properly.

Whatever you do with the current machine, please don't give up on the serger. With practice they are a joy to work with. Another tip. When you pin your fabric, be sure to pin things far away from the seam area. Running over a pin with a serger is a real disaster because of the cutters or blades that trim the fabric. Also when inserting/removing the needles, it's a good idea to place a scrap of fabric under the needles so they don't slip down inside the serger and get lost. Or use the little needle holder that often comes with the accessories. I also find that a dental floss threader (to use under dental bridges) is useful for threading the loopers' eyes.

Good luck and good serging!


    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 4:28PM
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Thanks to all for you help. I have spent today in search of the "serger". Have looked at and read reviews on the Kenmore 791BD, Janome 204D, Janome 634D, Singer, Bernina, and several others. I have been back to Walmart and questioned everyone there. I also found a book by Chris James, " The Complete Serger Handbook". And even though I'm still not experienced, I don't feel quite as ignorant. Everyone was right, it all depends on what you are looking for ( and your budget ) and read, read, read. Watch PBS stations, and read some more ! !

I have it narrowed down to the Kenmore, ( have always had Kenmore sewing machines ) or the Janome 634D. Both under $500.00 and good for beginning sergers like me. The Kenmore comes with instructional video and the Janome would come with classes. Anyway, thanks again for all your replies. I 've never posted in a forum before,and I'm really glad I came across this one.

So.....still looking and learning. God Bless you all.


    Bookmark   December 30, 2005 at 9:59PM
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I jumped over here from the quilting forum just to check it out - saw the thread on sergers. I was given a serger by a friend cleaning out her sewing room - but she couldn't find the manual! It is an older (10 yrs old??) BabyLock, and a local dealer said I could take a class they offer for $25.00 which would probably be more helpful than them ordering the manual for me so I'm thinking about it. I still enjoy making garments, and I think the serger would be useful to me, but right now, I'm afraid to touch it.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 4:37PM
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Took the Singer back to Walmart and decided on the Kenmore. Feel like I got a good deal. Sear's had it ( which I'm partial to Kenmore anyway ) for $349.00. I always search the internet for specials and coupons and found a sight for comparion shopping on MSN shopping. This sight showed the Kenmore I wanted on sale for $249.00, so I printed the sight, took it to Sear's and they honored the sale plus 10 percent !! Also, the sales lady gave me the name of a local seamtress that gives lessons for $50.00 a month ( that's four 2 hour lessons ).

This is not a lot of money in comparison to what I'm sure some of you ladies have spent for one. But it gives me room to " move up ". And I'm really thrilled about this. I love to sew, crosstitch and crochet and I've always wanted a serger.

Any advice, pattern sites, or tricks of the trade info would be greatly appreciated.


    Bookmark   December 31, 2005 at 5:15PM
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I have the Kenmore as well. The instructional video that came with it was invaluable. I found no problems with threading it after watching the video. When I couldn't figure out the rolled hem feature, I watched the video again and voila! I am the type of person who needs to see something done rather than read about it. I did take a few books out of the library as well for ideas and tips. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2006 at 2:16PM
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