Serger Tension Disk Help!! Video Part 5

Hi All! I wanted to take a moment before I get going on the blog post to acknowledge all of you that reached out to me via email and FB message to wish me well. I‘m doing better now and I appreciate all the thoughtful words of support. Not 100% yet, but getting there slowly!!

While I was gone working hard to get my blog back up and running, I spent lots of time helping in my FB groups.  My newest Facebook Group, Singer Serger Fans, is growing nicely and I think people are becoming more and more confident in their abilities to rethread their machines and fine tune their tension. I’ve learned so much from this group.  The group is mainly to support the Singer Pro Finish Serger, however we do our best to support ALL Singer serger models.  I own 3 Singer serger models myself including the Singer Pro 5 a serger/cover stitch combo machine.

This NEW video is a “Tension Help Video”. Over the last 10 months of managing the FB serger group I’ve learned the main causes of troubles new users experience with their sergers and how to help them fix it.  Yes, if you’ve had difficulty getting off and running with your new serger or even a serger you’ve had for a while, this video can help you.

My main philosophy on sewing in general is that with good information, practice and patience, most people can learn to sew.  I see so much frustration about sergers in sewing groups, that I became perplexed at just what was the real issue.  After messaging with another group administrator, I understand a bit more of the issue.  She seems to have the philosophy that not everyone is cutout to learn how to use a serger. With more moving parts and a cutting mechanism, people seem to get intimidated into never taking their machines out of the boxes.  I just can’t understand this so I decided to investigate. Part of my not understanding probably stems from being in the professional arena for so many years.  I’ve owned a serger for more years than I’m willing to admit at this point and I was super excited to learn everything about it back then.  Since then, there have been major advances in the design of the serger and they’ve become quite expensive with the self-threading options.  I still prefer my manual mechanical sergers.  Simple and reliable to use.  When I first started producing video tutorials on how to use a serger, I had no idea that owners were so afraid of their machines.  Now, with this new Serger Tension Help Video, I address the issues I’ve seen over and over in the groups and show how to resolve the them.  My hope is that anyone that is interested in purchasing or has purchased this machine or even a similar machine, will learn to use it!!

A serger opens a whole new world of sewing and exploring.  Knits can be constructed with a breeze.  Of course, the caveat is that one needs to take the time to learn how to use this machine.  Learning how to use your machine involves creating good serger sewing habits as well.  The truth is that most mistakes and malfunctions come from user error with not knowing how to operate the machine properly.  People tend to right away blame their machines, instead of taking the time to find the real issue.  That was the primary reason for starting my Singer Pro Finish Video Series.  Many people are visual learners and need that kind of support when purchasing a machine online.  I understand that the SPF comes with a video now, however mine didn’t when I purchased years ago.  

Common Serger Issues

~ If you’ve adjusted tension by both increasing and decreasing tension all the way up or down and you don’t see any improvement to your stitch quality, this is your problem.

The #1 cause of tension issues, is not having the threads passing through the tension disks properly.  This involves setting the tension dials to -0- when threading AND lifting the presser foot.  This disengages the tension in the machine and prepares it properly for threading.  It’s difficult to thread through the disks if this step is missed and results in tension havoc.  People are too afraid to turn their dials to -0-.  When I hear people advise others to snap the threads into place, I know they haven’t set the dials to -0- or possibly not picked up the presser foot.  The thread pass easily through the disks when tension is disengaged!!  I promise you will be able to reset the machine again and it will work!!

The red arrows indicate where the thread should be passing through the tension disk. Right down the center in between both metal disks.


This photo shows where NOT to thread your machine, on the right side of the tension disk.


This photo shows where NOT to thread your machine, on the left side of the tension disk.

~  Everything is set and ready to sew and then I break a needle.

The second most common issue that many people forget is to reset the dials and put down the presser foot when starting to stitch.  2 very important steps.  This can cause a needle to break or even knock mechanisms out of alignment.

Presser foot lever down

Presser foot down

Another issue that can cause broken needles is when people tend to pull the threads a little to hard to the back as the machine to create the initial chain.  This causes the needles to be shifted out of alignment and can hit the needle plate.  This is another newbie error that can easily be avoided by creating good serger habits.  

~  Getting comfortable using a serger

The next issue I’ve found, is that people think using a serger should be easy. When they don’t have success the first time in front of their machines, they give up. It’s not difficult to learn how to use a serger, the difficultly comes into play when you don’t follow good directions and create good serger sewing habits.  99% of issues are user errors.  I don’t say this to make anyone angry, it’s the truth.  If someone doesn’t take the time to learn, how would they expect to be successful?  I hear it all the time, “I’m getting ready to throw this machine out the window!!”.  This makes me laugh and I always think, “Please hand me your machine and you jump out the window instead because it’s not the machine’s fault, it’s you!!”  Sad to say, but it happens over and over.

~  Which thread does what part of the serger chain stitch 

Learning what each thread does in your serger is part of creating good habits.  Take the time to thread the machine with 4 different colors when learning to do the 4 thread ultra mock safely stitch.  I use colors that coordinate with each of the tension disks, but you can use whatever you have as long as they are very different colors.  

This is the most commonly used stitch meant for construction.  Set up the stitch and play with your tensions.  One by one turn up the tensions and see how it affects the stitch.  You will start to notice how to perfectly balance your stitch every time.  When starting a new project, test your machine on scraps from your project by inserting the proper needle for your fabrication and fine tuning your stitch tension.  Perfection comes with practice.  Don’t forget to refer to your manual for starting point settings.

So I hope by creating this new help video to address these simple correctable issues, new serger owners or frustrated owners will find the path to serger success. Having a serger really does open up a whole new world of sewing.  If you’ve invested in one of these machines, don’t you want to take advantage of all the options it has to offer? Of course you do and my main goal with creating these videos is for you to achieve success!!  So stop being afraid and get it out of the box.  Set it up and be determined!! Watch my PART 1: Threading Video for help or the video that came with your machine.  Get excited and send me questions!!  It’s how we all learn. 

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