HCL Makerspace's serger is a Baby Lock Victory BLS3. With the machine, you can seam, overcast, and trim all at once. It features automatic threading and tension adjustments for ease of use. The adjustable presser foot also accommodates thicker fabrics. It can serge with two to four threads and makes five types of stitches.
Why Use a Serger?
Sergers, sometimes called overlock machines, use multiple threads to "knit" a stitch around the edge of fabric. Fabric fed into the machine is simultaneously cut and then stitched to create a clean edge that will not fray. Originally, sergers were made specifically to construct products with knit (stretchy) fabric, but they can be used to give a professional finish to most sewing projects.
The Quick Reference Threading Guide shows how to thread the machine based on the type of stitch you want to use. Ten stitches are shown. The thread colors are just for demonstration. Make sure to use a thread color that best matches your project!
The Victory Instruction and Reference Guide provides an overview of the machine and a more detailed guide to threading. It also explains basic serging techniques and which stitch technique is best for which fabric or situation.
Use "Ctrl + F" to quickly search this PDF.
The Victory Specification Sheet provides an overview of the machine's capabilities, included accessories, and optional additions.
If you are using the serger outside of a scheduled library program, you will need to bring your own supplies. Please contact the librarian in charge of your appointment if you have any questions.
Make sure to bring the fabric you want to work with! It helps to have some scrap pieces of fabric as well so you can test how they run through the machine and how the stitch will lay.
Some people prefer to serge the edges of all the pieces of a pattern separately before assembling them with a regular sewing machine. This is especially helpful for more complicated constructions. Simple projects, like a t-shirt, can be serged and constructed at the same time.
Baby Lock recommends using Organ or Schmetz branded needles, system HAx1SP/CR. Needles can be reused, but should typically be replaced after three or so projects.
Size 75/11 sewing machine needles are suitable for most medium and lightweight fabrics.
Size 90/14 sewing machine needles are best for heavyweight fabrics.
A ball-point needle should be used with knit fabrics.
Depending on the type of stitch you make, you may need to use two needles at a time.
100% polyester-long fiber thread, crosswound on a cone, provides the best stitching with the Baby Lock Victory. Maxi-Lock and Metrosene are Baby Lock's recommended brands, especially for serging with decorative threads. That being said, any type of thread can be used in the serger, as long as it is a uniform thickness, has high strength, and lints minimally. If you are unsure of your thread, make some practice stitches on a scrap piece of fabric.
You must bring enough spools or cones of thread to accommodate the type of stitch you plan to make. The machine uses a minimum of two spools at a time. Remember, too, that serging uses a lot more thread than a typical sewing project.
If you do not have enough thread that matches your project, prioritize a matching color in the left-most needle. The left-most needle is the one that creates the seam line. The upper and lower looper threads never penetrate the fabric. Depending on your project, the looper threads may be mostly hidden.
When following a pattern, remember to measure seam allowance from the left most needle's position. If you measure from the cutter, your seam may end up 1/8 or even 1/4 smaller than you expect! The machine has two helpful lines on the foot to help guide your sewing.
The serger cannot backstitch like a traditional sewing machine. If you have any seam ends that are not secured in another seam, you will need to secure them. You can tie the loose threads and then feed them back through your stitching, or you can use a small amount of seam sealant.
Always test a scrap piece of your fabric first to make sure the machine is working well. While this machine automatically adjusts tension, there are still a few areas which can cause problems. If you notice something looks a little strange, consider these places first:
Remember to keep the presser foot down when serging! If you forget, there will be no tension on the thread.
The feed dogs are very strong, so you don't need to lift the presser foot to place your fabric under it. Just glide the fabric close to the foot and the machine will feed it consistently. You may only need to raise the presser foot when threading the machine.
Try rethreading the machine, following the directions carefully. If the upper looper, lower looper, or needles are not threaded correctly, they may not been flowing at the right tension (if at all). Threading directions are on pages 15-20 of the Baby Lock Victory manual.
Also make sure the thread tree is fully extended up so that the threads feed directly up from the cones and then over to the tension springs on the top of the machine.
Different stitches require adjustment on the machine. Quick the quick threading guide to make sure you have the correct Stich Selector letter, width, and length.
To serge curves, guide the fabric into the cutting blade, rather than the needles. The presser foot is longer on a serger and grips the fabric strongly, so you may need to stop several times and raise the presser foot to adjust the fabric.
For sewing inside curves, it can help to gently pull the fabric to make it straight for the machine. For outside curves, you can use your fingers to continually push the fabric into the cutter.
Because the serger cuts the fabric a little before sewing, you cannot stitch a corner the same as you might on a traditional sewing machine.
Page 39 of the Baby Lock Victory manual goes over how to serge outside and inside corners. There are also other corner techniques you can try:
Wrapping Corners Technique (Melot, 2009)
Melot, G. (2009). Ready set serge: Quick & easy projects you can make in minutes. KP Craft Books.
314 State Route 12, Bldg. #3
Flemington, NJ 08822