Do Sergers Need Special Threads and Needles? (Solved)

Sergers are specialty machines designed to quickly and efficiently overlock the edges of your sewing project. These machines use multiple spools of thread and two needles all at the same time.

Here’s What Kind Of Needles and Thread Sergers Require:

When picking out needles and thread for your serger, there are many suitable options. Overlock needles work well, but regular ones can also get done in newer machines. Sergers tend to accept various threads, from serger cone thread to decorative embroidery options.

A Brief Overview of Sergers Vs. Sewing Machines:

Sergers, or “overlockers,” are specially designed to finish off the edges of garments so that they don’t fray.

With their multiple spools of thread and set of two needles, these machines are designed to give you dependable, strong overlock stitching that will protect the edges of your sewing project.

There are commonly three or four spools of thread used at once with sergers to create a strong overlock stitch. In a standard four spool serger, two spools will feed each of the needles while the other two spools are your upper and lower looper.

Your looper threads pass through the bottom of your machine. Serger machines don’t use traditional bobbins the way a regular sewing machine would. Instead, looper threads are used in tandem with the needle thread to create the overlock chain.

Because of this design, thicker threads can be used for the loopers. They don’t have to fit through the eye of the needle, allowing the user more choice in the type and style of thread to use for the upper and lower looper.

Sergers also use two needles at once while a regular home sewing machine uses a single needle. A serger will have both a left and right needle that work in tandem to create the secure overlock stitch.

Your regular sewing machine might have an overlock stitch or another finishing stitch that would also finish the edges effectively. For beginners, occasionally using this stitch on their home machine is sufficient.

However, using the serger is a particularly rewarding task for advanced sewers with more challenging projects. Since sergers are completely devoted to the task of finishing edges, these machines can do it with a high level of speed, precision, and professionalism.

Part of the standard serger design is the knives that work to trim your fabric as you feed it through the machine. If you have excess fabric that extends past the overlock chain as you are stitching, this will be neatly cut away by the knives.

This trimming function helps create perfectly finished seams on your garment. You can enjoy your precise and even edges without the separate step of cutting them by hand.

On the other hand, sergers are not versatile like your standard home sewing machine is. There are many different tasks that your home machine can accomplish.

Sergers, though, are dedicated to a singular task of finishing off edges.

What Thread is Best For a Serger?

Sergers are quite accepting when it comes to choosing threads.

You will likely find that your serger is compatible with more kinds of threads than your regular sewing machine.

There are plenty of brands that produce a serger-specific thread that is perfectly designed for the needs of your machine. Serger threads come in different weights, and you can even choose different options for your needle threads versus your looper threads.

Needle Threads

When it comes to thread weight, the lower the number means, the thicker the thread.

For needle threads, you might choose anything between a 12 and 50-weight thread.

A 12-weight thread is about the thickest thread that can still fit through your serger’s needle. If you prefer a thinner needle thread, you can choose an option closer to 50. 

The best choice for you will depend on the type of project you are doing. For an edge that you will leave exposed, like the outside of a napkin, you might choose a thicker, more decorative thread for a suitable, strong finished edge.

Looper Threads

When it comes to your looper threads, you can use an even thicker thread than what would fit through the needle. The looper threads are held in place by hooks that allow for a heftier thread to be used without any complications.

You can create a very strong and stable overlock stitch by threading the looper with a thicker, heavier option.

Tips for Choosing the Best Thread

There are plenty of high-quality brands of serger thread on the market.

Maxi-Lock is one of the best known that you can count on to deliver smooth and consistent performance.

Serger thread is usually sold on a cone. The thread is wrapped differently than it is on a usual spool and is better suited for the movement of the serger machine. 

For your regular sewing machine, the thread is wrapped around and around the spool. On a serger cone, the thread is wrapped in a specialty diagonal pattern. This design enables the thread to come off the spool smoothly at high speeds.

Sergers use up thread quickly because so much is required to complete each lockstitch. Choosing the cones of thread will provide you with more thread to feed your serger before replacing the cone.

Can You Use Embroidery Thread for a Serger?

When embroidery thread first hit the market, it was mostly made from rayon.

This material made the thread weaker when compared to other thread types. It was ideal for decorative details but was not suitable to finish a seam permanently.

However, polyester embroidery thread is now widely available and better suited for the task of secure overlocking chains.

A good quality polyester embroidery thread will be stable, durable, and colorfast. The beautiful sheen of these threads can stand out against your fabric and are a great choice for a decorative thread to use on your serger.

To use embroidery thread with your serger, you can select a size compatible with your needles. If you have a beautiful embroidery thread you want to use that is a little on the thick side, try using it for your loopers.

As you shop for decorative thread, you might also find other metallic or variegated options that are tempting to try. Especially when you are sewing edges that will be seen, these decorative threads can create a beautiful effect for the final project.

Can You Use Regular Thread on a Serger?

While it’s possible to use regular thread on a serger, it’s not the best option. Serger thread is designed to meet the needs of this specialty machine.

While regular thread will get the job done, it’s not an ideal long-term option.

Sergers work fast and require a lot of thread. Serger thread is designed to move through the machine without leaving behind too much lint. This is an important design feature since sergers can be quite sensitive to lint buildup.

When used on a serger, regular thread tends to leave too much lint behind. This tendency can interfere with your serger’s many tension dials.

When your tension settings get thrown off, it can cause some headaches for you as the stitches become unbalanced and uneven. 

Additionally, regular thread is usually sold in smaller quantities at a higher price. Sergers go through thread quickly, and it will be better for your machine and your wallet if you purchase some cones of specifically designed serger thread.

What Kind of Needles Do Sergers Use?

Sergers require multiple needles to create the overlocking chains. The best system of needles for your machine will depend on your serger’s age, make, and model.

Depending on your machine, a needle specifically designed for overlocking will be the most effective and possibly the only option. However, universal needles can get the job done on many fabrics for newer machines.

A commonly used overlock needle for a serger is EL x705. This specific needle cannot be used for regular stitching on a standard home sewing machine.

It is specifically designed for overlocking and does the job well. This needle is a great choice when overlocking knit fabrics.

You can likely use a universal needle on your serger if you have a newer model. However, even if your machine accepts it, its effectiveness can still depend on the kind of fabric you are using.

If you are trying out a universal needle with a new fabric, do a test at first and see how the stitches are coming out. As long as stitches aren’t being skipped, you can probably use this combination of needle and fabric together effectively.

The manufacturer of your serger likely has a recommendation for the best needle to use with that particular machine. You can follow their suggestions to get a needle that will work well under most conditions.

The manufacturer’s recommendation is particularly important if you have an older machine.

No matter the model of needle you are using, they will require specialized placement. The left needle of your machine should be higher than your right needle. This positioning should be easy to accomplish if you ensure each needle is inserted as far up as possible in the needle bar.

Can You Use Regular Sewing Needles on a Serger?

If you have a new serger, it can likely accept a regular sewing needle. Most older machines are better off with an overlock needle.

Some older machines will not work at all with a regular needle.

If you read through your instruction manual, you will be able to find out what is best for your particular machine.

With time and testing, you will get to know your machine and what type of needle works best for the type of sewing that you typically do.

After some time, you will know if your machine runs better with regular sewing needles or special overlock needles.

Final Thoughts:

While sergers can look intimidating at first with their cones of thread and multiple needles, they are handy machines that make overlocking a breeze.

Using a cone of serger thread is a great place to start. You can experiment with different kinds of decorative threads for a unique finished look.

The age, make, and model of your machine will dictate the best kind of needle. Overlock needles are specially designed for the serger’s job, but regular sewing needles are suitable for many modern serger machines.


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