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Sergers & Overlockers

How to Use a Serger / Overlocker: 7 Online Courses Compared

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I compared 7 online courses that teach you how to use a serger machine (also known as an overlocker in the UK and Australia).

Overall, ‘Serger solutions’ by Craftsy is the most comprehensive course I’ve watched.

The teacher really walks you through every step, from threading to sewing stitch samples. She was full of tips and helpful explanations. I was really impressed.

My favorite lessons were about serging tricky fabrics and fixing messy stitches. This is so important for getting that professional finish. For beginners to serging, this will cover all the important things you want to know.

If you want a course that focuses on specific uses, like activewear clothing or unusual stitches, I have other course suggestions below.

Ps. if you own a Brother serger, I have a free tutorial on how to set up, thread, and test sew a 4 thread overlock stitch. My guide has step-by-step photos and written instructions.

how to use a serger: 7 online courses compared

‘Serger Solutions: Troubleshooting Techniques’ course by Craftsy

blue fabric with red serger stitches

Watch now

Price: $39.99 (one-time purchase) or a monthly $7.99 subscription for unlimited Craftsy classes.

What’s included?

  • 8 videos that total 1 hour and 48 minutes.
  • Choosing serger threads and needles.
  • Threading a serger (including the quick ‘tying off’ method).
  • Explaining how the serger loopers work.
  • Fixing bad stitches with tension problems and skipped stitches.
  • Closed caption text.

Pros:

The threading tutorial is really well-explained and full of tips. The teacher, Sara, even shows you how to use a needle threading tool if you struggle to thread needles.

Lesson 2 is focused on getting your thread tension settings perfect. After threading, this is one of the most challenging things to do. She shows you bad stitching samples and how to fix them.

Lesson 3 explains how the looper system works which is unique. You’ll also learn what to do if a looper thread breaks while you’re serging and how to solve skipped stitches.

Lesson 4 is about cutting blades. How to adjust the blade for different stitch widths and fabric types, how to put it away, and how to figure out when your blade needs replacing.

Lesson 5 covers decorative stitching. You’ll learn how to use wooly nylon to create full-looking finished edges; great for homemade napkins.

Sara tells you how to change your settings for decorative threads, how to thread them, and how to fix bad stitching.

Rolled hems and flatlock stitches are also covered here. There are some fantastic tips on how to fix messy-looking rolled hems.

colorful decorative threads on a table
Some of the decorative threads used in the class.

Lesson 6 is about working with tricky fabrics, like slippery or stretchy ones. You often run into puckering or stretching out problems when you serge them. So you’ll learn how to use the differential feed setting to fix these common issues.

Lesson 7 is 10 minutes of cleaning, oiling, and maintenance tutorials. Unlike other courses, she shows you how to clean the tension discs and under the needle plate.

a serger machine being oiled
A serger being oiled.

Cons:

The instructions for how to do different stitches are in many places.

If you want to check how to do a certain stitch, you’ll need to look through multiple lessons to find it.

For example, the threading lesson shows you how to set up and thread your machine for a 4 thread overlock stitch only. Then hidden inside the decorative stitching lesson, the instructions for creating rolled hems and flat lock stitches are covered.

The threading demonstration is done on 1 serger machine, a Bernina 1150MDA. But Sara does talk about how other sergers are different and how you would thread those.

This course doesn’t include how to thread a premium serger with air threading.


‘Beginner serging’ online course by Craftsy

4 thread overlock stitch being sewn

Watch now

Price: $39.99 (one-time purchase) or a monthly $7.99 subscription for unlimited Craftsy classes.

What’s included?

  • 9 videos that total 4+ hours of content!
  • Serger parts explained.
  • Threading (including the quick ‘tying off’ method).
  • Tension setting adjustments and other settings.
  • Stitches taught: 2/3/4 thread overlock, 2/3 thread flatlock, 2/3 thread rolled hem, gathering, and decorative stitches.
  • How to fix bad-looking stitches and machine issues.
  • Put away cutting blade.
  • Change needles.
  • Use serger feet: standard, blind hem, gathering, and elastic feet.
  • Cleaning.
  • Different sewing projects using a serger: zipper pouch, waist apron, and scarf.
  • Closed caption text.

Pros:

This is a really comprehensive course with 4 hours of video content.

The teacher, Amy, demonstrates on 3 different serger machines. The Brother 1034d, Janome MyLock, and Bernina 1150MDA. They’re all manual machines, not premium air-threaded ones.

dials on a serger

She really goes in-depth on how to set up the machines, change the needles, put the cutting blades away, etc.

a serger needle threader being used
How to use a serger’s automatic needle threader.

She teaches you how to set up your machine and sew 9 different stitches! This includes the overlock stitch using 2, 3, and 4 threads (note: not all sergers can do 2 thread stitches). The 2 and 3 thread flatlock. And the 2 and 3 thread rolled hem.

Unique decorative stitches are also taught, like how to use ribbons and yarns in your overlock stitches. If you’re only interested in the stitches used in store-bought textiles, this probably won’t interest you.

There’s a 25 minute lesson on how to fix bad-looking stitches and machine problems. Amy also covers how to clean your serger.

Then there’s a bonus 16 minute lesson on how to use special serger feet, like the blind hem foot, gathering foot, and elastic foot.

Printable worksheets are included for stitch samples, tension settings, and info about each stitch.

After all this, Amy teaches you how to make 3 different projects using your serger: a zipper pouch, ruffled waist apron, and scarf. This is a great way to put your new skills to practise.

Cons:

Unlike ‘serger solutions’, it doesn’t talk much about serging tricky fabrics.

I liked the zipper pouch tutorial but wasn’t interested in the other 2 projects (the apron and scarf). The designs were too unusual for me.

This course doesn’t cover how to thread premium air-threaded machines.


‘Serging Activewear’ course by Craftsy

pink tank top on a mannequin

Watch now

Price: $39.99 (one-time purchase) or a monthly $7.99 subscription for unlimited Craftsy classes.

What’s included?

  • 6 videos that total 1.5 hours.
  • Choosing fabric for athletic clothing.
  • Serger settings for stretch fabric.
  • Serger stitches that suit athletic clothing.
  • How to make leggings, hoodies, and tank tops using your serger.

Pros:

If you want to sew your own stretchy exercise clothing, this course is a must-watch.

The first lesson is about choosing fabrics that suit activewear. Lesson 2 is about serger stitches and settings that suit activewear.

fabric sample being stretched
serger flatlock stitch on purple fabric

The instructor, Melissa, then shows you how to use a serger to make leggings, hoodies, and tank tops. She really walks you through every step, from construction techniques for crotch seams to ribbing.

I’m not aware of any other courses that focus on using a serger for exercise clothing.

The instructor is also a specialist in sewing activewear on home sewing machines. She has books and sewing patterns focused on this niche. She’s also a marathon runner.

Cons:

Sewing patterns for the class projects are not included. If you want to follow along, you need to buy these separately.

How to thread your serger isn’t included. This class suits people who have already learned the basics and want to sew stretch clothing for exercise/loungewear.


‘Make friends with a serger or overlocker’ by Tilly & the Buttons

3 serger machines on a yellow backdrop

Watch now

Price: $53

What’s included?

  • 9 videos that are 5 to 35 minutes long.
  • Threading a serger (including the quick ‘tying off’ method).
  • Threading premium air-threaded sergers.
  • Sew woven and stretch fabrics.
  • Sew corners, curves, and loops.
  • Choose tension settings and other settings like stitch length, width, differential feed etc.
  • Stitches taught: overlock, rolled hem, and lettuce edge.
  • Put the cutting blade away.
  • Fix common issues.
  • Maintenance: clean and oil your machine and replace needles.
  • Closed caption text.
hand pointing at threading system on serger

Pros:

This is a comprehensive course. It includes how to sew the most popular overlock stitches, choose settings, sew tricky areas like corners, and clean and oil your machine.

hands serging a pink tube of fabric

Tilly demonstrates on 3 different machines. The models are the Brother 1034d, Janome 6234xl, and an air-threaded Janome AT2000d model.

Unlike subscription websites, you pay once and have permanent access to the class.

Cons:

It’s a reasonable price, but still higher than alternative courses. For under $10 you can get 1 month of access to Creative Bug or Craftsy and watch unlimited classes instead.

This course is designed to cover the most important essentials. It won’t talk about how to set up and sew less popular stitches, like the blind hem or flatlock. This probably won’t be an issue for most people, as sergers aren’t often used for these purposes anyway.


‘How to thread a serger or overlocker’ class by Creative Bug

woman threading a Brother 1034d serger machine

Watch now

Price: $7.95 per month. This allows you to watch unlimited craft classes (they have thousands). You can cancel anytime.

They also have classes on how to make clothes using a serger. Once you sign up, there’s no extra cost to watch these. It’s part of your unlimited classes plan.

What’s included?

  • 2 videos that total 14 minutes.
  • How to thread a serger for a 3 or 4 thread overlock stitch.
  • How to clean and oil your machine.
  • Closed caption text and transcript.

Pros:

This is a really well-filmed class. They get good close-up shots of each step without blurring or hands in the way.

threading points on a serger

This class includes threading demonstrations on 2 sergers.

The first shows you how to thread a Brother machine. They’re using the popular 1034d model.

The second video shows you how to thread a Juki machine. This has tension dials and no lower looper switch, so the process is slightly different. They’re demonstrating on the Juki MO 644d.

woman threading a juki mo 644d

The classes are straight-to-the-point with no unnecessary talking. Each video is under 10 minutes long.

If you struggle listening to audio, a text transcript is included and on-screen subtitles.

hands threading serger points

Cons:

The class is only 14 minutes long, so it’s not comprehensive.

They don’t cover what settings to choose. They also don’t talk about the different stitches your serger can do, and how to set your machine up for them.

The class only focuses on how to thread your machine for a 3 or 4 thread overlock stitch. That’s it.

In the class description, it says the class will teach you how to maintain your machine. When I actually watched the class, this just ended up being some quick tips at the end about cleaning and oiling your machine.


‘Creative Serging: Beyond the Basics’ course by Craftsy

flatlock stitch samples on a pink fabric
Flatlock stitch samples.

Watch now

Price: $39.99 (one-time purchase) or a monthly $7.99 subscription for unlimited Craftsy classes.

What’s included?

  • 10 videos that total 3 hours and 19 minutes.
  • How to use sergers and coverstitch machines.
  • Sew knit and woven fabrics.
  • Stitches taught: blind hem, lettuce edge, rolled hem, flatlock, and coverstitch (a normal serger can’t sew a coverstitch).
  • Serge curves and corners.
  • Gather fabric.
  • Add piping.
  • Install zippers and elastic.

Pros:

This is an interesting class for people who already know the basics and want to explore what else their serger can do. It focuses on stitches and techniques that aren’t often taught.

piping cord being sewn on serger
Piping cord being sewn on a serger.

Cons:

Initially, I was surprised that serging zippers would be taught. This isn’t something that sergers are known for, so I was curious.

The demonstration shows you how to serge a big separating zipper with a wide tape. There was just enough space for the wide serger foot to sew it.

zipper being sewn on serger
Serging a large zipper.

A normal zipper couldn’t be sewn like this. It would be too narrow for the serger foot. So I didn’t think this lesson was very practical for most of us.


‘Serger Basics Workshop’ by Butchers Sew Shop

a hand serging white fabric on a Brother 1034d serger

Watch now

Price: $29

What’s included?

  • 30 videos. This adds up to 2.5 hours of content.
  • Serger parts explained.
  • Threading (including the quick ‘tying off’ method).
  • Stitches taught: 4-thread overlock, 3-thread overlock, flatlock, blind hem, narrow hem, and rolled hem.
  • Techniques taught: how to gather fabric using the gathering foot; attach elastic; serge corners, curves, and loops.
  • Tension setting adjustments and other settings.
  • Activate cutting blade.
  • How to fix common problems like rethreading a looper, blade cutting problems, removing stitches, etc.
  • Maintenance: how to clean and oil your machine and change a lightbulb.

Pros:

This is a comprehensive course that covers a lot of different stitches and techniques. The teacher shows you how to change settings, activate the knife, and choose tension settings.

She’ll teach you how to sew 6 different types of stitches, sew on stretchy or woven fabrics, and sew tricky areas like corners, curves, and loops.

Maintenance is talked about. You’ll learn how to clean and oil your machine, and replace the lightbulb.

Common problems are discussed, like how to rethread a looper if it breaks, or what to do when the blade isn’t cutting well.

A printable tension cheat sheet is included.

It’s for the Brother model, but will probably apply to other brands. The only exception I know of is Singer. Their suggested tension settings are very different, so you’re better off following your manual.

printed serger tension cheat sheet

Unlike subscription websites, you pay once and have permanent access to the class. I think the price is very reasonable too.

Cons:

The course only uses 1 demonstration serger: the popular Brother 1034d.

If you have a different style of serger, you’ll need to figure out the differences in threading yourself. For example, a Juki serger with tension dials, or older machines with no lower looper switch.

This isn’t a big con, but the filming quality doesn’t match the TV-level filming that Craftsy and Creative Bug have. You can watch the course preview below for a better idea:


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