kathy bagioni

Color outside the lines . . .

Serger thread works well for many uses, but not all

Written By: kathybagioni - Sep• 25•10

Serger thread can be a boon for the sewer, and not just for serging.

Serger thread or cone thread (because it comes wound on cone-like spools, of course) is a thinner, two ply thread meant for use in home sergers. It has only two strands of thread wound together unlike the more common three-ply thread used for every day sewing. As a result the thread is thinner. It is also wound in one direction and other threads are wound in the other. (Don’t ask me which way, this confuses me. Supposedly this affects the way it comes off the spool but I never seem to see the difference.)

It is also a strong, polyester thread. Originally meant for high speed machines it stands up well to my sewing.

And it seems to have less lint than some of the threads out there. It is not lint-free, no thread really is. This saves time on cleaning out your machine, especially the bobbin area. Please tell me you are cleaning out your machine regularly!

I do actually use it for serging. My serger uses up thread at a fantastic rate and I buy in multiples, rarely one cone at a time. And BTW, if you are doing one project in a funky color, you don’t have to buy FOUR cones. Buy two for the loopers and wind off bobbins of this color to use for the needle threads. A bobbin’s worth of thread is usually enough for a garment or a couple of throw pillows or a child’s Halloween costume.

Or try color blending. Good old gray, in light, medium, or dark usually blends well with other colors. Use your matching color thread in the needle threads. Try this on scraps to see if you like the effect. I stock up on grays whenever I can.

But I also use serger thread in my regular sewing machine.

Warning: I do NOT piece quilts with it. Because it is a strong thread over time it can actually damage fine cotton fibers. There is an old adage,”Never use a thread stronger than your fabric.” Well, maybe not that old. Though my kids will say, if I say it, it has to be old! The saying is try, the one about the thread, not my kids’. Strong polyester thread can act as a saw and cut throw weaker cotton threads.

However, I do use it for appliqué, just not in the top of my machine. I like serger thread as the bobbin thread when doing machine appliqué. Because of the wide range of colors I can usually find a color that goes with the top thread. This reduces show through if my tension isn’t exactly right. And the lighter weight two ply makes great bobbin thread in my sewing machine.

But, I only use it as bobbin thread occasionally in my embroidery machine and only when the embroidery will be seen on both sides, such as, on towels. I like to embroider fun towels for the different holidays. Winding off embroidery threads to use in the bobbins doesn’t work well for me. Probably that cross winding directional thing about thread! Using a colored serger thread for the back side embroidery does work. This thread doesn’t have the same sheen as pretty rayon or polyester embroidery threads but the color on the underneath of your project works well. The lighter weight is not quite as thin as regular embroidery bobbin thread but it’s close.

And, serger thread makes great basting thread. Yes, I sometimes still baste. Sometimes you just have to. The thread is stronger than regular sewing thread and the thin ply pulls out more easily when pulling your basting stitches. Be careful and use a contrasting thread that shows well on your fashion fabric but don’t go crazy. I usually use white or light gray. Never use something like red or black! You can leave lint and dye behind. Ask me how I know.

So, I hope you will give serger thread a try, even if you don’t own a serger.

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