kathy bagioni

Color outside the lines . . .

Learn to use your serger

Written By: kathybagioni

Originally posted May 9, 2012

A serger is great machine to give ready to wear (RTW) finishes to garments you design and make yourself. It takes some getting used to in the beginning because it is set up just a bit differently than the sewing machine you already use. No bobbins, just loopers. Two needles at a time.


Did you know that the serger was a product of the The MerrowMachine Company around 1893? The company originally produced gunpowder but switched to knitting and sewing machines and merrow machines (what we now call sergers) by the end of the 19th century. The machines were originally manufactured in Merrow, CT, a part of Mansfield, but later manufacturing moved to Hartford, CT. Ironically, what used to be Merrow, CT is only ten miles from where I sit as I write this. The company continues to produce machines for the textile industry but is now based in Fall River, MA.

The merrow machine was originally designed to produce crochet-like edgings around the tops of socks but its seaming/trimming abilities soon found more applications in the growing textile industry.

At first glance a serger doesn’t look anything like the sewing machine you are used to using.

But don’t despair.

Repeat after me.

It. . . is. . . just. . . a. . . machine. And machines are logical and can be learned (unlike computers that can completely befuddle me at times).


When I got my first serger I was terrified. I tell my students that every time I had to thread it I broke out into a cold sweat. Truly. My hands shook and I was convinced I would thread it incorrectly. I learned. Most of the time I did just fine. And when I didn’t thread it properly I backtracked and found out where the problem was . . . and corrected it.

Now I am teaching “Serger 101” and “Serger 102” again at Close to Home in Glastonbury, CT. One three hour class on select Sunday afternoons will give you a basic overview of your machine and what you can accomplish with it. Several times a year I offer a project oriented class, too. Learn a new technique while make a table runner, or fleece jacket, or something else (key mystery music . . . do do do do). Check out their class schedule

So if you’re tired of breaking out in a cold sweat, join us.

I promise to give you tips and hints that will have you serging up a storm in no time.


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