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Friday, May 16, 2014

Serging 101: Threading for a Roll Hem

Who's ready for the next installment of our Serging 101 series? I know I am! If you're new to the series, you may want to read up on our first two mini episodes so you're all caught up:

And now today we're going to show you how to thread your serger to do a rolled hem! This is the first skill I wanted to learn on my new serger because of how often I do rolled hems with CKC patterns. I've always done it the slow way on a sewing machine and I'm ready to move onto the serger method. 

And I did it!  Here's my very first skirt I made using a serger. I guarantee you can do it too! Today I will walk you through a few important steps using pictures, and then we will show you a couple videos that will show how smooth it is to do. 

The first thing you need to know about rolled hemming is that we only need one of our two needles. We need to remove the left needle so that we're only using our right. 

The second change we need to make will depend on which serger you have.  If you have a Juki, you pull a little switch (the video will show this in a minute).  But if you have a Brother like mine you will open up your machine and remove the "stitch finger".  -- The what?! -- Well, just look where I circled above in red. The stitch finger is that tall skinny thing in there. Do you see the orange arrow about halfway down? You will hold the metal there, and then push the little lever where I drew a green arrow.  This will pop the stitch finger out. 

This is what the stitch finger looks like.  We will need it later, but not for rolled hems. 

The Brother machine gives us this neat little storage place right inside the cover where we can snap the stitch finger in place until we need it later. Now that we removed our left needle and our stitch finger, we are ready to thread our machine as we did before and then set the tension dials to where we need them. 

Notice the picture above. We will not be threading the yellow at all because we removed the left needle.  The remaining three dials can be set in a variety of ways but we have found that for doing rolled hems on the Brother serger, this is the best combination for us:  4 - 5 - 7.  It may be different for your machine. After playing around with it if you find a better setting for yours, be sure to write it down or take a picture so you can save yourself time in the future. 

On the side of the Brother machine there are dials for stitch width and length.  We want to set both of them to R for rolled hem, as you can see in the picture above.  

Now all of our settings are exactly where they need to be.  It sounds like a lot but after one or two times it will become an easy habit. 

Two more little tips: Since this was my first time serging I didn't realize that we need to "chain off" before and after everything we serge.  When we're done we can't just lift the presser foot and remove our work like we do with a sewing machine.  We have to drive our stitching off the back and then clip the tail, leaving some for the next one to start with.  It's not hard at all, just a new concept to me!  (I'm a beginner remember. The experts are probably chuckling at me, but I bet I just saved you some time!)  

It is also very important that we have our threads pointing straight backward, away from us, and not to the side. It took me a few minutes to figure out why, so I'm showing you in the picture above.  As we're serging we are stitching around two needles that are pointing toward the back of our machine.In the photo above there is a green arrow pointing at them.  These needles have the threads chained on them, so if we try to pull threads to the side they won't go anywhere!  Everything has to move toward the back, sliding off those needles. It's not a huge issue, but definitely something I didn't know before today. 

Alright those are all my tips. I'm so happy with how my first rolled hems turned out!  I did practice on a bunch of scraps before starting on my actual skirt.  But honestly, the machine does all the work and I wish I would have tried this out months ago!!!  

Now if you actually read through all that, congratulations!  And if you didn't, you can now catch all the same stuff in our videos.  First up is my video where I show how to get my Brother machine ready to make rolled hems: 

See, it's really not hard!  You'll be doing this in no time!  

For those of you who own a Juki serger instead, you get to learn from the fabulous Shannon!  She also shares some helpful tips that I didn't know about until after I made my own video. Don't you love that you get the beginner and the expert side of things? 

So now -- Are you ready to start making some rolled hems?!  We certainly hope so! Pull out some scraps and start playing around with it today.  If you have any questions, please ask in our patterns group where there are a lot of experienced women ready to help!  And we'll see you next time in our Serging 101 series. 

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 


  1. I am also a beginning serger and I own the same serger as you. I was just wondering about the settings for your rolled hem. On my first rolled hem, I set the tensions as stated in the "Techniques" booklet, which said to set the lower looper at 7. Well, my thread would not move at all set at 7. I called Brother and the rep that I spoke with me said the follow the settings given in the manual, which was a 5 for the LL, and that worked. I am just curious how two sergers of the same model could be so different. I see that a 7 worked great for you. 😊

  2. Each machine is slightly different and they all have their own 'personality'. Just play with your machine until you get the results that you want and be sure to WRITE down the settings in your manual that work. That way, if you ever sell to upgrade, the next owner will have the blessing of your research.

  3. Great instructions, really easy to follow. I've had my Brother serger for about 10 years and love it. Regarding the comment from tawn about tension, I would say that needle size and thread thickness also make a big difference to the tension. Best wishes to all.

  4. This is just what i've been looking for! I have 5he same serger and your instructions make it a lot easier to use! Thanks so much for sharing!

  5. This is just what i've been looking for! I have 5he same serger and your instructions make it a lot easier to use! Thanks so much for sharing!

  6. Wonderful, thank you so much, I've had this machine for years and never figured the rolled hems out!

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

  8. Great tutorial- Do you know if it is the same on all fabric? For example knits or rayon? I work with these both and would love to try out a rolled hem.

  9. What are the steps for a Janome 644D overlocker?