Facebook Twitter Blogger Pinterest Instagram YouTube


About Us Contact Us News Faq Tutorials Our Shop

giveaways ad

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Serging 101: How to Serge Knit Fabric

We have all come a long way in our Serging 101 series!  In case you missed out on any of the previous serging posts, we have already covered how to set up your serger, how to thread for rolled hems, how to thread for seams, and a few other posts in between.  And now today we're going to learn how to serge with knits!

One of the things I love about sewing with knits is that they don't fray, so it's not absolutely necessary to serge the edges. However, I have four boys and I'd like their clothes to get a lot of use, so I tend to serge my edges for extra durability. I also sew all of my seams with a sewing machine before serging.  It takes just a bit more time and makes them a lot more sturdy. So that two-step method is what I'll show you today! 

First, the sewing machine. When I sew with knits on my sewing machine, my favorite stitch is the "lightning bolt" stitch, as I like to call it, that you can see circled above. It gives a really strong stitch while still allowing the knit to stretch when it's worn. Please notice that the one I circled is NOT the same thing as a standard zigzag stitch, shown as #10 above.  You can use the zigzag on knits too but the finish isn't as nice.  

My second favorite stitch for knits is the #18 stitch above. It is a straight stretch stitch (at least on my machine) and gives a sturdy stitch but doesn't allow quite as much stretch as the lightning bolt, so it might cause problems with puckering. It is great if the lighting isn't available on your machine though. 

One thing to note with the lightning bolt stitch is that it does start out strong so it might pull your fabric down with the initial stitches if you're right on the edge of the fabric. I like to start down about 1/8" and that seems to solve the problem. Alright, on to sewing! 

After sewing the seam with the lighting bolt stitch, your seam will look like the one above!  Now you're ready to serge!

On my Brother 1034D serger, I set my tension dials all to 4, as you can see in the photo.  For your machine you may need to adjust the dials based on the recommendations in your user's manual. 

For the settings on the side of my machine, I put the first dial at 1.0 if I'm using a low-stretch knit, or up to 2.0 if I'm using a super stretchy knit. The second dial I put at a 4, and the third dial I put just above a 5.  I also make sure my knife is engaged. Again, your settings may be a bit different but these work great for my machine. 

To begin, put the presser foot down and chain off a tail, as shown above.

Then line up the edge of your fabric with the appropriate seam allowance. Mine is 3/8" and is marked by the red arrow in my photo.  With the presser foot down, begin serging.  Be careful not to pull or stretch the fabric as you go because it will cause puckers in knit! Notice that the knife is cutting off the excess fabric where the yellow arrow is pointing.

That reminds me of another reason I always sew before serging!  Anybody who has accidentally left a pin in the fabric can tell you that when a pin hits the knife blade of the serger it is NOT GOOD!  That is a mistake I won't make more than once! I like to have my edges sewn and pins removed before getting anywhere near my serger. 

As you serge your outfit, if you come to a curve don't panic!  Just gently guide the fabric through at a gradual curve. Think about how you drive around a curve in a car - gradually and smoothly, using the line as your guide.  

When you get to the end of your fabric, simply serge off the edge of it, forming another tail. Cut the threads and you're done!

You should now have a neatly serged edge. I aim to have my serger stitching very close to, but not quite on top of, my sewing machine stitches. 

Now if I stretch out the seam, no threads show through on the outside of the fabric! It is a secure seam that is ready to stand up to a lot of rough-housing from my boys! 

Aren't these adorable?  I love this Space Invader knit I got from Misty over at BWD Fabric and Supplies. This was my first time ordering from her and the quality is fantastic --  not to mention the super adorable prints she has in knits, such as Jack Skellington, Minnie Mouse, and right now she's taking pre-orders for Alice in Wonderland!  I have several more of hers that I have in my stash for future blog posts and I can hardly wait! But first I'm going to finish up this super cute outfit I started. Any guesses on what I might be making to coordinate with these little guys? 

Let's Create! ~ Kristen


  1. I found this so helpful. I'm sometimes scared of my serger.....that I didn't thread it right or have the correct settings etc. Thank you for inspiring me to tackle my serger again.

  2. I highly recommend a rotary cutter and self-healing mat for this – so much easier than fussing about with scissors. knit fabrics

  3. I have this serger (overlocker as we call them in UK) so thanks for the info on the settings, it's always a bit of trial and error with me but I shall follow your guide for my next knit project, thanks ☺

  4. Thank you, this was helpful.

  5. just followed your settings for knit fabric on my overlocker as we have the same one and it worked great thanks so much

  6. Hi, after having a struggle with some fabric that is 89% supplex and 11% Lycra, I have not been able to the serger right. I have googled and landed upon your advice. As this fabric is not really a knit(or is it still classed as) would you still recommend these settings. I have bought some stretch needles as well but not tried them yet. I don’t have much cut off fabric to practise on so any near settings and advice you can give me would be hugely appreciated. I am a novice with the serger. Many thanks