Backstitching On A Serger / Overlocker

I thought I’d post a trick I picked up quite some time after I bought my first overlocker.  I bought one mainly for seam finishing, trimming and rolled hems but these machines can do more than I gave them credit for.

It’s handy to know how to finish off the ends overlocked seams, though I don’t always bother because the end of my overlocking gets caught in a seam.  Sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s when I “backstitch.”

Finish the seam, slowing your speed as you approach the end.

Stop at the very end of the fabric, turn the flywheel two full rotations towards you to take two complete stitches.  Lift the presser foot and gently pull the seam away from you, to release the overlocking stitches from the stitch fingers.

Now, this is the only tricky part.  You need to “turn around” so you can overlock back the way you came.  Without pulling the threads much, flip the garment over and stick the former bottom and now top of the seam right up close to the needles.  Lower the presser foot.  Stitch for a few inches.

Then carefully move the seam out of the way so you can veer off and trim the thread tails.

There it is!  A clean and tidy end of the seam, bound back on itself.

I have a few other tricks to share, if you’re interested.

I had some time today to finish the fiddly bits on my Burda jeans.  Nearly there!  I included the double back yoke with flat fell seams, but there was no way I could cut a pair of long jeans from my stretch denim meterage.  The shop was sold out, I couldn’t get any more of that denim, so I improvised… This fabric is weeeeird.


31 comments

  1. What a fab idea, nice one. I find at the end of a knit seam it stretches out so I might experiment with this method to try to minimize or reverse it.

    • It helps quite a bit I find… No more than two stitches past the end or you’ll get thread loops at the end of your overlocking/serging. :)

  2. There’s a great book from Singer called “Sewing with an Overlock” that I picked up secondhand on Amazon for a few quid. Well worth getting hold of if you want to make the most of your serger/overlocker.

    My tip – if you remove the stitch finger for a rolled hem, leave it somewhere you can see it so that you don’t spend over an hour the next day trying to work out why your serger will no longer serge properly!!

  3. Oh, that’s a good trick! I had figured you could do something similar with the tails at the start of the seam, but hadn’t worked out how to finish off the end. The stuff I read has only mentioned fray-check or using a tapestry needle to thread the ends back in—which works great but is kinda time-consuming. :D

  4. excellent, I have a big serging project and I was wondering if there was a good way to make the ends tidy.

    I am picked up ~50 pieces (half yards) of solid color fabrics at the bargain table of my local fabric shop (for cheap!)

    My newest obsession is color and I want to have a full range of colors to use for personal color analyses. I am sewing for my sisters wedding soon and I am playing a role akin to Tim Gunn (I guess you get the idea). I need a way to identify flattering colors when I am asked, “what do you think?”

    Anyhow, I plan to serge the edges of all my “drapes” in a medium gray.

    • Oh! Cool! What fun! And a great way to approach it. :) I could see turning it into a sort of “girls night,” have a few drinks, laugh a lot. :)

      Turning corners with the overlocker/serger is more or less the same thing. Except instead of flipping the seam over, you make sure the stitches are off the stitch finger, lift the foot and turn the corner.. I learned to do corners well on a similar project… It was good practice. :)

  5. I usually use a tapestry needle to tuck in the ends after I’ve serged a seam. I’m going to try this next time.

    More tricks please!

  6. That’s a really neat trick and very quick I imagine too. I tend not to finish overlocker tails if they will be caught in another seam or hem and trim them later. If in a vulnerable spot for fraying then I tie a knot in the tail close to the fabric. I’m interested to try this back stitching soon.

  7. excellent tip ill definitely be using it – my machine’s manual tells you to thread back in with tapestry needle but i’ve never even done that – usually just seam finishing after sewing and if not well i just cross my fingers and hope nothing unravels too much with wear ;-)

    • I’m surprised this isn’t in a manual.. Hmmm.

      I find it usually doesn’t unravel much, but it’s nice to keep things tidy too..

  8. What an interesting trick. I use an overlocker very infrequently, and then mostly for finishing interior seams (which always get caught in other seams, so aren’t a worry). My previous trick was to stop sewing just after the end of the fabric, and pull from there, so you got a tail of loose ends, rather than the overlocked tail. Then I tied all the loose ends in a knot right at the end of the fabric, and trimmed of the extra threads. It’s worked so far, but I must give this trick a try to see how it compares.

  9. I’ve been considering this pattern and I traced it off the other night. I’m not sure I like the pocket treatment, so I’m keen to see how yours turn out. I’ll definitely be using your tip and I’m keen to see what else you have to suggest. I did a one day course in Brisbane a while back and learned loads of things with my overlocker that I never knew about before. They really are versatile little machines.

  10. Ooh, good idea. I’ll have to practice this. I really fiddle with the end of overlocked seams. I’ve tried threading back with a big needle but it doesn’t always work.

  11. Pingback: Serging Savvy Series: Threading « 3 Hours Past the Edge of the World


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