Quick tutorial: Weave-in serger tails as you sew

Serger

This is a special weekend, because I have my overlocker back! The lovely man at Maury Sewing Machines in Hackney patched it up real good for me, and also gave it some general TLC – sharpening the blade, changing the bulb and giving it all a nice clean and oil. It’s like a new machine and I’m so glad to have it back in working order for only £50. I’ve spent all weekend sewing up the pretty knits in my stash into some much-needed basics to replenish my Kondo-ed wardrobe – tees, sweaters and casual dresses. I’ll share them soon, but for now I have a quick tip on how to speed up your overlocking process a bit by weaving in thread tails as you sew.

Weave in serger tails as you sew

I first saw this technique mentioned as an aside during Heather’s Ginger sewalong, and it’s also outlined in the Simplicity sewing book, which of all my reference books is the one with some really handy tips, especially in the overlocker chapter. It’s a really useful time-saver to neatly finish an overlocked/serged seam wherever you’ll be leaving the start of the seam open (ie not crossed over by another seam) in the finished garment. For example at the shoulder seam if you sew on a neckband in the flat, a sleeve seam with a flat-set cuff, or some types of pocket bag. I hope the photos and descriptions make sense, shout in the comments if not!

Weave in serger tails as you sew

1. Make sure you have a decent length of thread chain (a couple of inches) coming off the machine before you start sewing. Now feed in the seam and sew the first 1 or 2mm, so the needle is only just engaged with the fabric. Stop and hand-crank the needles to the down position if they aren’t already.

Weave in serger tails as you sew

2. Raise the presser foot. Grab the thread tail and pull it round the left-hand side to the front. You want to pull pretty tight so that any stitches on the little prongs behind the needles fall off and become taut.

Weave in serger tails as you sew

3. Pull that tail right around to the front so it’s in front of the presser foot in line with your stitching line. Lower the presser foot again.

Weave in serger tails as you sew

4. Now keep sewing, and your thread tail will get caught in the seam as you sew it. After a couple of inches you can pull it off the right-hand side so the excess is cut off by the blade.

Weave in serger tails as you sew

The result! Tidy seam edge, zero effort. Will you be giving this a go?

36 thoughts on “Quick tutorial: Weave-in serger tails as you sew

  1. Sally

    Great tutorial Katie! The photos and explanations are super clean and helpful – I will definitely be usinc this the next time I serge up something :)

  2. Caroline Joynson

    A great tutorial Katie – unfortunately I haven’t got an overlocker of my own but I have access to one at work – so think I’ll use this neat little tip on my next serging adventure!

  3. Brenna

    Oh my god. I don’t know how I didn’t know this. I’ve been meticulously tying off the ends every time. Thank you for this time saving tip!

  4. Claire

    Brilliant. Can’t believe I’m not already doing this. My usual routine is to go back and zig zag stitch the end in place over the serged seam. It ends up looking like your technique but is a lot more work . THANK YOU for sharing this!

    1. Katie Post author

      What I sometimes do at the end (another tip from the Simplicity book) is to flip my work around while it’s still attached to the machine, sew back up the seam a bit, then run off the edge. You can’t enclose the loose threads, but it’s cleaner to weave them in if they’re a couple of inches from the edge. Does that make sense? Maybe I’ll photograph that too!

      It’s rare however that *both* ends of a seam would be loose in the final garment, so I just make sure to sew in the right direction so I have the clean starting edge where I need it.

  5. Jane

    Very, very useful tip! I usually tie my overlocker ends or if I’m especially lazy, just chop them off and hope for the best (ahem)! This will give a much more professional finish. x

  6. Alessa

    Ooh, what a smart technique! I’ll definitely try that. Weaving in ends is one of my least favorite sewing activities, even though it doesn’t take that long…

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