The Overlocker Series

Become Friends With Your Overlocker

I’ve seen so many posts and comments on social media where people have said that they’re apprehensive, scared even, of overlockers. Honestly people, there is no need to be afraid of them, below are my tips for making friends with your overlocker.

This is Boris, my Janome 9200D overlocker. I’ve had him at least 8 years and he was a present from my parents. I absolutely love him, he makes all my seam edges neat and tidy and sewing with knits is super quick! Please excuse the dust in the following pictures, Boris is well used and overdue a cleaning but there’s not much point whilst I’m in the middle of a project with fabric that frays like crazy!!

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A new machine is often already threaded so you can play straight away. But when you come to change the thread, the easiest and quickest thing to do is to tie the new thread reel to the old and pull it through the machine until you reach the needle then you will need to cut the threads and thread the new colour through the needle as the knot won’t fit through the eye.

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Once you’ve threaded the needles, I advise doing a few practice runs on some scrap fabric. I have to do this every time I rethread Boris because he has an annoying “quirk”. After I pull the thread through for the underlooper needle and do a few stitches, the thread somehow (still a mystery after all this time!) unthreads itself from the hoop underneath the feed (picture of this below) – of course this happens to be the most difficult bit to rethread and the long tweezers that came with the machine are a must to rethread it. After a few times rethreading and running through scraps, he sorts himself out and sews beautifully again.

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I do recommend learning how to thread a machine from scratch though, you may need to do this after a service or if you forget to change thread before you run out of the reel – it does happen, ahem!

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A diagram to show you how to do this will be on the machine so you don’t have to keep digging out the manual on every occasion. Or you can get someone to show you how to thread it, either someone who already is friends with their machine or possibly a specialist sewing machine shop – you will have to check with them if there is a cost for this or not. Top tip for threading the under looper – move the needle to the required positions to feed the thread through each hoop and the eye of the needle itself.

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So to explain the needles in the picture above. The top two sew the parallel tramline stitches, the middle needle that points towards the top two needles is the top looper and this stitches the loops on the top side of the fabric. The bottom needle that comes out from under the feed plate, pointing away from the top two needles is the under looper, which sews the loops on the underside of the fabric.

The majority of posts I see on social media are people saying the machine is too fast for them. What they don’t seem to realise is that, the same as a normal sewing machine, you don’t need to put a lot of pressure on the foot pedal. If you have a lead foot then yes, it will run away with you! The lighter your foot, the slower the machine will stitch – simples! Practice with the scraps, I suggest getting LOTS of scrap pieces of fabric and run them through the machine. This will also enable to you learn any quirks your machine may have and learn how to counter them.

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Someone asked how to do corners on an overlocker, you can’t swivel the fabric like you would with a normal sewing machine. Sew off the end of the fabric so you have a long tail of stitches, this prevents unravelling of the thread and leaving a tail on the machine itself stops the needles unthreading. Then turn the fabric round and run it though the machine in the other direction. It will cut off the tail but will secure the stitches round the corner.

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Once you’ve sewn off the other end, pull the threads back through the stitches with a needle or a loop turner and secure. I do this with my loop turner and tie a knot in the end of the tail – this is optional and down to personal preference.

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I hope this post helps you become friends with your overlocker! I’m off to continue making friends with my coverstitch…

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8 thoughts on “Become Friends With Your Overlocker”

  1. Thanks Melanie. Good post. I bought an overlocker a couple of months back and was also afraid threading it. But then a couple of weeks later one I had to thread it because one of the threads had come of the loops. Two hours later and I was ready to go. I still need the instructions but it’s so scary anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

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