Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Overlocker thread tip


Having sewn quite a bit with knits recently, I thought I'd share a tip on changing overlocking thread. I always go for a tone match rather than an actual colour match with overlocker thread e.g. charcoal grey thread for dark fabrics and off white for light fabrics. This works perfectly for seam finishing, as the overlocking threads are all on the inside of the garment. But what about when you're actually sewing seams with your overlocker rather than just finishing the edges? There's a likelihood that the thread could show through the seam line on the right side of the garment, so a vague nod towards light or dark isn't going to cut it, especially with a strong colour such as red.

Here's my tip - I only change ONE cone. The thread for the LEFT needle is the only one that shows through on the right side of the garment, so that's the one you should match up to your garment colour. If, like me, you have a Brother 1034D overlocker, you simply change the cone on the far left (the YELLOW dial), which corresponds with the left needle.


Here's an inside view of the overlocked seams from my Coco top which I made this way. The majority of the overlocked seams are off white, but that's fine because nobody will see them.

The inside view has an almost invisible row of red stitches at the seam line.

And here's the outside when the seams are stretched. Look - lovely red matching thread!


It's not necessarily the time it takes to change all four thread cones that I object to, it's the expense of having to shell out for four cones, especially if it's a colour you're not likely to sew with very often.  Does anybody else do this? For a lot of you, this is just second nature, but if you haven't come across this tip before, I hope it's helpful. x


70 comments:

  1. A very timely and cost-saving tip - many thanks Jane!

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  2. I've been doing this for a little while, except I don't even buy a cone of the needle colour, I just use a normal reel of Guttermans. Makes life a lot easier!

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    1. Aha! That's good to know too! x

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  3. Great tip jane! I normally do buy and change all 4 threads but I might just have to try this now!

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  4. Very helpful!! I just started using the same serger/overlock machine and will incorporate this tip. Thank you!

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  5. Thanks! Those comes take up so much space in the sewing room!

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    1. I know, that's another good reason to buy fewer! x

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  6. this is the best tip ever! thanks jane!

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  7. Oh Jane, if only I had seen this lovely post five days ago! Thanks for sharing such a great tip. If you skip to my blog (www.uandmii.co.uk) you'll see the hash I made of my recent dress because I did not do this. You're a lifesaver.

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    1. Oh wow, what a labour of love, I'd be far too lazy to go back and change the seam lines, well done for persevering! Hopefully you can whip your next one up with nice matching thread. Your dress looks lovely by the way! X

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  8. thanks Jane! that's a great tip :)

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  9. I have the same machine. Thanks for the tip, it’s fantastic and I will give this a go.

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  10. Fantastic tip! I've only recently bought an overlocker (Brother 1034D) so I shall definitely be able to make use of this. Thank you.

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  11. Brilliant tip Jane! I'm fairly new to the world of overlocking and so far only have black or white thread, was feeling a little bit panicked about having to shell out on lots of colours which I might only use a couple of times so this is great!

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  12. Thanks Jane, I will definitely stash this tip away for when I actually take my overlocker out of the box! My husband bought me one for my birthday in November and I've been terrified to use it! I keep using the excuse that I just haven't found the right moment to concentrate on it (although with two young girls this is somewhat true) but I'm just a big chicken :-) I loved reading your post about finally tackling yours so I need to get a move on and just do it :-)

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    1. Go for it, mine was in its box for three months before I finally plucked up the courage to use it! I've since found this Youtube video which is really helpful when you need to re thread it http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ohtf7H_gyc
      Good luck - once you get the hang of it you won't be able to do without it! x

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  13. That is such a great tip! I hate having to change all four cones, now I won't have to unless it is essential. Thanks!

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  14. This just changed my life! Thank you thank you!

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  15. Fantastic! I use my serger a lot & never knew that!

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  16. OMG Jane that's brilliant!! I never would have thought of that. I always waffle about if I should flip over seams and such (in cases when I'm pressing them open instead of serging together) so that up is always up (as in, starting at the top on one side and the bottom on the other). I am totally trying this next project! I've been needing to get several more colors, so this will save me tons of $... and then I won't need to use gray thread on a red project. Shh don't tell. ;)

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    1. I also used grey thread in a red project before I learnt this tip, so we're as bad as each other! x

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  17. Clever lady! I kind of do the opposite because I only use the serger for seam finishing. (the chain stitch function is kind of awful on mine). I will leave the needle thread and change the two outer threads. But this is subject to change depending on the project.

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  18. If it's the cost of the cones that is bothersome, I just purchased a tool called the Bob'N serge. You wind your bobbin thread on four bobbins, and put them on the bob 'n serge holder. This way, all your threads match. So now I can buy a single cone in a matching color.

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    1. Oooh I like the sound of the Bob 'n serge! May have to look that up too, thank you. x

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  19. Oh how very clever Jane! It's the expense that has always put me off matching my overlocker thread, but this is a genius tip! Thanks for sharing!

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  20. Yes I do this. Usually I change both needle threads because I still get the wrong color needle thread showing through if I don't. That could just be me and my serger though...

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    1. I thought I was the only one with this problem! With 3 white cones and black in left needle it's still the white that shows through! I can see the row of black stitches on left and the white row a bit higher so thinking maybe it's pulling a white looper thread through somehow.

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  21. Great tip!!! Will remember this for when I start using my overlocker again.

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  22. Yep I do this, despite having a drawer full of overlocker cones in many colours. I have the same overlocker too, still going strong after about 12 years.

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    1. They're sturdy beasts aren't they?! I hope mine is still going strong in 12 years too! x

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  23. Sheer genius. Thanks for posting this tip.

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  24. Fab idea - the cost of 4 cones of thread is so prohibitive!!! Thank you.

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  25. Amazing tip, thank you Jane! I've recently bought my first overlocker and so am lapping up any good hints and tips I find!

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  26. Thanks Jane, I loved the tip! It's very helpful and cost saving too.

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  27. Excellent tip, that first thread is such an easy change to do too!

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  28. Can't believe I never knew this - or thought about it! Thank you for this terrific tip!

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  29. I have only used my overlocker twice but this will be something to remember thank you for sharing.

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  30. Oh, this is brilliant. I was wondering about this in a post recently, where I used black thread on red fabric, and obviously the stitching showed! I am very new to the overlocker, so appreciate all the tips you can offer! Thanks again!

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  31. This had never occured to me but is genius! Thank you for sharing!

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  32. Great tip, I'll have to remember this - thank you!

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  33. I do the same! I only have cones in black and a pale sandy color. I use normal 250m/500m spools for the needle or when I work with sheer fabrics. 4X250m should be enough for one project.

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  34. Neat tip; I usually change 3, the first needle, and the 2 loopers. The inside needle is usually threaded with some completely random color, like hot pink or neon green. Uses up some of those random cone colors. : )

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  35. Fabulous! And best of all, the left needle thread is possibly the least annoying to change! I've been like Joanne and changed the 3 (it's a great look inside), but this is sensible too! ;)

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  36. I have the same overlocker. I use white, cream, navy, brown and black. The only project I have sewn on it so far was fine with the brown. However it looks like I may have to sew on it more often in the future (daughter wants leggings and vest tops!) and this is a great tip, thanks!

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  37. Soo... I slavishly match thread to my fabric, meaning I have three drawers full of those cones, and now you've given me permission to reduce my stash of overlocker thread. It might take me years to get rid of it all, but it will save me lots of threading time - thank you!

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  38. This is genius. You are my new best friend. :)

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  39. I've been doing this for awhile. Beware the Maxilock blues though. They had a run of sabotaged thread where about 300 yards into a cone, the cone was sliced. Some of their colored threads jam both the serger and my Pfaff sewing machine (tension gets tight then loose perhaps from slubbed texture. I had about 12 in a row of these slice Maxilock cones, and three or four of the slubbed cones, and when I returned them to the fabric store, they said most of those they'd sold had come back. I called the manufacturer and they are kind of jerks. The Maxilock thread is made in China, but the people I talked to are in NC. I have switched to Surelock and have had no trouble since.

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  40. That is a very helpful tip, thank you!

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  41. Simple, sensible & so clever! Thank you! (I'm a new reader to your blog Jane...you've just won another fan!)

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  42. Genius!!! It's so obvious really (hits self on the back of the head!!)

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  43. This is brilliant! I have definitely struggled with this dilemma before. I will definitely be using your trick! Thanks! :)

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  44. Good tip. Thanks. For those hard-to-find colors, I use regular thread in the needles.

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  45. Awesome tip. I'm looking for a new serger (4 cone) and that will definitely help me save money on thread.

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  46. This is absolutely genious!!

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  47. This is a great tip! I really hate spending extra money on thread and re-threading my serger. I have that same one btw. Of course this will only work if your fabric is not at all see-through. I have made the mistake of finishing seams with different color thread and then can see it through the garment.

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  48. Thanks so much for this tip - this is going to save A LOT of time fixing my dodgy coloured seam... :-)

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  49. if it's done as you mention, but the white (other) tread is showing through, what could the problem be? Tension too loose?

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    1. I'm not sure why it's doing this I'm afraid, it's always shown the left needle thread colour on mine. I would suggest doing as Emsewcrazy does in the comments above and changing the colours of both the left AND right needles. A bit of a pain, but much easier than changing the other two cones. x

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  50. Oh,. thank you for this. As a brand new overlocker owner (literally bought it this morning!) I'm trying to learn as much as I can!

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  51. Does anyone have any ideas on why my white thread is showing through with black in left needle? I can see the black stitching and the white row to the right wondering if a white looper thread is being pulled through?

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    1. Hi Lesley, as per my reply to Lienke above, I would suggest changing both needle threads. It may be that some overlockers are more temperamental than others, I'm not sure I'm afraid. x

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  52. Hi everyone, I've just come across this blog and it's fantastic!! I'm new to overlocking and have recently bought my first machine. The tip about the colour spools is brilliant and, even tho' I haven't even started yet, I think your blog has already saved me a fortune. I do have a question about blind hemming . . . . which thread shows thru' on the right side of the material (curtains)? I understand that I'll only need 3 threads for this and it will be helpful to know. In the meantime, thank you again.

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