Serging curves

I had been sewing for years before I had a serger in my arsenal. To be honest, when I received it, I thought it was superfluous (I wasn't sewing with knit back then as much) but nice to have. Fast forward a few years and I can't imagine my life without it. It is my workhorse, and we are best friends. 

Those first few months, however, were a struggle. Uneven edges. Loopers off the fabric. And most troublesome of all, curves.

Unlike a conventional sewing machine, because of the distance between the knife and the needles as well as the position of the needles, sergers tend to like straight lines. There are some tricks you can use, however, to make sure that your curves look just as pretty. 

1) Go slowly

Some sergers have speed control that will lower the maximum speed at which the feed dogs move. If you have this function on your machine, this is a great time to put it to use. If not, ease up on the lead foot until you feel more comfortable with the curves. This is especially true for tighter turns. 

2) Shorten your stitch length

Because your stitches will be going around the outside or inside of a curve, it helps to have the stitches closer together. 

3) Retract your stitch finger (if possible)

The stitch finger's job is to help form the pretty loops on the outside edge. It's helpful, but not necessary. Since the fabric is curving away behind the needles, sometimes retracting or removing the stitch finger can help keep the stitches tight to the curved edge. 

4) Reposition as needed

Whenever you need to, stop, make sure the needles are down, and adjust the fabric under the presser foot. You may have to do this freqently for tight curves. 

5) Don't stretch the fabric

Stretching the fabric will lead to a gathered or puckered appearance. 

6) Inside vs. Outside curves.

Some people find one or the other easier, and sometimes it depends on the type of fabric you are working with.

For outside curves, make sure to line the fabric up with the blade (rather than the needles). You may want to "borrow" fabric from the left side to help keep the blade an even distance from the raw edge. 

For inside curves,  try to straighten the edge as much as possible by gathering the fabric to the left of the needles. You may need to reposition the gather frequently. As long as the seam allowance lays flat under the needles, all is well. 


In part two (which will be posted on October 23), we will address serging opposite curves and serging in the round (for applications such as necklines, cuffs, etc.)