Inspiration How to Make a Quilt on a Serger

By Chris Tryon

Categories: Serging, Tips & Tricks

Serger_Quilt
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1. Can I really use a serger to make a quilt ?

Yes! A serger is a wonderful machine for piecing a quilt. Whether using a four-thread, three-thread or chain stitch, piecing on a serger is easy and fast. It does take some time getting used to simply because a serger is different from a sewing machine.

• To me it was the feel of the serger and the thought process that I had always pieced on a sewing machine. I had to allow my mind to say it was okay to try piecing on the serger. While I have been doing this for years, it did take some time to develop.

• There are feet that can be used like the Lace Applicator and Blind Hem foot that have ledges that act like a rail on a ¼" foot, giving you that ¼" seam allowance. It is always suggested to cut a few extra pieces for practice before diving into your project. When I first started piecing on the serger it was with the four-thread stitch. Now I piece using the chain stitch. I still get that ¼" seam allowance and I bounce back and forth from my sewing machine to my serger depending on the project I am working on.

2. What are the benefits of using a serger to quilt?

There are a few benefits of using the chain stitch, including the strength of the seam, but I feel the best one is that taking a seam out is quick and easy.

• Easily take a seam out: Simply cut the needle thread at the end of the stitching and pull – the seam is removed in an instant! While most sewers assume that there is added bulk due to chain formation on the backside of the stitch there is not. It is the same as a straight stitch on a sewing machine.

• Strength of the seam: The benefit of using a four- or three-thread stitch on the serger for piecing is the security of the seam and the clean edge.

• Feed dog system: Another benefit of the serger for piecing is the feed dog system. Whether I am stitching long strips or matching points everything fits and matches.

3. Can I finish or top stitch a quilt on a serger?

Yes, using the chain stitch is just like using the straight stitch on your sewing machine.

• I try to use a decorative thread in the needle, polyester embroidery, 28-weight cotton, 30-weight cotton, 40-weight cotton and 50-weight cotton with the overlock thread in the looper position.

• If a heavier thread is used in the needle, make sure to use a topstitch needle in that needle position.

• Now there are some limitations on the size due to the throat space. The projects that I have pieced and quilted on the serger are smaller; quilted bags, pillows, table runners, smaller wall hangings and crib sized quilts. There is one quilt that I did piece and quilt on the serger that was twin sized, but I did it in sections with straight rows of stitch and then pieced together when each section was completed.

4. Wouldn’t a serged edge create a bulky seam?

If you’re using the chain stitch, it is no different than the straight stitch. If using the four- or three-thread stitch the needle threads are the same as the straight stitch. The only addition is the threads that wrap the edge. If a overlock or 50-weight thread is used there is not any bulk. My experience has been in watching how seams are pressed. If a seam is not pressed properly there will be bulk. I have created many quilt blocks with the four-thread stitch and used them in class to show how a serger can be used. When students first look at them it is from the top. At this point it looks like a sewing machine was used and there is no bulk in the seam. When I flip the block over, they are amazed that it was pieced using a serger.

5. Can you bind a quilt on a serger?

Yes, this can be done using either the chain, four- or three-thread stitch in the same manner that you would with a sewing machine. When mitering the corners, you would simply stop, reposition the binder, turn the quilt and stitch. If using the chain stitch the binding can be completed by folding it to the front or back and stitching in place.

6. Why would I use a serger when I have a sewing machine?

When I am piecing a quilt and determining which machine, I will be using it often comes down to speed and the intended use of the quilt.

• Security of four-thread stitch: I love using the serger when I am making flannel quilts, mainly for the security of that four-thread stitch. The serger is my go-to for smaller piecing projects, bags, pillows, runners, smaller quilts.

• More accurate piecing: One of the techniques I have started using the serger chain stitch for is curved piecing. While this has a learning curve, I have found that it is easier on the serger due to the feeding system. My piecing tends to be more accurate and I spend less time un-sewing.

Decorative thread with serger stitches: My ultimate favorite use for the serger is using the chain stitch (both the straight stitch and chain) with decorative thread for my quilting. I often alternate between the two on the surface of my quilt. This gives the quilting depth and texture. My next favorite way to finish or quilt the top is the flatlock stitch with a heavier thread in the needle. When I use this as my quilting technique, I do quilt smaller sections. But it is worth it when the piece is done. Again, the texture and look are amazing.

7. Which Baby Lock machine would be great for quilting on a serger?

For piecing, each of the Baby Lock sergers is ideal. Just make sure to purchase the Lace Applicator foot to help with those seam allowances. For quilting, the Triumph is the perfect choice due to its chain stitch and large throat space.

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