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Sewing Machine Tasha asks:
“After years of listening to the podcast, I am about to get the Baby Lock Imagine serger!! She will join Sewphie (my Baby Lock Presto II sewing machine) on the sewing table. I am so SO ridiculously excited!!!
Most importantly, what should I name her? What are your favorite pet names for your serger or sewing machine?
Second, this is (obviously) my first serger, so please tell me your favorite things you buy with a serger. Like, I’m guessing I’ll need thread? I guess 4 of them, one for each holder-thingie-madjig? Should I buy all 4 in gray color, to blend in with most fabrics? Also, do I need any extra feet?
Background on what I sew:
Immediate serging plans: garment knits (the full range, from thin double-brushed poly all the way to thicker french terry for sweatshirts).
Long-term serging plans: nice drapes for the house (so, stable, but thick fabric).
UPDATE: It has been decided: the Imagine will be named Lennon!”
So, what do you HAVE TO HAVE when you go home with a new serger? We don’t want you to feel any regrets when you get home, so here are our recommendations. This isn’t a complete list of what we use for our sergers, but it’s a list of what we think you should have to start out with!
You need serger thread! Serger thread is special. It’s lighter weight than machine construction thread, because you’re generally using 3-4 threads to seam. It also comes on cones, because sergers can use a lot of thread.
Now, don’t think that just because thread is on a cone that it is serger thread. The packaging of thread and its volume does not always indicate its weight or use. So make sure that when you choose thread, it is actually “serger thread”. Zede and I use other types of thread on the serger, like decorative threads and embroidery threads- but to start off, basic serger thread should get you going.
Our favorite serger construction thread is Madeira Aerolock Serger Thread. I think that a dealer would carry nice thread, but Zede won’t commit- so go with our recommendation!
You can use sewing construction thread in your serger, but it’s heavier and costs more, so…hence our recommendations.
Which colors should you get? We have a whole episode on color blending! When you start your thread library, we recommend getting:
- 4 dark neutrals: Black, Charcoal, Brown, Medium Grey
- 4 light neutrals: White, Cream, Beige, Light Grey/Silver
- Magic Mauve
- A few of your favorite colors
You don’t have to buy 4 of every color, but if you want it- your dealer will sell it to you! Thread blending will save you money. If you stitch up a dark purple shirt, you can use purple thread in your left-most needle and then dark value threads in the other places- only the purple will show, if you stretch your shirt.
If you do need to match threads, like with a sheer or a hem that shows, you will want to coordinate all the colors. Should you buy more spools of the special colors, you can wind the thread onto bobbins and use it (you can’t wind a bobbin on your serger, you have to do that on your sewing machine).
Loopers do use more thread than needles, so rotate your cones if you’re using the same colors over and over again, or use your least-favorite/least-used cones to the loopers.
Do not leave the store without extra needles! Your machine may come with a pack of needles, but buy a couple packages of each size that’s available for your machine- most sergers only take a couple of sizes. Needles don’t go bad, so budget for a few needles, you can’t sew without them!
Tasha’s new Imagine takes HAx1SP needles- you can get those in the link below.
Baby Lock sergers come with an extra upper blade- if you don’t get one of these with your machine, buy one to keep on hand, and bring it with you when you get your machine serviced. If you need the blade and it’s on backorder or something- it can be very disappointing!
We love so many serger feet, but what do you need right now when you go home? Probably just the foot that comes on the machine and maybe a clear foot! However, if there’s a sale on a foot package- you might want to jump on it. The foot packages (even at regular price) are a great value, if they’re available!
Also, ask your dealer if you need anything special for the first project you have planned. They could even demo how to do what you want to do when you pick up your machine.
Tweezers: If your machine doesn’t come with a pair, get a long, angled pair of tweezers to keep near your serger.
Needle Threader: also useful (if it’s not included).
Thread nets: Get more thread nets than come with your machine, and don’t cut them down in size! Ideally a thread net should be longer than your spool. Thread nets are great for taming metallic threads of Maxi Lock Stretch thread. And you can even store those threads in the thread nets to keep things tidy.
Thread nets should be put on a spool of thread by inserting it into the center of the spool from the bottom, then folding the thread net up around the spool. A lot of tension or thread breakage issues are caused by impediments to the thread path.
Auxiliary Spool Pins or Cups: If you use specialty threads or some kind of non-cone thread, you may need an auxiliary spool pin or a cup- no biggie!
Thread Catcher: This might seem like not a huge deal, but your serger makes a ton of lint! There are many contraptions out there that catch scraps as you’re serging.
Mini Vac Kit: once again, your serger makes lint! Keep it clean by sucking out the lint and don’t used canned air.
Here’s an episode on How To Clean Your Serger
Baby Lock develops and prints their own “Inspirational Guides” (they used to be called workbooks), and they really are special! They are like “owner’s manuals on steroids”. Packaged in a three-ring binder, they are fully color-printed with great photographs of advanced serger techniques. If you get a foot package, you need this book!
Zede remembers a great serger book from Plamer Pletsch. Ask your dealer if they have any recommendations. It’s nice to go home with some reliable resources, instead of risking getting bad advice when you come up against a problem.
Coverstitch Machine Extras
Most things we mentioned before for your serger, you should get for your Coverstitch machine. You may get a little more matchy-matchy on your thread, since you may see it more often on the top of your project when you hem.
Fabric Guide: Zede reminds us that she thought the fabric guide for a Coverstitch machine was unnecessary, but she was humbled at a Baby Lock training and absolutely recommends it now! The Fabric Guide lets you perfectly hem a garment using the coverstitching function, after you’ve determined the hem depth and set it up properly.
Clear Foot: While it’s nice to have the clear foot for the serger, it’s almost a necessity for the Coverstitch machine to create very precise hems in the round.
Here are some money-saving tips! Be respectful of your dealer!
- Sometimes you can add on other items to your purchase, this can be great if you’re using interest-free financing.
- Ask if there’s a discount for buying notions and thread on the day that you pick up your machine- this is something we used to do.
- Ask about bonus packages on feet, inspirational guides, etc.
- Ask for gift certificates to your dealer to save up for your sewing supply goals!
We’re on a Podcast Sprint! If you have suggestions, email us!