How To Serge With A Sewing Machine In Only 2 Steps

Last Updated on 6 months by Susan Mayrich

You can learn how to serge with a sewing machine in two steps. First, we’ll talk about what foot to use to make the process easier. And of course, you’ll find out tips and tricks when machine serging. 

how to serge with a sewing machine

But first, do you already know what is serging in sewing? Then, read about this technique to help you understand how to use it correctly.


How To Serge On A Sewing Machine Easily


Step 1. Attach the foot and set up the machine

  • Sew your seams and trim so that you’ll have around 1/4 inches for serging
  • Read the manual of the specific sewing machine you have and remove its standard presser foot
  • Replace the foot with an overcast foot and use your stitch selector to use the zigzag or overlock stitch, suitable for serging
  • If you don’t have an overlock or overcast foot, you can use any presser foot with a wide hole in the middle
  • Use the appropriate stitch length and width, usually 2.5mm and 3.5 mm
  • Place the fabric underneath the foot and check if the guide on the machine is aligned with the fabric edge
  • For light to medium materials, finish the seam allowance together while finish the seam allowance separately for heavier weight fabrics


Step 2. Start sewing

  • Turn the needle towards you slowly and adjust the width of the stitch if you notice the needle hitting the foot
  • Align the needle with the bridge to avoid getting uneven stitches, and make zigzag stitches along the fabric hem 
  • Make sure that the edges are aligned with the guide on the foot when sewing the seam allowances
  • Check if the right-hand point of each zigzag is barely reaching the fabric edge
  • Backstitch the beginning and end of the seam to secure the zigzag stitches
  • Never pull your fabric, especially after you finish serging, because it can damage the stitches 
  • Press the seams open to finish


Can A Sewing Machine Serge?

If you don’t have a serger, you can use your regular sewing machine to serge your projects. This is possible with the overlock foot, and you’ll finish the edges of the project as professional-looking as those done with the specialized serger machine. Furthermore, check if your sewing machine has an overlock or overedge sitch or use the ladder or pin stitch as an alternative to finish the seams with your sewing machine. 

Read about what is a serger sewing machine to know more about this specialized device for serging. Is it even worth it if you can serge with a regular sewing machine?


How Do You Serge With A Regular Sewing Machine?

The best way to serge with a regular sewing machine is to check if it is capable of the overlock stitch and you have an overlocking foot. But if you can’t do an overlock stitch, you can finish the edge with a ladder stitch to get a serger look. 

Did you know that you can also quilt with a sewing machine? Find out how to sew a quilt with a sewing machine in our easy-to-follow tutorial. 


Do You Serge Before Or After Sewing?

You can serge before sewing or even after sewing the seam. Some even serge as they make the seam. It’s a common discussion in the sewing community on whether you must sew first or serge first. But ultimately, it will depend on your personal preference and what specific project you’re doing. 

For those who are new to serging, it’s best to sew first then serge. You might find yourself in less room for error, especially when working challenging seams. But if you want to serge then sew, it will benefit you when sewing a zipper, for example. 


Do I Overlock Before Or After Sewing?

Knowing when to overlock when sewing depends on what you find the most comfortable. Remember that some projects will benefit from pressing them open after being sewn or overlocking their raw edges before sewing to reduce bulk. There are also patterns where you want to baste first or sew on the sewing machine before overlocking the edges. 

When sewing garments, you can also overlock after finishing it and before topstitching. This way, you can try the clothes first and make the necessary adjustments before finishing the seams. 


How Do You Finish The Edges Of Sewing?


  • Serging
  • Edge stitching or topstitching
  • Zigzag stitching
  • Hemming
  • Cutting the edge with pinking shears
  • Hemming
  • Bias tape
  • French seam


How Do You Finish The Edges Of Fabric Without Sewing?


Hem tape

Pre-fold the fabric edge and iron before placing the tape alongside the folded edge. Next, fold the fabric over the tape and press with an iron. 


Fabric glue

Seal the cut edge with fabric glue for projects that won’t be washed and worn often to keep it from fraying. Dab a smooth line of glue along the fabric edge, then press and seal. 


Pinking shears

You quickly finish an edge without the risk of fraying by using zigzag scissors called pinking shears. Cut in a clean line as close to the edge, and you’re done. 



And that’s it! To recap how to serge with a sewing machine, you only need to use an overlocking foot and use an overlocking stitch or zigzag stitch. The ladder or pin stitch also make good alternatives if you don’t have an overlock stitch setting on your machine. 

We hope this guide helped you to serge without a serger. Leave us a question if you have any below. 

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