Serging Thick Layers: How Do You Serge Thick Fabric?

Not every sewing machine is the same. Some with serge thick fabrics and others will not. This fact may have you rethinking your sewing project. That may not be the correct move to make as only a few adjustments may be needed to handle those thick fabrics.

How do you serge thick fabric: One of the adjustments you can make is not to exceed the width of the cutting blade. Sometimes the thick fabric will overwhelm the cutter keeping it from working properly. Or you can just turn the blades off and use scissors to cut the material when you are done.

To learn more about serging thick fabrics just continue to read our article. It provides you with the information you need and only uses a few minutes of your time to do it.

How do You Serge Thick Fabric?


The first thing you need to do is check with your owner’s manual. Inside its pages, you may find that your serger sewing machine may not be able to lock its cutting blades.

That inability to lock blades may make it very difficult for the serger to handle thick fabrics. The drawback of locking the blade in place is that you may not be able to use your stitch length dial until you unlock the blade.

If it isn’t one thing it is another. Of course, since all sewing machines are not the same then not all sergers will be able to lock their blades and let you sew thick fabrics. Another way is to change the presser foot pressure.

On a Brother sewing machine, the dial to do this is at the back of the machine and it ranges between 1 and 4. The higher the number the more pressure your presser foot applies. For thick fabrics, you want to be on setting 1 or 2.

What Tension Should I Use for Thick Fabric?


When you are serging or even sewing thick fabrics, you need to use thick thread. That change in thickness requires more space for the thread to pass through the different pathways.

Thick fabrics need to be partnered with thick thread. That means you have to loosen your tension off to give the thick thread the space it needs to create the stitch you want. When you change thread thickness don’t forget to change to a needle that can handle the thick thread.

To adjust the tension there are a couple of things to watch for that help guide your tension setting other than the thickness of the thread. First, if the stitch is loose and it looks like there are loops in them, then your tension is too loose.

Next, if the stitches look too tight and the thread is very taut, then the tension is too tight. Also, broken thread and skipped stitches indicate that the tension is too tight as well.

When you see those different stitches appear, you have to remove them all and start all over. To avoid that from taking place, do a test stitch or three on scrap fabric to make sure you have the right tension.

Serging Thick Layers


We have talked about the tension previously but there are still some more points that have to be made. When you are serging with 4 threads, getting the tension correct on all four is not so hard to do.

The color is a key clue that guides you when you need to make adjustments. But what if you are using similar colors? Then keeping track of the different tension wheels is a little more difficult.

To keep things straight you may have to number the threads or keep a notebook handy to help you determine which tension wheel to turn and in which direction. Normally all the tension wheels start at 4.

You should do a test with some scrap fabric to see if all 4 threads need some adjustment. Usually, with thicker thread, they will need to be adjusted. The key is to focus on one thread at a time. Get that adjusted right before moving on to the other three.

The tension indicators are already listed and you should follow those to make sure you are correct the tension in the proper way. If you are still having trouble here are some questions you can ask to help find the problem:

  • Is the thread caught under a spool
  • Has the thread missed a thread guide
  • Are the threads looping over a thread guide twice
  • ​Is the needle in properly and the right one for the thread
  • ​Is the thread tangled on the loopers, feed dogs or stitch fingers
  • Is there lint between the tension discs
  • Is the thread seated correctly on the tension discs

Serging Over Thick Seams


This can be a tricky little sewing situation when you encounter it. It's difficult as some sergers and other sewing machines just do not have the allowance you need to get those seams through the needle and sew correctly.

There is some good news for you when you face this situation, there are a lot of solutions to help you. One option is a little tool called a clearance plate. This tool helps you keep the thick fabric level and makes sure it passes through the needle without causing you problems.

If you do not have this tool, which seems to be available in a variety of places, there are substitutes you can use. One is a tongue depressor. It is flat, thin and it doesn’t matter if you accidentally sew into it.

One word of caution, if the tool already mentioned is made of plastic, you do not want to sew into it. You will ruin it and have to find another replacement. Then if you do not have a tongue depressor the cleaned up popsicle stick will be just as effective.

Also, you can use a bit of cardboard as long as that cardboard is not thicker than 2 credit cards in width. It might take you a little bit of practice to hone your skills using this device but it helps you a lot when sewing thick seams.

Best Serger for Thick Fabrics


There are a lot of good sergers on the market that will work with you when you need to handle thick fabrics in your sewing project. The tough job is narrowing the field down as they are all great and should do the task you want to be done correctly.

Here is a shortlist of 5 different serger models that should work well for you:

  • 1. Brother 1034D Serger

This is a good machine for beginners. Its easy to use features and customization capability you can handle this machine like a pro. The adjustments shouldn’t take that long and the machine works at 1300 stitches per minute.

Plus, the machine gives you lots of room for flexibility. Then it is easy to thread, has a detachable free arm, a responsive foot pedal, and very versatile stitch options. It s a machine that knows how to treat novice serger users.

There are two drawbacks to using this machine. First, its cover stitch option may disappoint you. It is a weakness that you may not be able to overcome. Second, the vibrations produced by the motor may ruin the stability of the machine

  • 2. SiRUBA HSO-747D Serger

This is another excellent machine for beginning serger users. Its user-friendly design makes sure you can gain confidence fast. The straight forward design makes it easy to set up and use.

On top of that, you get a versatile set of stitches to select from. That should help your sewing project look professional as well as very attractive. Then the device is lightweight making it not too hard to move from one spot to another. The cost of this serger shouldn’t break your budget.

In addition to that, you have convertible threads and differential feeding. The main drawback is that it is made of plastic. It may not last you that long even under normal treatment.

  • 3. Singer 14T968DC Serger Sewing Machine

This is a 5 thread serger that is made by one of the best sewing machine companies in the world. Its best features are that it can overlock as well as cover stitch. It is like getting to sewing machines in one. The cover stitch has 3 options as well.

Then you can work with any number of threads between 2 and 5. That gives you a lot of flexibility when your sewing project doesn’t demand more than 2 or 3 threads to be used at any given time.

There are two drawbacks to using this serger sewing machine. First, it is not really beginner-friendly. Second, you may have stitch trouble if you use the machine for long periods.

  • 4. Janome 8002D Serger Sewing Machine

If you want real professional results on your sewing project then you want to turn to this machine to get that look and quality. With its wide array of features and accessories, you should be able to create what you want without a lot of frustration or hassle.

Also, the exterior tension dials make threading the machine and getting the right tension simple. The upper knife can be retracted and you should be able to adjust the cutting width. There is also an elaborate threading chart and a 4 to 3 convertible thread capability.

One of the drawbacks to this machine is that the accompanying accessories need a separate storage area. It also has fabric thickness issues.

  • 5. Juki MO654DE Serger Sewing Machine

If you do not like noise then this may be the serger machine for you. Its quiet motor helps make sewing more enjoyable and less distracting. On top of the lack of noise, you get a lot of accessories to make your sewing life better.

This is a real workhorse of a serger machine and its sewing light is also top-notch. Made with Juki’s reputation in mind, this machine should perform for you all the time. It is well built and takes up little space. Along with giving you top drawer stitches.

The main drawback is that it can be fairly annoying to thread the machine. Make sure to follow all instructions to get it right the first time.

**All of these machines can be found on Amazon if you want to look up the price and see if it is something your budget will allow. Also, there are over 20 top serger machines so if your favorite did not make the list doesn’t mean it is not good.

Honorable Mentions

If you want a couple of honorable mentions that do cover-stitching just continue to read this section:

  • 1. Bernette Bb48

Just the pros alone will make you want to buy this machine for your home use. This serger has a high sewing speed, large working area, easy threading system, very good stitch quality, and a large stitch range.

Plus, it is a Bernina brand serger sewing machine. You know you are getting quality when you buy this inexpensive model.

  • 2. Juki MO-735

When you want a serger that just about does it all, you go with this Juki model. It has good stitch quality, can handle different fabrics, it is easy to thread and a good hem cover function. Also, it is powerful, quiet, reliable and durable.

All of which are great positive characteristics to have.

Some Final Words

Serging with thick fabrics should not be a problem anymore. Now that you have the information you need and the leads to some great serger sewing machines. The key is to take your time when working with thick fabrics and have those special tools to help you get the job done smoothly.

Thick fabric sewing projects should also turn out as a professional did them.

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