June 10, 2013


 In the comments to my previous post, several people mentioned those hems. Badmomgoodmom liked them as a reminder that you can do functional hems on a serger, while redpointtailor and Lakshmi Rajesh wanted to try the technique. 
So, for them and for those of you who thought the same thing, but didn't comment, I thought I'd better explain how to make this type of hem as best as I can.
There are probably a lot of other tutorials for this out there, and better ones as well, but I don't know them. So, to answer any questions, I'll just show you what I do.
In fact, I've only been using this technique for a little while. Before, I sort of knew about it, but it wasn't until my boyfriend bought a couple of RTW t-shirts with this type of finish that I was interested enough to try it out.

It all starts, as so much in sewing, with pressing. Press the amount of fabric you want as the hem up at the wrong side of the fabric (nothing special there, you'd do that for any kind of hem). 

The second bit of pressing is a bit more unusual: Press you hem to the right side of the garment along the line at which the raw edge has come to lie after the first pressing.

Now, it's time to get the serger ready. Normally, when making a garment in jersey, you'll be using two needles and four threads on your serger. For flatlocking, you need one needle (the one on the right) and three threads. The tension settings which work well on mine are: a normal setting, 4, on the upper and lower looper and a reduced tension, 2 (normal would be 4 as well) on the needle. 

And then you can start hemming. carefully guide the edge which has both a fold and the raw edge betweenthe needle and the blade. You don't want to cut anthing away. In fact, try to keep a millimeter or so between the serger blade and the edge of the fabric. (of course you could swivel the blade away but I don't. Having it in the normal position makes aiming easier IMHO).

When the serging is done, the hem will look like this (on the wrong side of the fabric).

Fold it open (on the right side) and pull a bit to open the stitches.

Press flat, and your hem is done!


  1. now that is a darn nifty thing to know. thank you muchly :-)

  2. Ooo, I like this. I've read bits and pieces about flatlocking with my serger in books, etc, but haven't seen a real world use for it - until now :)

  3. I totally want to try this! I was about to start a knit maxi skirt and I didn't know how to do a good hem (I'm quite new to my serger). Thank you!!

  4. I was one of those who wanted to know but did not ask so thank you

  5. Thanks a lot , for sharing this technique. I don't have any knit fabric as of now, but will try and see on some woven fabric.

  6. I posted about my recommended serger books here: http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2013/06/some-recommended-serger-books.html

  7. I first learned this technique from my Bernina dealer* when I bought my Bernette 334DS (made by Juki).  She showed me how to do this with 2 or 3 threads.  The manual only shows how to do this with 2 threads (lower looper and one needle) and calls it "2 thread flatlock" (page 21). They recommend loosening the needle tension and tightening the lower looper tension.

    The Serger Idea Book from Palmer/Pletsch shows how to flatlock with either 2 or 3 threads on pages 18-20.  They recommend lowering the top thread tension and increasing the lower looper tension as far as possible.  It's an old book, but full of useful information.  Used copies can be purchased on Amazon for $0.01 + shipping.

    If you are having trouble with your serger, or are just learning how to use a serger, I highly recommend The Ultimate Serger Answer Guide.  It helps you diagnose and solve most serger problems (or refers you to a dealer for more complicated timing ones).  Used copies are $1.98 and up.

    Singer Reference Library Sewing with an Overlock teaches serger-specific sewing techniques.  $0.01 + shipping. I expect the updated The New Sewing with a Serger will be just as useful.

    Serged Garments in Minutes explains serger construction order and techniques.  $0.01 used from Amazon.

    Sew Fast, Faster, Fastest is not serger-specific, but explains different construction techniques and sewing orders.  You can see the trade-offs in the name of saving time and decide which level is right for you.  Most cheap clothes are sewn with "fastest" techniques, which means an irritating seam up one shoulder and across the neckband on t-shirts.  I would take the extra 2 minutes to use the "faster" (better RTW) or extra 5 minutes to do the "fast" (designer) technique instead.  But, you may decide differently.  The nice thing about this book is that it doesn't tell you what is right or wrong.  it just explains different techniques clearly to give you the knowledge you need to make your own decisions.  It's also available used for as little as $0.01 used from Amazon.