How to set up the overlock for fine fabrics

How to choose an overlock machine

The overlock is a compact sewing machine designed for finishing the edges of fabric with a neat elastic seam. This is especially useful with bulk or knit materials. Things with overlock seams get a beautiful finished look.

Overlock does not replace the sewing machine, it only complements its capabilities. So in home use, the seamstress can use for overcasting zigzag stitch, which is available on conventional models. Of course, the stitch does not look very neat, but the view from the wrong side of a few anxious. When you often have to work with hard-wearing stretch or knitted fabrics, you can’t do without professional overlock machines. Overlock stitches are of good quality, do not stretch delicate fabrics. These are the main advantages of all types of overlockers.

The market has a wide variety of overlock models as simple as well as professional. Make the right choice is not an easy task. To do this, it is important to first determine the purpose and destination of purchase.

The simple economy class models are designed for overcasting light and medium fabrics. If you have to work with expensive and very thin fabrics, complex stitches and many other functions are required, then you should pay attention to the universal model of the overlock. Manufacturers provide clear recommendations in the instructions for the operation of equipment.

Important! When choosing a household overlock you need to consider the design features of basic models, their technical capabilities.

Sewing machines

Bobbins act as a hook and are responsible for shaping seams, intertwining the threads as the needle moves. In domestic overlock most often there are two. the lower and upper. With some differences in the device of the buttonholes in machines from different manufacturers, the common thing remains the possibility of free access to them in case of thread breaks.

Medium-priced overlockers have three-stranded buttonholes. This type of stitching can be used to overcast the edges of the product and stitch immediately. Often used when sewing knitwear. By increasing the tension of the bottom buttonhole and loosening the needle thread, these models can be used to adjust the flat seam Flatlock.

A four-strand looper sews and overstitches knitted fabrics at the same time. Produces strong elastic stitches. Many models have the ability to work with three threads by turning off one needle. Ideal for homework. The most common option.

Five-stranded models have three bottom and two top buttonholes with a large stitch width.

Important! The cost of overlock increases with the number of threads and buttonholes, so choose a machine must be consistent with the needs.

The way of filling

Correct threading is important when using an overcasting machine. If in domestic overlocks the number of working threads from three to five, in industrial models their number reaches up to 12. In the enclosed instructions there are detailed diagrams of the step-by-step threading, drawn in different colors, there are diagrams directly under the cover of the overlock.

The overlock‘s unusual design seems complicated at first, and changing threads is extremely difficult. After all, each thread passes through a series of guides before entering the buttonholes and needles. The bottom buttonhole is especially difficult to thread. With experience, all seamstresses do it quickly and easily. If the procedure is still painful, there are ways to make it easier.

Singer 14SH754 Overlocker. Different seams. Setup and Tension settings

  • Get a model with automatic threading. This will cost more, but will make it easier to thread the machine. Professional seamstresses appreciate this function for saving time.
  • Many seamstresses have adapted to cutting the thread near the work spool and tying it to the thread of the new. Then it remains to pull the thread with the knot through all the holes.
  • When choosing a sewing machine, it’s worth paying attention to how well you can see all the buttonholes, which will make it easier to thread.


For work at home suitable household overlock with a small capacity of 75-100 W, designed for small loads. They are easy to reconfigure with one turn of the lever, have up to 12 stitches.

Industrial types have high speed, but perform only a certain type of stitching. Suitable for a full working day. Typically, these models for stability are complete with a table of steel, which affects the cost, and are equipped with a motor power over 250 watts.


If a seamstress works at home and sews a lot of clothes, then you need to think about buying a powerful overlock.

Tension control

The tension of upper and lower threads determines the quality of complex overcasting stitches, their elasticity. Tension adjusters look different in different models.

There are household machines with manual tension adjustment and experienced seamstresses quickly adapt to the settings. Modern models with computer control have automatic settings. This is a good option for those who do not want to constantly readjust the machine. The computer itself adjusts the thread tension depending on the type of stitches.


Five types of stitches that are often used in sewing clothes should be available:

  • two-strand chain stitch;
  • three-strand overlock;
  • Wide and narrow flatlock stitch Flatlock;
  • four-strand reinforcement;
  • Three-strand roll under stitch (roller stitch).

Stitch width determines the regulator step. You can use it to seal a seam or vice versa. Overlock stitch widths range from 1 to 16 mm. This is important when sewing clothes in different styles, creating different decorative stitches. The shorter the stitches, the more durable the finished stitches. Minimum lengths from 1 to 2 mm.

Household overlock machines speed up to 1500 stitches per minute. This is enough for seamstresses of any qualification.

Adjust the presser foot

The presser foot function allows you to work with fabrics of different thicknesses, which expands the range of products to be processed. It can be satin, silk, knitwear, wool. In this case, the presser foot is raised to a height of 4 mm. There are models adapted to overcasting the thick edges of palases and carpets. a height of 2, 5 cm.

Turn the overlock knife off

Bend the hem of the seam to a standard width, 2 to 3cm. To make this line for the trimmer clearer, you can lightly iron or sweep.

Important prerequisite for hemming overlock is the ability to disengage the overlock knife. To turn it off, firstly pull the top knife mechanism to the right, and in this position turn it upwards (towards you), lift.

How to adjust the overlock after filling

Now the threads are inserted, you can start sewing. Take your time! Now you need to adjust the machine. It happens so that after filling the threads are poorly stretched. These need to be adjusted, otherwise straight stitches will not be sewn.

Important! If the color of the thread can vary, the thickness and composition. no. In at least one job. Better to buy threads specifically for overlock in advance.

To see if the tension is optimal, just center the dials and do a test stitch. If all the stitches are straight, the thread goes smoothly and does not get tangled, then all is well. If something went wrong, experiment with the tensioners: loosen or, conversely, strengthen them.

By the way! Once again we suggest that you look at the instructions. There are usually suggestions for fine-tuning the overlock machine.

Adjusting the overlock thread tension

Overlock stitches depend on thread tension. Mechanisms for adjusting the thread tension in models of machines from different manufacturers in principle solutions similar. Regulators of all 4 threads. needle and buttonhole, which form a sweep stitch, are located on the body of the machine. Adjustments are made separately:

  • thread through the left needle;
  • The thread passing through the right needle;
  • upper buttonhole stitch thread;
  • Lower buttonhole stitch thread.

Each tensioner is endowed with a digital scale that defines the level of effort: 0 to 9. Levels 1-2 represent weak tension; levels 3-5 and 7-9 are medium and strong tension, respectively.

For most of the overcasting stitches, the value of the adjusters on the 4th level is. After adjusting the tensioners it is recommended to check the quality of the seam on a piece of fabric. To help prevent confusion, the tensioners are colored to indicate the function of each item.

How to get quality stitching

To get the best setting, you’ll need a small jersey to test the quality of the stitch. Sew through the fabric and study the stitching carefully.

The left needle loops should be inspected first. The presence of wrinkled fabric indicates a strong thread tension of the left needle. It must be loosened by gradually changing the values of the regulator. Check each change with a stitch until the wrinkles on the fabric are completely gone.

The next step is to check the straightness of the stitch: place the fabric so that the stitch is in the middle, stretch the ends to the sides. the thread stitch requires more tension.

Important! You need to emphasize the left needle thread, as it is responsible for connecting the buttonholes to each other.

If it is correctly tensioned, the stitching will be of good quality. Having found the correct index of the left thread, we must duplicate it on the right thread. This principle is acceptable for all types of fabric, the values for the right and left should be the same.

The last step is to determine where the buttonhole threads are intertwined (the outermost section of the fabric). The stitching should be straight, with a smooth pattern between the stitches. If there is a loop around the edge of the fabric, this indicates that the buttonhole threads are loose and should be tightened and checked again on another length of fabric. If the buttonholes of only one buttonhole protrude, it is necessary to tighten its thread. In some cases, you must immediately tighten one and loosen the other buttonhole (it is better to start loosening, then tighten).

What kind of problems can occur

After all of these adjustments, you should do a test sweep again. It happens that the stitching is not perfect again, for example, there are skipped stitches. Then a final adjustment is necessary. It consists of the following:

  • Check needle integrity. Sometimes there is no visible damage, but it is worth a closer look and notice that the tip is blunted or the needle is incorrectly installed. Another option is that the needle size does not match the threads and thickness of the fabric.
  • Evaluate if the setting is correct. You can check all the tensioners, buttonholes again, and see if one of the threads has rolled into a knot.
  • Evaluation of the foot. Sometimes just release the pressure and the problem goes away.

After this check, we recommend to do the test stitching again. If all is well, you can sew the main product.

Working with an overlock machine and the differences from a sewing machine

Overlock is a special sewing machine that can shape seam allowances while sewing. This device saves money and leaves all stitches clean and finished.

Unlike standard sewing equipment that works with bobbins and upper threads, overlocks engage buttonholes and threads in the needles to form special overlock stitches.

overlock, fine, fabrics

The overlock uses two to nearly a dozen threads to cover the raw edge of the fabric with a shaped stitch. On average, it generates up to 1,700 stitches in 60 seconds. Overlock equipment is also distinguished by the presence of a special blade. It cuts off excess material from the seams, reducing the added amount of fabric.

Modern models are used for different purposes. They are characterized by a large set of features that facilitate operation. Overlockers are also creative and more economical.

When buying a machine, keep in mind that the cost of equipment will increase significantly with a larger set of buttonholes. Choose a model with features that will meet your needs, but will not empty your

Overlock is not a substitute for a classic sewing machine. Equipment only complements the standard set of seamstresses to diversify models. Many modern sewing machines perfectly imitate overlock stitches. In addition, any equipment is able to form a zigzag stitch, which is also used to design open edges. The main difference with overlock stitching is the elasticity of the stitch. This determines its use for work with knitwear. Overlock easily mends details, does not skip stitches and does not displace the material.

The nuances of working with knitwear

Very useful innovation convenient adjustment of stitch length. Select the stitch length depending on the materials to be sewn and the threads to be used. Since a knit stitch both sews and overstitches at the same time, the threads must be strong, the stitch width small. Some knits may require the needle to be replaced with a special needle with a rounded tip. This is necessary when a normal needle damages the material or a previously well-functioning machine starts looping.

Most overlocks are equipped with special legs, with their help, you can stitch a rubber band in the seam or a special braid to protect the shoulder seams from stretching. It will be very convenient to work with a foot for a blindstitch. With its help you can neatly hem the bottom of knitted products. Sometimes it is not possible to use differential feed, then the stitch can be secured with water-soluble Avalon fabric. In general, knitwear is easier to sew than fabric, especially with a modern overlock.

overlock, fine, fabrics

Overlock Maintenance Tips

Like any other technique, the overlock needs periodic maintenance. Maintenance consists of the following steps.

  • After finishing work, it is necessary to sweep away particles of thread, fabric and dust from accessible working surfaces with a brush.
  • After complete cleaning, the moving mechanisms of the overlock should be periodically lubricated with a special oil.
  • If serious faults are suspected or detected, you should contact an authorized service center for repair.

Setting up a sewing machine requires concentrated attention and total dedication to the process. Prepare to spend an hour adjusting all the necessary settings. Do not be in a hurry with this procedure, if you are not sure you can do it yourself it is better to ask your master.

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