Monday, July 9, 2012

Frayed Edges?

Ask the experienced rather than the learned.
Arabic Proverb

I hate to pre-wash my fabrics and end up with handfuls of threads, twisted, wrinkled and snarled fat quarters and a lot of ironing and snipping threads to clean up the mess.  There is a simple way to avoid it.

Quick and Easy Serging

Serge those raw edges before you throw the fabric in the wash!

What else do I use my serger for in my quilting?  When I finish a quilt top and give it a final press I serge the edges.  This locks all the seams on the outer edge of the quilt in case I didn't backstitch.  It also keeps the edges from fraying and releasing any more little threads that could show up in unwanted places.  When quilting on the longarm the line of serger threads at the edge give me a nice target area for when I'm stitching down the side edges of the quilt or along the top and bottom edges as I'm starting and finishing the quilting.

Edge Seam Ends Will Not Unravel

Here's a picture of the last one off my machine.  Maybe you can see the line of teal thread on the serger threads.  When the backing and batting are trimmed off the top edge of the quilt will be nice and neat.
There are a few things to remember when serging this way:
  • Make sure that your tension is not too tight.  That can cause the edges to be pulled up.  Loose tension is better than too tight.
  • If using cotton thread for serging it may shrink in the washer or dryer and pull the edge up or pucker it.  To correct this ( it will be obvious when you lay it flat on the cutting or ironing board) just use your seam ripper to cut the needle thread(s) every 3 or 4 inches and then pull the fabric taunt across the width of the seam.  Enough stitches will unwind to relax the serged edge.
  • A curved surgical type cutter works better and faster to remove a serged seam than a seam ripper.
  • Trim the 'tails' of the serger seams before putting the fabric in the wash, those can unravel and knot everything together making another kind of mess.
  • Use either a 3 or 4 thread seam for either process.
  • An exact 1/4" seam can be made on a serger by adjusting the 'cutter width'.
  • Look for videos and tutorials on line or at Nancy's Notions if you need to brush up on your serger skills. Good books are available too, check your local library.

Do you use a serger when quilting?  I have made Log Cabin, Trip Around the World and Irish Chain quilts using a serger for the piecing. Sergers sew FAST!  This can really speed up piecing long strips.  Do you think you will give your serger some quilting time?

Linking up with Plum and June's Monday Link Up and
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story.


  1. wow, I didn't ever realize people use a serger to actually PIECE with. how interesting! I like the idea of using it around the outside edges of a finished quilt, though. my mother has had one for years, used it long before I came aroud to sewing, but it's been sitting untouched for probably twenty years. maybe one day I'll pull it out and play with it, but it looks so complicated and tedious, lol! I have a friend who uses one though, I'll have to ask her if she quilts with it, too.

  2. Krista you should use your serger or else it could lock up! I went to a class last week and a lady there could not use hers for class as it was locked up! A brand new 3 year old machine that had only been used one time and that was in a class when she purchased it...I felt so sorry for her!

    I used my serger to piece a quilt a couple of years ago when I first started quilting and it really looked nice but didn't know if that was proper! Haven't used it on edges but think I might have to start as it certainly makes sense!


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