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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

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Serging, General Information


Basic questions & answers on Baby Lock sergers. You may also want to look at the model specific serger categories too.

 

Q: I am shopping for a new serger. What is differential feed?
A: Sergers equipped with differential feed have two feed dogs, one in the front and one in the back. When the differential feed is set at N the front feed dog will feed the fabric at the same rate as the back feed dog.

When the differential feed is set at 1.3 to 2 the front feed dog will feed more fabric than the back . This is because the front feed dog moves a greater distance than the back feed dog. For example, when the differential feed is set at 2, the front feed dog will move twice as far as the back feed dog. In this case, the front feed dog is feeding in twice as much fabric as the back feed dog is feeding out. The result is that the fabric will be gathered. Differential feed settings from 1.3 to 2 are used for gathering and easing as well as compensating for stretch distortion of knitted fabrics.

When the differential feed is set from 0.6 to 0.8 the front feed dog moves less than the back feed dog. For example, when the differential feed is set at 0.8 the front feed dog will feed 20% less than the back feed dog. This is useful for eliminating puckering on woven fabrics and stretching knit fabrics for a lettuce leaf effect.

Q: Is my warranty valid when I purchase a Baby Lock product by mail or through the Internet?
A: If you purchase a "New" Baby Lock product from an "Unauthorized Dealer" through the Internet, mail or in their store, you are no longer the original purchaser. The warranty only applies to the original purchaser when new. No "Authorized" Baby Lock retailer is allowed to sell by Internet or mail.

Q: I have been looking at older model Baby Lock sergers and thinking of purchasing one. Will parts and service be available for these older models?
A: The answer is yes. Baby Lock stands behind all its products with ongoing parts and service. Instruction manuals would also be available for the older models.

Q: Do I have to use serger cone thread on my serger?
A: You can use regular sewing machine thread. However, make sure you have enough thread to finish the project. Sergers use more thread than a sewing machine. You may also need to adjust the tension settings. Sewing thread is heavier than serger cone thread.

Q: I recently purchased a Baby Lock serger. The manual instructions say to oil the serger, but does not give any diagram indicating where to oil it.
A: The only place to oil the serger is the upper looper arm where it is connected to the machine. Turn the handwheel by hand to notice where the looper moves back and forth.
Place a drop of oil at this point. Anything else the machine needs to be taken to your Baby Lock dealer for periodic maintenance.

Q: I just sat down to my serger after leaving it set for a month.  I can't get it to make an acceptable stitch.  What should I do?
A: Whenever you are having a problem getting an acceptable stitch with your serger, here are some troubleshooting tips for you:

1.      Change you needles.  You should change your needles after every project or 10-12 hours of serging.
2.      Check all threading guides or thread path to make sure the threads haven't slipped loose anywhere or twisted.
3.      Check to make sure all your tensions are set correctly and that the threads are all seated in the tensions themselves.  Make sure they are free from lint and excess thread.
4.      Check to make sure you have the proper throat plate on your machine, or that the stitch finger is in the proper position for the stitch you are creating.
5.      Choose an appropriate stitch length and width for the type of stitch you are creating as well as for the fabric you are working with.  Check your manual for suggested settings.

Q: My lower looper thread keeps breaking.  I have rethreaded it over a dozen times.  What is wrong with my serger!?
A: Probably nothing.  After you rethread a broken lower looper thread, make sure the needle thread is on top of the thread plate before you start to serge again.

Q: How often should I clean my serger?
A: The serger should be cleaned after each project is completed. If you are working on a large project that creates a lot of lint build up, you may need to clean the machine a couple of times while working on the item. You can clean the serger yourself by using an air compressor, your vacuum cleaner, or your hair dryer set on cool. Problems that can occur if a machine is not cleaned on a regular basis are: inconsistent stitching, a noisy machine, and improper feeding. Avoid these problems by making sure to clean all thread guides and brush the lint off the knives and feed dog frequently using the brush that included in the accessory pack.

Q: The thread loops off the edge of the fabric while serging. How do I correct the problem?
A: Check to see if your differential feed is on. If it is not supposed to be on set the differential at N.
Make sure the cutting blade is at the correct width setting.
Check upper and lower looper tension settings.
Make sure the machine is threaded properly and the threads are in the tension disks.

Q: I am having problems with my serger occasionally breaking needles. What should I check?
A: You can check the following things. Was the needle inserted properly? Is the needle bent or worn? Are the right and left needles threaded with the correct threads?, Was the fabric pushed or pulled through machine? Is good quality thread being used? If the problem persists take the machine to an authorized Baby Lock Dealer for service.

Q: Are there extra accessory feet available for my Baby Lock serger?
A: Yes. Our web site has an Accessory search web page. You select the product you want accessories from the list and select Go. The website will then display all the accessories available for that serger. Here is that web page address: http://www.babylock.com/accessories or select the Accessories link from the Products page.

Q: I am about to begin a polar fleece project on my serger. Can you give me any hints?
A: When sewing on polar fleece, you will need to adjust the stitch length 3-4. Set the stitch width at 7.5mm. Loosen the pressure on the foot according to the instruction book. Set the differential feed at the lowest setting 0.6 or 0.7. If serging a coat or top you will need to stabilize the shoulder seam. To do this, place tape into the tape sewing guide. Sew tape to shoulder seam to prevent stretching. Have fun constructing your project!

Q: I want to make some quick polar fleece pull-over shirts.  What type of thread and stitch works best?
A: Wooly nylon is the best thread to use because of it's stretchable quality.  A three thread overlock is best for most of your construction.  In areas that will have a lot stress such as the arm holes you may want to use a two thread overlock.

Q: Can I hem polar fleece with a narrow cover stitch, and can I stitch it so the looper thread shows on top?
A: Yes, the narrow cover stitch, with the looper thread showing on top in a nice accent to a garment.

Q: I want to use decorative thread in my serger but don't know where to start.
A: Decorative borders or edges are a good place to start. They can be created with an array of threads from fine to heavy weight.

Fabric: Firm Woven
Stitch: Three Thread Left Needle
Standard Length Setting: 2 1/2-3
Width Setting: 7.5mm
Differential Feed Setting: N
Tension Guidelines: Balanced Stitch - If using a serger that requires tension adjustment, then start with loosening the upper looper tension setting (0-3) to maintain a balanced stitch.

Record Tension Settings:

Left Needle_____ Upper Looper_____ Lower Looper_____

Thread the upper looper with buttonhole twist, or pearl cotton. Thread the lower looper and needle with all-purpose cone thread. Stitch along the edge of the fabric. Check the stitch to make sure the tensions are set properly. If adjustment is needed, fine tune the tensions and test the stitch again.

Threading both the upper and lower looper with a heavier decorative thread can create reversible borders. Both looper tensions will need to be loosened to accommodate the thickness of the thread.

Q: Can I use heavier decorative threads in my Evolve, Imagine, or Eclipse? If so, how do I get the thread through the loopers?
A: There are four ways of working with decorative threads on the evolve, imagine, or eclipse. They are:
  1. Tying On & pulling it through
  2. Tying On - Bypassing Threading Port
  3. Looper Threading Tool & pulling it through
  4. Creating a Thread Cradle & pulling it through

    Determining the method to use depends on the weight of thread that will be used.

Tying On

Threads that are lightweight and have a different texture can be too inconsistent to thread through the threading port. Threads such as: Woolly Nylon, fine rayon, fine metallic, lightweight clear nylon, can be tied on and pulled through the threading port.

Tying on Upper or Lower Looper Thread
  1. Begin with the serger threaded with regular thread.
  2. Raise the presser foot to release all tensions.
  3. Clip looper thread before the first thread guide.
  4. Replace the regular cone thread with a cone of Woolly Nylon and tie it to the end of the regular thread.
  5. Pull the upper looper thread until it is past the presser foot.

Tying On - Bypassing Threading Port

Heavier decorative threads will be too big to feed through the threading port. Bypassing is the perfect solution to working with these types of threads, such as: Pearl Crown Rayon, Designer 6, Decor 6, Candlelight, Pearl Crown Rayon, Ribbon Floss, etc.
  1. Begin with the serger threaded with regular thread and machine in the unlocked position.
  2. Raise the presser foot to release all tensions.
  3. Just past the looper threading port, carefully pull a small amount of thread from the looper, and then clip. (When machine is unlocked the metal tubes retract and looper threads will be visible) Pull the left thread to create a 4" tail.
  4. Place the decorative thread on the spindle and thread it into the guides before the entrance of the looper threading port. Tie the decorative thread onto the tail of regular thread. Pull the looper thread from the back of the presser foot to pull the decorative thread through the eye of the looper.
    Important Note - To ensure the thread will go through the eye of the looper, tie a slipknot.

Looper Threading Tool

When working with decorative threads, the looper-threading tool is wonderful. It can be inserted all the way through the threading port and the looper. It is useful when the loopers are unthreaded.

For fine decorative threads, have the machine in the locked position. Insert the straight end of the tool, into the threading port and guide through to the eye of the looper. The decorative thread can then be inserted in the loop of the tool and pulled through.

To bypass the threading port for heavy decorative threads, have the machine in the unlocked position. Insert the tool; loop end first, from the eye of the looper to the end of the looper tube, just before the threading port. Insert the decorative thread into the loop and pull the thread through the looper.

Creating a Thread Cradle

Creating a thread cradle is an ideal alternative for feeding lightweight decorative threads through the threading port, when the eclipse is unthreaded and the looper threader has been misplaced.

To create a thread cradle cut approximately 20" to 30" piece of thread and make a large loop. Take the two end pieces of the loop and insert about an inch into the threading port. Pump the "Jet Air" lever to draw the ends of the thread through the eye of the looper. (Be sure to lightly hold the thread above the pump so that the thread is not pumped all the way through!) Lightweight decorative thread can then be inserted into the loop that is just above the looper threading port, and pulled through the looper.

Q: I use a lot of decorative thread in my loopers.  What is the best thread to use in my needle to avoid constant needle thread changes?
A: Monofilament, it is a very fine, strong, yet transparent thread that will not interfere with the decorative quality of your looper threads.

Q: What suggestions do you have to prevent metallic threads from twisting and breaking when using it in the looper or loopers of a sergers?
A: To prevent threads from twisting and breaking, try a Horizontal Thread Holder. It attaches to the sergers thread pin to create a horizontal thread spinal. It prevents slippery or wiry threads from coming off the spool or cone during serging.

Q: Can I do 2 thread flatlock stitch with heavy decorative thread in the needle? I want to create a heavy ladder stitch.
A: Yes, use a size 14 top stitch needle to accommodate the heavy thread. You must serge slowly. This is not a fast technique.

Q: I can't get my flatlock stitch to lay flat. What is the trick to get it to lay flat?
A: 1. Check the manual for tension settings. Check the needle tension and the lower looper tension.

2. When serging, have half of the loops on the fold of the fabric and half of the loops off the fold. When pulling fold open the stitching should lay flat on top of the fabric.

Q: I would like to do the "Blanket stitch" that is on ready to wear garments and blankets. Can I do this with my Eclipse?
A: Yes, it can be done with the Eclipse as well as the Imagine serger. Here are the directions to set up your serger. Follow these instructions for achieving a perfect blanket stitch on your Baby Lock Eclipse serger:

Needle thread: Wooly nylon, Monet, or your choice of decorative thread.
Needle tension: 0
Upper Looper thread: Maxi Lock thread
Upper Looper tension: 9
Lower Looper thread: Maxi Lock Thread
Lower Looper tension: 9
Stitch Length: 3-4
Stitch Width: 7.5
Differential Feed:
Settings for Imagine Serger:
Three thread flatlock stitch
Needle thread: Wooly nylon, Monet or your choice of decorative thread.
Upper Looper: Maxi Lock thread
Lower Looper: Maxi Lock thread

Cut a narrow strip of Sulky water soluble stabilizer and place along edge of fabric and serge the stabilizer into the flatlock stitch. Pull the stabilizer to the edge of the fabric and tear away. This action pulls the stitching into the blanket stitch.

Q: How do I create my own wire-edged ribbon?
A: Cut strips of fabric the length and width desired. Using a 3 thread rolled hem on your serger, serge the wire to the fabric edge.

The type of wire to use is Bridal Wire that is wrapped with white fabric.

This can be found in the bridal section of craft stores or fabric stores. The fabric covering the wire gives a better appearance of coverage with the serger stitching. Be careful to keep the wire away from the cuffing blade.

Stitch: 3 thread rolled hem
Foot: Beading foot

Q: I recently purchased my first serger. How do I turn corners using the serger?
A: Outside Corners: Stitch to the end of the corner edge, but not beyond. Stop with the needles up and raise the presser foot. With tweezers pull approximately 1/4" of slack thread above the needles. The slack will allow the fabric to be pulled slightly to the back, clearing stitches from the stitch fingers. Turn the fabric, aligning the new edge with the edge of the needle plate. Remove any slack from the needle threads. Lower the foot and continue sewing.

Inside Corners: Cut an inside corner in a piece of fabric. Line up the edge of the fabric with the edge of the needle plate. Begin sewing. Stitch until the needles are about one inch away from the corner. Lower needles to secure the fabric and raise the presser foot. Manipulate the fabric until the cut edge pulls straight and a pleat forms to the left of the presser foot. Continue sewing until the inside corner is complete.

Q: I own a Baby Lock serger with Differential Feed. With this feature can I gather one layer while sewing it to another?
A: With the ruffling foot you can! There is a separating device on the foot that separates the two layers of fabric. The bottom layer will be gathered while the top layer is being sewn to the bottom. Use the following instructions to use the foot. The ruffling foot is available through your Baby Lock Retailer.

Stitch:
Fabric:

Stitch Width:
Differential Feed Setting:   
Stitch Length:
4 Thread Overlock Gathering
1 - 4" x 10" Batiste (Top Layer)
1 - 4" x 20" Batiste (Bottom Layer)
M-7.5
2.0
4.0


Attach the ruffling foot to the machine. Place the fabric to be gathered under the presser foot, right side up. Place the top piece between the guides in the front of the foot, right side down. Pull the fabric toward the needles and place the edge of fabric next to the inside edge of the guide. Slowly begin sewing, guiding the bottom piece of fabric with the left hand and the top fabric with the right hand. The bottom piece will be gathered and will feed faster than the top piece.

Q: Is there an easy way to make a spaghetti strap on a serger?
A: To create a spaghetti strap on a serger set it up to a narrow rolled hemstitch. Begin sewing a chain 5" to 10" longer than the length of the strap. Bring the chain around the left of the presser foot and to the front of the machine. Fold the fabric around the thread chain. Line up the fold with the left edge of the presser foot and sew. Be sure the thread chain stays within the fold. The cutting blades will trim away the excess fabric width. When the sewing is complete, pull the thread chain to turn the strap to the right side.

Q: How can I find out the value of my Baby Lock machine that is ten years old?
A: Visit or call your local Baby Lock Dealer. There is a Blue Book that is printed with all the makes and model of sewing machines and sergers with a blue book value listed for each model. They can tell you the blue book value of the machine.

Q: I have just had both blades changed on my eclipse. Now it is throwing the trimmings back up onto the seam, instead of them coming off the side like they should. I am also having problems getting it to cross seams. I have to help it get over them, any suggestions?
A: It sounds like your blades are out of alignment. Take the serger back to the person who changed the blades. Let them know what types of problems you've experienced since the blades were changed. Have them check the alignment of the blades. Before leaving the store with the machine, test it to make sure it is adjusted and sewing to your satisfaction.

For sewing over heavy fabrics, or when crossing seams, use the following suggestions and settings on the serger. The heavier the fabric the longer the stitch. When crossing seams make sure to use a slightly longer stitch length. Gently guide the fabric on the left-hand side of the presser foot. When sewing over extremely heavy seams, loosen the pressure on the presser foot and use a narrower stitch width 3.0 mm - 6.0 mm.

Q: I have the Protege serger and my lower looper thread keeps breaking. What is wrong?
A: Whenever the lower looper thread breaks, unthread the "eye" of the needles. Then rethread the lower looper. The needle thread wraps around the lower looper and whenever you rethread the looper you enclose the needle thread and the needle thread then breaks the lower looper thread.

Q: I own a Protege serger. There is a silver screw located to the right of my upper knife called the "upper knife locking screw". What is this used for?
A: This feature is great for sewing on heavy fabrics. Tighten the screw when sewing on heavy fabrics to prevent the upper knife from deflecting, causing inconsistent trimming and poor feeding.