How To Thread a Serger Quickly

You may have a serger or overlock machine that doesn’t have automatic threading capability.

I don’t either.

But I’ve found a way that makes a nice shortcut, so I wanted to show you how to thread a serger quickly.

Until I learned this threading shortcut myself, it took so long for me to thread a serger and it became frustrating.

This makes it so easy.

I have a 3/4 thread serger, but you can adapt this technique to however many cones of thread your serger has. On my serger, two threads are threaded through the 2 needles and two threads make up the loopers. The loopers are hidden inside the machine and you can see them if you open up the bottom portion of your serger or overlocker. The thread from the loopers make the loops on the fabric that connect with the straight running stitches from the needles.

So, to change the thread to a different color, have your serger (overlocker) threaded already. (If it is not, be sure to read your manual and thread it correctly, the way your manual indicates.) Each machine is threaded differently and most have a color diagram to follow. I open the bottom cover of my machine and the diagram is located on the lower right side.

the insides of my serger, overlocker, 143

I was having trouble threading my machine so that it would serge a nice seam correctly. So, I tried threading the threads in a different order. With my machine, I have to thread the looper that is on the far right first.

the loopers on my serger, overlocker, 144

Then, I thread the one that is second from the far right.

threading the second looper, 146

My manual didn’t tell me this important information. So, if you’re having trouble threading your machine, my suggestion is to keep trying different sequences until it works and then write down what you did so you can repeat it next time.

As a side note, I recommend using one of these long handled pair of tweezers to help you thread your machine. They are like 6″ long, not the kind you use on your eyebrows!

Most , if not all, sergers and overlockers come with them. They are great at helping you reach into tiny places to thread the needles or the loopers.

long tweezers for my serger, overlocker. 147

Now let’s look at how to thread the serger quickly. (There is no shortcut to threading the serger for the first time, but after that, this technique will save you alot of time threading it in the future).

I also use the tweezers to thread the needles.

First, let’s focus on threading the loopers.

As you can see, my serger has black thread in it and I am going to change all the thread cones to a cream color.

First of all, cut the last two threads (the looper threads), which are on the far right of the machine. Do not cut them close to the tension dials. Cut them about 6-8 inches up from the tension dials or cut close to the cones of thread if your prefer.)

cutting threads on my serger, overlocker, to thread serger with a different color, 060

(My sewing machine is behind my serger in the last photo, so I hope that doesn’t throw you off.)

Next, cut the thread that comes out of the two needles. Cut it just under the needles:

thread a serger with long tweezers, 062

In the above photo, do you see the thread tail (or thread chain) coming out of the needle area and headed to the back left side of the machine? Don’t do anything to it, just make a mental note of that because we will talk about that in the next few steps.

Now, take off those 4 cones of thread and replace them with 4 cones of the color you plan to use.

Thread all four threads through the telescopic thread stand first.

telescopic thread gizmo on serger, overlocker, 148

Remember the two black threads that you cut 6-8 inches above the tension dials?

You are going to take each one and tie it to the corresponding new thread cone with at least three knots. Make sure you tie at least three knots because you want the threads to stay together for the next step. Tie them tight using square knots.

Do you see the old black thread being tied to the new cream one? Do this for both of those black threads:

showing threads from serger cone, 063

Next, set the two far right tension dials to zero.

tension dials on serger, overlocker, 066

Gently, pull the old black thread chain (remember in the photo above where I talked about the thread chain?) until you see the new cream thread coming out of the serger. To clarify this, you are going to pull the thread chain that comes out of the serger near the needle area. As you pull these black threads, the new cream threads are getting threaded through your machine so that you don’t have to do it manually. The knots that you tied should stay tied all the way through and you shouldn’t have any snags. If you do encounter a snag, check to make sure that your tension dials are set at zero and your needle threads have been cut.

You can see the spot where the black threads are knotted to the cream:

white thread attached to black thread on serger, overlocker, 067

Sorry, that’s not the best picture, but hopefully, you can see that the black thread is to the left and the new cream thread is on the right.

*Be sure to set the tension dials back to the desired numbers for stitching.

Now, thread the two needles, following the diagram, with the corresponding threads.

You can’t tie the new colored threads onto the old threads when it comes to the needles because the knots won’t fit through the eyes of the needles. But, the needles are easy to thread.

You are ready to serge.

Wasn’t that easy?