Burying the Thread Chain While Overlocking


If you are using a serger or overlocker to construct or finish your sweater, at some point you’ll need to hide your thread ends. Fortunately there are several ways to deal with this.

First, if you’re doing another seam that intersects your thread chain, just leave the chain alone. It will automatically get cut off and secured as you serge the intersecting seam. Easy!
The knife (adjacent to the presser foot) will trim the intersecting thread chain as it trims the fabric. 

If you’re not intersecting that seam, you can use a needle or mini latch hook and simply pull the threads back through your stitches.
I'm one of those people whose thumb bends backward. Now you know. :-)

When working with an area such as the bottom of a finished edge sleeve cuff as in the pic at the top of this post, you can always resort to the needle or mini latch hook technique.

If you plan ahead, however, you can get a very quick and neat finish at the start of your seam. Here’s how:

  1. Start with a chain of stitches, at least 3 inches long, coming off your serger.
  2. Lift the presser foot up and slip your fabric underneath as usual.
  3. Let it feed through until the needle(s) enters the fabric.
  4. Lift the presser foot and pull the thread chain off the finger (the metal piece that looks like horizontal needles around which the thread chains are formed). Bring the chain around the outside of the foot  (The thread chain is now running towards you.) and in front of the blade.
  5. Lower the presser foot and continue to stitch.
The thread chain will get enclosed in the stitches and the knife will cut the chain off. Congratulations, you have “automatically” buried the chain at the start of your overlocking.

In my previous post I demonstrated how to keep the last inch of your overlock stitch from stretching out your fabric. This method of burying the thread chain before you start a seam can easily be combined with the method I showed in that post.
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So how do you “automatically” bury the overlocker thread tail at the end of a seam?

  1. Stitch to the end of your seam, then stitch one or two stitches beyond your fabric. (I sometimes turn the handwheel manually for greater accuracy.)
  2. Pull the thread chain off the fingers. Flip the fabric toward you, so that the top of the fabric is on the bottom now and the bottom is up.
  3. Place fabric under the presser foot alongside the blade, not in front of it. (No need to trim the fabric anymore.)
  4. Stitch about an inch, then angle off the side of the fabric.
You now have an “automatically” buried chain at the end of your stitches. Practice these techniques for fun and efficient overlocking!

Interested in more sweater sewing techniques? Learn about my online course How to Cut and Sew a Sweater, soon to open again for registration.

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