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A Big Fat Serging Question?

Updated: Apr 20, 2021

I'm going to sew the 1/2" seam allowance with my sewing machine and then finish off the seam with my serger.  I'm new to serging, so do I use a 3 thread overlock or a 4 thread overlock stitch.

This was a question I got just the other day via email and the answer is actually quite simple...

You could use either.

Both will equally finish your seams. If you are worried about unraveling then go ahead and work with 4 threads (ultimate serging) but if you’re short on thread then go ahead and thread your serger to the wide setting (needle will be at the outer setting not the inner) and just work with 3 threads. 

Ideally if you’re sewing the seam then serging you’ll be fine with either but if you are just serging a seam without a sewn straight stitch then I highly recommend serging with 4 threads.

This brings me to a rule-breaker that I often use... Just serge your seams.

serged seam
Sweet, sweet serging.


We do it all the time when we are just sewing knits but I do this all the time for woven materials too.

Serging threads have two straight stitches and an additional two threads that wrap around the seam to finish the edge. As long as the tension is correct you shouldn't need another straight stitch too.

Quick pro tip... I always serge with the front of my garment facing up to the sky, which means the front of the serging is always facing the front. Now it's super easy to determine the front from back!

*Now, this little tid bit does come with a flip side (BOO!) Large-gage knits or loosely woven materials are probably the exception to this rule breaking tip. There are lots of ways to keep these materials from unraveling but the "just serge" motto is a disaster waiting to happen and should be avoided.

Now, thread those sergers and get serging!


Want to get some other badass sewing tips? Check out my steps to becoming a badass seamster.




Jenn Barron

A pattern specialist, master seamster and digital badass. Jenn establishes a place where creativity, authenticity and sewing meet, helping make all the things so that you can  be you.

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