I got a serger and now I have questions

So yeah, I start a hobby and less than a month later, I have a mountain of fabric (thanks in part to Goodwill and friends), I have two sewing machines (to be fair, I didn’t buy either one of them), and I can’t sleep at night because my mind is racing with ideas and plans and questions.

So it shouldn’t come to any surprise that yesterday I bought a serger. Not a new one, but an old model that someone had posted on FB Marketplace and since I happened to be in the area, and since the seller agreed to my lower offer, and because knits are hard, and because I am Pam, I came home with this baby:


The baby pun above was kind of intended.

I don’t know much about sergers, but I mean, I’d heard of the brand, and a quick google didn’t bring up anything negative, and it’s older, which I like to think means quality. Who knows. So far so good. It was already threaded (whew!) and look how pretty!

But I’m not exactly sure where to go from here. I want to try to make something easy with some cheap knit fabric I have but:

  • What about seam allowances? The serger has a little marker for seam allowances but it’s not very useful since the fabric is just kinda flopping around over there. Someone suggested I baste the fabric at the correct seam allowance and then use that as a line. Which makes sense but ugh, so much work!
  • Do I use the serger to actually sew seams together? I feel like I’ve read conflicting info on this. If I’m not, I assume I have to use my sewing machine for the actual seams. Do I have to use a twin needle or zig zag stitch in that case?
  • What about hems on knit items? Say I want to make the boys shorts. So I serge the edge of the fabric to make it nice and neat. But how do I sew the hem? On my sewing machine, right? But not with a straight stitch. But a zig zag would look weird as a hem. So I guess the twin needle? (You can’t hear the whiny voice in my head when I type “twin needle.”) I feel like the twin needle option doesn’t look right, but maybe I just don’t know how to use it.
  • Okay, so I was wondering about woven items and using the serger to finish the edges (how do you take that into account with seam allowances, but as I was trying to fall asleep last night, it came to me in a flash – you do that after you’ve sewn the garment. Right? Or wrong? See why I can’t sleep?
  • Do I need special needles for this? I am working on the possibly erroneous assumption that the current needles in the machine are appropriate for knit fabric but who knows.

So if you have the answers to any of these questions, please let me know!

Oh, also, I moved everything up to the bedroom so we have a dining room table again. Need a better solution for Mt. Fabric but for now this will do.