Undocumented tips on how to fix your serger/over locker's tention

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If all-els, and the manual, fails to help you set the tension of your serger/overlocker, try these helpful tips.

These are tips that I have picked up over the years of experience working in a clothing factory and running my own business. Sometimes the time and the money just aren't there and you have to cope on your own. Currently they are saving my a lot of money on services fees that I always had to pay for these few simple solutions that you can do yourself.

  1. The first thing I usually look at, is if all the threads are lodged into their respective tension wheels by pulling them slightly as shown in Fig. 1. If it was not lodged properly the you will hear a "click" sound or will feel it going in. Test on a off-cut piece of material, preferably the same material or material with the same density, to see if the tension is corrected.
  2. If step 1 doesn't sort out your problem then try the next step. Check the threading on the machine to see if the treads were pulled through the right loops (there are usually color codes that you follow to thread your machine) or that the threads are hooked through all the loops, that one is not missed.
  3. If the two above mentioned tips do not sort out my problem I then turn all my tension-dials back to zero, and then turn them alternatively tighter and tighter until I get the right tension. The settings might not, necessarily, turn out to be the same as the ones given in the manual.
  4. Check for any loose threads that might have gotten stuck in-between the tension wheels. That can push the tension wheels apart enough to create a problem. Just pry them apart with something that will not damage them and blow into them relatively hard.
  5. Clean the tension wheels with a soft piece of sturdy or double folded cloth/fabric and then push it in-between the tension wheels by holding the cloth/fabric on both sides and rub softly by pulling the cloth/fabric from side to side. Wax build-up between the blades pushes them apart, even though only for a fraction of a millimeter and then you have the same problem as mentioned in the previous tip.
  6. If I have checked all the above and I still have a problem, I then re-thread the whole machine. I have also found that it works best if you thread the second from the right thread first shown in Fig. 2, followed by the one far right ( Fig.3). Then the one second from the left (Fig. 4) and then lastly the far left one (Fig. 5). This method is not mentioned in all the manuals, but out of experience I've found that it works on all brands of machines.
  7. You might also want to check if the needles are lodged deep enough into their casings or if the tips aren't bent, worn off or broken off. If you can't see then test it by scratching it on your fingernail. A bent or damaged needle will make deeper scratches than a new, sharp needle.
  8. When you are working with four threads and the left needle's thread keeps on breaking it sometimes works to replace the left needle with a thinner needle like a size 80 or 70, especially if you are working with stretch or knitted fabric.
  9. You can also look at what brand needles works best with your brand of machine. Some brand needles just works better with certain brands of machines, no matter what the salesman tells you.
  10. You can also check if the needles are facing the right way. The groove-side of the needle must be turned to the front unless otherwise stated in the manual, but I have not come across a serger/overlocker that works like that.
  11. It is also a good idea to work with good quality thread.

If not one of these tips sort out your problem then maybe it is a good time to take your machine for a service or if it is an old machine or one that works very hard then it might be that you have to have the loops replaced because the thread eventually eats a groove into the metal of the loops which in turn then starts to rust, which then will then make it very difficult to sort out any tension problems.

And remember to oil your machine regularly.S

Stay tuned for more tips next time.





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© 2010 Anna-Mart

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Comments 8 comments

creativelycc profile image

creativelycc 6 years ago from Maine

Good advice! I have been sewing with a serger now for a year now and love it. It's the perfect companion for a sewing machine. This hub will be a good resource for me in the future. Thank you!


Anne Scullard profile image

Anne Scullard 6 years ago from South Africa Author

I'm glad I could help. Let me know if you have any questions.


ahsan shamim profile image

ahsan shamim 6 years ago from karachi

hello mam i m student of arena multimedia institute u give some advise


Anne Scullard profile image

Anne Scullard 6 years ago from South Africa Author

If i understand correctly, what advise is it that you want?


Ann Copetti 6 years ago

I haven't touched my serger in almost ten years & finding the manual is an adventure, (there isn't one online for an Omega 15J134) so this was a great refresher!


Anne Scullard profile image

Anne Scullard 6 years ago from South Africa Author

Hi Ann Copetti - glad I could be of help!


maria 4 years ago

Hi I was serging along when machine stopped! Completely stuck handwheel. What to do? I am in midst of finishing Christmas presents. AHHH!!!!

Thanks if you can help


Anne Scullard profile image

Anne Scullard 4 years ago from South Africa Author

Maria I'm am so sorry I didn't reply earlier, we did not have access to the web for a few months. If you have not come right yet, I would suggest you take it to some-one that can fix sewing machines. It is difficult to know what is wrong without me seeing the machine. I could be a number of things.

please feel free to ask again if you have a problem, maybe next time I will be able to help you.

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