I'm not nearly has frustrating as you may think! Try these tips if you're stuck:
Threading#1- Order counts when you're threading including the order the threads lay over each other
#2- Once you finished threading hold the tails of your thread like you do when you start to sew with your left hand and use your right hand to gently tug up on the beginning ends of the thread to make sure they are fully tucked into the tension wheels. By beginning ends, I mean the space between the spools and the first point you thread through.
You'll know if your tension discs aren't engaged when your stitch looks too loopy.#3- If the lower looper keeps breaking make sure you clear the lower looper of all the threads before you re-thread by brushing a something flat under the pressure foot and needle area first.
#4- Once you get it threaded you can keep it that way even if you have to change thread by simply tying a knot at the top of your threaded thread with the new thread and stringing it through- huge time saver!
Tension#1- Have patience and ALWAYS test before you serge, even if is the same fabric you were working with before your break. You'll save yourself headaches and lots of seam ripping...
#2- Only change one thing at a time and then test, so you can narrow down exactly what is wrong.
#3- If the fabric CURLS (like a C) then the lower looper is too tight
#4 If the fabric PUCKERS (like a gather)- check the DIF and set it to N or loosen the needle tensions
#5- If your stitch is IRREGULAR- change your needles
Serging vs SewingNo back serge. To close your stitch you must tie a knot. A tailor's knot works best (click on the link for a how-to), but you could also tie a regular knot close to the edge as possible or simply hide the thread between layers.
Turning corners. With serging your end will be bulky or come unraveled if you simple pivot your fabric when you get to a corner. Here's the steps for how to get a tight outside corner:
1. Stitch until the needl is 1 stitch off the edge
2. Raise the needle and foot
3. Pull fabric back to clear the stitch fingers (little "fingers" under the needle that the thread loops onto)
4. Pivot fabric around and tuck up against needles and knife
5. Lower needles back into the machine (not fabric) to create a barricade for where you want to stitch
6. Hold your fabric with the left hand and use the right hand to pull the threads at the top of the machine to release the slack out of the tension discs
7. Lower pressure foot and serge!
Differential feeders. You really don't have to feed your fabric into a serger, the feeder dogs are amazing on these machines! But that also means you have to be sure to change it based on your fabric.
Types and colors of thread. This matters with sergers! Your tension may be different just based on the color of you thread. Black threads tend to be heavier, because of the amount of dye so the tension may need to be looser.
Types of fabrics and thickness. This also affects tension. Thinner fabric require less thread coverage and penetration, so tensions should be tighter. Similarly, they might need to be loosened for lots of layers or thick fabric.
Good to note here- sergers can never use needles greater than size 90! So even though you have thick fabric to sew, you don't want to change your needle size like you would in a sewing machine. I definitely didn't know this before my class- phew!