How do you Maintenance & Troubleshooting an Overlock Sewing Machine?

How do you Maintenance & Troubleshooting an overlock machine?

Keeping your serger in excellent running condition is easy with regular maintenance and cleaning. However, please rely on a trained sewing machine dealer for regular checkups and service.

How do you maintain an overlock machine?

Proper care and maintenance can ensure a long, happy relationship between you and your serger. Follow these tips to keep your machine in tip-top working order:

• Unplug the serger before removing lint or performing other maintenance. Remove the throat plate, presser foot and disengage the blades, if possible.

• Clean lint and trimmings out of the serger after each project. You can use a stiff bristled brush, mini-vac or canned air to remove lint, being careful to avoid blowing air into your machine, which can force the lint and trimmings deeper into the machine.

• Clean the blades with cotton swabs and a very small amount of alcohol. After they have dried, apply a small amount of oil to the blades, wiping off excess oil so it doesn’t get on your fabric.

• Loosen tensions completely and floss with non-waxed dental floss or a folded, lightweight strip of fabric to remove broken threads, fibers and lint.

• Change needles often. Dull or bent needles will adversely affect your stitching and may even tear the fabric.

• Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for how often to oil your machine. Clean out all lint first; then apply oil to the suggested moving parts in the amounts recommended.

• Have your serger professionally maintained on a regular basis. Consult with your machine dealer and your owner’s manual regarding this service.

• Cover the serger when not in use. Most come with a cover, but they are readily available at fabric stores and machine dealers.

How do you Troubleshooting an overlock machine?

Serging is fun, but when you have problems the fun turns to frustration. The first step in dealing with problems is to check that the machine is properly threaded and tensions are correctly set. Following are some common problems and possible solutions.

Overlock machine problems

Problem: thread breaks

  • The most common cause is improper threading. Make sure the machine is threaded correctly and no threads are crossing each other or wrapped together. Also check to see if the thread is getting caught as it leaves the cone or spool.
  • Tension might be too tight. Reduce it slightly on the dial for the thread that is breaking.
  • Bent or dull needles can cause the thread to break.
  • Old, brittle thread and low-quality threads also break easily.

Problem: skipped or irregular stitches

  • An improper needle type or dull needle can cause skipped stitches. Check your owner’s manual to see if a certain brand or type of needle is recommended for your machine.
  • If using a heavy-weight fabric, increase the stitch width and length, as well as the presser foot pressure.
  • Make sure the thread is feeding from the cones or spools properly.

Problem: puckered fabric

  • Adjust the differential feed, referring to your owner’s manual.
  • Make sure the stitch finger is in the correct position.
  • Check tensions—you may need to loosen the tension on the needle or one of the loopers.
  • Decrease the presser foot pressure.
  • Widen the stitch width if the edge is pulling in.

Problem: stretched fabric

  • Adjust the differential feed, referring to your owner’s manual.
  • Lighten the presser foot pressure and/or length of the stitch.
  • Stabilize the fabric edge before stitching by wrapping with water-soluble stabilizer.
  • Be careful not to pull the fabric as you serge.

Problem: seam stitches show

  • Needle tension is too loose. Increase the tension one number at a time and test after each change.
  • Thread may not be completely set in the guides. Rethread.
  • Machine may have been threaded while tension was engaged. Loosen tensions and rethread.

Problem: overcast loops not aligned with or hanging off fabric edge

  • Looper tensions may need adjusting.
  • Thread may have slipped out of thread guide. Rethread.
  • Adjust the cutting width.

Problem: rolled edge pulling away from fabric

  • If the fabric is loosely woven, the rolled edge may pull away—try lengthening the stitch and using the smallest needle possible to lessen the number and size of needle holes in the edge.
  • Wrap the edge with a strip of water-soluble stabilizer before stitching.
  • Use your sewing machine to stitch a straight line along the fabric edge before stitching the rolled edge.

Problem: trimmed edge is ragged

  • One or both of the blades may be nicked or dull and need replacing.
  • If you are serging heavy fabric like fleece, it could be that you were serging too slowly. Serge at a medium to high speed to ensure even cutting.

Problem: fabric threads poke through rolled edge

  • Use a thread with good coverage, such as woolly nylon.
  • Wrap the edge with a strip of water-soluble stabilizer before stitching.
  • Adjust the stitch so more fabric is turned under.

Problem: flat lock doesn’t lie flat

  • Position the fabric so the stitches are hanging farther off the fold or edge.
  • A 2-thread flat lock will flatten more easily than a 3-thread stitch.
  • Make sure the fabric has enough body to maintain an edge for flat locking.

Problem: machine jamming

  • Be sure to insert fabric in front of the cutter and not behind it.
  • Thread may be caught under the presser foot. After stitching, be sure to leave a thread tail behind the presser foot that is long enough not to pull under when you start stitching.
  • Make sure the fabric that is being trimmed off isn’t going into the machine under the presser foot. 

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