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9 ways to use a serger for your quilting and sewing projects

by Elaine Theriault

Yesterday, we saw how easy it is to piece a quilt top together with the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600. The auto tensions are fantastic, and the computerized settings take all the guesswork out of serging. I love it!

Today, I’ll share more reasons why you, as a quilter, will want a serger. And I’m throwing in a few extras, just because!

  1. No more fraying

Do you prewash your fabric? Aren’t you tired of the frayed mess when you open the dryer? If you serge the raw edges of your yardage, the pieces will come out of the dryer with no fraying.

I tried several different fabric types, and it worked beautifully on all of them.

Since I was only finishing the raw edge, I didn’t need a construction stitch, so I chose the two-thread overlock. Switching from one stitch to another used to be scary, but if you select the stitch on the drop-down menu on the screen and follow the steps, you’ll have no issues moving from stitch to stitch.

White stitching along the edge of green and white fabric

The two-thread overlock

Notice the serged edge on the quilter’s cotton didn’t fray, while the unserged edge is a mess.

The wrong side of green fabric with frayed threads and a stitched seam

The serged seam didn’t fray.

Here’s a rayon/linen blend that I also washed, and look at all the fraying. The fraying probably isn’t a big deal, but wash several pieces of fabric together, and it becomes one big thread ball.

Orange fabric with a stitched edge and an edge with frayed threads

The results of washing a rayon/linen blend

2. Piece and trim in one step

If you need to make a backing for a quilt, you likely have to piece large pieces of fabric together, and you likely have to trim off the selvages. Guess what? You can do both in one step on the serger.

Two pieces of fabric under the foot of a serger; Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600

Serging a quilt back

I love how fast this is. I’ll use a four-thread overlock for this seam as the seam will get more wear and tear, and the two needle threads will provide a stronger seam. Look at that beautiful four-thread overlock!

Purple fabric with white serging

A four-thread overlock

3. Tidy edges

Another great way to use your serger is to tidy up the edges of your quilt project. If you quilt your project on a domestic machine, chances are you haven’t quilted right to the edge, and it’s three distinct layers, which makes it difficult to attach the binding.

Blue and purple fabric with batting in between

The unquilted corner of a project

It’s easy to serge around the outer edges, securing the three loose layers so they’re one. Attaching the binding will be easy, with no danger of tucks. I used a four-thread overlock, but I could’ve used a two or three-thread overlock, as this is not a construction seam. When I attach my binding (cut 2½” strips), I use a slightly wider than ¼” seam allowance so this serged seam disappears inside the binding.

Blue fabric with white serging

Serge the edge to secure the layers.

You can even use the serger to attach the binding to the quilt, as you do with your sewing machine. I haven’t tried that yet, but why not?

4. Easy tote bags

Quilters love to make tote bags. Let’s say you’re constructing a tote bag from a preprinted panel. Sometimes, the fabric doesn’t behave quite how it should, and if you decide not to put a lining in, those seams will fray.

A red and black checked and gray fabric with a maple leaf

A preprinted panel for a tote bag

The weave is relatively loose, and you can see along the edge that this fabric will fray if the edges are left unfinished.

Red, black, and white fabric with frayed edges

The edges are fraying.

I fused my interlining to the panel to give the bag body, and then I serged around all the edges. Those threads aren’t going anywhere now! I used a four-thread overlock, but I could’ve used a two-thread overlock for this part and then used the four-thread overlock to sew them together. Or, I could’ve left the edges unfinished and used the four-thread to construct the tote bag. In this instance, someone else used the sewing machine to assemble the tote bag, so I only finished the edges for them. Lots of options!

Black and red fabric with a gray serged seam

The finished edge

5. Piecing a fleece blanket

You can also use the Amber Air S600 to use up your fleece scraps. If you make fleece garments or use fleece for the backing of a quilt, you’ll end up with leftovers. I cut the pieces into squares (you can piece sections together to get the square size you need).

Then serge them together. I used a decorative thread (30wt variegated) in the upper looper to give a decorative edge to the stitch.

A variegated thread on blue and pink fleece

Flatlock seam on fleece with variegated thread

The other side of the flatlock stitch is the ladder stitch. Experiment with different stitches to see which one you prefer.

Green and yellow fabric with black stitching

The ladder side of the flatlock stitch

It’s so fast and easy to make, and the variegated thread puts a pop of color in those solids squares of color.

A multi-color blanket of fleece squares

Scrap pieces of fleece make a fleece blanket.

Multi-colored squares of fleece sewn together

The back of the fleece blanket

These blankets are perfect for donating to your favorite charity for young children or make them a bit smaller and donate them to the pet shelter. Either way, it’s a great way to use up scraps and get more practice with your serger.

6. Create fancy trims

Another use for the flatlock stitch is to create a fancy trim along each seam. In this instance, I made a log cabin block and used a flatlock stitch. One side looks like a serged seam, while the other looks like a ladder stitch. You can weave a narrow ribbon through the ‘rungs’ to get a completely different look. How about using contrasting threads and ribbons to jazz up the blocks?

I’m using the same flatlock stitch I used for the fleece blanket, but now the ladder stitch has become the right side. It’s a very versatile stitch!

Multi-colored fabric with a teal ribbon and yellow stitching

A ribbon woven into the ‘rungs’ of the flatlock stitch

It takes a bit of time, and I use a weaving needle to help keep the ribbon from twisting, but the effect is beautiful and worth the time.

A multi-color quilt block with teal ribbon

A wonky log cabin block with ribbon along each seam

7. Easy quilt-as-you-go

Here’s one more thing you can do with the Amber Air S600. Why not make a quilt-as-you-go? Horizontal or vertical strips or a log cabin style are perfect for this quick quilt. Don’t make the strips too small or too wide; somewhere between 2″ and 6″ is good, and choose the strip’s width depending on the project size. So the larger the quilt, the wider the strip.

You’re serging the project together in sections, and it’s critical to layer them in the correct order. The top section (left) consists of two strips of the quilt top, with the right sides together, and a batting strip. The bottom section consists of two strips of the backing, the right sides together, and a batting strip.

Serge the seam. Open it up and press, and add another strip of backing (right sides to the backing); the top strip should be right sides to the top, and the batting can be on the top or the bottom. Continue until the project is as large as you want, and bind the edges.

Layers of green and red fabric with white batting

Preparing the first seam in a quilt-as-you-go project

The Amber Air S600 had no problem going through all those layers.

Layers of fabric under the presser foot of a serger; Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600

Stitching through four layers of fabric and two layers of batting

Again, this type of project is great for using up scraps. Make the project small enough for a placemat or a pet mat.

Green and red strips of fabric

The front of the quilt-as-you-go placemat

And here’s the back.

Strips of red and green fabric

The back of the quilt-as-you-go placemat

8. Create piping

Dress up your quilts with piping you can create with your serger. What’s the advantage of making piping on the serger over the sewing machine? The seam allowance gets trimmed as you make the piping! It’s super easy to make piping using the optional piping foot. Be sure to check with your dealer to discuss the options for the cord diameter you’ll use and compatibility with your serger.

A red and green piece of piping with a clear plastic presser foot

A sample of piping with the piping foot

Piping can add a beautiful finish to the edge of a quilt, and it’s so fast using the Amber Air S600.

A teal, green, and pink quilt with pink piping

Piping inside the binding

9. Insert a zipper

And one more thing you can do with your serger, which doesn’t have anything to do with quilts, but did you know you can insert a zipper with a serger? Use a zipper that is longer than you need and serge on and off, and the zipper will be in with a beautifully finished edge on the inside.

Red and green fabric with a red zipper

A zipper inserted with a serger

You can’t beat the finished seam look with the zipper.

A red zipper with red serged seams

The finished seams on the zipper

And there you have it – 9 things you can do with your serger. Yes, you have to change the stitches, which means switching needles or threading loopers, but with the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600, switching from one stitch to another is a breeze. I joyfully cut all my threads and start over each time I switch. I was not a fan of serging and primarily used a four-thread overlock. The ease of use of the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 was a game changer for my serging!

A rose gold and white serger; Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600

The Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600

Tomorrow, I’m taking a look at the capabilities of the coverstitch features. I’ve never used a coverstitch machine before, and let’s say that I’m so excited about all the possibilities!

Have a great day!


This is part 3 of 5 in this series

Go back to part 2: Piecing a quilt top with the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 [Serger]

Go to part 4: Why a coverstitch machine is a valuable tool


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