I’m very excited to be back this week, and I have something special to share with you. We’re talking about sergers and quilting! What? Technically you can do without one, but when you see how a serger can help with your quilting, you’ll change your mind! And then, when you get the urge to make garments, you’re set!
You may have heard of a serger or an overlocker, two names for the same type of machine. They produce the same stitching and have two loopers – an upper looper and a lower looper. The ability to do chain stitch or cover stitch requires a third looper, called the chain looper. I’m using the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 serger with Coverstitch, which has three loopers and is super easy to convert from serging mode to cover stitch.
The most exciting news about this serger (besides the fact that it’s also a cover stitch machine – more on that later this week) is that it uses air-threading technology to thread the loopers. Yes – the headache of learning how to thread the serger manually is gone.
Inside the serger, a lever switches the serger from overlock mode to threading mode. A quick rotation of the handwheel locks the looper pipes in place, and now all we have to do is insert about ½” of thread into the appropriate threading holes and hit the button on the right. A poof of air pushes the thread through the tubes and out the end of the looper. How simple is that?
Wait – I’m getting ahead of myself, but I was so excited to share the news about air threading with you!
A full range of accessories comes in a nice plastic box, including the Allen key needed to change the needles, spool holders, and caps to accommodate different types of spools of thread—an extra knife blade, a threading wire, and a whole lot more.
The number of people who never read the User’s Guide amazes me. And yet, so much information in there makes using the Amber Air S600 much easier. Thankfully, the User’s Guide is not very large (60 pages), so it won’t take long to go through it! I recommend reading it in sections and sitting in front of the serger as you do so. You’ll be a serger pro with a few tips and tricks in no time!
In addition, a two-sided Quick Start Guide provides step-by-step instructions for a wide 5-Thread Safety Stitch on one side and a Triple cover stitch on the other. You’ll find the same information in the User’s Guide, and before you know it, you won’t need the Quick Start Guide or the User’s Guide to thread the serger!
Like anything, the first couple of times, you might struggle, but once you understand how to thread each looper and each needle, consulting the User’s Guide to know which needles and loopers you need for the particular stitch you chose is simple.
Inside the cover, you’ll find more color-coded diagrams for threading and the stitches. There’s loads of room inside with only two controls, one to switch from threading to serging mode and the other to disengage the upper looper. You’ll also find a place for the stylus (handy for the touch screen) and a place for the tweezers. Tweezers are necessary when working with a serger, so keeping them handy is nice.
If you haven’t picked up on it, all thread paths are color-coded – even on the top of the serger. One of the things that people struggle with on a serger is the tension. Here’s a tip for threading.
TIP To avoid tension issues, ensure the thread is correctly seated under the pretension thread guide and inserted between the tension disks (inside the slots). If you don’t pay attention, the thread can be sitting outside the tension disks, and you’ll never get a good stitch, no matter how much you change the tension on the serger!
There are 26 stitches on the Amber Air S600, so you have plenty to choose from. To make it easier to understand the stitches, I like to break them into two categories – the construction stitches and those used to finish the edges. That’s a rough generalization, but it works for me.
Here’s another tip to help you learn which thread goes where on each stitch.
TIP When learning your new Amber Air S600 serger, use the same color thread as the thread path. This trick helps you to identify which thread is which part of each stitch, and if there’s a tension issue, you’ll know which tension to adjust. You’ll find references to the color-coded path everywhere!
Once you understand where the threads lie on each stitch, use the appropriate colors to match your project!
The Amber Air S600 has three different configurations. The cover shown below is called the Flat Bed Extension. Notice how much room there is to the right of the needle. There are five LED lights so you can work long hours with minimal eye fatigue.
If you remove the Flat Bed Extension, you can access the free arm if the item you’re working on is small.
Or remove the Flat Bed Extension and use the included extension table, which gives you ample room to work on any sized project. I love the flexibility of all three modes.
Unlike a sewing machine, it’s almost imperative that you sew with the User’s Guide next to you. Inside you’ll find a section devoted to the serger setup for each stitch. After you’ve used the serger for a while, you may not need that information, but it’s always a good idea to double-check
You can use the User’s Guide for this, or because the Amber Air S600 is a fully computerized serger, you’ll find that information on the colored screen.
The first screen for the chosen stitch provides me with a picture of the stitch. Notice the colored ‘stitches.’ Yes – those colors match the color-coded thread path, making it easy to know which thread has an issue if it does, provided I’ve used the appropriate colored threads. I can also see that I’m using two needles (yellow and blue) and the upper looper (red), and the lower looper (green). The chain looper (purple) isn’t necessary for this stitch.
The next tab provides me with the physical setup needed for this stitch. After switching from one stitch to another several times, you’ll understand all the icons and quickly move from one stitch to another in no time.
The last tab gives you a description of when and how to use this chosen stitch. We can see that this is a construction stitch for knits.
Another area of serging that stumps many people is knowing which stitch to use. By becoming familiar with the stitches and putting them into either group (construction or edge finishing), and understanding which stitches are for knits and which are for woven, you’ll quickly know which stitch to use and when.
This serger also has an Exclusive Sewing Advisor, where you can select the type (woven or knit) and the weight (heavy, medium, light). Based on the settings in the Sewing Advisor and the stitch, the needle size, the needle(s) positions, the stitch length, tensions, and the differential are all selected!
And here is the main screen. Notice the stitch selected at the top. All the settings and information are easily accessible on the screen. You can use your finger or the stylus to make your selections.
Notice the needle positions changed when I move to an overlock stitch. The front needles (C, D, E) work with the chain looper, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Notice the width for the knife blade appears, whereas, in the previous screen, set to a cover stitch, there’s no setting as the knife is disabled for the cover stitches.
The tensions are also automatically set depending on the stitch and selections in the Exclusive Sewing Advisor. You can override any or all of them if you need to. Again, notice the color code system. Understanding and using this simple tool will make your life with a serger so much easier! Be sure to practice the stitches with the various colored threads, and you’ll find your time well spent.
And if that isn’t enough, you can save your stitches. Let’s say you have a particular stitch you’re using for a project. You’ve got the tensions set differently than the default. It’s easy to save the stitch using the Save Stitch button on the right, and the next time you work on a project, you can pull up that stitch. How easy is that?
I’ll confess that I used to be scared of sergers as I didn’t understand which stitch to use nor how to adjust the tensions, But when I started to use the color-coded system with matching thread colors to practice, it became apparent which thread was used where! Like anything, the more you use and understand the serger, the more often it’ll get used, and it won’t stay permanently in the 4-thread overlock position.
The Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 is so easy to use that it makes you want to experiment and see what other options you can do with a serger!
Tomorrow, I’ll dive into using the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 serger for a quilt project, so be sure to come back to see what benefits the serger offers to the quilter!
Have a super day!