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Piecing a quilt top with the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 [Serger]

by Elaine Theriault

What do you think about the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600? It’s a pretty impressive serger, and we’ve only just started! There are so many features and benefits of the Amber Air S600 that I didn’t have time to share all of them yesterday. I’ll review more this week as we work on some quilting projects.

How often do you say you’re off to quilt when you really mean you’re piecing the quilt top? I can technically use the serger (in coverstitch mode) to quilt all three layers, and I can make a ‘quilt as you go’ project, but today, we’ll focus on piecing!

So what kind of quilt would you piece on a serger? Pick something simple like squares, strips, log cabin style, or other large shapes, and avoid diagonal seams or intricate patterns.

If I had to pick a sewing machine or a serger for a jelly roll race quilt? In a heartbeat, I’d choose the serger.

What’s nice is you get finished seams on the inside, so if you’re thinking of making a duvet cover, pieced pillow, or cushion cover, think about using the serger. It’s fast and accurate, and the project will hold up forever without worrying about frayed seams on the inside.

Let’s talk about which stitch to use.

There are two options – the three-thread or the four-thread overlock. The three-thread overlock can be wide or narrow, the difference is the needle’s position. We aim to have a ¼” seam allowance, so we’ll focus on the three-thread overlock wide.

The three-thread overlock uses one needle and both the upper and lower loopers. It’s a durable stitch, which works great for construction.

I used beige thread for the construction, and the straight line of stitching parallel to the edge is the needle thread. The looping stitch in the first line of stitching is the upper looper, and the looping stitch on the second seam is from the lower looper. Notice how the two looper threads meet nicely at the edge of the fabric, making a well-formed stitch with balanced tension.

I selected Woven Medium on the Exclusive Sewing Advisor for Woven medium and used the default settings. I love not having to fuss with tension!

Two serged seams with beige thread

The three-thread wide overlock stitch

Now let’s look at the four-thread overlock. It’s the same stitch, except there are two straight lines of stitching because I’m using two needles and the upper and lower loopers.

A serged seam with white fabric on orange fabric

A four-thread overlock seam

So where would I use one stitch over the other? If I construct a garment that will get wear and tear, I’ll use the four-thread overlock to provide extra strength to the seam. The four-thread uses more thread, which isn’t a concern but adds ‘weight’ to the seam allowance. In my quilt, I don’t need the extra strength on the seam, nor do I want the extra ‘weight,’ so a three-thread wide overlock works just fine.

Here’s a tip about needles. If you switch from a four-thread overlock to a three-thread overlock, remove the extra needle. You don’t want to take a chance that the needle will damage your fabric or get caught in the stitch formation. Play it safe and remove it!

And another tip about needles: if you move the needle from one slot to another, unthread it and ensure it’s threaded through the correct tension disk!

Let’s talk about the stitch width and length. Depending on the type of fabric and stitch, you’ll get a default stitch length, and if you wish to change the length, it’s easy to do on the screen of the Amber Air S600. The needle position or the cutting width dial changes the stitch width. I’m using the left-most needle position, and the cutter is set to 6.5, giving me the desired ¼” seam allowance. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

I wanted to make a jelly roll quilt but didn’t have an extra jelly roll, so I cut up a fabric grouping into 2½” strips (can be any width – you choose) and then sewed the short ends together until they made one long strip. Here’s a bonus when using the serger to do this – you do not need to remove the selvages, as you’ll cut them off as you sew the two strips together.

I chain pieced as I would on a sewing machine, and once I finished the entire batch of strips, I cut them apart. There’s no need to backstitch.

A serged seam using pink and green fabric

No need to trim the thread ends from chain piecing.

There’s no need to trim the thread ends exactly, as they’ll get cut off with the knife and secured when you stitch the next line of stitching.

The edges of two pieces of fabric sitting on a serger

The thread ends will get cut off with the next seam.

While the knife is still engaged, I’m not using it to cut, but I’m using it as a guide to run the edge of my fabric along. The cutter removes the extra thread from the ends of the stitching and any errant threads that have ravelled off.

A strip of fabric under the presser foot of a serger

Using the knife as a guide

Although I had only recently cut the strips, they’re starting to fray badly, so serging those seams is good. I press everything as I go so it doesn’t become a massive job when the top is together. Notice that even when pressed, you don’t see the stitches from the good side which is another sign that the tension is well-balanced for this stitch.

Two strips of pink fabric

Two strips serged and pressed

As you can see in the waste tray, I’m cutting off threads and the selvages but nothing from the edges of my strips.

Loose multi-colored threads in a white waste tray on a serger

Scrap threads in the waste tray

It’s now time to grab both ends and start serging them together. It doesn’t matter if the long strip has a twist; you can cut it apart when you arrive at the end.

Then I take the time to press the long seam with steam, and I keep it neatly lined up so the next time I grab both ends, I know that it’s not twisted.

A double wide strip of multi-colored fabric on a gray ironing board

Pressing the long seam for the jelly roll quilt.

Then grab both ends and repeat the process. Again, I press the seam with steam and keep it neatly lined up for the next seam.

Four rows of multi-colored fabric on a gray ironing board

The next seam is also pressed and neatly laid out.

Keep repeating this process until you have a strip set that is 16 strips wide. Grab both ends one last time and serge them together.

Eight strips of multi-colored fabric on an ironing board

Strata of eight strips at the ironing board

At the end of each seam, I use scissors to cut the section in half. Do this just before you reach the end of the seam.

A pair of orange-handled scissors on the wrong side of the quilt

Use scissors to cut the bottom section.

It’s time to sit back and admire the quilt top. Check the size – if it’s right, you can stop, or add borders to make the project larger.

A multi-colored quilt on a white wall

The jelly roll quilt

Look at the back of the quilt. Those seams are beautifully finished and won’t go anywhere. Imagine the inside of a duvet cover. Serging a duvet cover is a perfect solution, allowing you to wash the cover and not worry about a mess of threads inside.

The back of a quilt top with serged seams

The wrong side of the serged quilt top

I’ve decided to add borders to my quilt, and yes – I will put them on with the serger. Use the same process as you do to piece a quilt. Measure through the quilt’s center and cut the side borders to that measurement. Pin them on and serge them. Press them to the border and then measure for the top and bottom borders.

The inevitable will happen where the border or the quilt will be longer than the other. What to do? You can use the differential on the serger to help you. There is a front and back set of feed teeth on a serger instead of one set that you’ll find on a sewing machine. The back feed teeth move at a constant speed, but you can change the speed of the front feed teeth, allowing the differential to ease in excess fabric or create waves.

Many people don’t understand the nature of what the differential will do, so here’s some experimenting.

I’ve used a single layer of knit fabric and stitched several lines with different differential settings.

The bottom line of stitching is with a differential setting of 1, where both feed teeth move at the same speed. But on the top line of stitching, the differential is at its highest, meaning the front feed teeth move twice as fast as the rear feed teeth. It almost appears that it gathered the edge of the fabric, as that edge is pulled in smaller than the bottom stitch line.

Blue fabric with two lines of serged seams

A line of stitching with the differential at 2.0

I used the same fabric on this next sample but set the differential to 0.6. The front feed teeth move slower than the back. Notice how rippled the knit fabric is. It’s a good idea to try knits and wovens with different settings on the differential so you understand how it works and where it can help you with any project. Experimenting – that’s the only way to learn.

Two lines of white stitching on blue fabric

The top line of stitching with a differential of 0.6

The borders on my quilt were good, so I didn’t need the differential, but I know how to use it!

A multi-colored quilt on a white wall

My jelly roll quilt with a border

Here’s a tip about pins! If you pin your borders on, and I highly recommend that you do, pin them perpendicular to your project and have them stick out to the right. This procedure makes them noticeable and easy to remove, as you don’t want to run the pin into the knife blade, as that’s a bad thing!

A pin on purple fabric in front of a serger foot; Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600

Remove the pin before it reaches the knife.

So there you have it. Piecing on the serger is a piece of cake! Set the stitch, choose your neutral threads, and start stitching. It’s fast!

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

The Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 serger and coverstitch machine

Be sure to come back tomorrow, when I’ll show you some other areas where the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 serger comes in super handy if you’re a quilter, and find out how it can help you clean up some scraps!

Have a super day!!!


This is part 2 of 5 in thi series

Go back to part 1: Getting to know the Husqvarna Viking Amber Air S600 [Tips and Features]

Go to part 3: 9 ways to use a serger for your quilting and sewing projects


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