15 Basic Serger Supplies (List for Beginners Getting Started)
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When I first bought my serger, I wasn’t sure what other basic serger supplies I would need to go with it.
I knew what was included in the box, but what other supplies were important when learning to serge?
If you’re new to serging and just purchased your first serger, I’ll give you a breakdown of the basic supplies needed to start serging.
Compare this overlocker supplies list to the accessories that came with your serger to see if you’re missing out on anything.
Many of these supplies came included with my Brother 1034D serger, but I had to purchase several myself.
Basic Serger Supplies List for Beginners
1. Serger Needles
Just like with a sewing machine, choosing the right needle for your serger makes a big difference in the quality of your project.
As a quick summary, needle size and type depend on your thread and fabric properties.
Smaller needles (for example, size 75/11 or 80/12) work best on lighter-weight fabrics, while a larger needle (ex 90/14) works better on heavyweight fabrics. (Anything larger than this must be tested with the serger handwheel first to ensure it doesn’t interfere with the action of the loopers.)
Universal needles have a slightly rounded point and work well with knits and woven fabrics. Very tightly woven fabrics may require a sharp needle and knits a ballpoint needle.
Every serger needs one or more needles. Many sergers use conventional sewing machine needles (system 130/705H), but not all do, so verify this with your manual first.
One of the top reasons I love my Brother 1034D serger is it uses regular sewing machine needles! I have a nice stash of 130/705H Schmetz size universal needles in multiple sizes that I use for most projects.
2. Needle Inserter
If you need help removing and replacing needles due to poor vision or poor dexterity, a needle inserter will hold your new needle in the correct orientation when inserting it into the needle clamp.
If you switch from a 4-thread overlock to a 2-thread rolled hem and back again, for instance, you will find yourself removing and replacing needles often!
Not all needle threaders will work with all sergers, so check before purchasing one.
3. Needle Threader and Looper Threader
If you also have issues threading the sewing machine needles or loopers by hand, consider purchasing a looper threader or needle threader to help you out.
Sometimes I have difficulty getting the threads through the looper threader without assistance. The needle itself isn’t hard for me, but those looper holes are tiny and awkwardly placed!
Threading an overlocker requires a lot of dexterity to pull the threads through small holes in the serger workspace.
Having tweezers with long thin tips helps you grab the thread ends better and pull them where they need to be. The above tweezers came in the box with my serger and have been an enormous help!
There are SO many types of threads that will work with a serger.
Part of the fun of serging is figuring out what threads you can match with what stitches to make fun, decorative effects!
I used to use my serger sewing machine as a workhorse for mostly seaming and my sewing machine for “pretty” stitching.
However, you can produce many cool effects with your serger.
When selecting your thread, choose a quality thread.
Then, you won’t have to worry about fraying, breaking, excess lint, or skipped stitches due to bad thread.
A good quality thread will feel smooth to the touch and have no lumps and minimal thread fibers protruding out of it.
If you have no specific decorative project in mind, choose overlocker thread, also known as cone thread.
They come in huge yardages, are economical, and last a long time! These core-spun polyester threads are also crosswound on the cone, providing more even feeding through the serger compared to parallel-wound sewing machine threads.
In general, serger threads are finer than all-purpose sewing thread, thus reducing thread seam bulk and increasing stitching smoothness.
For serging seams, there’s no need to purchase all 3 or 4 cones of identical colors.
You only need to match your needle thread to your fabrics and use a neutral color for looping threads.
For dark fabrics, think black or gray; for light fabrics, think white or beige.
The most important thread to match to the color of your fabric is the left needle thread, which you can use a spool of regular colored sewing thread if you don’t want to invest in an entire serger cone.
Of course, you can also use threads like woolly nylon thread, cotton thread, embroidery thread, metallic thread, and so many more options!
6. Spool Adapters and Spool Caps
Most overlock serger machines will come with necessary spool adapters, which allow you to use thread cones when serging.
Above are my spool adapters, which fit inside the serger cones and keep the cones snug.
When using smaller spools of threads, spool caps decrease up and down movement while serging. My spool caps are shown above.
7. Thread Nets
For slippery and slick decorative threads, you may notice the thread unraveling from the cone and pooling at the base of the thread spool holder. This leads to tangling and breaking as you are serging.
Wrapping a thread net over the cones allows threads to gather in the net instead and flow out smoothly. Rayon and wooly nylon threads benefit well from thread nets.
8. Specialty Presser Feet
While most projects will be accomplished with the all-purpose serger presser foot that comes with your serger, more specific serging skills can be accomplished better with specialized sewing feet.
Here are a few examples of other overlocker presser feet.
Gathering Foot (Shirring Foot)
This foot will join two pieces of fabric, gathering the bottom fabric as it connects it to the other fabric. It also gathers just a single layer of fabric. It has a small opening that helps guide fabric between the bottom gathering plate and the top portion of the foot.
Piping Foot (Cording Foot)
This foot can apply piping, cording, and welting and can serge over zippers. A groove in the bottom keeps your piping a set distance from the needles, thus creating piping with a professional appearance.
A screw on the top of this presser foot helps attach elastic to your fabric with the correct amount of tension.
Blind Hem Foot
Use a blind hem foot to sew an invisible hem. To be completely honest, while the blind hem foot came included with my serger, I prefer to hop on over to my sewing machine and sew a blind hem with it!
Beading, Pearls, or Sequin Foot
With these feet, you can stitch special trim to fabrics. Again, I prefer to use my sewing machine for more delicate tasks like these.
9. Books or Classes
The user manual for my Brother 1034D serger was useless regarding anything but the technical aspects of setting up and maintaining the serger.
f you are new to serging and don’t feel like your manual is sufficient, check your local sewing store for classes or browse online for other resources.
I love reading books, so I read as many as I could find. If you want to learn more, check out my list of best serger basics books for beginners.
10. Serger Cleaning Supplies
Serging gets VERY messy with all the lint and fuzz produced when cutting and stitching the fabric, so you need to plan how to clean your serger.
A small lint brush helps keep the visible parts free of excess dust. A mini-vacuum for computers can also reach hard-to-brush locations and suction out more debris.
Compressed air is either awesome or horrible, depending on who you talk to. Nancy Zieman recommended it, so I’m going to do it! Just make sure not to blow the air back toward your motor. If you blow in compressed air simultaneously using the vacuum, the lint doesn’t get blown back into the serger.
11. Maintenance Supplies
As with many sergers, the Brother 1034D serger required oiling before use. It also requires oilings over time.
Check your manual for instructions on how to oil your machine (and if your machine needs oiling), and use only dedicated machine oil.
I have a bottle of Singer sewing machine oil left unused from an old sewing machine that needed oiling. It’s worked perfectly so far!
You also need to have your screwdrivers that came with your serger handy. These may be necessary when changing needles and also, depending on your model, presser feet, blades, needle plates, and more.
12. Tools To Secure Thread Chains Within Seams
If you can’t sew over your chains, there are several ways to pull the ends of your serging chains within the seams without having to cut them.
For instance, use a tapestry needle, a double-eye needle, or a loop turner. Or, just knot the ends of the chains, clip, and use Fray Check to seal the ends of the seams.
13. Trim Catcher or Serger Pad
If your overlocker did not come with a trim trap, having one is helpful!
This tray will catch the trimmings, making for less cleanup and decreasing the risk of them getting stuck where they shouldn’t be in your serger.
You can either purchase one like the one above or sew your own. If you purchase a serger pad that also collects trimmings, this will keep your serger from bouncing on your sewing table when sewing at top speeds.
14. Dust Cover or Serger Cover
Purchasing or sewing one yourself is a good idea if your machine doesn’t have a dust cover.
This cover protects your expensive investment from dust and inquisitive children’s hands, in my case. The cover included with my serger was not cute, so I made my own!
15. Foot Pedal Pad
One of my least favorite things about my Brother serger is its lightweight foot pedal pad. It slid around all over our hardwood floors.
I rectified this by making my own foot controller pad, but you can also purchase a pad if you have the same issues!
Basic Sewing Supplies List
While the above supplies are basic serger supplies, beginners will also want basic sewing essentials.
I have an entire post on sewing supplies for beginners, but here are a few things on that list that will be helpful when you start serging.
- Fabric scissors, paper scissors, and other cutting tools such as a rotary blade and seam ripper
- Pins or sewing clips and pincushion
- Seam ripper
- Marking tools (tailor’s chalk, water-soluble fabric markers, etc)
- Pressing tools (iron, ironing board, pressing cloth, sleeve board, seam roll, tailor’s ham)
- Measuring tools (tape measure, yardstick, seam gauge, etc)
What You Need to Start Serging: Conclusion
I hope you’ve found this post helpful in picking the best serger supplies to get you started with your new machine!
I wish I had seen your article when I first bought my serger last year…you touched on everything I have learned by trial and error. I bought a good sable paint brush that is fantastic at picking up the lint and dust. I also have a small portable USB LED light that I use to direct light while serging, threading, and cleaning. Thank you for such a helpful and informative article.
Thank you for this article. I am looking to purchase a serger and have no idea what type of supplies I need to get as well. This is the first article I could find.
I have neuropathy in my feet which makes it difficult to use my foot pedal and feel the pressure needed to apply. I used Velcro to attach my foot pedal to the inside wall of my sewing cabinet, knee high. The old-fashioned sewing machine cabinets used to have a lever, knee high on the inside of the knee compartment and you’d use that to apply the pressure needed with your knee, to operate the sewing machine. It works very well for me!!
Thank you for sharing your tips. Very helpful. Please add me to your newsletters.
HI. I just bought the Brother Serger, 1034D and was wondering if you knew how to make a wired ribbon with it?
I remember learning the technique from one of Nancy Zieman’s serger books, but I haven’t ever played around with it on my 1034D. I recommend checking around her website and videos to see if you can find the tutorial, though. It seemed like a really fun idea!