Types of Serger Stitches: How to Choose the Right One

Serger machines have transformed the sewing industry with their variety of stitches. For any sewing enthusiast, knowing the different types of serger stitches and their uses is essential. This detailed guide explores the most popular serger stitches, outlining their applications, advantages, and recommended techniques.

Key Takeaways

  • Overview of Serger/Overlocker Stitches:
    • A serger can perform 8 main types of stitches, each with specific applications and benefits.
  • 4 and 3 Thread Overlock:
    • Used for creating strong seams and preventing fabric fraying.
    • 4 thread overlock provides extra strength with a backup thread but is bulkier.
    • 3 thread overlock is suitable for finishing edges or making less stressed seams, like in a loose-fitting t-shirt.
  • 2 Thread Overlock:
    • Ideal for finishing lightweight fabric edges, offering a lighter stitch but not strong enough for creating seams.
  • Rolled Hem and Narrow Hem:
    • Both are used to finish single-fabric edges, with the rolled hem being fuller and more suitable for lightweight fabrics like silk or chiffon.
    • A narrow hem has a less full appearance with more gaps between stitches, which is recommended for fabrics that fray less.
  • Mock Flatlock:
    • Joins two pieces of fabric with a flat seam, reducing bulk and preventing chafing; ideal for sportswear or thick fleece layers.
    • It mimics commercial flatlock stitches decoratively but lacks their strength.
  • Blind Hem:
    • Can technically create “invisible” hems on woven and stretchy fabrics, but achieving invisibility is challenging.
    • It’s bulkier and more thread-intensive than sewing machine hems and requires a special foot.
  • Picot Edge:
    • We were not provided with a decorative edge finish for a single layer of fabric, details on its application, or visual appearance.
  • General Usage:
    • Most users primarily utilize overlock stitches, with rolled/narrow hems being common as well.
    • The article emphasizes experimenting with various stitches to understand their full potential and applications.
How to Use Serger Stitches

The Power of the 4-Thread Overlock

The 4-thread Overlock stitch is a cornerstone in serging. Known for its robustness and versatility, it’s ideal for seaming various fabrics. This stitch is handy for materials requiring both durability and flexibility.

When to Use 4-Thread Overlock

  • Ideal for seaming knits and wovens
  • Best for fabrics needing durable, stretchy seams

Advantages of 4-Thread Overlock

  • Offers high durability and strength
  • Ensures stretchability in seams, making it perfect for activewear

Tips for Perfecting 4-Thread Overlock

3-Thread Overlock: Achieving Balance and Efficiency

The 3-Thread Overlock serves as a less bulky alternative to the 4-thread version. It’s excellent for finishing edges and seam allowances of medium to thick fabrics, creating blind hems.

Benefits of 3-Thread Overlock

  • Less bulky than 4-thread, providing a neater finish
  • Ideal for edge-finishing and hemming

Applications of 3-Thread Overlock

  • Finishing garment edges like necklines and sleeves
  • Hemming medium-weight fabrics like cotton and synthetics

Mastering 3-Thread Overlock

  • Adjust the tension settings to avoid puckering
  • Choose the right needle and thread for the fabric type

The Delicate Touch of 2-Thread Overlock

The 2-Thread Overlock offers a lighter finish, perfect for delicate fabrics. Though not as strong as other overlock stitches, it provides a flawless finish for lightweight fabrics.

Ideal Uses for 2-Thread Overlock

  • Edge finishing on lighter fabrics like silk and chiffon
  • Situations where strength is less of a priority

Perfecting the 2-Thread Overlock

  • Use finer threads for a delicate finish
  • Practice on scraps to adjust tension and stitch length

The Versatility of 2-Thread Flatlock

Revered for its reversible and stretchy nature, the 2-Thread Flatlock stitch is excellent for piecing or seaming sportswear. It lays flat, providing a comfortable, flat seam.

Key Applications of 2-Thread Flatlock

  • Ideal for seaming sportswear and activewear
  • Decorative stitching on woven fabrics

Achieving the Best 2-Thread Flatlock

  • Use color-matched threads for a seamless look
  • Practice aligning fabric edges for a neat finish

The Elegance of Rolled Hem

The Rolled Hem stitch is unmatched for lightweight and sheer fabrics. It encloses the fabric edge, creating a nearly invisible, elegant finish.

Where to Use Rolled Hem

  • Hemming lightweight and sheer fabrics like organza
  • Creating an almost invisible finish on delicate garments

Mastering the Rolled Hem

  • Use stabilizers for sheer fabrics to prevent puckering
  • Experiment with different thread types for a unique look

Precision with Narrow Three Thread Overlocking

The Narrow Three Thread Overlocking stitch is ideal for edge finishes on lighter-weight fabrics. It provides strength without the bulkiness of wider stitches.

Using Narrow Three Thread Overlocking

  • Perfect for edge finishes on lighter-weight materials
  • Ideal for projects where less bulk is desired

Tips for Narrow Three Thread Overlocking

  • Adjust stitch width for finer fabrics
  • Use quality threads to prevent looping and puckering

Examples of Decorative Stitches

The rule always has exceptions, but sergers are primarily made for construction, not decorative stitches. Sergers do not have many decorative designs like computerized sewing machines, but you may find one that does. Listed below are a few examples.

Picot Stitch

Picot stitches are delicate scalloped shapes that can embellish cuffs, collars, scarf edges, and more. A few serger models come with this stitch as a built-in feature. Sergers can also be used to create picot edges.

  • The first step is to set your machine to roll hems. I am demonstrating this using a three-thread Picot stitch.
  • The next step is to lengthen your stitches. My serger has a maximum length of 4, so I set mine to 4.
  • The lower looper thread must now be pulled around to the other side by increasing the tension on the lower looper. I have set the lower looper tension using the maximum tension setting on my machine.
  • Keep your cutting blade retractable at all times!

Related posthttps://sewingwithease.com/sewing-resources/what-are-the-serger-lower-looper-problems/

Wave Stitch

One Baby Lock machine, the Baby Lock Imagine Wave BLE3ATW, comes with a proprietary stitch called the Wave Stitch.

You can use the wave stitch alone or as the basis for other stitches, such as the wave flatlock stitch.

Two Blanket Stitches

Unsurprisingly, blankets and appliqué pieces are often egged with blanket stitches. This wide stitch, made of two or three threads, can be made on any serger.

The right needle should be removed first. Make sure your machine is set for a rolled hem next. You should retract your cutting blade as well.

To adjust the needle tension, select a middle or standard setting. Lower the looper thread to zero and set the upper looper thread to its maximum. Pull the lower looper thread to the top side of the seam to give your blanket stitch its characteristic look. You may have to experiment to adjust it on your machine.

Chain Stitch and Cover Stitch

Among the stitches you’ll find on a coverstitch machine are the chain stitch and the cover stitch. A serger cannot do both of these things. Typically, sergers make seams, whereas coverstitch machines are used to hem clothing. If you are still confused, check out our post on the differences between sergers, overlockers, and coverstitch machines.

The hybrid serger, however, performs both overlocking and coverstitching. Thus, it’s essential to understand what these stitches are and what they are used for.

Chain Stitch

Chain stitches are familiar to those who do embroidery or crochet. A machine chain stitch and a hand chain stitch are similar. A chain stitch can be used in various ways as a separate stitch or as a joiner between two rows of straight stitching on the reverse side of the fabric. The right side of the fabric can also be decorated with a chain stitch.


Compound stitches consist of two straight lines of stitching on the right side of a fabric connected by a chain stitch on the back. As a result, you will have a solid and flexible sealed hem that is both professional and durable.

What Is Your Favorite Serger Stitch?

Every serger includes a catalog of built-in stitches. With few exceptions, every serger makes a three-thread and four-thread overlock stitch as one of its built-in stitches.

You can create additional stitch designs by altering the length, width, and thread tensions.

Types of Serger Stitches FAQs

What is a serger and how does it differ from a traditional sewing machine?

A serger, or an overlocker, is a specialized sewing machine designed for edging, hemming, and seaming. Unlike sewing machines that typically use straight stitches, sergers use multiple threads to create overlock stitches. This allows for a more durable, stretchable seam and a professional finish, especially on fabric edges, to prevent fraying. Serger stitches can stretch with the fabric, making them ideal for sewing knit fabrics.

What types of stitches can a serger do, and when should each be used?

Sergers can perform various stitches, including 4 and 3-thread overlock, 2-thread overlock, rolled hem, narrow hem, mock flatlock, blind hem, and picot edge. The 4 and 3-thread overlock stitches create seams and stop fraying, suitable for knit and woven fabrics. The 2 thread overlock is lighter, ideal for finishing lightweight fabric edges. Rolled and narrow hems are perfect for finishing single layers of fabric, with the former being fuller and the latter more delicate. The mock flatlock stitch joins two pieces of fabric with a flat seam, often used in sportswear. The blind hem creates less visible hems, and the picot edge provides a decorative finish.

Can all sergers perform the same types of stitches?

Not all sergers can perform every type of stitch. While all sergers can do 3 or 4-thread overlock stitches, only mid-range and high-end models typically offer a 2-thread overlock option. The ability to perform specialized stitches like the rolled hem, narrow hem, mock flatlock, blind hem, and picot edge may also vary based on the serger’s capabilities and the attachments available.

How important is it to choose the right serger stitch for a project?

Choosing the right serger stitch is crucial for achieving a sewing project’s desired finish and functionality. Each stitch type offers different strengths, such as durability, stretchability, and decorative appeal. For example, using a 4 thread overlock for seams that require strength, a rolled hem for a decorative edge finish on lightweight fabrics, or a mock flatlock for flat seams in sportswear ensures the project’s aesthetic appeal, longevity and practical use.

Are there any challenges or limitations to using a serger for certain projects?

While sergers offer a professional finish and durability to sewing projects, they come with challenges and limitations. For instance, achieving a truly invisible blind hem can be difficult and require experimentation. Additionally, certain stitches, like the 2 thread overlock, may not be strong enough to create seams and are better suited for edge finishing. The complexity of serger stitches also means a learning curve for beginners. Moreover, not all sergers can perform every type of stitch, so selecting a serger that matches your sewing needs is important.

How can one ensure the longevity of their serger and the projects they create with it?

Regular machine maintenance is essential to ensure the longevity of your serger and the projects you create. This includes cleaning lint and debris, oiling the machine as recommended, and using high-quality threads. Additionally, selecting the appropriate stitch type and thread for your fabric type and project can prevent issues such as fraying or seam breakage, enhancing the durability of the finished item. Finally, investing time in learning how to use and maintain your serger properly can pay off in the quality and longevity of your sewing projects.


Understanding serger stitches, from the robust 4-Thread Overlock to the delicate Rolled Hem, is crucial for any sewing enthusiast. Each stitch has its unique application, ensuring your projects are aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound.

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