Save Money with Thread Blending

I first discovered the glories of using an Overlock Machine (Serger today) years ago, when I attended High School. I was blessed to attend a school where a Fashion Arts Program was available for Sophomores and Seniors. I wanted one so badly that I went to every shop that was selling them to see if I could get one for a good price but had no luck. I waited 5 long years to finally make my purchase and was so thrilled to finally be able to do the kind of seam finishes that were on good quality Ready-To-Wear apparel. Something I was not prepared for was the cost of purchasing 4 large cones of thread, multiplied by the number of colors of thread I thought I might need.

Fortunately, the Singer Sewing Reference Library (now out of print) had some advice that is as valuable today as it was then.

“Blending thread colors allows stitches to blend easily with fabric. It is not always necessary to use a thread color that matches the fabric, and you may even blend several shades in the same seam. A supply of serger threads should include colors that blend easily, such as ivory, gray or rose. Threads in the primary colors of red, yellow and blue do not blend with many colors of fabric. If you have only one spool of matching thread, use it in the needle at the seam line, and use colors that blend for the other threads.” (loopers)


Over the years, I have found that in addition to rose, lilac is a wonderful color to have on hand as it can blend so nicely with shades of blue and deeper shades of pink and I added black as well. Using the Thread Blending Principle as a guide, my collection of overlock threads grew very slowly indeed. After 22 years, there are only 16 colors in the See It and Sew It Studio. Six of those shades have both serger thread and wooly nylon for coverhem use.

Here are my top six shades for blending:

Ivory, Rose, Lilac, Grey, Black & Deep Beige

Here is how to blend.

On the needle (or needles), use a good quality sewing thread. Remember, this is the seam so it needs to be stitched with the same care and thread quality as sewing on a regular sewing machine.

On the loopers, choose one or more colors that blend in (but obviously won’t match) with your fabric. If you have a print, pick the dominant colors in the pattern and then select thread that appears the least obvious against the fabric (blending). Here are two examples of thread blending from top machine manufacturers, BabyLock and Janome.

Image        Image

In the photo to the right, BabyLock has used the lilac thread that I mentioned on purple and red fabric, while Janome has blended yellow, red, blue and green thread for a contrast finish. Did you notice that the Janome example uses matching thread in the needle? This is the basis for blending. Had Janome used grey looper thread, it would have blended in smoothly and looked very nice on every one of the samples.

One of the arguments against buying a five thread serger that I have encountered on Sewing Pattern is the cost of threads. Don’t let that hold you back. And if your five thread is in the closet, haul it out. And try blending. It has worked very well for me for over twenty years.

Happy Serging!


Ten Feet Tall – Meet the Feet for your Serger and Coverhem Machine

Ten Feet for Serger


When I bought my Singer Pro 5, it came with 6 specialty feet and I was committed to learning how to use each one and sharing it with you. I am so happy to finally be able to offer this free video – starting next week on our brand new website at

This video covers all ten feet shown above, with some unique applications on how to use them. See how to use the Belt Loop Foot to finish and bind garment openings like the neckline of a t-shirt, leg openings of athletic wear, and sleeve bands. Save time when sewing gathers with the Shirring Foot and stitch perfect lace edging with the Fold and Trim Foot.

Shirring Foot Ruffle               Belt Loop Binding

I would really welcome any comments, thoughts or questions about the video and, as always, referrals. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Serging!


Five Thread Safety Stitch Video Tutorials

I love Vince Arcuri videos! How much you enjoy  them will depend on how detail oriented you are. I know that not everyone has the patience to sit through and take notes from an expert on machines but I always find Vince’s videos informative, patiently delivered, accurate and detailed. If Vince errs, it is on the side of extra information – which is exactly the way I like it. Most sewing blogs, tutorials and videos are provided at a beginner to intermediate level, which is good since that is where the majority of us are. Having worked in the fashion industry however, I sometimes find that the information given is a little more basic than what I am looking for. Vince’s videos are never like that. There is information here for beginner and expert alike. His decades of service as an aircraft technician give him an insight into the machines and how they work that I could never have gotten. Here is the first of three new videos on the Singer Professional Five. I hope you enjoy them!

Happy Serging!


Update: 5/31/2014

I am not sure how I managed to have such a bad technical failure – blogging is still new to me. The remaining posts had been in my Drafts folder, untitled and unpublished. Ughh. Sorry y’all! Here are the other two videos. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

BTW: (shameless pug here) the NEW WEBSITE, starts next week!


The studio is getting a makeover!

Just in time for spring, the sewing studio is getting a makeover! The old room was feeling a little cramped and cold so we (the bigger half and I) moved the the studio to a different part of the house, with more windows, space and better lighting.


Feel free to join in the fun! The transformation can be found here:

If you are wondering why there are different blogs, the answer is simple. I have several areas of sewing and creativity that are true passions of mine and I keep things organized by giving each the space needed. So writing about, design, patternmaking and home decor is done at the Dawn Abbey blog, sewing tutorials are at See It and Sew It  ( and Five Thread Serger skills are here:) Please check the sister blogs.

In the meantime, Vince Arcuri has a fabulous video on the Singer Pro Five machine. Here is the link:

I’ll be back to blogging here next week! I hope to see you over at Dawn Abbey!

Happy Sewing!


Singer Pro 5 Challenge – Day 4 – The Three Thread Wrapped Overlock


Today I had the joy of getting back to what I know best and love when it comes to using a serger, the three thread overlock stitch. I took a few days off, between posts, for a little birthday stay-cay and used the time to plan out my sewing studio makeover which I am really looking forward to in the spring. Not only was I able to hit my comfort zone with the machine, I also gained perspective on the threading that had me, at times, quite frustrated. The machine set up was finished in seconds, and it powered through the first stitch like it was nothing. I realized that once I know how to thread the machine properly, and get enough practice at it, I will be able to complete the task much more quickly. It was taking a long time because I needed to reference the Workbook so often, and was constantly double checking every step.

The first stitch outlined in Chapter Four of the Singer Workbook was the narrow three thread. I used it on two of the three samples that I finished today. The purple stitching above is the actual test and the second sample, below, is just something I decided to do in order to finish off the raw edges for the decorative thread stitch.

A word on the wide three thread wrapped overlock stitch.

It took several attempts for me to get it that way it appears in the photo above, and to my eyes, it doesn’t look that great. I reviewed the text in the Workbook and realized that it is designed for medium weight to heavier fabrics so I tried again with a swatch of silk boucle. After I saw how much better the stitches formed, it made sense to use the wider three thread overlock stitch for this fabric type, because it encloses more of the loose threads and provides a more stable finish. Here is how it came out.


I used a contrasting thread to make any stitch flaws easy to see. On a real garment, this would be a solid method for finishing side and back seams to prevent bulk, although a Hong Kong seam is still my favorite for an unlined jacket. :))

After finishing the narrow and wide three thread overlock stitch, the Workbook suggests trying a decorative thread in the upper looper.


I used a metallic thread in the upper looper and regular serger thread in the needle and lower loopers. I can just see how great this would look on dance or skating costumes, or even for home decor.

That’s my serger lesson for today. Learned quite a bit about my new machine. Back to the Depression Era quilt!

Happy Sewing!

Day 3 – Two Thread Overcast stitch

Part of blogging for me is sharing the failures with the successes and today, like many days, was a bit of both. I was really excited to read the Workbook and discover that no new threading was needed. Phew – that was a huge relief after yesterday! All I needed to do was change the stitch to “E”. The Singer Pro 5 Workbook showed a really pretty pink girls dress made out of sheer and opaque fabrics so I was keen to try this stitch on my semi sheer sleep top. The muslin sample came out okay but the stitch looked dreadful on my actual garment. If this was design school I would be lucky to get a C-.

photo (4) photo (1)

I adjusted the tension (it was on auto) and tightened up as much as I could but it still looked bad and I was so worried about getting it “right” that I didn’t get it straight LOL!

photo (3)

This is the seam after making adjustments. The looper thread is still too loose but at least it was neater. The sheer top is waiting until tomorrow when, thankfully, I will be back to something I know. Three threads. This rut I am in may last a little longer.

Happy Sewing! Natalie

Singer Pro 5 Challenge – Day 2 – The Two Thread Wrapped Overlock

Day two and I am strumming along at a pedestrian 1 new stitch per day. Today I worked on the Two Thread Wrapped Overlock. It can be done in both wide and narrow stitch widths by moving the needle to the left.

The good news is, I did it. YAY! It took a lot longer than I had hoped but in the end I was able to crank out two stitch samples. The narrow stitch is on the left.

IMG_1580         Two Thread Narrow             

This stitch presented a real challenge to me with the threading. The Singer 5 Pro has 5 different knobs on it and none of them are labelled. So it can be pretty easy to mix up one with the other especially since more than one has the setting “N”.  To make my life easier, I took Return Address Labels and clearly marked on the machine the names of each dial to avoid further confusion. The other adjustment that I am making is to change the brown thread path markings to white. These eyes just can’t see dark brown in the – well – dark! LOL! It’s much easier to see white inside the machine, especially at night.

IMG_1579   You can see that even during the day it can be a bit dark at the serger I use OttLites to balance this out but got a little lost inside the machine :))

So, after about twenty minutes of fumbling, I finally figured out the right path and got my machine threaded. The finish is lovely and would be ideal for a lightweight blouse. I could see this on a polyester chiffon or georgette top, and maybe even on a delicate knit. I tried this on a soft, sheer knit that I am making a sleep top out of but I found that I really prefer the look of a rolled hem for the sleeves. I’ll spend extra time tomorrow seeing if I can come up with another application. In the meantime – Happy Sewing!



Singer Pro 5 Challenge – Day 1 – The Double Chain Stitch

Off to a great start today with the Double Chain Stitch, found on pages 1-11 of the CD Workbook that comes with the Singer Professional 5 Overlock Machine. My first decision was to come up with a practical application for the stitch. I decided to add this beautiful, three dimensional stitch to a couple of throw cushions that I had started while reviewing the Brother Laura Ashley CX-155. Next, I needed to get the machine set up to sew. Following the instructions was fairly easy. There were plenty of clear photos as well as line drawings for me to use as reference but the Workbook is written based on the idea that you have rad through the manual. For example, the Workbook did not tell me to use the net over my specialty thread, nor to use a spool holder with the needle thread, that was in the manual. Fortunately, I have been using the machine for a while now so I have made enough mistakes to have learned this little detail. Here is my thread set up:

IMG_1566      IMG_1565

The heavy decorative thread is a YLR rayon thread in a deep aqua color, though it looks more like cobalt in the photo.

IMG_1567    To perform this stitch, the cover stitch plate needs to be installed, the knife is disengaged and then set up all the dials and knobs according to the instructions. It took about 15 minutes to get all set up since this was a new task.  Once everything is set, at least four inches of thread needs to be pulled back. I just pulled the thread to the back of the machine (about 7″).



An important detail to note is that the wrong side of the project is facing up. I drew lines on some white muslin for practice and tried it out.



WOWEEEE!!! Yay! I was pretty excited when I saw how perfectly formed the loops where. I had been using the chain stitch exclusively for basting and never even thought of adding decorative threads to the looper. I loved the added texture and can really see this looking great as an embellishment on a jacket or top. Here is how it looked on the throw cushions.

IMG_1577       IMG_1575

I used a home made circular attachement on the aqua cushion. The instructions for making your own DIY Circular Sewing Attachment to use for either a serger/overlock machine or sewing machine can be found at

Looking forward to tomorrow! Happy Sewing – Natalie

Learning to use my Singer Professional 5 Serger

It’s been a long time since I began this blog with the best of intentions but wound up too busy and truthfully a little intimidated by my (fairly) new 5 thread serger.


My new challenge is to blog my way through the 270 page Overlock Workbook CD that comes with the machine and create a sample book of each of the stitches so that I have a solid reference to turn to when trying something new. I am also going to learn how to use each of the six attachments that came with the machine and the five that I bought afterwards at JoAnn, and create short demo videos of each. I’ll load these to the main website at as soon as it is ready.

Here is my challenge photo:

photo (9)

As I work my way through, there will be a new stitch featured here together with photos of how I could use it in a practical application. By the end of February I hope to be far more proficient at using this machine than I am now. It is capable of so much, it deserves a little more love and what better month than February to show a little love?

The Best Five Thread Serger/Overlock Machines for the Money

Picking a new serger/overlock machine can be an intimidating process. These machines start at $500 so it’s no small investment in your sewing room. With that much (and up to $2000) on the line it is no wonder that so many people seek out the advice of those who already own these machines. There is a great website: that has thousands of reviews for sewing machines, sergers and patterns and it was my one top places to read about machines. To narrow that down, here are the results of my research when looking to purchase a machine of my own.

When making a decision, one needs to bear in mind that there are several manufacturers to choose from and they all have at least one machine that has great reviews. However, there are names that seem to stand out from the crowd for consistently delivering a solid machine so here is my take on it.

Under $600:


  • Singer Pro 5 14T968DC

Affordability: This machine comes with 6 feet and goes for $499 from it comes to price, it can’t be beat. Score: 5/5

Built-in Stitches: Double Chain Stitch, 2-Thread Wrapped Edge Overlock, 2-Thread Overlock, 3-Thread Overlock, 3-Thread Ultra-Stretch Mock Safety Stitch, 4-Thread Ultra-Stretch Mock Safety Stitch, 4-Thread Safety Stitch, 5-Thread Safety Stitch (Wide & Narrow), Cover Hem Stitch (Wide & Narrow), Triple Cover Hem Stitch, 3-Thread Rolled Hem. I’m docking 1.5 points because it it a bit of work to change from serger mode to coverstitch. Score: 3.5/5

Flexibility: With 6 feet out of the box the Singer Pro 5  14T968DC is all set to do a multitude of cool tasks. Add on the fact that you can use the clear view feet from your local Viking dealer at a JoAnn store (they are generic Inspira feet that go with Huskylock S21, S25 and Pfaff 3.0 and 4.0 but fit the Singer perfectly) and the possibilities are fantastic. I also called the good folks at CuTex in NYC and found a collarette binder and a hem folder for under $40 for the pair. I am waiting for my shipment so I’ll update when I know more. For affordable attachments (the same attachments are over $300 for the Janome 900 and 1000 CX machines) and flexibility, this machine really rocks. Score: 5/5

Threading: Manual. This is the biggest complaint by far when reading the reviews. I actually found the machine to have relatively easy threading compared to some of the old sergers or industrial machines I am used to but I can definitely see the frustration from other owners. Score: 3/5

Tension: Automatic tension. I haven’t sewn anything that caused me to need to adjust this but other owners have struggled with heavy fabrics. Score: 4/5

Speed and Power: 1300 stitches per minute and great piercing power – not top end but good enough to most everyday serging. Score: 4/5

Strength: I made this separate from power because although the machine is very powerful, the presser foot does not lift up very high so you can’t get the full strength out of the machine. Score: 3/5

Juki MO-655


Affordability: This machine goes for $529 from If you want to really get the best bang for the buck then has it for $599 with all 8 feet, a carry case, 100 organ needles for the machine, the electronic workbook and a 10 year warrantee from the dealer which is a lot better than 30 days from When it comes to price, this is a great value. Score: 5/5

Built-in Stitches:

2-Thread Chain Stitch
5-Thread Safety Stitch4-Thread Overlock
3-Thread Flatlock
3-Thread Narrow Overlock
3-Thread Overlock
3-Thread Rolled Hem
2-Thread Rolled Hem
2-Thread Overcast

Flexibility: With 8 feet included, this machine has all the expansion capabilities most sewers will use on a overlock machine. The big negative here is that is does not do a cover stitch so many of the stitches that can be done on other machines in this category are inaccessible. Score: 3.5/5

Threading: Manual. The Juki has a looper release mechanism making it slightly easier to thread than the Singer Score: 3.5/5

Tension: Manual. This and the threading were the two issues in the reviews I read.   Score: 3.5/5

Speed and Power: 1500 stitches per minute and great piercing power.It’s a Juki. It’s a beast.  Score: 5/5

Strength: The extra high lift on the foot gives you full access to all the machine can do. Score: 5/5

The other machine in this category is the BabyLock Diana. When looking online I had to ask for owners to provide input since I could not find many reviews. Also, when I called the local dealer they said they do not carry that machine. I asked why and was told that BabyLock is known for their “better” machines so that’s what they carry. That’s certainly true.

Under $1000

I am going to put the Huskylock S21 and the Pfaff 3.0 in the same category since they are essentially the same machine but rebranded. They are also nearly the same as the Singer Pro 5 but are a little easier to thread and are backed by dealer service. The price range on these is $899-$999 based on online reviews. When I went to demo one at the Viking store I was quoted $1099. Perhaps a little negotiating can help. The big benefit here is that they have auto tension release. It really does save time and annoyance not to have to crank the fly wheel backwards just to release the thread.

I also love the additional space to the right of the needle and the Pfaff has an extension table that can add stability.

pfaff coverlock3    HUSKYLOCKs21

  • Juki MO-755


This is Juki’s top of the line domestic serger. And it has gotten some of the best reviews online – for very good reasons. Top of the list? It is a Juki and is extremely powerful. Reviews consistently recorded the ability to handle pretty much anything you can throw at it as a huge plus.

Flexibility: The 8 feet for the MO-655 also fit this machine and a smart negotiator will either get them thrown in or try to get a discount to purchase them for under $100. The really cool thing is that some of the accessories for Juki’s industrial cover stitch machines fit this model so you can save big bucks when it comes time to stock up on all the little extras. Score: 5/5

Threading: Manual – lay in. The 7 series Juki also has a looper release mechanism making it fairly easy to thread once you get the hang of it. The big deal is – again – switching from cover stitch to serger. Score: 4/5

Tension: Manual.  Score: 3.5/5

Speed and Power: 1500 stitches per minute and great piercing power.It’s a Juki. It’s a beast.  Score: 5/5

Strength: The extra high lift on the foot gives you full access to all the machine can do. Score: 5/5


4-thread coverstitch, wide (5.0 mm)
3-thread coverstitch, wide (5.0 mm)/narrow (2.5mm)
2-thread chainstitch seam, top and bottom
5-thread safety seam, wide
4-thread overlock seam
3-thread overlock seam, wide/narrow
3-thread super-stretch
3-thread flatlock seam
3-thread Blank Stitch, wide/narrow
3-thread rolled seam
3-thread rolled hem
2-thread overlock seaM, wide/narrow
2-thread flatlock seam, wide/narrow
2-thread rolled hem

Over $1000


At this price point you are pretty much looking at a BabyLock for the best value to this writer. The top of the line Evolution with up to 8 threads features the auto threading system which basically threads the machine for you. A cool perk if you don’t mind spending the extra cash. BabyLock machines consistently get high praise from their owners and with a failure rate of less than 1%, according to the BabyLock website, it’s money well spent for a machine that will last for many years.

Affordability: Closing in on $2000 these machines are well out of the reach of many sewers. Score 3.5/5

Built-in Stitches: 87 stitch functions including the wave stitch. It’s cute but not something that I can see myself using. Machines in the lower price ranges have specialty feet that deliver a wavy stitch for dance costumes etc. Still, with 87 stitches BabyLock wins this category hands down. Score 5/5

Flexibility: It can cover stitch and overlock at the same time. Need I say more? The accessories are really pricey though. Well worth it if you have made the investment and may reviews share the joy of using one of the 24 attachments available. You can also chain stitch off the fabric and it has auto tension release for the threads. Score: 5/5

Threading: ExtraordinAir.  Owners rave about it. I don’t blame them. Score: 5/5

Tension: Automatic tension. I haven’t sewn anything that caused me to need to adjust this but other owners have struggled with heavy fabrics. Score: 4/5

Speed and Power: 1500 stitches per minute and great piercing power. Score: 5/5

Strength: No problems reported by owners in reviews that I read.  Score: 5/5

If you are in the market for a new five thread the best advice is to take your time. Shop around and try as many machines as you can. Five thread overlock machines are finicky and need to be a good fit to their owners. Bonding with them can take time so try to be patient once you get yours home. I love my new Singer. For now.

UPDATE: It has been about eight months since I bought the Pro Five. I confess that I became enamoured of the five thread safety stitch, using it almost exclusively while keeping my four thread set up for knits. I have purchased a number of attachments for the machine at JoAnn and they work very well. I was not able to get the industrial cover stitch attachments to work but I continue to look for an good solution. Still the best bang for the buck at under $500.

Happy Serging!