Overlocker Workshop

Yesterday morning I attended an overlocker workshop at Sewability, the sewing school I’ve been going too. As well as the weekly classes where was can make what we want with the help of Sue the teacher, they also offer sewing machine workshops, overlocker workshops and pattern cutting classes. I dont feel any need to do the sewing machine workshop as I did one in my first year of uni with our teacher Scarlett. But although I have used the over lockers at uni I still felt like a novice and I really wanted to learn how to thread one before I start my collection in third year because there will probably be around 20 of us making collections with all different fabrics and colours so we’ll all be needing different colours of thread and different machine settings so I’d like to be able to set up the overlocker myself because I know how busy Eva and Scarlett will be helping everyone with their collections and wont want to interrupt them to help me with the overlocker. (Although Eva and Scarlett are great and I’m sure that they would run an overlocker workshop if we asked them to.)

Sue started the workshop by talking us through all of the different parts of the machine and what they do then we watched as she threaded her machine with 3 different colours of thread so we could see each different stitch clearly and she played around with the tensions until it was overlocking perfectly so we could see what it should look like if everything is set up correctly. She then started changing the tensions so we could see what it looks like if something is wrong, this was really helpful because we could then diagnose the problem, for example if the upper looper thread is being pulled underneath then I know that the lower looper is too tight and vice versa because they should meet each other perfectly on the edge.

We then went to our own machines and threaded them and made note of what the tensions were when they were perfect, then we played around with our setting so we had our own examples of what it looked like when something was wrong.

So you can see in the pictures that I have one edge which is perfectly overlocked and then edges which are too loose and too tight on either side.

We then sewed and pressed two pieced of calico to created a closed seam pressed to one side, and another two pieces  to create an open seam and overlocked them both.

Next, we stitched together one long piece of calico to create a kind of trouser leg hem, Sue showed us how to cut out a small “box” about the width of what we were goign to cut off when overlocking so we started and finished overlocking in the “box” so that we could go all the way around neatly, I found this very helpful as I had never seen this tric done before.

Next came the execize which I found most challenging: overlocking around a curve. I’ve done this once before at uni and failed miserably when we had to make a fly front zip for the pair of jeans we made in first year. Sue gave us a piece of calico cut in a curve shape and we started out over locking the outer curve, did that easy enough, then came the inner curve. Not so easy. I did so many attempts doing mine that it is now a really strange shape but practice makes perfect and at least I made my mistake on a scrap of calico and not on an actual garment.

 Sue gave us a silky fabric and we overlocked one edge and saw how it had slightly puckered, Sue then showed us how to adjust the tension and how to hold the fabric as it was going through to create a tidy overlocked edge on that type of fabric.

We then set up the machine to to a baby overlock stitch on one side of the silky fabric,  we set also set it up to do a rolled hem and did both of these using a fine Gutermann thread.

The final thing we did was take a fourth reel of thread and threaded it through the left needle and overlocked together two pieces of jersey, the left needle gave it an extra row of stitching which you can see in the pictures is the slightly brighter blue thread which allows the jersey to still stretch, at uni we have specialist machines for stretch fabrics such as spandex and jersey but it was still interesting to know that if I ever want to make a pair of leggings or set of pajamas in my sewing lessons outside of uni I can do so on the overlocker.


I found this workshop so so helpful, all I wanted to learn was how to thread the overlocker but as you can see I’ve learnt so much more! I’m going to feel much more confident creating garments now knowing that I can finish the seams and hems so neatly. Not only will this benefit me in my third year of university but also in industry in any other internships I take on or a graduate job in the future.

I did think about taking a few little videos in the workshop but I didn’t want to seem rude having my phone out so I decided not too, I’ll try to take one of myself on the overlocker in my next lesson.