Overlocking for Beginners


I was was very lucky to receive an overlocker for my birthday back in October from my mum πŸ™‚ However, I’m rather ashamed to admit that delighted as I was (it was a complete surprise), it also scared me silly! So it’s sat rather neglected in its box ever since… I’m only just beginning to think I’ve gotten the hang of my sewing machine!

It was only whilst jealously reading about all the brand new sewing classes available to those around London, that I was nudged by a friendly reader (thank you Sharon), into taking a look at The Ministry of Craft’s website here in Manchester. And sure enough there was an ‘Overlockers for Beginners‘ course scheduled for the new year, so on my Christmas list it went. And Santa was kind πŸ™‚

The course started with some basic guidelines, a quick practice and then it was straight on to making an infinity scarf (using a four thread stitch). And can I say, I was hooked from then on in πŸ™‚ So quick and easy! And neat too! I loved it, as did the other attendees: there were whoops aplenty and we were all delighted with our new scarves. When overlockers are good, they’re very good, but when they’re bad…

I can see why the instructor got us quickly onto making a project. It started the course on a real, high note. We then went on to using some different stitches: three thread standard, three thread flat stitch and lastly a rolled hem stitch. All of which, of course, included changing needles and a very slight bit of rethreading. And that’s where the fun (!!?) began. Within minutes I had managed to drop a screw into my machine by unscrewing it too far. Whoops! And almost two seconds later my neighbour did exactly the same. Luckily, they had a few spare machines on hand to swap in, but we still both felt bad 😦

Our instructor carried on, giving us lots of encouragement. I guess it’s useful to learn what not to do with your own. A couple of others managed to accidentally unthread their machines, so we had some fun trying to rethread them as well. I made a mental note to only ever attempt this myself in very good light, when I’m not feeling tired or stressed already!

Overall the course was perfectly pitched to my level of experience. And it was great to meet some like-minded people. It’s been a long time since I sewed alongside others, so I really enjoyed the social aspect of the course. The instructor was down-to-earth and made us feel really comfortable.

The Ministry Of Craft run a whole range of other courses throughout the year. Two of which I was particularly interested in: ‘An Introduction to Curtain and Blind Making’ and ‘Mastering Zips and Buttonholes’. I’ll definitely be returning for more in the future πŸ™‚

I got home, full of enthusiasm, all ready to run up another couple of infinity scarves, only to realise there was no cotton included 😦 I’d kind of presumed it came with some! It was, however threaded, but with the ends snipped. So at least I don’t have to thread it, which seems by far the hardest part.

I can’t wait to try my own little machine out as I already love working with knits. I can see this making a real difference to my makes and can now see why everyone else loves theirs. Now I just need to get me some threads: the sooner the better…



33 thoughts on “Overlocking for Beginners

  1. Oooh how exciting! Bizarrely, despite all the thousands of courses in London, I couldn’t find one on working with an overlocker when I first got mine! You’ll get used to it with practice though, I promise you. If you ever get stuck rethreading it, I found this YouTube video really clear and helpful. x

  2. So glad you tried out Ministry of Craft; I’m not on commission there (honestly) but the course I attended was great for a boost of confidence, learning some new skills and face to face learning alongside others in a nice atmosphere. It sounds as though you’ve learned lots about the scary mysteries of the overlocker. I got my first one last week and have had a go (very tentatively) at some straight seams. Exciting enough for now though I definitely think I need to find out what else it can do so I’m on the look out for the next course at MoC. Happy overlocking and love your scarf!

  3. Good on you. I did an overlocker course for the first time last year. It was excellent. We only did samples but i learnt so much. The first thing the teacher did was to get us to take the thread out! Scary! But now i change colours all the time, before that I’d only used the white the machine came with.

  4. I found my overlocker overwhelming at first too and it sat for months under the chair in the corner:-) I am ashamed to say I have never attempted to change anything on it so I have always used the 4 thread. I should clearly learn more!

      • Did you feel that you would be regularly switching up and down from 3 to 4 threads? I am trying to figure out which is worth learning first – that or rethreading for colour matching? Thanks

      • I got the idea that the four thread was the basic, everyday, stronger stitch. The three thread was more for ‘finish’, think it’s the one they use on more sporty clothing as a detail. And the three thread flat stitch was useful for adding two pieces of material together, so for example adding additional length, or that’s the one you could thread a ribbon through for a more decorative finish.

  5. You’re going to be knocking up those knit dresses in no time soon enough! The scarf looks fab, what a great project to ease you in nicely. Good luck!! I haven’t ventured into overlocker territory yet and don’t plan to for a while!!

  6. The scarf looks great! I got an overlocker for Christmas and may need a project like that to get started. Have yet to think about changing anything on it though. With no class near me, I’m hoping the book I’ve night will help me get started!

    • Sure it will. I’m a real visual learner, so it was great to actually see it. Seems to be lots of tutorials online too though, they might help both of us πŸ™‚ The scarf was a great, simple project to beginners with (and useful in present cold). I plan on running up a few more for my daughter and myself, before I get started on anything else.

  7. Hi, I need a course like that! I bought an Intro to Serging on Craftsy but it is not a substitute for having someone show you. I think I am frightened of my overlocker – I still haven’t used it on a garment or attempted any re-threading. Well done you – what’s first on your list post your scarf success?

    • You should definitely attempt to find one near you, it was great πŸ™‚ I think I’ll probably attempt a Coco top or a Mabel after a couple more scarves. But one at a time, very slowly:don’t plan on rethreading any time soon…

  8. Lucky you! I’ve had my overlocker for about twenty-five years and wouldn’t be without it. I have to admit to use it mainly for seam finishing though, not decorative edges. Perhaps I’ll be inspired when you show us how proficient you’re getting with yours?

  9. Hi – as an overlocker owner for many years I’m embarrassed to say that my son used to thread mine up for me when he was about ten. Now he has left home, I rely on the u-tube video. I have to admit I’m another one who uses it mainly for straight seams but looking I am also looking forward to see what you make (no pressure) πŸ™‚

    • πŸ™‚ I have a feeling my son might be good at it too! He’s fab at building ridiculously complicated Lego/Knex/robot models from endless-looking pages of instructions. Whereas me and instructions just don’t seem to get on πŸ˜‰

  10. So glad you did the course and very impressed that the teacher had you make an infinity scarf which looks just gorgeous. Now do take the time to learn to thread your overlocker, once you accomplish that you will never have to worry again.

    PS: I thought a serger and overlocker were the same things, just different countries.

  11. Well done for taking the bull by the horns! You gonna love your overlocker once you’ve bullied it into submission with the threading. Don’t let it talk back to you!
    I still get a little thrill every time when I have a really nice overlocked seam. Little joys, ey?!!!

  12. Pingback: The Seamworks Oslo Cardigan | navybluethreads

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