Can You Use Regular Spools of Thread on a Serger? Serger Do’s and Don’ts

Exploring the world of serging unveils a realm of creative possibilities, but one common question arises: Can You Use Regular Spools Of Thread On a Serger? This query often stirs curiosity among sewing enthusiasts looking to push the boundaries of their craft. Understanding the compatibility of standard thread spools with a serger is pivotal in unleashing the full potential of this versatile machine.

In this guide, we’ll delve into the nuances of serger threading, shedding light on whether conventional threads can seamlessly integrate with this powerhouse of a tool.


  • Sergers require specialized threads designed for high speeds and tension, making regular spools of thread unsuitable for optimal performance.
  • Serger thread is stronger, providing the necessary characteristics for tight and durable stitches that sergers produce.
  • Unlike regular thread, serger thread is often available in cones, ensuring smooth feeding through the serger machine.
  • Investing in the right serger thread enhances the overall efficiency of your serging projects and minimizes the risk of thread breakage or uneven stitching.

What is a Serger and How Does It Work?

A serger, also known as an overlocker, is a specialized sewing machine designed to efficiently and neatly finish fabric edges, preventing fraying and providing a professional-looking seam. Unlike a regular sewing machine that typically uses one or two threads, a serger uses multiple threads simultaneously, typically four, to create a secure and durable seam. The primary function of a serger is to trim the fabric edge while simultaneously enclosing it with a thread, creating a clean and finished look.

The basic mechanism of a serger involves feeding the fabric through multiple sets of feed dogs and guiding it through a series of loopers and needles. The upper and lower loopers work together to form loops around the fabric edge, while the needles secure the loops, creating a strong and tightly sealed seam. The differential feed system in a serger ensures that the fabric is fed through evenly, preventing puckering or stretching.

One of the key features of a serger is its ability to create different types of stitches, including the popular overlock stitch that trims and encloses the fabric edge in one step. This stitch is widely used for finishing seams on garments and other textile projects. Additionally, sergers can perform various other stitches like rolled hems, flatlock seams, and decorative stitches, offering versatility in garment construction and embellishments.

In summary, a serger is a valuable tool in the world of sewing, providing a fast and efficient way to finish fabric edges with professional results. Its multi-thread capability and diverse stitch options make it an essential machine for anyone looking to elevate the quality and durability of their sewing projects.

Unlocking Serger Secrets: Can You Use Regular Spools Of Thread On a Serger

Can You Use Regular Spools of Thread on a Serger?

When it comes to using a serger for your sewing projects, it’s essential to consider the type of thread you use. Unlike conventional sewing machines, sergers typically require multiple threads to create secure and professional-looking seams. Regular spools of thread are not ideal for serger use, as they lack the characteristics necessary for the specialized functions of a serger.

Serger thread is designed to withstand the high speeds and tension associated with serging. Unlike regular thread, it is usually thinner and stronger, allowing for the tight and durable stitches that sergers produce. Regular spools of thread may not provide the necessary strength and elasticity required for serged seams, leading to potential thread breakage or uneven stitching. Additionally, serger threads often come in cones rather than spools, making them more compatible with the feeding mechanisms of serger machines.

In summary, while it might be tempting to use the regular spools of thread you have on hand for your serger, it’s advisable to invest in specialized serger thread to ensure optimal performance and the longevity of your machine.

Unlocking Serger Secrets: Can You Use Regular Spools Of Thread On a Serger

Difference Between Regular and Serger Thread

When it comes to sewing, choosing the right thread is crucial for achieving a professional finish. Understanding the disparities between regular thread and serger thread is fundamental for selecting the appropriate one for your sewing projects.

AspectRegular ThreadSerger Thread
PurposeUsed for general sewing, basting, and hand-sewingSpecifically designed for sergers or overlock machines
CompositionTypically made of cotton, polyester, or a blendTypically made of high-quality polyester or a combination of polyester and other synthetic materials.
ThicknessMedium to heavy weightFiner and more lightweight, allowing for multiple threads to be used simultaneously in a serger.
StrengthOffers good strength for regular sewing tasks.Provides adequate strength for the overlocking process, preventing fraying of fabric edges.
ElasticityLess stretchy compared to serger threadOffers more elasticity, essential for stretchy fabrics
CostGenerally more affordableSlightly more expensive due to specialty design
Finishing SeamsCan be used but may result in bulkier seamsIdeal for finishing edges and creating neat, flat seams
ColorsWider variety of colors availableLimited color selection, mainly neutral tones

In summary, regular thread is versatile and suitable for a range of sewing applications, while serger thread is tailored for use with serger machines, excelling in creating durable, stretchable, and tidy seams.

How to Use Regular Spools of Thread on a Serger?

While sergers are typically designed to work with specialized serger thread, you may find yourself in a situation where you want to use regular spools of thread. Keep in mind that it’s generally not recommended due to potential tension and performance issues, but if you choose to proceed, follow these steps:

  • Tension Adjustment:
    • Regular thread may cause tension problems.
    • Lower the tension settings on the serger to accommodate the thicker thread.
  • Needle Selection:
    • Regular thread may require a larger needle size.
    • Experiment with different needle sizes and choose one that suits the thread thickness.
  • Differential Feed Adjustment:
    • Regular thread might affect the differential feed.
    • Adjust the feed settings to prevent stretching or gathering of the fabric.
  • Stitch Length and Width:
    • Regular thread may impact the stitch length and width.
    • Experiment with different settings to achieve the desired stitch appearance.
  • Test on Scrap Fabric:
    • Before starting on your actual project, test the serger on scrap fabric.
    • Check for any irregularities, tension issues, or skipped stitches.

Remember, while using regular spools of thread on a serger is possible with adjustments, it’s crucial to be aware of potential issues and experiment on scrap fabric first to avoid problems on your actual project.

Potential Issues with Using Regular Thread on a Serger

Sergers are specialized sewing machines designed to create professional-looking seams and finishes. While they offer versatility, using regular thread in a serger may lead to several issues:

  • Tension Problems: Regular thread may not have the same elasticity as threads specifically designed for sergers. This can result in uneven tension, causing stitches to pucker or pull.
  • Breakage: Sergers operate at higher speeds, and regular thread might not withstand the stress, leading to frequent breakage. Threads designed for sergers are typically stronger and more durable.
  • Inconsistent Stitch Quality: The stitch formation may be compromised when using regular thread, leading to irregular loops or skipped stitches. Proper serger threads are engineered to create precise and reliable stitches.
  • Increased Wear and Tear: Regular thread may generate more friction as it passes through the serger components, causing increased wear and tear over time. This can result in the need for more frequent maintenance.
  • Limited Stitch Options: Sergers often offer a variety of stitch options, such as rolled hems and decorative stitches. Using regular thread may limit the effectiveness of these features, as they are optimized for specific serger threads.
  • Reduced Seam Strength: Regular thread may not provide the same level of seam strength as serger threads, compromising the durability of the finished garment or project.

How to Choose the Right Thread for Your Serger?

Selecting the right thread for your serger is crucial for achieving optimal stitching results. The choice of thread not only affects the appearance of your seams but also influences the overall durability of your projects. Let’s delve into the key considerations for choosing the right thread for your serger.

Thread Type:

When choosing a thread for your serger, consider the type of thread available in the market. Opt for threads specifically designed for sergers, such as polyester or polyester blend threads. These threads are known for their strength and elasticity, making them ideal for serging applications.

Thread Weight:

Thread weight is another important factor. For general serging, a medium-weight thread, around 40-50 weight, is commonly used. Lighter threads may not provide enough strength, while heavier threads can cause tension issues and affect the fabric’s drape.

Color Matching:

Ensure that the thread color complements your fabric. While exact color matching is essential, using a slightly lighter or darker thread can also create interesting effects. Experiment with different thread colors on scrap fabric to find the best match.

Quality Matters:

Invest in high-quality threads to avoid breakage and fraying during serging. Cheap, low-quality threads may save money initially but can lead to frustrating issues and compromise the longevity of your projects.

Serger Tension:

Check your serger’s manual for recommended thread types and tensions. Adjust the tension settings accordingly when changing thread. Proper tension ensures balanced stitches and prevents thread breakage.

In summary, choosing the right thread for your serger involves considering the type, weight, and quality of the thread, as well as ensuring proper color matching and tension adjustments. Taking these factors into account will contribute to the success of your serging projects.

How to Change Serger Thread?

Serger thread change is a simple process that ensures smooth and efficient operation of your serger machine. Follow these step-by-step instructions to change the thread:

  1. Prepare Your Workspace:
    • Turn off the serger machine.
    • Place it on a stable surface with good lighting for easy access.
  2. Release Tension:
    • Lift the presser foot to release tension on the thread.
    • Turn the tension dials to the lowest setting to facilitate thread removal.
  3. Cut Existing Thread:
    • Use scissors to carefully cut the existing thread near the thread spools.
  4. Remove Thread Spools:
    • Remove the thread spools from their respective holders.
    • Follow the threading diagram in your machine’s manual to ensure proper placement.
  5. Thread Tail Through Machine:
    • Pull the cut thread ends through the serger’s threading path.
    • Follow the threading diagram closely, passing the thread through guides and tension discs.
  6. Thread New Spools:
    • Place the new thread spools on the holders.
    • Thread each thread through its designated path, again following the machine’s threading guide.
  7. Set Tension:
    • Set the tension dials to the recommended settings for your specific project and thread type.
    • Lower the presser foot to engage the tension.
  8. Run a Test Stitch:
    • Turn the handwheel manually to ensure the threads catch properly.
    • Run a short test stitch on a scrap piece of fabric to check for any tension issues.
  9. Make Adjustments if Necessary:
    • If the stitches are not forming correctly, recheck the threading.
    • Adjust tension as needed, making sure each thread is correctly seated in its tension disc.
  10. Secure the Threads:
    • Once satisfied with the test stitch, cut any excess thread tails.
    • Your serger is now ready for use with the new thread.

Remember, following these steps systematically ensures a smooth transition between thread colors or types, preventing issues like skipped stitches or tension problems.

Benefits of Using Specialized Serger Thread

Specialized serger thread is commonly used by professional sewers due to its consistently superior performance. When it comes to using a serger machine, using specialized thread offers several advantages over regular thread:

  • Stronger and more durable: Serger thread is specifically designed to withstand the high tension and speed of a serger machine. It is made from stronger fibers, ensuring that the stitches hold up well over time.
  • Greater elasticity: Serger thread has a higher stretch factor compared to regular thread. This is particularly important when working with stretchy fabrics such as knits. The added elasticity helps the stitches maintain their shape and prevents them from popping or breaking.
  • Efficient and even stitches: Specialized serger thread is thinner than regular thread, allowing for more stitches per inch. This results in a smoother and more professional-looking finish. The even tension and consistent stitch quality achieved with serger thread contribute to the overall durability and aesthetic appeal of the finished garment.

Serger Do’s and Don’ts

A serger is a versatile sewing machine that trims, seams, and overlocks fabric edges, providing a professional finish to your projects. However, to make the most of your serging experience, it’s essential to follow some do’s and don’ts.


  • Thread Tension: Ensure the correct tension settings for different threads and fabrics. Adjust the tension according to your project requirements to achieve neat and secure stitches.
  • Test Stitches: Before starting on your actual project, always test your stitches on a fabric scrap. This helps you fine-tune settings and ensures the final result meets your expectations.
  • Regular Maintenance: Keep your serger well-maintained by cleaning it regularly and oiling the necessary parts. This ensures smooth operation and prolongs the machine’s life.
  • Use Quality Thread: Invest in good-quality threads to prevent breakage and produce durable seams. Polyester or poly-cotton threads are often recommended for serging.
  • Stay Organized: Serger projects can involve multiple threads. Keep your work area organized, and label thread spools to avoid confusion. This helps in troubleshooting and makes your work more efficient.


  • Forceful Feeding: Avoid pulling or pushing the fabric through the serger. Let the machine feed the fabric at its own pace to prevent stretching or distorting the material.
  • Skipping the Manual: Always refer to your serger’s manual. It contains valuable information about threading, settings, and troubleshooting. Ignoring the manual might lead to mistakes or improper use.
  • Ignoring Blade Care: If your serger has cutting blades, don’t forget to keep them sharp. Dull blades can lead to uneven cuts and messy edges on your fabric.
  • Overlooking Thread Path: Threading a serger can be tricky. Double-check that the threads are correctly threaded through all the guides and tension disks. A missed step can result in stitching issues.
  • Ignoring Fabric Compatibility: Be mindful of the fabric you’re using. Not all fabrics are suitable for serging, and attempting to serge incompatible materials may lead to uneven stitches or damage to the fabric.


In conclusion, the versatility of a serger extends beyond the conventional, allowing for experimentation with various thread types. So, Can You Use Regular Spools Of Thread On a Serger? The answer lies in the intricacies of your project and the adaptability of your machine.

By understanding the fundamentals, you open the door to a world of creative expression in your sewing endeavors. Remember, with the right techniques and adjustments, your serger can effortlessly accommodate standard thread spools, providing you with a broader palette for your sewing adventures.


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Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Know if My Regular Spools of Thread Are Compatible With My Serger?

To determine if your regular spools of thread are compatible with your serger, it is essential to consider the type of thread, thickness, and texture. Understanding how to choose the right thread for a serger can prevent common thread problems and ensure optimal performance.

What Are the Potential Issues That May Arise From Using Regular Thread on a Serger?

When using regular thread on a serger, potential issues may arise such as tension problems, breakages, and poor stitch quality. To avoid these issues, it is important to perform a compatibility check and use thread specifically designed for sergers.

Are There Any Adjustments or Modifications I Can Make to My Serger in Order to Use Regular Thread?

To use regular spools of thread on a serger, adjustments can be made to the tension settings. By gradually decreasing the tension, the machine can accommodate regular thread. However, it is important to note that serger thread alternatives may yield better results.

Can Using Regular Thread on a Serger Affect the Quality of My Stitches?

Using regular thread on a serger can potentially impact stitch tension and result in thread breakage. It is important to note that sergers are designed to work best with specific types of thread, so using regular thread may affect the quality of your stitches.

Are There Any Alternative Thread Options That I Can Explore for My Serger if I Don’t Want to Use Regular Spools of Thread?

When considering alternative thread options for a serger, it’s important to assess the compatibility of regular thread. Exploring specialized serger thread, cone thread, or even wooly nylon can enhance stitch quality and performance.

Can I use normal spools with an overlocker?

It is not advisable to use regular spools with an overlocker. The primary issue arises from the differences in cotton composition; overlock thread tends to be more stretchy. This mismatch may lead to complications such as machine lint clogging or difficulties with sewing machine needles, which are specifically designed for overlocker thread. In the long run, it is not a recommended solution for saving money.

Can you use cotton thread in a serger?

Cotton serger thread is a popular choice for its natural fiber properties, particularly suited for working with fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk. Its use results in softer finishes and seamless blending with natural fibers, creating aesthetically pleasing and comfortable seams.

Do you need 4 spools of thread for a serger?

Before beginning, power off the serger. Establish the correct threading order, bearing in mind that most sergers utilize four spools of thread. Two spools are for looping under the needles, while the other two are for use in the needles. The threading order is determined by the specific model of the serger, guiding the user through the proper sequence.

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