Friday, January 7, 2011

How to Quilt Fabric Using Your Serger

Phew!  The holidays certainly took a lot out of me. Keep watch for a post on all the goodies I made for the holidays...then you will be able to see why it took me so long to make a new post!  Sorry for being gone so long but I am back with a good tutorial. I used this technique to make a purse for my mother for the holidays. Her favorite color is deep forest green and she can never find accessories (i.e. purse and/or shoes) that are that color to match all her clothes that are forest green. Here is where I come in!  I made her a hobo style (her favorite) bag out of forest green crushed panne. And for an extra special touch, I quilted the fabric using the chain stitch from my serger! The hobo bag pattern is called Huntington Hobo and is by Pink Sand Beach Designs and is available here.  Most of you have probably never considered quilting using your serger but it truly gives a unique finish to your fabric and you get the bonus of being able to use the thicker decorative threads in the chain looper. Ready to see how this goes?

First you need to to thread your serger for a chain stitch. Not all sergers can do a chain stitch. A chain stitch requires you to use your chain looper as well as one needle. If your machine does not have a chain looper, you will not be able to do this technique. If you intend to use fun decorative threads, you want to thread them into your chain looper and use a matching color thread for the needle.

Once you have the machine threaded, you are ready to prepare your piece. I cut out my fabric pieces as well as the batting (I used fusible fleece here) so I fused the fleece to the main bag piece. However, if I were using a non fusible batting, I would simply use my 505 spray or other temporary spray to hold the pieces together while I quilted them.

Next you need to mark your piece for quilting. I chose traditional diagonal grid quilting because I knew my it would work well for my mom's taste. To do this, you want to use your regular rotary cutting ruler and the 45 degree line on it.
As you can see from the picture, you want to line up your 45 degree mark on your ruler along a straight line..the bottom of this curved purse piece was the straightest so I lined up the 45 degree line along there. Then I traced with a extra fine point sharpie (it wouldn't show because the bag would be lined) along the edge of the ruler. Then I decided I did not want to spend a ridiculous amount of time quilting by making a tiny 1 inch grid so I decided to make things easy and space the lines exactly the width of my measuring needed! It was an easy shortcut.
 So I continued to trace along using the width of my ruler as the guide and did both the left diagonal and right diagonal lines.
Now I was ready to take it to the serger. The fun thing about chain stitch quilting is that the decorative stitch shows up you want to stitch with the wrong side (the side you just traced all your lines onto) up. Then you just feed the fabric through the serger along each line following the lines under the needle. Continue until you have done every line.

That was easy right??  You are all done! Now you can continue to finish your pattern with your own uniquely made fabric. I am posting some close ups below but it is truly hard to see the fun chain stitch even in the close ups...but I promise you, it looks much cooler than traditional straight stitching.

When I was finished with the purse, I added a dark green hot fix rhinestone to each intersection to add one more special touch. I applied them with the hot fix rhinestone applicator---soooo much easier than trying to use your iron to place these little guys!

I also added her initials using my embroidery machine and iridescent white thread from sulky--my favorite! It's color 7021 and is available here at an amazing price! However, because it is white and I was doing this embroidery on dark fabric, I used an underlayer to keep the fabric from showing through. This is my new discovery and it is fantastic! I no longer need to do multiple layers or increase the density to keep light colors--especially white--from having the fabric color show though.  It is called Hide It Stabilizer and you simply choose your color to match your thread, and place a piece down underneath where your embroidery will be. It is best to tape down the edges so they do not get caught under the foot. Then embroider your design and then simple tear it away---it rips cleanly from the edges which have been perforated by the stitches! It is simply genius!

Well I hope I've given you all a new idea to think about when making your items. Leave a comment or post a picture if you use this technique to make anything. I would love to see it!!


  1. Doesn't a serger cut the material at the same time?


  2. You can turn the cutter, so it doesn't cut as you're stitching.

  3. Exactly! When you use a chain stitch on its own, you turn the blade function off so there is no cutting of the fabric


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