Although I've had my new serger for a week now, I've already learned a thing or two about serging. I've practiced on scrap material, and completed a couple of projects. As with anything else, practice is the key here.
One of the most important lessons I learned was to keep a close eye on those beautiful silky feeling knits. While seaming this top, my fabric slipped and cut a slit front and center! OK...re-group, and create some interesting little detail with scraps to cover up the mistake.
By the way, this was a Very Easy Vogue pattern V8323. It came together very nicely in spite of my rookie serger mistake.
But back to what I've learned...
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Watching the instructional DVD first was very helpful, and made it much easier to follow the written instructions. Since I'm new to this, I've been working with the instruction book close at hand. I've also been using several different types, and weights of fabric for practice. If you're taking a serger class, I suggest you bring as many different fabric scrap types as you can so that you can get a feel for how the different fabrics will affect the serger settings.
The first thing I realized is that threading the serger is not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. The model I chose has a little graphic inside the door for quick reference. And it is important to thread the loopers, and needles in the proper order.
Changing the needle plate to do a rolled hem is very quick since you remove only one screw. I found changing the presser foot to do a blind hem to be a little more akward, but I wouldn't say it's difficult. While I would love to have a high end serger that doesn't require such changes to use these functions, I've not found these changes difficult, or terribly time consuming. It just makes me plan a little farther ahead when constructing a garment so that I'm not constantly changing settings, etc.
My biggest challenge came when I was sewing just 1 layer of a very thin, silky knit. No matter how I adjusted the looper tensions, I was getting large loops of thread hanging off the edge of the fabric. I finally discovered that I needed to adjust the blade position for that thin fabric.
For the most part, I've set my needle, and looper tensions according to the charts in the instruction manual. I generally start with the mid-range setting, and then adjust slightly after doing a test stitch. Although I say "adjust slightly", the adjustments are not quite as slight as I would use while adjusting tension on a sewing machine.