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  • Writer's pictureLonda

Solutions for Sergers Not Cutting Fabric

When your serger starts ‘knawing‘ or chewing the fabric instead of making a clean cut, it is time to pay attention to your BLADES.  While there are decorative stitches where you disengage the knife, sergers are happiest when they are cutting.

Cutting Happens When…

The cutting action on sergers is accomplished by a pair of blades. The Upper or ‘Moving Blade’ is a softer metal than the Fixed Blade, and will dull (especially with napped fabrics like flannels and man-made fiber fabrics like polyester).  With most new sergers, you will find an extra Upper or Moving Blade just for this reason.  Changing out a new Upper or Moving Blade is really pretty simple.  More on that later… 

Moving or Upper Blade Location

On older sergers, you’ll find the Moving Blade hanging from the top – see the photo at left below. On newer sergers, it is usually anchored at the bottom – see the photo at the right below.

newer upper blade anchored_bottom

Fixed or Lower Blades

Level with the throat plate, is a Fixed or Lower Blade which is made of a a stronger steel. While it will also get dull, it also can be changed,  but you won’t have to do so as often. The yellow head of the pin in the photo above is pointing out the Fixed or Lower Cutting Blade.

Changing the Blades

Both of these blades can be ordered through a machine dealer for your specific serger and will cost about $15 or less. They are pretty easy to change. 1. Adjust the needles to their very lowest position. 2. Make sure that the front lower edge of the Moving Blade is .8 – 1mm below the top edge of the Fixed Blade. 3. The Fixed Blade must be level with the throat plate.  You may need to remove a cover plate to get to the screws but it is usually self-evident.  Check out You-Tube.  


Fluff absorbs oil. When 2 pieces of metal rub against each other, they need lubrication. Therefore, you should: 1. Use canned air after every use to blow away the fluff from all down in the lower part and around the needle bar of the serger.  Open up all the doors of your serger to do this so that the fluff goes OUT.  Alternatively, use a vacuum cleaner.  I’ve done some of both, but most often use canned air.   I’ve never personally seen problems from using canned air.  I think that precaution against using canned air cause it will blow the fluff more into the guts was started to sell the mini vacuums.    Repairmen keep an air compresser handy for this task.  Then again, if I have the vacuum out in the sewing studio, I’ll always go suck around in the bottom of the serger.  Do what you are comfortable with – just KEEP IT CLEAN! 2. Disengage the Moving Blade so that you can see and place a drop of oil on the Fixed Blade where the Moving Blade rubs against it. 3. Also put a drop of oil on the shaft that holds the needles. When I say a drop – I mean a drop. Most sergers come with the oil you should use.

Non-Cutting Can Cause Expensive WRECKS

The worse ‘wreck’ you can have is for uncut fabric to feed back behind the knife and the upper looper ram into the fabric.  If that happens, STOP!!!!  What you don’t want to do is nick, bend or get the Upper Looper out of position.   Honestly, you’ll be lucky if that hasn’t already happened.

  1.  Unplug the machine first.

  2. Carefully and I mean VERY carefully, cut away the fabric from around the looper.  Work slowly and methodically.  Do NOT yank on anything!

  3. Change the Upper or Moving Blade on the serger.

  4. Re-Thread and try again.


History of the name ‘BabyLock’

When I lived in IL, a very seasoned dealer and repairman in the Decatur area shared with me how the name ‘BabyLock’ came into being.  If you are old enough to remember, the first sergers for the home market were indeed, called BabyLock.  That was before a sewing machine company took over that name (and still make awesome sergers!).  Anyway…this little overlock machine was sitting in an office, fresh from Japan, and a group of the executives and repair guys were looking it over before its debut to the home sewing market.  They were trying to give it a name…and one of the guys said that it looked like a ‘Baby’.  And it ‘locked’ stitches – thus ‘BabyLock’.  I thought that was interesting, so I thought I’d share that story.   I can’t say for certain that it is true, but it was told to me by a guy who was there…..

This Info All Comes in Handy As…

With the Days for Girls charity sewing project a friend and I head up here in town, we serge miles and miles of flannel, both single and double layers as we make the ‘Liners’ for the washable feminine hygiene shields that snap around panty crotches.  Thus…we deal with LOTS of ‘fluff’ and, as it has become obvious, quickly dulling blades.  If you are wanting to use your sewing skills to change the lives of girls around the world, join (or start) a Days for Girls Team in your area.  Check it out:

Understanding Serger Threading Sequence

Even though this blog post isn’t on threading sergers, I’m gonna stick in my video on threading…I think you’ll find it helpful.


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