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Just one more episode in this series of the Great British Sewing Bee to go. Here Rebecca Lutchman gives you guidance on seaming using an overlocker.

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Seaming with an overlocker

When it comes to seaming using my overlocker, I usually use the conventional four thread seam. It works well for most of what I do, it’s quick, easy and it’s perfect if you want to hide the seam.
A Flat Lock Seam
There is a great alternative called the flat lock seam, this is different because you will see the stitching on the right side of the fabric ie the outside the project.
By adjusting the thread tensions, experimenting with different threads and even introducing trimmings (what fun), you can achieve an impressive and unique seam! You might want just a plain flat seam or maybe you want to make a plain fabric a little more exciting.
Flat seams can be used on most fabrics. I have used it on net for a tutu, jersey for leggings, a light polyester for a skirt lining and sweat shirt fabric for a child’s outfit.

2 simple projects using Flat Lock

Cushion with decorative thread on the needle.
I am going to make a cushion using 4” squares and triangles that I have cut from contrasting fabrics (fig 1) and using decorative metallic threads.

  • The overlock settings
Note:  that the following settings may vary depending on fabrics and threads so always do a sewing test before starting your project. The settings I used are as follows:
  • Left needle (wide), tension is on 1, I am using a copper colour metallic thread so have chosen a size 90 needle. It is easier for the thread to go through with a larger hole (an embroidery needle can also be used)
  • Right needle (narrow) is not in use
  • Upper looper is not threaded, it has the converter fitted.
  • Lower looper is threaded with normal weight thread (this will show on the wrong side of the fabric). Tension is on 4.
  • Cutting width is on 1.5
  • Length 3
  • Differential N
  • Joining the pieces
  • With the right sides of the fabric together, place the raw edges up to the cutting knife and seam down, the blade will trim away any excess fabric (fig2). 
  • The finished seam will have an overlock stitch on one side and what looks like a zig-zag on the other. To achieve the flat lock seam, you must now pull the pieces apart, the decorative thread that is from the needle will stand out on the right side of the fabric (fig3). 
  • Using even thicker threads
  • For threads and yarns that are too thick to go through the hole of a needle, the lower looper can be used instead, thanks to the larger hole. I have chosen a thick knitting and crochet yarn with a metallic, polyester, and viscose mix.
    NOTE: For threads and yarns that do not do not come on a reel such as ball of wool, you may need to hand wind it on to a suitable reel or cone so it can flow freely.
    A Track Suit with decorative thread on the looper.
    I made these child's track suit  bottoms (fig4) using the decorative thread on the lower looper with normal thread on the needle.

    After testing off, the settings are as follows:
  • Left needle, tension on 2 and using normal weight thread.
  • Right needle not in use
  • Lower looper on 3, (crochet yarn is threaded on this looper).
  • Upper looper has the converter fitted.
  • Differential is N
  • Length 4
  • Cutting width 1
  • This time, place the wrong sides of the fabric together and seam down. The finished seam will have an overlock stitch with the decorative thread on one side and what looks like a zig-zag with the normal thread on the other side.
    To achieve the flat seam, pull the fabric apart. See how different the seam finish looks here compared to the seam finish on the cushion.
    Flat lock seam using the multipurpose foot
    You can introduce trimmings into your flat lock seam by using the multipurpose foot (fig5). This is an optional foot,  great for working with piping, cord, sequins, beads etc.

    The foot has a grove under it to allow trimmings such as piping or cord to pass through and a second different type of groove located at the right side of the foot for trimmings like sequins to pass through.
    The settings:
  • Upper looper has the converter fitted.
  • Lower looper tension is on 4
  • Left needle on tension 1
  • Multipurpose foot fitted
  • Cutting width 2.5
  • Length is on 4
  • Differential feed N
  • Note normal weight threads in use.
  • Using the multipurpose foot
  • To introduce sequins into the seam first make sure the foot is raised. Thread the string of sequins vertically under the guide at the back of the right side of the foot then lay the sequins on top of this guide (fig6). Before you start to sew onto your fabric, chain off some of the sequins first, this will keep them secure. Place the fabric up to the toe of the foot and sew with wrong sides of the fabric together, the cutting blade will trim off any excess fabric whilst the foot will guide the sequins so the overlocker can stitch them in place(fig7).

As usual once you have finished, one side of the seam will look like a zig zag whilst the other side has over locked the sequins into place(fig8). The longer stitch length means the sequins are clearly visible.

Pull the fabric apart to achieve the flat seam(fig9).

Note:  always test off before you start your project. You may need to alter the settings I have used (after testing off) depending on your fabrics and threads.

Have fun!

Presser foot 56, our non-slip open embroidery foot, is available with a 20% discount until 30 April.



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