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How to Thread an Overlocker

How to thread an overlocker

Don’t be daunted by the thought of threading your overlocker. As long as you keep calm and thread it in the correct order than all will be well! We talk you through the standard way to thread an overlocker but please check your own manual in case of variations.

Setting up an overlocker

Get yourself ready with your thread and the pair of tweezers that you should have in your overlocker toolkit – you will definitely need them! 

Overlockers usually have four spools of thread so place them on the spools now. One of the spool threads goes through the Upper Looper, one for the Lower Looper and one for each of the two needles.

Tension dials on an overlocker

As with a sewing machine it is best to thread a machine without any tension engaged so set this to zero before you start. Also make sure you have the power switched off as your fingers will be very near to the mechanisms of the overlocker.

Make sure the thread guide pole at the rear of the machine is fully extended and locked in position to obtain the correct thread tensions when sewing. Now you can start threading…

Order of threading a serger

Here is the correct order of work for my Toyota machine:

Upper Looper (1)

Lower Looper (2)

Right Needle (3)

Left Needle (4)


Threading the Upper Looper

The Upper Looper is marked with a blue dot on my machine and it is the second spool from the right (marked 1) as you look at the machine. Elevate the presser foot and the upper knife then feed the thread through the thread guide pole from back to front and pull the thread through.

Upper loop threading on an overlocker

Pass the thread through all the blue dot thread guides.

Step by step sewing guides

Finally pass the thread through the upper knife from front to back. 

Pull it through the back using your tweezers and leaving at least 10cm tail. It’s a bit fiddly without them! Your Upper Looper is now threaded.


Threading the Lower Looper

This is marked with a green dot on my machine and is the first spool on the right as you look at the machine. As with the Upper Looper, pass the thread through all the green dot thread guides making sure not to miss any out.

Loopers on a serger

The next bit is a bit tricky as you will pass the thread into the Lower Looper – this is hard to see on my machine as it’s located right behind a fixed part of the machine so take your time to thread correctly and then thread through the lower knife from front to back using tweezers as before. Again leave at least a 10cm tail at the rear of the overlocker.


Threading the Right Needle

This is the third spool from the right and is marked by a red dot on my machine. As before, follow the red dot thread guides.

Threading an overlocker needle

our thread will come down and need to be passed through the inner of the twisted loop just above the needle. Thread the right hand needle from front to back. This is tricky and you will once again need your tweezers. Leave a good 10cm tail of thread coming out the back of the machine


Threading the Left Needle

This is the fourth spool from the right and is marked by a yellow dot on my machine. In the same vein as before, pass the thread through all the yellow dot guides and again the thread will come down and need to be threaded down the inner twisted loop above the needle before threading the needle as before.

Easy steps to thread an overlocker

Remember to re-set your tensions before you sew by checking your manual for the fabric type you are using and you are all set! Make sure to test that you have threaded correctly by using a scrap piece of fabric. If not, re-check that you have threaded through all the correct guides as one missed guide may mess up the tension for the sewing. Happy overlocking!

Once your overlocker is threaded why not make one of these free overlocker patterns?