finishing serger tails

Ways to Finish Serger Tails

A serger is an invaluable tool when it comes to sewing garments. A serger makes sewing knit fabrics a breeze and allows you to finish the raw edges of woven fabrics for a professional finish. But what do you do with those thread tails that are the result of every serged seam? There are actually quite a few ways to finish serger tails, depending on the type of seam, the look you desire, and of course just personal preference.

Often when you are serging a seam, the ends of the seam will end up enclosed into another seam, so finishing off the tail is not necessary. But there are times when the end of the seam is going to remain “open” and so the thread tails need to be finished somehow, so that they do not unravel. A common example of this would be serging in the round. Examples might include a neckband on a knit garment or finishing off the seam allowance of a waist on a woven dress. In cases like these, the end of the serged line stays exposed, and so accordingly, the tails need to be sealed somehow. Today I am going to show you a few of my favorite ways to finish serger tails.

Threading the Tails Through the Seam

One way to finish serger tails is to thread the tails back through the seam itself. You can do this with a large embroidery needle, or you can use a special little tool designed specifically for this purpose. If you have the serger seam hook, you will slide the hook between the seam and the fabric about 1″ from the end of the seam. Then hook the tails on the end of the tool, and gently pull the tool back out. The tails will be brought underneath the thread loops, securing it between the seam and fabric. If you use an embroidery needle, do the same thing but bring the needle through so the eye comes out first, thread the tails through the eye, and pull through. The needle method certainly works, but the seam hook is easier and faster, and it is a very inexpensive tool to have.

Stitching the Tails to the Seam Allowance

This is a method I will sometimes use when a seam will be topstitched anyway, but the edge of the seam is not enclosed. An example is a woven dress with a button placket. When you sew the skirt to the bodice, if the waist seam isn’t fully enclosed, you will typically want to serge the seam allowance to enclose the raw edge so it doesn’t fray and to give a professional finish. But that means that the serged end goes right to the end of the skirt/bodice. Because I will topstitch the seam allowance anyway, I can trap the tails between the fabric and the seam in top stitching. I find this method faster than threading the tails through the seam which is why I often use this method instead.

To do this, I take it over to my sewing machine and set the machine to a zigzag stitch. Lay the serger tails along the seam allowance, and secure to the seam allowance with a zigzag stitch. Open the fabric and press. The serger tail will be between the seam allowance and main fabric. Topstitch. The tails are fully enclosed!

Fray Check/Glue

Using Fray Check glue is exclusively how I finish a serged rolled hem. Whether you are doing a rolled hem in the round, as in on a skirt, or finished corners, as in on a napkin, you need the tail fully removed. To do this without the thread unraveling, use Fray Check glue. Put a drop or two of glue right at the end of the seam line at the base of the tail. Once the glue is fully dried, simply clip the tail right off. The glue will prevent any unraveling and leaves a beautiful finish.

Tie the Tail in a Knot

I probably use this method more than any other! Why? It is FAST! The key is to make sure you tie the right threads. In these pictures I have a different color thread in each position so it is very clear. After you finish your serged seam, trim your tail down to about 1″ long. Then, gently pull at the tails until you see the threads start to separate. You will notice that your looper threads (white and tan here) are longer than the needle threads (pink and gray here). If your threads are all the same color you can still tell because they will be the two longer threads. Hold those two threads, one in each hand, and pull them gently. The tail will start to tighten. Once you have it tightened down, tie those two threads in a knot. Then trim the tails.

This method is super-fast, but slightly less “polished” looking. For this reason, I usually use this method in a seam that will also be either hidden, or topstitched. For example, if I serge a neckband in the round I might finish it like this, because then I will topstitch that seam down and further secure/cover the tails.

That’s It!

It is that easy to finish serger tails! The results are clean, professional, and most importantly, secure! What is your favorite method?

Happy Sewing!

XOXO Jessie

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