Serger blanket stitch – explore your serger possibilities

You may be unaware that you can probably do a blanket stitch on your Janome serger with a few simple adjustments. We explain how today.

3 thread serger stitch on the Janome FA4 serger with needle thread tension bypassed completely.  Does not look much like a blanket stitch yet….but wait!  Regular serger thread (grey) was used. Madiera Avalon Film (stabilizer) #9440 was used. I would not recommend thicker Avalon – it was not necessary and may have distorted stitches when torn away.

I used the Janome FA4 serger. However, please note that your 4 thread serger can more than likely do this too.  

Gently pull the Madeira Avalon film to the RIGHT away from the serging/off the edge of the fabric. This pulls the stitches to the edge of the fabric and VOILA you have a lovely blanket stitch!      Stabilizer has not yet been torn away.

 

And this is what the stitching looks like on the back – rather like a zig-zag.

While your serger may not actually have a stitch program called Blanket stitch, it probably can be adjusted to do something very similar. Let’s find out how. 

These are the instructions for setting up the serger for blanket stitch in the Janome 1200D manual. I have done this on 3 other sergers and it works. It may have slightly slanted blanket stitches, but still looks pretty good. What about trying it out on your serger?

So, effectively, it is a 3 thread serger stitch BUT you completely bypass the tension discs for the needle thread. That needle thread needs to come straight off the spool stand antennae above the machine and then down to the thread guide just above the needle. It does NOT go in the tension discs at all. Trust me on this: the blanket stitch won’t work if you put the thread in the tension discs as you want NO tension on the needle thread to achieve the result we are looking for.

When you serge around the edge of whatever you want the blanket stitch edging to be on, it won’t look like a blanket stitch. But wait…..there is another step to get it looking the way you want.

This is  a 3 thread stitch but I used 28 wt thicker cotton thread in the needle. It gives a bolder look to the blanket stitch

You can also do a blanket stitch with a TWO thread stitch: but in this case your serger would have to have the Upper Looper converter. The Janome  Air Thread 2000D serger has this built into the upper looper (just swing it into place). But if you look in the accessory box of the Janome Pro4DX or FA4 serger, you will find a little tool which looks like this:

Red arrow shows the 2 thread converter attached to the UPPER looper to block the looper. So the next photos will show 2 thread blanket stitch where only the left needle threader and lower looper are used.  This is shown on the Janome FA4 serger but works almost identically on the Pro4DX serger. Please note that some sergers do not have this 2 thread conversion feature -they are 3/4 thread sergers as opposed to models which are 2/3/4 thread models.

Thicker thread – this red thread is 12 wt cotton. It gives an even bolder look to the blanket stitch. It was harder to thread this through the eye of the needle but I managed and it serged just fine.

Tip #1: to stop the needle thread from slipping into the tension discs, put a piece of tape over the top of the machine so that the thread slides over the tape and is not pulled down into the discs. Remove this tape when you are finished serging blanket stitch.

Notice how the thread completely bypasses all the thread guides and tension discs. It feels totally wrong to do this but is necessary for blanket stitch!

Tip#2: You are going to need to serge over the edge of your fabric with a piece of clear water soluble stabilizer on top of the fabric. This stabilizer needs to be firm enough to hold up to being pulled firmly after the serging is done and yet still able to be torn away from the blanket stitches. We found Madeira Avalon film was just the perfect weight for this technique. You can see through it too so that helps as well so you know where the edge of your fabric is.

Madeira Avalon film is available in Canada – Janome Canada distributes this to our Janome and Elna dealers. If they don’t currently stock this brand, perhaps you could ask them to bring in a roll of it for you or perhaps even the Starter set which gives you a good sized piece of 12 different stabilizers to try out. Avalon film is one of the stabilizers included in the starter set.

Tip #3: You can adjust the Stitch Length of your stitches if you want the “teeth” of the blanket stitches to be further apart or closer together. Experiment and see what you like for your projects>

The back of the 2 thread blanket stitch looks a little different. But if you adjust the tension of the lower looper to be a little higher – maybe 1 -2 numbers? – it will look more like the pic below.

Not quite the same as the grey zig-zag above but a little tighter and neater and so I’m happy. The object of the exercise is to get the grey lower looper thread along the edge of the fabric while the red needle thread forms the blanket stitches -front and back.  Best case would be to use the same colour thread in both needle and looper although I don’t think I’d advise a 12wt thread in the looper. I think it would be too thick along the edge of the fabric. However, I left the grey thread there for photographic purposes so you could see the threads.

So when would we use this serger blanket stitch?

  1. Well for blankets for sure! It is an ideal and super quick edge finish for fleece baby and other blankets and throws. With the Fall here and winter on its way, now is the time to be making cuddly and warm throws and blankies for loved ones.  Fleece and other fabrics like minkee do not unravel or fray so an open stitch like this is just perfect.
  2. What about using it on the edges of pockets or cuffs on a jacket? You could use a matching or contrasting thread depending on the look you want.
  3. What about on kiddie klobber? Use along hems lines and other edges for a durable and pretty edge finish. For extra reinforcing, I would recommend stitching over a double folded edge for kids clothing which will be put through the washer frequently.
  4. I’m going to try this out on mug rugs, place mats and table toppers for sure as I am not a fan of binding – like on a quilt – as it forms a ridge which can be problematic for coffee mugs and wine glasses toppling over on that ridge. I think this blanket stitch is going to be just perfect.

What other applications do you think we could use serger blanket stitch for? 

About Liz Thompson

I am the National Education Manager for Janome & Elna Canada and I LOVE to sew! I have been employed full time in the sewing and quilting industry for over 30 years so I bring a wealth of sewing knowledge & expertise to this blog. I enjoy all forms of sewing from quilting to sewing garments to machine embroidery and software. Pretty much everything in my life is seen through the eyes of a passionate sewer! I am constantly on the look out for fun, innovative and inspiring ideas to share with you all on this blog. I also love to sew, read, knit , crochet, travel and spend time with my family and friends.
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