Serger TLC

No matter which Janome Serger you may have, or perhaps are thinking of acquiring, a little TLC on a regular basis will ensure it continues to deliver the top-quality results we desire and have come to expect.


We’re all likely a little guilty of being sew busy making our projects; often working on tight deadlines, that we don’t always clean and maintain our machines as often as we should. Before beginning a new project, it’s a great idea to take a few extra minutes to give your serger a little tune-up so it stays performing in tip-top condition. Your machine Instruction Manual is a great place to start, so be sure to flip to the back where you’ll always find good tips and tricks. If you’ve misplaced your manual, check out the Manuals tab on the Janome.CA website. 

Cleaning: Lint; all those little wispy-s cut off from the fabric’s edge when the upper knife blade is engaged, needs to be brushed out regularly from the loopers and from around the feed dogs. Remove the needle plate to do a thorough deep clean. If left to build up, the lint will become compacted over time and it will definitely impact the feeding power and performance of your serger. How often you do so depends on how often you use your machine, and what type of fabric you’re using. Cotton flannel, for example, will produce more lint than a firmly woven polyester fabric. 

Try to get into the habit of brushing out the lint after each project using the lint brush which came with your machine. Your Janome Dealer likely has other brushes available, as well, as you can never have too many! Avoid bristles which are too stiff though; nothing with wire in them, as you don’t want to scratch the metal parts, which could end catching and collecting even more lint. A firm, but soft bristle brush works best. The nylon bristle brush pictured below is quite inexpensive and widely available. 

Click HERE for a Janome Canada Instagram Live presentation on Serger Care and Maintenance, and, for more about the various models of Janome sergers and some of the fun, time-saving presser feet and attachments available for your serger, check out the “Janome Serger School” playlist on the Janome HQ You Tube channel

Brushing out lint from around the cutting knives will also help maintain your machine’s performance. This is basically where all the action of a serger happens. If your fabric is not feeding properly, not cutting smoothly and cleanly, and seems to be chewing up the fabric’s edge, look for compacted lint around the upper knife, particularly at the base next to the lower knife blade, as indicated in the photo below. Consult your Instruction Manual on how to disengage and lower the upper knife so you can pass your brush around the base and in between the upper and lower knife blades.

The yellow arrow points to upper knife blade. The orange arrow points to the lower knife blade.

Oiling Tips: We often get asked many questions about when and how to oil our Janome machines. You wouldn’t drive your car for many years without oiling, so the same is true with your serger (and sewing machine, for that matter). It may eventually seize-up if you don’t oil it properly.

Your machine’s Instruction Manual is a great place to start. Some machines, like the Janome AT2000D, for example, comes with a vial of oil and has specific instructions in the manual of where and how to apply the oil. For all sergers though, there’s a few things to consider.

  1. Check with your dealer or authorized service technician for what’s the best/correct oil for a serger. Did you know Janome has their own brand of Janome Sewing Machine oil? 
  2. If you oil too much and/or too often, that is just as bad as too little/ never. The oil will attract all the fluff like a magnet and grime will build up pretty quickly.
  3. If you hardly ever use your serger, the oil will dry up faster than if you use your serger regularly. Think about it this way; if you park your car outside your house but only get into it to drive once every 2 -3 years, would you expect it to work well? You’d definitely want to take it in for a good service first, so, if you last used your serger several years ago, it’s definitely time to oil!
  4. If you serge regularly, it’s a good idea to oil after each thorough deep cleaning. 
  5. On most sergers, there’s usually two points on the upper looper shaft which need oil the most. If in doubt, look at the diagram located on the machine, and note the arrows in the photo below. 

Arrows show where to oil your serger. Your serger may be slightly different to this one so check with your dealer where your oiling points are.

Needles: At one time or another, we’re all likely guilty of forgetting to change out our sewing machine needles as often as we should, probably even more so with our sergers. 

Be sure to check your Instruction Manual and check with your Janome Dealer to make sure you get the correct needles for your machine.  Many of our newer models of Janome sergers have very convenient stickers on the face of the machine, right above the needle area, so we see that constant reminder at a glance. For examples, some of our sergers and coverhem machines require a EL needle (which is elongated as the EL suggests). It’s essential to use these as the looper threads may not get picked up if the needles are too short, which will cause skipped stitches and you won’t be happy with that.

The size and type of needle is usually determined by your project needs. The smallest size needle you should use in a serger is size 70/10. The average is usually a 75/11. You need a sturdy needle in your serger because of it’s high speed. If the needle is too thin; too fine, the could easily deflect and break. Conversely, using a needle larger than a 90/14 will likely effect the clearance between the loopers, and effect stitch quality. Again, always double-check your machine’s Instruction Manual to see what’s recommended for your specific machine.

Be sure to inspect the needles in your machine regularly. You don’t want to try serging with bent needles! When to change them will depend on how often you’re using the machine, and how thick/ what type of fabric you’re using. Serger needles generally last longer than sewing machine needles, but, just like with food in the refrigerator, when in doubt, throw it out! 

Service: To keep your serger in tip-top condition for many, many years to come, take your machine in for a good service by your authorized Janome service technician. The general rule is once a year – with regular housekeeping at home in between. If you’ve had any issues running over a pin by mistake, for example, and perhaps nicked the knife blade, or are getting skipped stitches, you’ll definitely need to take it in. 

For tips using pins safely with a serger, and for pinning alternatives, check out the Janome HQ Instagram Live featuring the NEW Janome 793 PG Anniversary Special Edition Serger

Thread: There’s great variety with the types and weights of thread; even floss and fine yarns you can use in your serger, particularly in the upper and/or lower looper since they go around the fabric, not through it like the needle threads. For more on threading tips, check out this video on the Janome HQ You Tube channel.  One of our favourites at Janome Canada and available from your Janome Dealer is Madeira AeroLock; premium polyester serger thread, low lint, available in a rainbow array of colors, and a convenient box of the most popular neutrals; 4 mini-king cones of each color. 

For more about the many models of Janome Sergers available, visit out Janome. CA website and, as always, check with our Janome Dealers!

Happy Serging!

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