Binding: Serger Quilt part III (finally)

I apologize for this taking so long.  Has anyone finished the quilt body?  Is anyone ready for binding yet?  Please send me a picture when you’re finished with your baby quilt. So, why put on a quilt binding with your serger?  First, it is fast.  Second, you end up with an evenly wide seam allowance, which means when you wrap your binding to the other side, your binding is even.  Third, if you use fusible thread in your lower looper, you fuse the binding down to the other side of your quilt and it holds it there, without pins, for you to sew down with your favorite sewing technique, either hand or machine. If you are just joining us, you can find Part 1 of this baby quilt here, and Part 2 is here.

Serger Quilt Binding

Materials: 1/2 yard binding fabric for straight grain binding decorative serger thread

  • if using embroidery thread, you need 2 spools of at least one color

water soluble glue, such as Sewline glue stitck, Scotch permanent glue stick, Elmers blue gel glue, or equivalent Construction: Cut four (4) 2 1/2 x WOF strips of binding fabric.

  • If quilt is larger than planned, cut 5 strips.  Cut one strip in half and sew each half onto the end of one of the other strips, so that two of the strips are longer than the other two.

To serge strips together: Lay one strip end perpendicular to the other strip end, right sides together with bottom strip going east-west and top strip going north-south. binding 1 If desired, draw a line from upper left to lower right of the square formed by the intersection of the two strips. Serge with the needle stitches falling on this line and with the knife cutting off the extra. binding 2

binding 3

Press seam to one side.

binding 4

Fold strips in half lengthwise and press. I wanted to add a piped detail to my binding, so I used the wave stitch on my serger.  You could also use a rolled hem or a narrow hem just as well.  Set your cutting or stitch width to the widest setting you can for the stitch you select, and set your stitch length to form a satin stitch, probably around 1.5mm. Although I like the sheen of embroidery thread on rolled hems, I find it is too fine for good coverage.  I fix this by putting two (2) threads through the same looper.  Since I have a Baby Lock, that means putting them both into the same looper port.  On a different brand serger just thread the loopers with the two threads as though they were 1 thread.  It works for all rolled hem applications.

fancy threads

2 in each looper

I then serged the wave rolled hem on the folded edge of the long strips of binding.  I chose to use a squared off binding, but you could also try this with a mitered binding.  I worried that the piped effect might get in the way with mitering, so let me know if you try it out!

Place the raw edge of the shorter piece of binding against the edge of the WRONG side of the quilt sandwich, and use a 4 thread overlock stitch, only trimming enough of the edge to even it out, to serge the binding to the quilt.  Repeat this on the other short edge.

binding attached

Fold the binding to the front of the quilt and use water soluble glue to hold the binding in place while you use a sewing machine to stitch in the ditch of the faux piping to attach the binding to the quilt.  Trim the ends even with the long edges of the quilt using a rotary cutter or scissors.  Why didn’t I let the serger trim the ends?  I wanted to be sure the serger didn’t get hung up on the multiple fabric and thread layers.

binding topstitched

You can also make this quicker by using a fusible thread in your lower looper.  Then when you press the binding to the finished side, you fuse the binding in place so it holds still while you stitch it down.

Repeat this process with the long strips of binding on the long edges. Make sure that the binding extends about 2 inches beyond the quilt at either end.  But what to do with those ends when you stitch it down?  The piped edging made it too thick for a traditional fold at the end. Fold the tail back on itself to the right side of the quilt, tuck the piped edge underneath the tail, then fold the binding down over the tail and stitch it in place.

binding corner 1 bound corner top

Beautiful, embellished binding, both front and back.

bound corner final

back of binding


Serger Zippered Pouch Tutorial

Have you ever considered putting in a zipper with your serger?  This is actually my favorite way to insert a zipper, and I know lots of ways to do so.  Although using a serger to insert a zipper has its limitations, when it’s appropriate to use this technique, it’s amazingly quick and easy to do.


imageI want to thank K&CSupplies for providing the zipper used in this tutorial.  This pouch uses a handbag zipper, as opposed to a clothing zipper, and you will note the larger, sturdier zipper pull. K&CSupplies blog has a terrific blog post comparing handbag zippers to clothing zippers and explaining the differences. It’s definitely worth a read if you like making pouches, totes, and bags.  This was also my first time ordering from K and C Supplies, and I have already placed a second order with them, I had such a great experience.  I had a great time looking at their supper zipper selection, plus their service was tremendous. They have reasonable shipping charges, even to Alaska, which means so much to me, and they shipped my order promptly.  Please check them out!

Now, on to our zippered bag…

1/3 yard (or fat quarter) main fabric
1/3 yard (or fat quarter) lining fabric 9″ x 11″ thin fusible fleece or lightweight interfacing
6″ of 3/4″ wide ribbon
16″ nylon zipper – must be at least 4″ longer than needed in project.
Glue (I use Scotch Permanent Glue Stick. It’s permanent on paper, but water soluble on fabric.)
Cording/Piping foot for serger


Comments on materials:
You may choose to fuse a fusible fleece or a lightweight interfacing to give the main fabric more body. Be careful. Heavy or craft interfacing and many fusible fleeces will make the project too bulky with too many layers. I recommend using a lightweight interfacing on the back of a lightweight cotton fabric or use a more stable fabric, such as a suedecloth or heavier quilting cotton fabric with no interfacing. Another choice would be to use a firmer fabric for the lining and a lightweight to mediumweight cotton fabric for the outer main fabric.  If you use fusible fleece, cut it 1″ smaller in each direction and center it on the fabric to keep bulk out of the seam allowances.


I will give instructions for making zipper pull tabs from fabric, but if you use fusible fleece on your outer bag, do not use fabric tabs. Use ribbon to make the tabs to reduce bulk. Ribbon tabs are appropriate to pair with any fabric choices.

Cutting and Preparing:
Cut one piece each of your main fabric and of your lining fabric 10″ x 12″. Other dimensions are also possible.

If making fabric tabs, cut a strip of lining fabric 4″ x 10″

If using interfacing, fuse the interfacing to the back of the main fabric.

I used a directional fabric, so I cut two main fabric pieces 6.25″ x10″ and serged a lengthwise seam between these two pieces of fabric to make one 10″ x 12″ piece with the UP direction of the pieces facing away from each other. This way both sides of my bag would be facing the correct direction when the bag was finished. This is a good strategy for any fabrics with a definite direction or nap where you want the design to run parallel to the zipper.


For the fabric tabs:
Press the strip in half lengthwise. Open, then press each lengthwise edge of the strip to the center fold. Press the first fold again, making a strip 1″ wide.



Use a sewing machine to topstitch close to each long edge of this strip.


This could also be modified for serger. Cut the strip 2″ x 10″. Press the strip in half lengthwise. Place decorative threads in the serger loopers and serge a balanced narrow 3 thread overlock stitch down each long edge just skimming the edge with the knife, only trimming off stray threads.

Cut two 4″ lengths of the strip and fold these two pieces in half to form 2″ loops. Use glue stick in the seam allowance at the raw edges to hold the ends together for the loops. Pin or clip to hold and let dry. (Sorry, but I did this while visiting family and did not have glue with me, so I have no pictures of this step.)


Serger set-up:

4 thread overlock

Cutting width or stitch width:  widest setting

Stitch length: 2.5-3

Foot:  Cording or piping foot


1) Sandwich the zipper between the main fabric and the lining as follows.

Lay the main fabric right side up on the table.

Place the zipper face down along the 10″ edge of the fabric, aligning raw edge of fabric with edge of the zipper tape.  VERY IMPORTANT:  Center the zipper so that about 2 inches or more hangs off each end.

Lay the lining fabric right side down, with the 10″ raw edge of the fabric aligned with the zipper tape edge.

Place a pin parallel to the edge of the fabric to hold the layers together.  This is just to hold things long enough to get them under the serger foot.  It should not be necessary to pin the whole seam.

NOTE:  If you are right handed, place the zipper pull to the left.  If you are left handed, place the zipper pull to the right.

2) Open the zipper and move the loose edge out of the way.

3) Place the sandwiched edge under the cording foot, placing the zipper coil in the groove of the presser foot.  Make sure the zipper pull is behind the foot and the leading edge of the fabric is in front of the foot or just under the front edge of the foot.


NOTE:  When putting in a zipper by serger you want a zipper that is at least 4 inches longer than your seam. You want to avoid having any of the metal zipper parts coming in contact with the knife or needles, so you need to keep them outside of the area to be serged. This also means you must use a nylon coil zipper. Do NOT use either a metal zipper or a zipper with “teeth.”

NOTE:  It is best to serge in a zipper with the zipper coils facing upwards, but since my top fabric had fused fleece, I serged with the lining side up.  Ideally you want a thin fabric on top of the zipper, with the coils facing up so the groove of the presser foot can easily ride along the coils, guiding the seam straight and true.  If your outer fabric is one layer, serge with the lining on the bottom and the outer fabric on top with the coils in the groove of the foot.  You will find this will go more smoothly than the other way around.

Serge the edge, running the groove of the foot along the coil of the zipper.

When you get to the end of the fabric, push the tail of the zipper out of the way to the left.


4) Close the zipper.

You may wish to topstitch the new seam to keep the fabric out of the zipper coils.  Pull the outer fabric and lining away from the zipper and topstitch on the outside about 1/8″ from the seam.


5) Lay the serged piece right side up on the table.  Pick up the raw edge of the main outer fabric opposite the zipper and pull it up to align the raw edge with the unserged edge of the zipper tape, aligning both side edges at the same time.  Put a pin in the raw edge to hold the layers together.


Turn the whole piece over.

Repeat the same procedure with the lining fabric, aligning the raw edge of the lining with the unserged edge to the zipper tape, sandwiching it between the lining and outer fabrics.  Use the pin to hold the three (3) layers together.


6) Open the zipper.  Place the layers in the serger with the zipper coil in the groove of the presser foot as before.  Serge the seam.


7) Turn the piece wrong side out.  Close the zipper part way so that the zipper pull is in the middle of the rectangle and middle of the fabric.


8) Flatten the rectangle so the zipper is along one long side.  Mark the opposite side with a small snip or pin.

9)  Flatten the rectangle the opposite way so that the zipper matches with the mark opposite it.  If you want, you can use a traditional sewing machine to zig zag over the open end of the zipper to hold the coils together at the seam line.

10) Place the fabric or ribbon loops between the zipper and the mark with the loop to the inside and the raw edges aligned with the fabric raw edges.  A spot of glue stick can help here to hold these in place.  Serge across both open ends of the rectangle.


NOTE:  You can cut the excess zipper off each end ahead, but you do not have to do so.  Your serger knife can cut through it as long as it is a lightweight nylon coil zipper.  BE SURE YOUR ZIPPER PULL IS IN THE MIDDLE OF YOUR PROJECT, AND YOU ARE NOT CUTTTING IT OFF THE END!

NOTE: This is where bulk can be a problem.  As you approach the zipper serge slowly if you have extra bulk.  You may need to hand walk your serger through this area.  Hold the zipper coils together at the open end.   (You will see that my bulk pushed my fabric loop out of the way, since it wasn’t glued in place. I chose not to rip the seam out to reposition it, but I learned a lesson from that about keeping the layers thinner because this seam has so many layers in it.)

11) Box your corners:

Flatten each corner into a triangle so that the seam lies in the middle.  Serge across the triangle 1″ from the apex.  Finish off your serger thread ends.


12)  Turn your pouch right side out and admire!


I would love to see pictures of your finished projects, so please send them to me at and I will post them here and on my Facebook page.

Quilt-as-you-go, Serger Quilt: tutorial Part 2: BORDERS

Last week we started a baby quilt by serger.  I hope some of you are sewing this along with me and will send me pictures of your completed project.

Part 1 ended here:

Fabric Preparation for Borders

Cut the following from Border 1 fabric AND from batting:

2 – 2 ½” x 30”*

2 – 2 ½” x 38”*

*Cut borders 2” longer than length needed.

Let’s put these borders on, shall we?

The reason I suggested you cut your borders 2″ longer than the length needed is to give you a little wiggle room at each end.  As we practice quilt-as-you-go by serger, I find that sometimes my fabric shifts at the beginning of my seam.  I have gotten to where this rarely happens any more, but this extra length will help alleviate that, if you find it happens to you.


I just realized I forgot to tell you to cut your backing strips as well, so now go ahead and cut 4 backing strips to match your border 1 and batting strips.  These backing strips might match the backing for the central square, but that is not necessary.  This is a perfect opportunity to have a pretty pieced backing.

The order of the borders, based on the measurements I gave above, is to serge the top and bottom borders first, followed by the side borders.

For serger quilt-as-you-go, you will layer your fabric from the table up as follows, with top raw edges matching:

Backing strip: RIGHT side UP   (green in picture)

Quilt sandwich: RIGHT side UP   (pieced in picture)

Border fabric: WRONG side UP    (orange in picture)

Batting: on top.

border arrangement

The raw edges are not aligned in this picture, but you want to align them.

Start your border strips about 1″ before the central square.  Pin all layers together carefully.

*Pinning Recommendation:  I use LONG quilting pins when I serge.  I will often pin parallel to the edge, which keeps my pins out of my knife, but if I pin perpendicular to  the edge I place my pins so they hang off the edge of the fabric about an inch.  That way they are both easy to see and easy to remove.  NEVER serge over a pin.  I have only had to replace my knife once in 12 years, and that was after serging over 1 pin.  That is all it takes.

**If  you find your fabric edges slip and slide around despite pinning, use glue in the seam allowances to hold them together.  I use glue stick or Elmer’s blue gel a lot, especially when serging.  If the glue does not dry fast enough, iron the two fabric layers together as you glue and it will dry quickly.

Serger Setting for SERGING SEAMS:

4 Thread Overlock
Stitch Width: Widest Setting
Stitch Length: 3 mm

Serge the long seam trimming off an even amount.

Flip the border pieces out from the center and press on both sides.  Press to flatten seam as much as possible, pulling on the fabric against the seam to be sure it was caught in the stitching everywhere.

flip borders out 1

flip borders out 2

Change serger stitch or cutting width to narrowest width and serge baste the long edge, without trimming, to hold the 3 layers (backing, batting, and border) together.  * As you serge, continue to smooth the fabric out from the seam to be sure the raw edges meet and all layers are caught in the basting.

Return stitch or cutting width back to widest setting.

Repeat for opposite border.

You can cut off the 1″ of border that hangs off each end with a rotary cutter to square up the center, or cut it off when serging the side borders.

Arrange the fabrics the same way as explained above for the side borders, serge, press, and baste outer edge.


Cut border 2 fabric, batting, and backing strips as follows:

2 – 4″ x 32″

2 – 4″ x 42″

Repeat the same procedure with the first borders.  When you are finished your outer edge should be completely squared up, basted and ready for binding.  If your quilt needs additional squaring up, it is fine to trim away some of the serger basting.  If you trim away all of the stitching in an area, rebaste that section without trimming on the serger to hold the layers together.


Coming up in the last installment of this series will be adding a straight grain binding with a faux serger piping.

1/2 yard binding fabric.

Cut 5 strips 2 1/2″ x WOF (Width of fabric).

Thread: at least 2 spools of 40 wt. polyester or rayon embroidery thread, or 1 spool of a 12 weight decorative thread like Sulky Blendables, Jean Stitch, or Pearl Crown Rayon.

Part 3 Binding here.

Until next time,


Quilt-as-you-go, Serger Quilt: tutorial

My recent poll regarding which type of project I should design was inconclusive.  As I was straightening up an area of my sewing room, I found a lone charm pack, which immediately told me it wanted to be a serger baby quilt.  Perfect timing!  These instructions will be in three (3) sections:

  1. Fabric requirements and Central Block
  2. Borders and Serger Quilt As You Go
  3. Serger Piped Binding

This is a small, simple quilt, but all the techniques are the same on a larger quilt.

Let’s roll…

Quilt ‘n’ Serge Baby Quilt


Fabric Requirements and Central Block

Fabric Requirements:

1 Charm Pack – minimum 42 – 5” squares

1/3 yard 44” fabric for border 1

2/3 yard 44” fabric for border 2

2 yards 44” fabric for backing*

1 crib sized batting**

½ yard 44” fabric for straight grain binding

Other useful tools:

Rotary cutter, rotary ruler, rotary mat, Kwik Klip, quilter’s safety pins, ditch stitching foot for sewing machine,  decorative threads for serger, temporary glue stick, fusible thread

* Backing can be pieced using 1 yard, 1/3 yard, and 2/3 yard pieces for the three (3) different sections.  This makes a more interesting back and helps use up scraps.

**A thin cotton batting or cotton blend batting is the easiest to use for the serger quilt-as-you-go technique.  Thicker battings will be easier to use after you gain experience with the technique.

Note:  For this quilt, consistent seam allowances are more important than getting an exact ¼”, making it an excellent first serger quilt project.  Pay attention to when to run the fabric edge along the inside of the knife, not trimming off any fabric, and when to trim an even amount of fabric.  One of the joys of using a serger is how easy it is to have accurate seam intersections.


Tip: Practice running the fabric along the inside edge of the knife without locking the knife out of the way.  The knife is the guide for the fabric edge, so if you lock it out of the way, there is no longer an identifiable mark to place the fabric edge.

Central Block

Serger Setting for SERGING SEAMS:

4 Thread Overlock
Stitch Width: Widest Setting
Stitch Length: 2.5 – 3 mm

1)     Lay out 5” charm blocks in a pleasing arrangement of 7 rows with 6 blocks in each row.

2)     Serge blocks together in each row, first serging two (2) neighboring squares together and then serging the pairs together to complete the row.  Run fabric along inside of knife; do not trim edge.

3)     Press all seams flat to set stitches.

4)     Press the seams in neighboring rows in opposite directions.


5)    Serge the rows together, locking the seam intersections together with the seam allowances going in opposite directions.


6)     Press all seams flat  to set stitches.  Then press all seams in same direction.

7)     Measure the central block, which should be approximately 32” x 28”.  Cut 1 piece batting and 1 piece backing 2” larger in each dimension, i.e. 34” x 30”.

8)     Lay the backing fabric WRONG SIDE up on the table, Cover with the batting.  Lay the central block RIGHT SIDE up, centered over the batting.  Pin baste.

I used quilters safety pins and the Kwik Klip tool to make this process relatively quick and painless.

Image       Image


9)     Use a stitch-in-the-ditch foot on the sewing machine to stitch in the ditch of each seam in the central block.

Image     Image


NOTE:  It is possible to use chain stitching or cover stitching here to quilt the central block, if that is preferred.

Serger Setting for BASTING:

4 thread overlock
Stitch width:  narrowest setting
Stitch length: 4 mm

10)     Baste outer edge of central block to prepare for adding borders.  Mostly this should be running the fabric along the inside of the knife.  Knife may be used to trim some unevenness, but if there seems to be significant unevenness, check and square up with a rotary ruler and cutter first.

Fabric Preparation for Borders

Cut the following from Border 1 fabric AND from batting:

2 – 2 ½” x 30”*

2 – 2 ½” x 38”*

*Cut borders 2” longer than length needed.

Next time we will serge the borders on, so stay tuned.

Part 2 Borders here.  Part 3 Binding here.

Until then,


Favorite sewing projects

I have been thinking about designing a nice beginner – intermediate project for those of you reading and following my blog, as a thank you, but I am having a terrible time deciding what type of project would be best. I do know I would like to include a serger component, and my preference would be to incorporate machine embroidery as well, but sometimes I know I get carried away and try to include every technique I know into the same project. Does anyone else have that problem?

So, with that in mind, I have created this poll and I would greatly appreciate your input on what I should do, at at least what I should do FIRST. I do hope to create more projects as we go along.

Since I am still recovering from my horseback riding accident, mentioned in a previous post, the project itself won’t start for at least a week, so there’s plenty of time for your input.

You can choose more than one option, but if I left off your favorite idea, please leave it for me in a comment. Thanks! I am excited to see the poll results.

When the Kindle update for my pattern will be available

I have learned so much from this publication experience.

My Kindle update is uploaded and available for purchase.  Anyone purchasing the book from today forward will receive the updated version with the proper formatting.  For those of you who purchased already, the update will not be available for you to download for the next 2 weeks.  So, I will notify you again then when it’s available.

Phew!  But learning something new is so much fun, once you get past the challenges involved, isn’t is?

Serger cover pattern for Kindle

I finally got to see the Kindle version of my serger cover pattern.  The formatting did not come out correctly at all.  I will be reformatting it and uploading a corrected version as soon as I can, so if you buy the book, don’t worry.  I’ll be fixing it.


Thank you for your patience.

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