Can You Use Serger Thread with Your Sewing Machine?
In terms of sewing hacks, I've seen a few people mention that you can use serger thread with your sewing machine. I've been wondering for awhile whether this is really feasible, so I investigated whether you can actually use serger thread with your sewing machine.
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This seems like it would be a good idea, right? But as often as I see this sewing hack mentioned, I see people disputing it, saying that serger thread is not as strong as regular thread, and shouldn't be used for regular sewing projects. After all, when you serge, you have several overlapping threads working together, so individually, each thread doesn't need to be as strong.
So who's right? Can you really use serger thread with your sewing machine? I tested out this sewing hack, and here's what I found.
- Gutermann Sew-All Thread
- Surelock Overlock Thread
- Maxi-lock Serger Thread
All threads are 100% polyester.
First, let's talk about thread strength. The Sewing Machine Master Guide has a comprehensive chapter on thread, including information on the Tex System, which is the most widely recognized thread measurement system. Larger numbers mean larger thread sizes. The Tex size is determined by grams per 1000 meters of thread, and there are some common sizes you'll see from manufacturers.
General purpose home sewing thread is usually T-34, while general purpose serger thread is usually T-27. To put this in context, the author of the Sewing Machine Master Guide recommends at least T-50 for jeans/denim, T-70 for upholstery, and at least T-40 for soft leather. Most home sewing machines can only handle up to T-50.
It's not a huge difference, but the serger thread is weaker. Regular thread also tends to be three ply, while serger thread is sometimes only two ply.
I used a thread stand to get the serger thread to my sewing machine, and I used two different kinds of serger thread: Maxi-lock and Surelock. I used one kind of regular thread: Gutermann Sew-All. Here's what the set-up looked like with the thread stand.
My first impression was that the serger thread had some tension issues that I don't usually have with regular thread. I think the sewing machine had to work a little harder to unspool the large cone, which caused this rippling effect.
However, on my serger, I have spool holders on each of the spool pins, so I decided to try one of those on my thread stand.
It worked much better, and the rippling disappeared. The cone turned much more smoothly with the spool holder inside.
Visually, it can compete with regular thread, but what about strength? I put together two straight-stitched samples of each type of thread, as well as a serged seam. My husband and I tore them apart to see how well the thread held up. I knew which threads were which, but he did not.
We agreed that the Maxi-lock straight-stitched seam tore apart most easily. Surelock and Gutermann were similar. I thought Gutermann was a little tougher, but my husband thought they were about the same. You can see how the Surelock and Gutermann pieces are curled a bit, and the fabric itself ripped during the process of tearing out the seam. The first Maxi-lock pieces came apart fairly easily, with the thread offering little resistance. In the final, serged Maxi-lock pieces, however, the thread didn't break at all. The fabric gave away, and the serging stayed intact.
It appears to be possible to use serger thread on your sewing machine. Surelock won over Maxi-lock in our seam-ripping contest. I'll probably stick with Gutermann thread for most projects, just to be safe, though.