Workshop Wednesday: Quilting with a Serger

Have you ever used a serger to make a quilt? Did you even know it’s possible to use a serger for quilting?

If not, you’re certainly not alone. Most quilters don’t think of sergers as being applicable to quilting techniques since we usually don’t use stretchy knits nor do we need to finish the raw edges of our seams, which is what sergers are known for doing.

However, because they can sew up to 1,300 stitches per minute, sergers can greatly speed up your sewing, which can be a huge help for people who make charity quilts.

In a video series she did for Quilters Newsletter, Connie Fanders of Bernina demonstrates different techniques that quilters can do with a serger. In an intro video, Connie describes the basic functions of two different types of sergers.

In the first of three videos demonstrating specific techniques, Connie shows how to use a cover and chain stitch serger to make a rag quilt.

In the next video, Connie demonstrates how to use the serger with a quilt-as-you-go method using 4″ strips of fabric.

And in the final video, Connie talks specifically about how to use a serger for piecing a quilt top, including what sort of thread to use and how to set up the machine.

Connie also wrote a blog post with even more on how to use a serger to make a quilt; you can read her post “Quilting with a Serger” on the QN blog. 

When you’re ready to use your serger to sew something other than straight seams, you’ll want to want to watch How to Sew Curved Seams with Your Serger from Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting. In it, Pam Mahshie and Mary Fons demonstrate how to successfully serge a curved seam with a serger, how to set the proper stitch width for an accurate seam, and also how to hold quilt fabric when piecing with a serger. Mary also provides a quick Serger 101 course to explain the basics of serging and how it can be beneficial for every quilter. Watch “How to Sew Curved Seams with Your Serger” on

One person on our editorial team who knows a thing or two about making quilts with a serger is Lori Baker. Fortunately for us, she’s written a few different blog posts with her insights on using her serger to make quilts.

2 11 2013 021 768x1024 Workshop Wednesday: Quilting with a SergerLori made her first serger quilt over 10 years ago. As she wrote in “Stretching the boundaries,” there are things she’d change if she made that quilt again. But it was a good experiment and one she appreciates. “I think it is okay to have things around that show how much my quiltmaking skills have improved,” she said.

“Serging is a nice way to get a quilt done quickly and to use up bigger pieces of scraps,” she wrote in a different blog post. “I think serger quilts are ideal charity quilts or car quilts.” She used a quilt-as-you-go technique after piecing 10″ precut squares into rows; read more about how Lori made her serger quilt in “Serge On!”

001 2 Workshop Wednesday: Quilting with a SergerA couple of months later she finished the quilt after changing her mind a few times about how to quilt it. The ease of piecing and doing some of the quilting with a serger allowed her to put more time and effort into making it special with the rest of the quilting, including some free-motion cursive writing; read about “A Caring Quilt” here.

And then later while on a road trip Lori visited a quilt shop where the owner showed off the serger quilt top she’d made; it’s still an easy quilt but the piecing is more involved than Lori’s. “Isn’t it pretty?” Lori wrote in her blog post “Show and Tell.”

If you do a lot of sewing, especially for charity as Lori said, then a serger might be a worthwhile investment. It’s just one more tool in a quilter’s toolkit, and it’s also a lot of fun to use. So next time you’re in a sewing machine shop, give the serger a test drive — you may just get hooked!



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