Skip to main content

Threading an overlocker

I’ve had my eye out for a secondhand overlocker for a while, and when one popped up in our local buy/swap/sell group (has everyone joined one of these on facebook? They are great fun, Pete and I play out that scene from “The Castle” regularly!). Anyway, it was only $30 and it looked OK, so I claimed it, and I picked it up in the weekend. I actually said to Pete “how hard can it be? Surely between the two of us we can get an overlocker working”. Maybe I shouldn’t say that kind of thing.

eight acres: how to thread an overlocker (La Sarta)


So began my crash course in overlocking. If you’re not familiar with this machine, its like a sewing machine, but it takes 4 threads and it cuts and binds the edge of the fabric as you sew a seam, so it saves time. You still need a sewing machine for button holes and tricky sewing, but for straight lines and simple patterns the overlocker is quicker. I dreamed of sewing up shopping bags and cloths and wheat heat packs and maybe curtains, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

I found the manual for this overlocker, which happens to be a bit of a dodgy brand. I think it was made for Spotlight for a short time under “La Sarta”, but was also made for Kmart as “Homemaker”. Its pretty basic, and that would be fine, if I could get it to thread correctly. I have watched every youtube video I can find on threading an overlocker, and if nothing else, this $30 investment has taught me more about overlockers than I could have ever imagined I needed to know. There’s nothing like spending a couple of hours trying to thread a difficult one to make you appreciate the special auto threading mechanisms in the fancy ones.

eight acres: how to thread an overlocker (La Sarta)


The problem with overlockers seems to be the “lower looper”. Of the four threads, two feed into the belly of the machine and into “loopers” (upper and lower) and the other two into needles. The needles are similar to sewing machines. Easy, no problem with the needles. The loopers are tricky, the thread has to be fed through various tension points marked with coloured dots. The upper looper is easy to follow, but the lower looper thread has to wrap around the looper in a part of the machine that is dark and inaccessible. In the fancy machines there are levers and removable bits of panel to get into that space. On this machine there is not and I can’t see if it actually has a groove to hold the thread in place, but it seems like every overlocker instruction I can find requires the thread to sit in that groove.

And so I struggled and fiddled and I have just about given up. This is the last chance for the La Sarta, if someone out there can’t help me thread it, I will have to give it away (no point keeping something I can’t use). But I’m glad I’ve learnt what to look for and my next secondhand overlocker purchase will be far more informed!

eight acres: how to thread an overlocker (La Sarta)


eight acres: how to thread an overlocker (La Sarta)


eight acres: how to thread an overlocker (La Sarta)

Are you able to save the La Sarta? Have you ever bought something secondhand and later regretted it?


Comments

  1. Oh my! I think i would be like you! that looks far too complicated. I too dream of whipping up handbags and the like, which i do occasionally on my sewing machine, but i dream of having the lovely neat edges that an over-locker brings, but sadly i don't think it would be a match made in heaven, but hell, as i can only just work my sewing machine!
    Fingers crossed someone lovely takes pity an helps you :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had no idea it would be this complicated!

      Delete
  2. Hahaaaha! Sorry. I should be more sympathetic! I've had my overlocker for fifteen or twenty years. I can thread it easily enough these days but I have no clue on getting the tension right!! Last time I had a project that actually mattered (ie. Something I was making for someone else) I took it to our sewing shop and the lady there adjusted it, all the while tutting and shaking her head at how I'd treated it. No oil, dust everywhere.... Good luck!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Linda, glad I'm not the only one struggling! (and there are some good blogs around if you do decide to figure it out, but its sounds like you have a method that works for you!).

      Delete
  3. I havent heard of La Sarta brand but I can say that my Bernina overlocker was one of my best purchases ever. I find it tricky to change the threads so I try and use white thread on everything, but sometimes I cant avoid it and have to use black. Thats when I practically get heart palpitations thinking about changing the thread. Its not easy and I just try and follow the diagram on the machine until I get it working. I once went back to the sewing machine store to ask for help in threading the needles but had to pay $30 for a lesson. but even then I found that once I left the store all that knowledge went out the window - so after 6 years of owning my overlocker, I still cant rethread without referring to the diagram - and even so it takes time. All I can say is persevere - and if you cant thread it - ring up your local sewing machine centre and see if they can give you a lesson on your La Sarta - I would imagine that all overlockers work in the same way so even if they dont sell them, they should be able to help you rethread it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good idea. I am a little embarrassed to take this cheapy to a proper dealer, but might be worth a try :)

      Delete
  4. I'm in an online sewing group and the general consensus seems to be: stay far away from that machine because the low price is not worth the hassle of threading it. I have a Janome and I'm pretty happy with it. (Especially the rolled hem on organza)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OK, good to know I'm not the only one thinking that!

      Delete
  5. The way I change the thread colours on my overlocker, is simply to tie the new colour in with the old, then run the pedal until the new colour comes through. It normally snaps off at the needle, becaue the knot won't go through it, but that's how I've been threading my machine since I bought it new, pre-threaded.

    I have had to rescue it a few times though, just not all of it, so I hope what advice I can give will be useful. I think part of the problem is the blue thread, and thank you for giving alternate colours to differentiate! I looked at my Janome overlocker to see if there were some similarities. Some of the parts look a little different, but it seems your blue thread needs some rethreading near the needle. Looking at my own overlocker, the thread has to follow the curve of that particular needle around it, before it goes through the eye. More like the yellow line follows on your diagram - it follows the entire length of the needle. My needle has a small groove the thread follows on the needle, before it goes through the eye. As your needle is hidden behind the top plate, I cannot see if you have the same grove. It should though.

    So basically, that blue thread doesn't go straight from the spiral wire loop, up to the eye of the needle - it has to follow the curve of the needle first. You may have to unscrew some parts of the top plate to see the parts of the needle properly. The reason the thread needs to follow that groove in the needle though, before passing through the eye, is it allows the other thread (white) to create a loop, over it. If the blue thread goes straight up to the eye, without following the grove in the needle, the white thread cannot loop over the blue.

    Or at least, I think that is the problem? Let me know how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Chris! Yes, that is what I suspected, but good to have in confirmed. I haven't been able to see if there is a groove, but you're right, I should just take it apart and see what it looks like, I don't have much to lose at this stage (and plenty to learn!).

      Delete
  6. I to can't for the life of me thread an overlocker. My husband does mine telling me it's easy just follow the colours. Well dear I did that and it didn't work!! At patchwork classes where I go she also does mending/alterations. She had one lady that used to drop the overlocker of just to be threaded. When she changes colours on the overlockers she knots the old and new colour together and chops off the ends. Then she gently pulls them through so it doesn't need to be rethreaded.

    Good luck with it.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The diagram looks exactly the same as my Singer overlocker... Doesn't the plastic part surrounding the needle plate on the left come off? Mine does and that's how I'm able to thread through the coil and then through a hole going in to the groove at the back of the needle before it threads through the hole at the front of the needle... Does that make sense?!

    ReplyDelete
  8. The six ladies in my house can thread these machines with their eyes shut (or so it seems)....pretty sure we have it covered without me learning.

    ReplyDelete
  9. It looks a lot like my 24 year old Singer that I still have trouble threading. It is a fantastic work horse ! I still have trouble with those bottom threads as they need to be done in the right order but i can never remember what that is. I think the red one needs to be done before the yellow, if that doesnt work undo and do the yellow first. Once it is right you will be fine. Take notes because that is what I should do !

    ReplyDelete
  10. Don't know if this is of any assistance - http://ernie.awa.com.au/La-Sarta---Overlocker/default.aspx

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thanks, I appreciate all your comments, suggestions and questions, but I don't always get time to reply right away. If you need me to reply personally to a question, please leave your email address in the comment or in your profile, or email me directly on eight.acres.liz at gmail.com

Popular posts from this blog

What to do with eight acres

Behind the scenes of my blog I can see the search terms that led people to find my blog.  It can be quite interesting to look through them occasionally and see what people are looking for.  Most of them involve chicken tractors, but another question that comes up regularly is “what can you do with eight acres?” or “how much land is eight acres?”.  Today I will try to answer this question.

Of course it is a very broad question, there are lots and lots of things you can do with eight acres, but I’m going to assume that you want to live there, feed your family and maybe make a little extra money.  I make that assumption because that’s what I know about, if you want to do something else with your eight acres, you will need to look somewhere else.

If you haven’t chosen your land yet, here a few things to look for.  Focus on the things you can’t change and try to choose the best property you can find in your price range.  Look for clean water in dams, bores or wells, either on the property …

Making tallow soap

For some reason I've always thought that making soap seemed too hard.  For a start the number of ingredients required was confusing and all the safety warnings about using the alkali put me off.  The worst part for me was that most of the ingredients had to be purchased, and some even imported (palm oil and coconut oil), which never seemed very self-sufficient.  I can definitely see the benefits of using homemade soap instead of mass produced soap (that often contains synthetic fragrance, colour, preservatives, and has had the glycerine removed), but it seemed to me that if I was going to buy all the ingredients I may as well just buy the soap and save myself all the hassle.  For the past several years I have bought homemade soap from various market stalls and websites, and that has suited me just fine.
Then we had the steer butchered at home and I saw just how much excess fat we had to dispose, it was nearly a wheel-barrow full, and that made me think about how we could use that…

Growing and eating chokos (chayotes)

Cooking chokos (not be confused with another post about cooking chooks) has been the subject of a few questions on my blog lately, so here's some more information for you.
Chokos - also known as Chayote, christophene or christophine, cho-cho, mirliton or merleton, chuchu, Cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, Pipinola, pear squash, vegetable pear, chouchoute, güisquil, Labu Siam, Ishkus or Chowchow, Pataste, Tayota, Sayote - is a vine belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family, along with pumpkins, squash and melons, with the botanical name Sechium edule.


The choko contains a large seed, like a mango, but if you pick them small enough it is soft enough to eat.  If you leave the choko for long enough it will sprout from one end and start to grow a vine.  To grow the choko, just plant the sprouted choko and give the vine a structure to climb over.  In summer, the vine will produce tiny flowers that will eventually swell into choko fruit.  The vine doesn't like hot dry weather.  And it doesn&#…