Can I Use Regular Thread In A Serger?

As someone with extensive experience in using sewing machines, I’ve often encountered the question, “Can I use regular thread in a serger?” This query is quite common among sewing enthusiasts, whether they’re just starting out or have been stitching for years.

From my own hands-on experience, the answer is nuanced and depends on various factors, including the type of project you’re working on and your serger’s capabilities.

In my sewing journey, I’ve experimented with different types of threads on various machines. The idea of using regular thread in a serger is tempting, especially considering the cost and availability of specialized serger threads. It’s a practical consideration, and as we explore this topic, I’ll share insights from my own trials and what I’ve learned along the way.

Understanding whether regular thread can work in your serger involves a bit of experimentation and a good understanding of both your machine and your thread. Let’s dive into the details and see how you can make the most out of your serger with the resources you have.

Can I Use Regular Thread In A Serger?

Can You Use Regular Spools Of Thread On A Serger?

Yes. In my sewing experience, I’ve found that using regular thread in a serger is possible, but it requires careful consideration.

The key lies in adjusting your serger’s settings to accommodate the regular thread, which differs from serger-specific thread in thickness and strength.

While it works well for simpler, less demanding projects, it’s not ideal for every situation, especially where strong, durable seams are needed.

Experimentation and understanding your machine’s capabilities are crucial for success when substituting regular thread in a serger.

Serger Thread vs Regular Thread

In comparing serger and regular thread, it’s essential to recognize their unique qualities. Serger thread is generally lighter and finer, designed for the high-speed operation of a serger, ensuring smooth stitching without breakage. This type of thread is ideal for seams needing stretch, particularly in knit fabrics.

On the other hand, regular sewing thread is thicker and comes in a variety of compositions, catering to a broader range of sewing activities. While versatile, its thickness can lead to challenges in a serger, such as tension issues or even breakage, if not used cautiously.

Differences Between Serger Thread and Regular Sewing Thread

AspectSerger ThreadRegular Sewing Thread
ThicknessLighter and finerThicker
Strength & DurabilityDesigned for high-speed stitching; more durableVaries, but generally not as strong as serger thread
ElasticityHigher elasticity, suitable for stretchy fabricsLess elastic, better for rigid fabrics
UsageIdeal for overlocking, especially on knit fabricsVersatile for a wide range of sewing tasks
Machine CompatibilitySpecifically made for sergersMade for standard sewing machines; can be used in sergers with adjustments
Tension AdjustmentTypically requires less tension adjustmentMay require careful tension adjustments in a serger
Risk of BreakageLower risk when used in sergersHigher risk of breakage in sergers due to thickness
Color VarietyLimited color range compared to regular threadWide range of colors available
CostOften more expensive than regular threadGenerally more affordable

From my sewing projects, the thread choice largely depends on the fabric and the project’s requirements. For delicate or stretchy fabrics, serger thread is my go-to for its durability and elasticity. For simpler tasks or when needing a specific color match available only in regular thread, I adjust the serger to work with it, being mindful of potential issues like bunching or uneven stitches.

Choosing between serger thread and regular thread in a serger comes down to the project’s needs and understanding your machine’s limits. Each thread type has its benefits and constraints, and knowing these helps in making informed decisions for optimal sewing outcomes.

How To Use Regular Thread In A Serger?

Threading a serger or an overlock sewing machine can initially seem straightforward, but it can be a bit tricky, especially for those new to serging.

For beginners or even those who have been away from serging for a while, the process might appear complicated at first glance. When I started, I found it helpful to break down the process into manageable steps and tackle them one by one.

Here’s a simple guide to threading a serger with regular thread, based on my personal experience. It’s designed to make the process more approachable and less intimidating. Let’s dive in!

Step 1: Gather The Materials

Gather The Materials

When I get ready to thread my serger, I start by gathering the essentials: four spools of regular thread, tweezers, thread scissors, and the serger manual.

These tools are vital, especially the tweezers for reaching small areas. I also grab a can of air for cleaning and other items like a screwdriver and extra needles, usually stored near my serger’s looper cover door.

I choose cone-shaped threads as they run smoothly without snagging. You can find these in various colors at any craft or sewing store. This preparation makes the threading process much more manageable for me.

Step 2: Lift The Presser Foot

When I raise the presser foot on my serger or overlock machine, it releases the tension disks of the threads, making my threading work a lot more manageable. This little step has really simplified the process for me.

Additionally, I’ve found that lifting the presser foot allows me to easily gather all the threads together. I can then pull them smoothly through the serger without any hitches. This technique has been a real game-changer in my sewing projects.

Step 3: Lower The Knife And Release The Presser Foot

When I was still getting the hang of using my serger, I found it really helpful to lower the knife and release the presser foot. This action made a significant difference as it opened up the threading pathway within the stitching plate, making my threading efforts much easier.

I learned quickly to be cautious when re-engaging the presser foot on the serger. If not done carefully, the thread could easily get caught on the clamp of the presser foot, causing unnecessary frustration.

As I grew more comfortable and skilled with threading, I realized that lowering the knife and removing the presser foot wasn’t always necessary. It’s a step that can be bypassed once you’re familiar with the ins and outs of your serger’s threading process.

Step 4: Lift The Needles To Its Highest Position

Lift The Needles To Its Highest Position

My serger has this handy feature where the needles can be raised to their highest point. There’s a needle position window right on the machine itself.

When I’m setting it up, I keep turning the wheel until the red line aligns just right with the arrow on that window.

It’s a small detail, but it makes a big difference in getting the threading just right.

Step 5: Pull The Retractable Thread Stand Completely

Raising the retractable thread stand on my serger is something I always pay attention to.

I select the thread I need and place it on the thread stand.

Then, I carefully pull the thread up, guiding it towards the top area of the stand. I only use spool nets, stabilizers, and caps when necessary, especially for unruly threads.

I’ve found that using a spool net really helps control the thread and makes the whole process much more manageable.

Step 6: Put The Thread On The Pre-Tension Guide Of The Serger

 I need to thread the pre-tension guide on my serger, and for that, I floss the thread right through it.

Doing this ensures that the thread smoothly and swiftly passes from the spool into the serger, a step I’ve found to be crucial for avoiding any snags or delays in my sewing projects.

Step 7: Place The Thread On The Tension Disc

I’ve found that lifting the presser foot on my serger is key to opening up the tension disc, making it much easier to thread.

This step simplifies the process significantly. Also, I remember using a serger where I had to manipulate the disc by pulling up a knob connected to a wire.

Comparing the two, I can really appreciate the ease of handling my current machine.

Step 8: Put All The Threads On the Color-Coded Marked Area

My serger came with a thread chart that I always make sure to follow closely. It’s crucial for me to place all the threads in the designated color-coded areas.

These areas are marked with dot-shaped symbols, indicating exactly where each colored thread should be placed.

This guidance is a big help in setting up my machine correctly every time.

Step 9: Lower Down The Looper Threader Lever

Lower Down The Looper Threader Lever

In my serger, there’s a thread guide in the lower looper beneath the stitch plate. To access this guide, I press down on the lever of the lower looper.

When I do this, the guide moves out from the stitch plate, making it easier for me to place the thread. After threading, I either pull up the lever or turn the handwheel to return the guide to its original position.

This feature on my serger has made threading the lower looper much simpler and more efficient.

Step 10: Take The Help of Tweezers To Thread The Loopers

I often use tweezers for my serger threading, either ones I already have for my sewing or the ones that came with the serger.

They’re particularly helpful for threading the looper’s eye, which can be a bit tricky.

I’ve also found tweezers to be invaluable for guiding the thread through all the guides, simplifying what could otherwise be a fiddly process.

Pros and Cons of Using Regular Thread in Sergers

Using regular thread in a serger has its pros and cons. Let’s delve into them based on my experiences:


Cost-Effective: Regular thread is generally more affordable and widely available than specialized serger thread.

Color Variety: There’s a broader range of colors available in regular threads, making it easier to match the thread with your fabric.

Versatility: If you’re working on a project that doesn’t require the stretch or durability of serger thread, regular thread can be a suitable alternative.


Risk of Breakage: Regular thread can break more easily under the high-speed operation of a serger, especially if it’s not of high quality.

Tension Adjustments: You might need to make several adjustments to your serger’s tension settings to accommodate the thickness of regular thread.

Limited Elasticity: Regular thread doesn’t offer the same level of elasticity as serger thread, which can be a drawback for projects involving stretchy fabrics.

In conclusion, while regular thread can be used in a serger, it’s important to weigh these advantages against the potential drawbacks. The decision should be based on the specific requirements of your project and your willingness to make necessary adjustments to your serger.

Difference Between A Regular Thread And Serger Thread

Regular or home sewing threads are T-34, and the serger thread used for general purposes is T-27. Also, the sewing machine can handle up to T-50 and not more than that.

The difference between the regular thread and the serger thread is not that massive, but the serger thread is weaker than the regular one. The regular thread stands out to be a lot stronger and will not tear off that easily.

So, when you use regular thread on a serger, it will provide you with durable and robust stitches that will not get damaged or come off.

The Best Thread To Use On A Serger

When it comes to choosing the best thread for this particular machine, you must select Polyarn. It stands out as a premium-quality polyester thread well-known for its flexibility, elasticity, and recovery.

It’s also one of the best choices for garment construction when stitching or sewing on a serger. On the other hand, poly yarn is 100% polyester and comes with heat-resistant properties as well.

Can I Use Regular Cotton Thread On A Serger?

In short, yes, you can. There are various projects where different threads are required for the stitching or sewing work. So, when you are working on a fabric where you have to use a cotton thread, you can easily do so.

You need to thread the cotton thread just like you usually do and start with your stitching with no issues.

You can also use multicolored cotton threads that will allow you to create a zig-zag pattern. You can use this pattern on the edges of your material and prevent it from fraying.

Are There Any Other Stitches I Can Create With A Serger?

Yes, you can do many types of stitches on the serger, such as the rolled hem, 2-Thread flatlock, and 3-Thread Overlock stitches.

These stitching techniques are different from each other and have their methods, which you need to follow.



I bring over 10 years of experience in costume design and apparel making, blending my expertise in historical fashion with a deep understanding of character portrayal. Beyond creating and testing patterns, I'm passionate about teaching sewing techniques and sharing garment knowledge. Also, as a sewing blogger with a BA in Costume Studies from Dalhousie University, I enjoy writing articles that delve into the rich worlds of clothing history, sewing, textiles, and fashion. Follow my creative journey on Youtube => Elise's Sewing Studio Instagram => elisessewing

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