Ending a Serger Seam to Prevent Unraveling

Aynur_sib / Getty Images

Those of us that learned to sew before the dawn of sergers, wouldn't dream of ending a seam without backstitching to lock the stitches. So what do we do with a serged seam when no backstitching option is available?

A serger can make many different stitches depending on the number of threads and options available on your serger. First, let's look at the chain stitching that a serger does. It's a great way to sew or finish a seam but if you pull the wrong thread in that chain, it is possible to totally unravel that chain and the stitches. Therefore having a way to end the seam securely is a necessity if you want to rely on a seam that was sewn with a serger.​

If the end of a serged seam will be enclosed in other stitching, We do not worry about finishing the seam end. Areas such as side seams which will be caught in a hem and in a waistband will be stitched over and protected from coming unraveled.

Other seams may require a secure end for them to stay together. Here are a few simple ways to end a serged seam and make it secure.

Simple Knotting to End a Serged Seam

Without purchasing any more special equipment you can end a serged seam securely. Chain off at the end of your fabric. Use the long chain to make a knot as close to the fabric edge as possible and then trim off the excess chain of the thread. We usually repeat the knotting so that we know it is secure.

A Hand Sewing Needle

If you have a hand needle with a large eye such as a tapestry needle, chain off in the same manner as above. Thread the chained stitches into the needle eye. Insert the needle under the serged stitches on the fabric and pull the chained stitches through. Trim off any excess chain stitch. Since the ending chain is enclosed under the stitching, it will not come unraveled.

Back threading the runoff chain stitch can also be achieved with a thin crochet hook. Insert the hook under the fabric serged seam and use the hook to grab the excess chain stitch. Pull the chain stitch under the serged fabric stitches and trim off the excess.

Special Products and Clear Nail Polish

There are also special products on the market for sealing the end of a seam. We do not like many of them and only use them when the options listed above can not be used. Fray Check is a product by Dritz that is designed to secure the thread among other things. Use these products sparingly, especially in areas which may rub against skin, such as underarm seams. If too much sealer is used, you may end up with a stiff, abrasive seam ending. Clear nail polish is also used by some people but it does leave a very stiff edge, especially if it is not used sparingly. Even in a hem area, a lump of a product such as Fray Check or nail polish can snap stockings or undergarments. The snagging effect can disrupt how the garment hangs and cause damage to things like a stocking.