5 Serger Thread Tips When Selecting Thread Colors

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New serger owners often get scared when they realize they need FOUR spools of thread to sew the most common 4-thread overlock construction seam. They say, “It is going to cost me a fortune in thread to run a serger!”

Below are 5 Serger Thread Tips for selecting serger thread colors all while saving a few dollars.

This video is what inspired this blog. I was in the middle of filming the Sewing Mastery tutorial videos on the Bernina L450 serger and noticed that the serger thread I was using was getting used up at an uneven rate. So I filmed a bonus video about what to do when two of the serger cones are thinner than the other two.

As a serger teacher I have discovered that new serger owners first need to understand how their serger works before talking about thread color selection. In our classes, we require each student to bring four different colors of serger thread (BLUE, RED, GREEN and YELLOW) so they can learn which thread does what operation. This is a quick way for students to understand how their serger works and when they go home all their samples are color coded for easy reference in the future.

The serger students also quickly learn that only the thread color in the outside needle is the one that actually shows when a seam is opened. The rest of the thread colors will often never be seen. Think of making a pillowcase. The thread colors used for the 4-thread overlock construction seam will hardly show. I have been known to sew multiple pillowcases with the same multi-colored serger thread collection left over from the serger class. Kids love colorful seams!

But, if I was making something that the seams where going to show or the item would be judged (4H competition), I would definitely take the time to match all serger threads to the project fabric. See the tips below to learn how to get away with only buying two spools of serger thread instead of four spools to save money.

Serger Thread Tip #1
The most basic serger thread pallette every serger owner needs is:

4 White Spools
4 Neutral Colors – creams or grays or mix and match a combination of each
4 Darks – 4 blacks or 1 black, 1 navy, 1 chocolate brown and 1 charcoal gray

These basic colors will cover you through most serger projects. Having a set of all white thread will make sure there is no shadowing through when sewing on white fabric. Having a set of four neutral colors is like being a quilter – they use cream or gray thread colors to sew on just about every color of the rainbow. Having four dark serger thread will cover just about everything else.

Serger Thread Tip #2
Serger loopers are thread hogs. Use your two fullest serger spools in the upper and lower loop positions. Save spools that are almost empty for needle positions.

Save on Sewing Supplies @ Create For Less

Serger Thread Tip #3
If you only have two spools of serger thread but want to serge a 4-thread overlock stitch, wind the serger thread on to two bobbins. Place the full bobbins in the right and left needle positions and place the two spools of serger thread in the upper and lower looper positions.

Serger Thread Tip #4
When serging on a unique fabric color that you do not want to own four spools of serger thread, reach for a regular sewing thread size of spool. Place the matching spool on the outside needle. The outside needle position is the one that needs to match the fabric.

Serger Thread Tip #5
Quality serger threads make a difference. Elimination frustration by skipping past the bargain brand serger thread. It is OK to pay a little more for quality serger thread. Give your serger a fighting chance to do its best work for you by feeding it quality thread.

We currently stock the following two brands of serger thread in our store. They both pasted all our serger thread quality tests on both the economical level of sergers and the top rated high-performance sergers.

Madeira Aerolock premium serger thread – 2000 yards
Mettler seracor Serger thread – 2743 yards

In other words, don’t cheap out when it comes to purchasing serger thread.

In conclusion, you do not need to spend a fortune on serger thread to get started. With some basic understanding of how a serger works you will quickly see that the thread color choice is not as crucial as most serger owners think. Simplify your thread purchases with these serger thread tips and treat yourself with your savings to a few of our recommended Craftsy serger classes below.

Want to learn more? Visit our friends at Craftsy and take a class on Embroidery, Sewing or Quilting online today.


  1. Joy Burnham says:

    This was very helpful to a person that has never used a Serger before. Thank you!

  2. Danielle Shelbourne says:

    Thank you so much for this very useful information. I’m new to overlockers (servers) and this has helped me tremendously.

  3. lynn says:

    i read once that you could get by with using 6 different colors and they would blend with whatever you was sewing on and for the life of me i can’t find my book anymore but it was something like this…
    rose, gray, beige, and i can’t remember the other 3 hopefully you can help me????
    and thank you for the brands you said u liked the best !!🙂

    1. Hi Lynn, We use a large number of colors and have not heard of the basic six colors. Other that what you listed we always keep white, black, sage, a few blues, some browns and and a few greens on hand all the time.

  4. Marcie Swenson says:

    Great to-the-point article!!

  5. Judith Reddig says:

    Love these tips. Thanks

  6. Nancy Petersen says:

    Thanks for these tips. I’ve used cheap thread for years because of the reasons you stated. Since I’ve been using embroidery machines, and having my machines cleaned regularly, I realize the importance of using the right thread for all my machines. I’ve always been a thread snob over my bernini sewing machine. I just needed a nudge to the right threads and how I can use other thread in it. And the idea of winding a bobbin is genius and so obvious. Thanks.

  7. Andrea says:

    I’m SO glad I read this article before purchasing hundreds of spools of thread. Thank so much, very informative.

    1. Sara says:

      Glad we could help.

  8. Heather says:

    Thank You So Much!! I just bought my first serger and have been a little lost. You’ve helped a lot with thread selection.

    1. Sara says:

      You are welcome. Happy serging! Sara

  9. Toussaint says:

    I just received a serger and don’t have a clue as how to use, but thank you for the thread info.

  10. Naomi says:

    Mahalo (Thank You)
    I’m blessed to have read your article, I have purchased Brothers Serger.. I love it but was a little confused on the thread coloring . Your information was a help to me😊.
    Aloha ( Good bye)

  11. Rebecca Jemison says:

    Thank you so much! This was wonderfully informative. I am very new to having a serger, and self taught on a sewing machine. I am trying to learn though. I have been told that Maxi Lock is a good thread. How does it compare to the two brands you cited? They are not as ray to find.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Rebecca, Thank you for finding our videos. Maxi Lock is ok thread, not the greatest, but not the worst either. See if you local sewing machine stores offer some of the better brands.

  12. Katherine Rollins says:

    I was given a Pfaff serger as a gift. It was purchased in another state. I would like to find a class or a person to help me learn what it can do. I’m sure this Pfaff Creative 3.0 can do more than my 30year old Juki 104.

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Katherine, Check with your local sewing machine stores for serger classes. I also have an online serger class that would be perfect for learning how to use your new-to-you serger. Click here to see the class:

  13. Sean O'Shea says:

    I’m new to this, too, and these were very helpful tips. I’d be interested in more tutorials!

    1. Sara says:

      You are welcome!


  14. Teresa Hammond says:

    just had a serger given to me, Iv’e never used one before ,and got some thread ,which keeps breaking on the lower loop ,now I think it could be the thread after reading what you said about the thread. Mine is a bit fluffy.thank you.

    1. Sara says:

      You are welcome…happy serging!


  15. Georgia Peach says:

    Thanks. I used a serger at work where there was always matching thread. Now that I have a serger at home, I was not sure of where to put my matching thread for a garment.

    1. Sara says:

      You are welcome! Happy sergin’!


  16. Iris Vincent says:

    Can anyone tell me or show me an example of the 4 thread stitch I can’t not find that stitch anywhere

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Iris,

      Here is a video of what a 4-thread overlock looks like:

  17. Beth waters says:

    Can you use only two cones on a server to make a regular stich?

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Beth,

      Sergers are completely different from a sewing machine. For a standard stitch, please use a sewing machine.

      (On a side note, some sergers have a chain stitch option which would be similar to a sewing machine stitch and uses two threads. Only sergers with serger AND coverstitch capabilities can do a 2-thread chain stitch. Most sergers do not have this feature).


      1. Connie says:

        Thank you for this thread information. I was ready to purchase thread just guessing what I would need and ran across this. Thank you!

        1. Sara says:

          You are welcome!

  18. Cathy Jenkins says:

    I appreciate the information on thread. I am new to sergers and was about to purchase additional thread, I now know that is not necessary.
    Thank you for your advice.

    1. Sara says:

      You are welcome.

  19. Jolene Doty says:

    I like to know how to gather 10 yards of tulle or crinoline for petticoats to a 22″ waist band. I would also like the setting to if I can get then, I do have the Huskylock s25 and the gathering foot.
    Right now I use a fishing line to gather and then serge the two together, really I like to do it in one step.
    My daughter said it don’t work out right and it eats the tulle or crinoline. So I wanted to ask you to see what you say.
    Thank you for any help that you can give me.
    Can you email me the answere

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Jolene,

      You will want to use a ruffler on your sewing machine to gather those high amounts of fabric.


  20. Yaskyyy says:

    Exactly what I needed to know. Thanks so much for your clarity.

  21. Roxanne says:

    I was just gifted a serger. A huskyloc 905. I gave two cones of thread and tons of spools if thread. Can i use the spools for the needkes and cones for the loopers? I don’t have a manual so am winging it with you tube videos. Any tips or tricks before i start? Plan on getting familiar with it before pressing the foot pedal

    1. Sara says:

      Hi Roxanne,

      Yes, you can use small spools of thread in the needles and cones on the loopers.

  22. Be happy says:

    Which one is the outside needle?

    1. Sara says:

      If you are using both serger needles, the outside needle is the LEFT needle.

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