Tips & Tricks & Other Stuff

Getting Started with the W6 Overlock

I am now the proud owner of a W6 Overlock (since 11 hours actually, since 3 I have been brave enough to switch it on and try it out a bit). I had been thinking over this purchase thoughly since months (maybe even years now) before taking the plunge. In various internet forums this overlock machine is being praised as being the machine to have for overlock starters - along with a few warnings that the handling of the machine can be quite complicated at the beginning of use.

I studied the instructions for use again and again, especially afraid of doing something silly making me need to re-thread the machine - this is deemed as being one of the most horrid things to happen for an overlock newbie. Then, taking a deep breath and having a pile of scraps beside me, I braved the task. And am now various experiences wiser than I was this afternoon when unpacking the box.

As I tried to browse the internet for starting tips with the W6 and did not really find anything, I thought I would write down a few things 'good to know', so I don't forget when not using the machine for a while and maybe it will help others in the same situation. So here goes!

Threading to begin with

I ordered the machine in Germany and the machine arrived 'pre-threaded', meaning that longish strands where threaded through the machine correctly already, all you needed to do was knot the ends of your thread cones to the ends of this strands and pull the other ends until the knots come out.

Watch it:
The threads that go through the eyes of the needles will not allow the knots to be pulled through, you need to pull the knot close to the eye, cut it off and thread the needle manually. Do not fret, the instruction manual decribes this method quite well with words and pictures!

Getting to know the machine

Best practices in getting started are also described in the manual, as well as example tensions/stitch lengths for different types of fabrics.

Reading through the forums and customer reviews, I knew that the correct threading of the machine is an absolute necessity. Additionally you need to check whether the thread tension of all 4 threads are correct or if you need to carry out a few alterations.

My personal tip:
In order to ease the differentiation of the threads, I have started using the overlock with different coloured thread - matching the colour code of the instrution manual and the machine (yellow-blue-red-green). This really helped me figuring out which thread tension needed to be altered etc. as well as following the path of the threads under the sewing platform.

Be prepared to re-thread

I had the small hope  that at the beginning, I would be able to get around re-threading the machine by tying knots for the next few years. However, being an overlock newbie, I expected this part to come at some point in time. It came around 30 minutes after use. All the comments on re-threading this machine made me dread this, but actually, it's not that bad, especially if you are using the different coloured threads for 'getting to know the machine).

  • Really follow the sequence of threading as explained in the manual, as otherwise the threads will not 'catch' (red-green-blue-yellow).
  • I cut of the ends of each thread to have 'sharp edges' for being able to direct the path of the thread whilst threading more easily
  • The tweezers that are also included in the kit that comes with the machine are definitely necessary for threading in the lower compartment.
  • Open up both covers of the lower compartment (for me this was clear but browsing the net has shown that it is not that clear for everyone)
  • The green path is a bit fiddly - you need to play with the manual feed to move the parts in the lower compartment in order to thread more easily towards the end of the threading process.
  • Take time to understand how  the different threads lie in relation to one another while you are threading: I kept 'losing' the green thread, but having seen that the yellow and blue thread were pulled down whilst sewing but were under the foot after initial threading saved me 5 minutes of completely re-threading the whole machine and being able to leave the red thread completely alone)

Finishing off a sewn part

Being used to a normal sewing machine, I sewed the seam shut, made sure that the needles were in the highest position and tried  to pull the fabric out for thread-cut. This was the main problem with me losing threads, creating knots in the lower compartment and eventually having to re-thread the machine. (After reading the instruction manual, I had the impression that you could just pull as normal, with the addition that you can sew the overlock sitches in a row aswell without any fabric underneath.)

This problem was solved by continuing the overlock stitch row without fabric and the foot of the machine down for about 10cm. The row of stitches without fabric is also listed in the manual as one of three options (without explicit mention of the foot lowered) but the other two just made a mess and me panicky.

First project

My tip is to sew a cover for the machine ;-) It comes in the box with a great set of tools for maintenance but without a cover. After having got the hang of the machine it's a good idea to sew a cover to protect it from dust - just make sure that the seams are all on the right side!


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