A bound finish on jeans shorts, and how to clear a blocked air-threading tube on a Babylock serger

Here’s a cute way to make jeans into shorts. I saw this yesterday on a blog, but not a blog I usually read, so unfortunately I can’t remember where to give credit. The only thing I changed is that she lapped the binding, but I seamed it before I sewed it onto the hems.

Warning: the rest of this post is entirely technical, so if you’re not interested in how to repair nonfunctioning air-threading on a Babylock serger, now’s your chance to go read something else.

So, I’m home alone on a Friday evening because I’d been feeling flu-ish all afternoon, and of course I started feeling somewhat better right after Dean left for the library with the kids, but since I do still feel fatigued and my nose is a little sniffly, it’s just as well I stayed home, especially because it gave me a chance to fix my serger.

One of the three air-threading ports on my serger wouldn’t work, and I really hoped I could figure out what was wrong without having to pay for a repair and live without my serger while I waited.

The spoiler for how to fix it (if you someday come here having searched that question) is that the tiny tube the thread goes through turned out to be blocked, and IF I had been able to find the bendy wire that’s intended for threading larger threads, I could have probably poked out the bit of lint with the wire.

The longer version: Since I wasn’t sure that was what was wrong, first I spent a lot of time pumping the little pump to see how far I could get the thread to feed. With quite a bit of effort and some help pushing it with tweezers, I could feed it not quite all the way, and so decided the tube must be blocked about an inch and a half from where the thread comes out of the looper.

Next I tried poking a thin wire (not the one that came with the serger, which I still can’t find, but just some craft wire) through the port, and with some effort could get it about to the same spot I could get the thread to feed before it would stop. The wire was so thin that when I tried to feed it further it would just bend. The next size up of wire that I had was too big for the port.

I thought, “I need something like a wire, but fuzzy to clean the inside of the tube,” and then realized what I was imagining was a pipe cleaner. (Trivia question: what do they call pipe cleaners at craft stores? If you answered, “Chenille stems,” you get 20 bonus crafty points.) I did have a pipe cleaner, but it turned out to be too thick.

Then I got the idea to try poking a clear fishing-line type thread into the port, which worked so well that I was able to poke it right past the blockage and out the looper. Since I’d been mid-project, I looped the fishing line and used it to pull the thread through for my project. When I’d finished my project, I checked to see if my air threading was working yet, but it still wasn’t. I still needed some way to clean the inside of the tube.

My next idea was to use the loop of fishing line to pull through a piece of size 8 pearl cotton. This time the fishing line didn’t want to go through, and as I poked and poked at it, it pushed a bit of lint out of the tube ahead of it. Then as I got the pearl cotton through, I pulled back and forth on the ends of the pearl cotton, and saw tiny pieces of lint come out of the tube, stuck to the thread.

Finally, I tried the air-threading pump again–and it worked perfectly! Ta-da!

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7 Responses to A bound finish on jeans shorts, and how to clear a blocked air-threading tube on a Babylock serger

  1. Grandpa T says:

    You’re a hydraulic engineer and didn’t know it! Of course, anyone who can sew stuff like you has to be a genius.



  2. the MomB says:

    LeAnne Giles once said, “You are smarter than almost any sewing machine repair guy.” It was memorable, and true.

  3. Anne says:

    Thank you thank you! I have the wire that came with the machine, and I snaked it out – but I didn’t think to manually thread it.

  4. Phil says:

    The wife asked me to fix her serger – your blog was invaluable help (I’m more used to dealing with bigger stuff that requires spanners!). It’s good to see that your blog is still doing good service, six years on. And, yes, it’s all working fine now – which is just as well, as it’s 01:23 Sunday morning local time here (United Kingdom) and I think we might have struggled to get it fixed quickly by a technician!

    Thanks again!

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