In this tutorial, we are introducing the Bernina L450 serger machine. These tutorials will also apply to the L460 serger machine as that serger is the same as the L450 but has a few extra features.
Replacement for an older Bernette Serger Machine
I purchased this new serger machine to replace an old Bernette serger from the 1980s mainly because of threading issues. The old machine is definitely a workhorse, but I was getting tired of spending an hour to get it working every time we had to change the thread.
The one lower looper on the old serger machine is very difficult to get threaded correctly as the thread needs to go back and forth through the machine and around the looper. I would try and thread over and over again until I would finally get it right.
I have also had issues getting the threads through the tension plates properly.
A friend brought me to visit Martin’s Bernina Sewing Center in Newville, PA. The friendly staff showed me the newer Bernina sergers with their easier threading.
The Bernina L450 threading changes make the problematic lower looper so much easier to thread! Once I saw this updated threading, I decided to get the new machine. If you would like to learn how to thread an overlocker like the Bernina L450 or Bernina L460, click the link for a full photo and video tutorial.
To learn more about the Bernina L450 and L460 Sergers and to see it stitching, watch our video through the link below or keep reading this post.
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About Martin's Bernina Sewing Center
If you are near Shippensburg in central Pennsylvania, Martin’s Bernina Sewing Center is a wonderful full-service shop and they sell all types of Bernina sewing machines. Martin’s is owned by a Mennonite family and they are very friendly and give wonderful expert service. They have cleaned several of my machines, and they are very knowledgeable. I highly recommend them!
What is the difference between an Overlocker vs Serger?
Serger machines are also called Overlocker machines so the two terms can be used interchangeably. Both machines sew an overlock seam.
Bernina L450 and L460 Serger Machine Features:
The Bernina L450 and L460 serger machines will stitch a basic 3 or 4-thread overlock stitch. The stitch length and cutting width can be adjusted as needed for your purpose.
The tension can be adjusted using the dials or the micro thread control. It can also sew a rolled hem, elastic, flatlock, piping, gathering, beading, blind hem, decorative tucks and lace-to-lace.
The L450 and L460 machines have a differential feed to make adjustments for stitching on knit fabrics.
This is the first in a series of videos and pages about the features of this machine. Links will be added below as we create video and photo tutorials for the different features of the Bernina L450 and L460 serger machines.
- Threading the Overlocker: Bernina L450 and L460 Serger
- Overlock Stitch (3 and 4 thread) – How to Serge Corners & Secure Seams (Sewing Inside & Outside Corners)
- Differential Feed for Stretchy fabrics, soft fabrics and gathering fabrics
- Presser Foot Tape Guide
- Rolled Hem
- Flatlock seam
- Wrapped edge with stretchy thread - This Serger Napkin project shows how to use the stretch thread to cover the edge for a nice finished look.
- Multi-purpose foot used for piping, gathering, and beading
- Blindstitch Foot used for blind hem stitch, decorative tucks and lace to lace
How to use a Serger or Overlocker machine to stitch a 4-thread overlock seam
A serger sewing machine creates a professional-looking finished seam perfect for sewing clothes and home decor projects.
With one pass through the serger, the machine will stitch two straight seams, trim the seam and finish it with an overlock stitch. This speeds up sewing since you do not need to sew, trim and then finish the seam edge in separate steps.
The photo above shows the 4-thread overlock seam front. Below the photo is showing the back of the seam. Notice how the seam wraps around the edge of the fabric. This keeps the seams from fraying during use and washing.
If you look inside the clothes purchased from the store, you will probably see seams finished with an overlock seam.
Overview of the Bernina L450 / L460 Serger Machine
This serger machine uses up to 4 threads. The left two threads are the straight stitches and are threaded through the two needles. The right threads are the lower looper threads that create the overlock stitch.
The retractable top thread guide is used to guide the thread off the spools and into the machine. It retracts downwards when the machine is in storage or transport.
The sewing machine table opens to the left to allow access to clean the machine and access to the knife on/off dial.
Opening the lower looper cover exposes the lower loopers and threading chart. It also holds accessories for the machine.
For some types of stitches, the knife is not used. To deactivate or activate the knife, use the Knife On/Off Dial available under the sewing table.
What’s included with the machine
- Manual, quick guide, sewing machine foot controller instructions, warranty
- Plastic cover
- Machine, cut-offs bin, foot pedal and cord
- Thread holders, spool nets and spool caps and retractable thread guide
- Thread Cutter is built into the side of the machine
Accessories in the looper cover:
- Hex screwdriver
- Upper looper converter
- Needle threader and inserter
A separate accessory box includes:
- Spare knife
- Seam guide
- 4 spool nets
- 4 thread caps
About Needles to Use in a Serger Machine
Use standard sewing machine needles in the serger. Sizes 70/11, 80/12 or 90/14 are best to use. A stretch needle may be used when sewing stretchy fabrics.
The two serger needles are not installed at the same height. Notice in the photo below that the left needle is a bit higher than the right side needle. The machine will not stitch properly if the needles are at the same height.
If you are not using one of the needles, always remove it from the machine and it can be stored on the needle pad. After removing the needle, tighten the screw slightly so it won't fall out.
Changing the Needles
A needle inserter is included with the serger machine and inside the looper cover. This is helpful for getting the needles installed correctly.
The needle inserter slips over the needle and can hold it in place while the screw is loosened or tightened.
The Needle View Window lets you see the top of the needle to be sure it's pushed in all the way and installed correctly.
Thread is made especially for serger or overlocker machines and comes in large cones. The serger thread usually is made of polyester and is lighter in weight than many sewing machine threads. This makes the seams less bulky with the overlocking stitches.
Use good quality threads like Maxilock or Seracor brands. These are not “fuzzy” and won’t cause excessive lint to build up in the lower part of the serger.
There are also specialty threads you can use in your serger. Texturized Nylon Thread is stretchy and provides good coverage for rolled edges and knit seams.
Polyester Topstitching Thread is good for decorative stitching like flat locked seams & overcast edges.
The four tension knobs on the front of the machine are used to adjust the tension. Proper tension is required to get perfect stitches.
On the Bernina L450 and L460, the default tension settings are indicated by the little dot next to the 4. Whenever tensions need to be adjusted, it's best to return to the default settings and adjust from there.
These tension knobs are much easier to thread than the old serger we replaced. One of my issues with the old serger was having the thread properly between the tension plates. With this new serger, this is not a problem!
If you are having tension problems, the quick guide and sewing machine manual both give information on how to fix different tension issues. A link to the manual for these machines is at the end of this tutorial. If you don't have the manual, download a copy!
When adjusting the tension, examine a sample of your stitches with the manual or quick guide to determine which adjustments need to be made. Make adjustments slowly and test between each adjustment.
Micro Thread Control
The micro thread control lever (see the photo below) is used to make small adjustments to your tension. Before adjusting the tension knobs, try adjusting the micro thread control. This may be all you need!
This micro thread control may be helpful when changing fabric types as just a small adjustment may be necessary for the different fabrics.
Rolled Hem Selection Lever
Pull the rolled hem selection lever (see in the photo above) towards the front of the machine to stitch a rolled hem.
This will retract a metal part that the overlock loops normally form over. This allows the hem to roll or fold over creating the rolled hem.
The stitch length can be adjusted between 1 mm – 4 mm using the stitch length dial on the right side of the machine. The stitch length dial is above the differential feed dial. The standard stitch length is 2.5mm and is indicated by a dot on the dial.
The stitch length is adjusted for different types of stitches:
- 1mm – 1.5mm for rolled hems & decorative edges
- 2mm – 2.5mm for regular seams
- 3mm – 4mm for gathering or applying elastic
The serger machine has a cutting width adjustment dial to change the location of the knife. Wide seams should be used on loosely woven fabric and smaller seams on dense fabrics.
The cutting width can be adjusted between 3 – 9mm using the cutting width dial on the front of the serger. Turn the dial up to increase the width and down to decrease the width.
The normal width is at 5 and is indicated on the cutting width indicator by the dot.
The cutting width indicator shows the width of the seam from the LEFT needle. The right needle is 2mm shorter.
Differential Feed Overview
The differential feed is used for stretchy fabrics and keeps the seams from being wavy. For soft lightweight fabric, serging can cause puckering and differential feed can also eliminate this.
The differential feed can also be used to gather fabrics.
The differential feed dial is below the stitch length dial on the right side of the machine. The standard setting is 1 and indicated by the dot on the dial.
Bernina L460 Additional features
The L460 is the next higher model of serger in the Bernina line. This machine includes a few extra features such as:
- Automatic needle stop up
- Needle up/down with the Bernina foot control
- Safety switch is activated when the cover is open or the presser foot is raised
- Includes a free hand system with knee lifter
We hope you enjoyed learning about the Bernina L450 and L460 Serger machines and look forward to making some videos featuring these machines.
If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video
comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.
Check out these other serger tutorials you may be interested in:
- Un-paper Towels - Use your serger to create these un-paper towels to use in your kitchen instead of paper towels.
- Serger Napkin - Use a rolled hem, stretchy thread and a serger to quickly make fabric dinner napkins.