How to Make a Patch Merrow With a Serger

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Use a translucent presser foot to turn the patch while Merrow stitching.
Use a translucent presser foot to turn the patch while Merrow stitching. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Make clean borders for different types of patches, such as iron-on or embroidery, with a serger machine. This multiple needle equipment prevents raw fabric edges from fraying using overlock or cover stitches. Certain serger brands make decorative stitched edges, duplicating Merrow stitches, such as scalloped Merrow borders. Although most designers incorporate a Merrow machine to develop these decorative edges, you can also duplicate the border trim with a serger. Take time to make duplicate patches from leftover fabric scraps to sample the different Merrow stitches included in your serger machine. Refer to your brand's manual to change the stitch width, length and tension according to your patch fabric type.

Things You'll Need

  • Fabric scrap
  • Tailor’s chalk
  • Fabric pen
  • Fabric scissors
  • Patch backing
  • Disappearing-ink fabric pen
  • Iron
  • Serger machine

Trace the desired patch on a piece of fabric scrap with tailor’s chalk or a fabric pen. Choose scraps similar to the patch fabric weight and surface texture.

Cut out the traced patch with fabric scissors.

Trace the patch outline on the patch backing, such as fusible web or interfacing, depending on the design and desired patch application. Use a disappearing-ink fabric pen to trace the patch.

Cut out the patch backing and apply to the fabric scrap patch. For example, if you're working with a double-sided fusible web, remove the protective backing from one side only. Flip the patch, backside facing you, and set the iron to the recommended setting according to your fusible brand’s instructions. Iron the fusible to the patch. Remove the remaining protective sheet to Merrow the border.

Pick matching or complementary contrasting thread color cones according to the serger machine. For example, if you are working with a 4-thread serger, you need four separate thread cones.

Lift the presser foot and insert the patch, lowering the presser foot again. If your serger includes a knife to cut away uneven raw edges and you are working with a precut shape patch, refer to your manual to remove or deactivate the knife-cutting feature.

Switch the stitch selector wheel to the desired Merrow stitch, width, stitch length and tension. Older machines have a manual turning wheel and digital serger models have a touch button or screen. Refer to your brand's manual, which generally includes a fabric type and weight chart, suggesting tension settings as well as stitches. This step prevents severe thread jams or breaks when sampling different stitch types according to your fabric weight.

Serge a 1/8-inch wide Merrow stitch around the patch border. If your machine allows you to change the stitch width and length, complete a 1-inch long Merrow before changing the settings to another Merrow stitch version. This step allows you to see all of the Merrow stitch borders around the fabric scrap patch, allowing you to select and adjust the desired look prior to stitching your project patch.

Stop the merrow stitch approximately three to four stitches from the end of the patch, leaving the stitching needle pierced through the fabric in the patch. If your machine has a translucent foot, look through the foot frame to assess the stopping distance for your patch shape. For instance, if you're working with a square patch, stop the machine several stitches from the corner of the patch.

Lift the presser foot and turn the patch. Lower the foot to continue serging around the patch. For example, if you're working with a rectangle shaped patch, turn the patch to the side. If you're working with a circle shape, change to a slow stitch speed setting and stop to turn the patch every few stitches or inches, depending on your patch size. This step creates clean Merrow corners or borders.

Repeat Steps 3 through 10 to create the Merrow border using the patch material.

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