A “knife changing” experience!

Posted by Kim Burley Jones
on November 07, 2021

“Don’t ever use pins when you are overlocking” said Sarah, as part of my “Introduction to Overlocking” workshop, back when I was first dipping my toe into the exciting world of overlocking.

Three years later, having made lots of lovely garments with neatly finished whipped seams, as I was adding a frill sleeve to an Everyday Amazing Top one evening, I thought I’d get away with using a pin to hold some of the fabric away from the seam….

I was wrong and - as Sarah had warned -in the blink of an eye, the blades on my overlocker got nicked and as a result they were hopelessly blunted!  To my horror the damaged blades chewed up my fabric and made a terrible mess of my seams.

overlocker blades showing nicks

It turns out, branded replacement blades are costly and I hadn’t even realised there would be two blades to replace!  After reading loads of reviews, I learned that buying cheaper non-branded knives would be a poor investment because they don’t last very long and as the Brother blades I’d used for three years were still in great condition (before I ruined them with the pin!) I knew it was worth paying the £48 for the branded replacement blades.  And just look how beautifully smooth they are!

Brother overlocker blades

So I'm going to show you how I changed the blades in my machine … but first I must remind you that whenever you do any maintenance you really must remove the power cable to ensure you are safe!

power cable on an overlocker

First of all I had to clean away the dust!  I love my machine and I clean it out after I finish every garment with the little brush provided with my machine and a cheap make-up brush I bought especially for the job.  Here you can see the fibres left after making a pair of dungarees in needlecord.  Pretty dusty hey?  

overlocker full of dust

Once I had done this I took a good look at my instruction manual.  It was a very straightforward job and I think anyone who is confident using a screwdriver can do it competently. 

First I unscrewed and removed the upper blade. 

unscrewing upper blade on an overlocker

On the Brother machine this is attached to a lever and I immediately took a photo so I would know how to put these two pieces together when it was time to put them back in correctly.  

upper blade of an overlocker

Once the upper blade was removed, I saw there was more dust in the mechanism, so I cleaned that out ... I must admit I've never cleaned this bit before!


dust in overlocker

Then I unscrewed the lower blade. 

removing lower blade on overlocker

You can see here how it had some nicks along the edge - this was enough for it to stop cutting the edge of the fabrics I was using.

lower overlocker blade with nicks in

And of course I found more dust behind this blade, so I took the opportunity to clean that bit out too...

dust behind overlocker blade

Replacing the blades was a simple case of screwing them into place - and I found the photos I had taken as I went along very useful to ensure I was placing the blades in the exact right position.  The original blades had been tightly screwed in, so I knew it would be important to screw the new blades in as tightly as I could. 

Having cleaned out my machine so thoroughly I took the opportunity to put a drop of sewing machine oil on the two points recommended in my manual - its important to remember to give your machine as much TLC as you can! Before adding oil though, do check your manual for instructions to suit your model.

I must admit I was a bit nervous when I started to sew on a piece of practice material.  I’m delighted to say that all is now well, and I am able to enjoy the thrill of creating neatly finished seams again.  And I will absolutely never ever use any pins when I’m overlocking again - not even one!

I hope reading about my experience has convinced you firstly to keep those pins away, and secondly to have the confidence to change your blades if you ever need to!

Happy overlocking!