Once you’ve learned the basics of sewing, you may be looking for a chance to up your game and work with a broader range of designs and textiles. A serger might be the best investment you can make when it comes to sewing versatility.
A serger is the perfect go-to tool if you make a lot of sportswear, children’s clothing, or sleepwear. It’s just the thing for handling soft fabrics with lots of stretch to them. Manufacturers design sergers so that, as well as giving you a fast straight stitch, the machine wraps the thread around the seam to the other side, snipping the excess allowance off in the same pass. It gives clean professional, beautiful results, and it reduces the bulk of your finished projects, making you look like an expert.
What is a Serger?
A serger, also called an overlock machine, adds a professional touch to homemade garments and home décor projects. If you’ve been working with soft, synthetic textiles, you’ll note that the instructions often say to use zig-zag stitches and pinking shears or edging tape to keep seam allowances from unraveling. But, when you look at a professionally sewn garment, you don’t see such amateurish finishing touches. The machine has sewn the seams so that the thread overlaps them, keeping them trim and tight instead of bulky.
Instead of one needle to push the thread into the fabric, with a bobbin to hook it before it pulls it back up again, a serger takes a different approach. It uses two needles and four threads, sometimes more, that lock around the seam to prevent fraying while the cutting system removes the excess fabric.
There’s no requirement to have a serger to complete any home sewing project, but it saves time and effort when sewing stretchy fabrics. It also looks so much better and gives your garments a neater silhouette.
What are the benefits of owning a serger?
Along with providing a much more professional look to your sewing projects, they’ll also be more durable. Again, if you’re sewing for children, think about how often their activity can pull on clothing seams. Consider how quickly they grow out of their clothing. If you’re using stretch fabric for comfort and more extended wear, an overlock machine provides the right kind of stitch that will hold fast and allow that stretch without breaking apart.
A serger can save time, as well. Since it trims the allowance as you sew, you won’t have to be quite as careful when cutting. This benefit alone will boost the pace of your sewing projects. And forget about dealing with edge tape or other trim. An overlock machine can make such obsolete sewing notions a thing of the past.
Are there any downsides to buying a Serger?
One thing you should be aware of is the fact that there are a few downsides. First is the initial expense. Unfortunately, most overlock machines can’t be used in place of your regular sewing machine. Because of its intricate and specialized design, you’ll still need your regular machine for other projects. You’ll also have to invest in the specialized thread spools required.
Another downside is that many people find them complicated to thread. Threading four or sometimes five spools of thread is not a task for the impatient crafter. It can take some practice to get started and become proficient. The learning curve may put a dent in your project schedule. On the other hand, consider all the time you’ll save not trimming and edging seam allowances.
New technology and less expensive manufacturing methods have helped home-use overlock machines enter the market in recent years. Two or three decades ago, an overlock machine could run you several thousand dollars, making them only accessible to professional tailors and dress makers.
But as the DIY industry expands into all areas of everyday life, more crafters want the benefits of technology for their homemade projects. And that’s pretty fabulous. The satisfaction of creating a one-of-a-kind garment from your own imagination and with your own two hands simply can’t be bought.
Luckily, the technology that makes that process possible can be. We’re going to look at a handful of home-use sergers on the market today, perfect for beginners and experienced sewers looking to add variety to their routine.
Best Beginner Sergers Models
We’ve examined the essential features, add-ons, craftsmanship, and prices and narrowed it down to 2018’s best sergers to help you elevate your creations. Take a look at the options below, listed in no particular order.
Brother has been making sewing machines for the US home market since 1955 and has become the go-to machine for beginners and advanced sewing advocates for decades. The Brother 1034DX is a great starter or mid-range unit for anyone who enjoys making clothing or home décor.
This serger features three or four threads for versatility and produces 1,300 stitches per minute. It also comes with three separate feet for various projects: a blind hem stitch, a gathering foot, and a standard foot. A bright LED light illuminates your workspace.
For those who find threading a serger too complicated, the 1034DX features a color-coded guide printed right on the machine.
The included standard serging foot is an excellent general-purpose foot for a wide range of everyday projects such as seams and rolled hems. Your fabric edge will be sewn and trimmed in one easy step.
You can connect the fabric and edge in one easy step with the gathering foot. A channel on the foot secures the fabric, eliminating the need for pins as you create a serged edge, gathering single or double layers of cloth.
The Brother 1034DX uses standard machine needles and produces 22 total different stitch options, including rolled hem, narrow hem, and ribbon lock stitches.
You can adjust stitches between 5.0mm and 7.0mm easily with the knob on the casing. You’ll also find the fabric trim catch handy as it keeps excess fabric out of your way while you're working.
- SINGER SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER ProFinish 14CG754 Serger has 2-3-4 thread capability providing a wide selection of...
- ADJUSTABLE STITCH LENGTH SEWING MACHINE: Adjustable stitch length and width, differential feed and color-coded lay-in...
- PORTABLE SEWING MACHINE: Carry handle makes it easy to transport your serger
Singer is probably the best-known name for sewing machines in the US and sets the standard for the industry. The Singer ProFinish serger is a high-end machine with a hobbyist price tag.
Use two, three, or four threads for a wide variety of stitches, and take advantage of the built-in free arm to work with tiny sleeves and cuffs. This works great when making children’s clothing, crafts, and toys
The color-coded threading map is included right on the machine, making it easy to reference. Also, if you’re planning to do other stitches, you can roll the cutting knife out of the way.
The Singer’s differential feed allows you to sew smooth, professional seams on the stretchiest fabrics too. With four rolled hem settings, it’s easy to covert with just the push of a lever. This Singer ProFinish serger sews at 1,300 stitches per minute, with eight different built-in stitches, making quick work of any project. Pre-programmed stitches include four mock stretch stitches, three stretch safety stitches, two overlock stitches and a flatlock stitch.
- Janome MOD-Serger Overlock with 3 and 4 Thread Options
- Lay-In Threading System with Color-Coded Thread Guides
- Quick Change Rolled Hem and Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure
Janome may not be the most common name in sewing machines in the US market, but it’s certainly one of the most advanced. The Japanese company was the first to develop computerized sewing machines for home use way back in 1979. The Janome 8002D certainly packs a lot of technology into a small machine, and owners love its versatility
The 8002D converts easily to three or four threads for a wide range of stitches. The presser foot is adjustable, allowing you to make quick changes to use the rolled hem setting.
You’ll find the differential feed ratio is flexible for a wide range of fabric types and thicknesses, and the Janome provides speeds up to 1,300 stitches per minute.
The cutting knife on the Janome 8002D is adjustable too, with a cutting width setting of 3.1mm to 7.3mm. The upper knife is also easy to retract, making it simple to change stitch types.
- METAL FRAME: The Brother Designio DZ1234 is a durable 3-4 thread serger made with a metal frame
- HIGH PERFORMANCE: A high performance 3-4 thread serger with an adjustable stitch width between 3.0mm to 7.0mm allowing...
- 1,300 STITCHES PER MINUTE: Create more in less time with the DZ1234's fast stitching speed of up to 1,300 stitches per...
Here’s another Brother serger at a great price with three and four thread capacity. The DZ1234 serger comes with a blind hem stitch foot, a gathering foot, and a piping foot, making it the perfect machine for creative sewing projects with lots of embellishments. The gathering foot connects the fabric and edging in one simple step, while a special channel holds the fabric as you sew.
It runs at speeds at 1,300 stitches per minute using regular sewing machine needles.
The sewing surface converts quickly from a flat bed to free arm so you can work in those hard-to-reach places like sleeves and cuffs. This makes it a great machine for crafts and doll clothes.
The Brother DZ1234 boasts a simplified, color-coded threading system and precise tension control. And the cutting knife is retractable for rolled hems.
The adjustable stitch width control of 3.0mm and 7.0mm means you can work with a wide range of fabrics, and the differential feed ratio of 0.7 to 2.0 lets you work with even the most delicate fabrics for evening wear and lingerie.
- 2/3/4 Thread serger with automatic rolled hem
- Color coded threading breakaway looper external adjustment for stitch length and differential feed
- Powerful knife system with dedicated drive mechanism. Sewing Speed: Max. 1500 spm
Best known for their industrial sewing equipment, Juki ranks at the top of the field. Now, you can leverage this professional technology in your home sewing with the MO654DE portable model.
This little Juki runs two, three, or four threads. It comes with a multipurpose foot for a variety of projects, but you can purchase optional feet for gathering or piping, and they just snap on. The included foot features a built-in seam guide, making it easy to keep seam allowances consistent.
The easy-to-use differential feed dial is located conveniently on the right exterior to allow you to work with a wide variety of fabrics. Best of all, the tension dials have the most commonly used settings highlighted for easy reference.
One thing that makes the Juki stand out is the adjustable cutting knife. On this Juki model, it has a dedicated drive that can handle heavy fabrics with ease. For extra peace of mind, the safety lock keeps the machine from running whenever the side cover is open.
Expand Your Sewing Skills With a Serger
Learning how to use a serger for professional finishes in a wider range of fabrics may just be what you need to take the next step in your sewing repertoire. If you’re considering making clothing design a career, one of these little workhorses will have you turning out couture quality garments in no time.
They do take a little time to learn, but it’s time well spent for the flexibility they provide. Along with being your ticket to sleek hems, unobtrusive seams, and a plethora of trims and edgings, an overlock machine will help you turn out projects faster and easier than ever before.
Overall, this heavy duty sewing machine is reasonably priced and comes equipped with some nice features. It's a great value for the money and a good investment for newbie sewers.