Sewing With a Serger Sewing Machine

Sergers are a specialized type of sewing machine. Also known as overlock machines, a typical serger uses two needles and four threads, although there several models that use five threads and have options to use a single needles and two to three threads. But one thing that is common to sergers is the ability to give durable quality and a professional look to seams, especially for those on stretch fabrics.

A Serger is NOT a Replacement for a Sewing Machine

You probably don’t need a serger sewing machine, but once you know more about them you’ll want one. It is equipped with features that greatly simplify sewing and finishes your item with professional results. Okay, so your sewing machine can perform an overcast stitch from its library or memory of stitches or it has an overlock mechanism, but can it cut fabric when it stitches? Can it use decorative threads that are thicker? Chances are, you answered “no” to both questions.

Sergers make more durable seams than standard sewing machines because their threads lock around seams to prevent them from fraying. Additionally, they can cut off seam allowances while sewing and they are so much faster than sewing machines when the fabrics being sewn are knits. A serger, however, is not a replacement for a sewing machine in some instances like sewing on zippers or topstitching.

Where To Use a Serger

overlock machineWhat kind of clothing is serged? T-shirts are. Most of the hems of t-shirts are cover stitched. Remember that sergers are not multi-purposed equipment but most already have built-in features such as automatic threading for three to five threads. Do you need a serger? It depends on the type of sewing projects that you do as well as the frequency of your sewing.

Those who are into crafts need not buy a serger immediately. You can always wait for it to go on sale on Amazon, Craigslist or eBay. If you are into sewing a lot of stretch fabrics or knits, however, you should get a serger to make sewing so much faster. Also, if you produce garments or sewn items by volume, you can do better with a serger because of the professional look it can give to your products.

What Serger To Buy

Some sergers will have the capability for threading only three threads. Since they don’t come cheap – if you want good quality, that is – you might as well purchase one with four threads. Although differential feed is a standard feature on the majority of serger models available in the market today, you should still inquire whether or not the model you are interested in has this feature.

There are sergers with automatic threading that uses the jet stream technique and five thread capability, among others, which will not come cheap either. Some sergers come with option for cover stitching, something that is appreciated but will not be necessary. Choose a serger model that comes with sufficient information in the form of an instructional manual, video or DVD to understand all of the serger’s functions.

Most sergers come with various stitch types that have names you may find confusing initially and these may vary from one manual of a particular model to another. The stitches for two threads are called overedge stitches, although some know these as overcast stitches, because their threads don’t meet at the needle to interlace. Overlocked stitches have three to five thread stitches that are interlaced with loopers.

These form a sort of knot in the area of the needle line. Wrapped stitches are created when looper threads encircle the fabric’s edges completely on either two or three thread stitches. You can practice using your serger to become familiar and at ease with the wide selection of stitches built in the machine. You will also acquire an instinct as to when serge stitches will be most appropriate.

Using Thread Stitches

Two-thread Stitches are stretchy and lightweight and serve well as an edge-finishing touch on sheer and delicate fabric. The Two-Thread Flatlock is best for seams on outerwear, sportswear, and sheer fabrics. The Two-Thread Wrapped locks with the needle thread at needle line so that the lower looper thread can wrap itself around the edge of the fabric; this is perfect to use with a decorative thread in the looper.

3 thread overlockUse the three-thread stitches, which are strong and narrow, to finish edges of sheer and lightweight fabrics such as silk and linen. The Two-Thread Chain Stitches use a special chain needle to interact with a forward but separate chain looper; the needle threads for these stitches appear straight on top of the fabrics with the looper threads in coil between knotted needle threads on the bottom; they tend to unravel easily. If you want to find out more about the stitches a serger can do you can go here.

Should You Get a Brand Name Serger?

A brand name serger will be backed up by the manufacturer’s established reputation so you are guaranteed you are getting value for your money. Never buy “off-brand” sergers advertised on eBay or Craigslist; Amazon doesn’t seem to sell these off-brands and that’s good news, meaning whatever brand you buy from them would have been manufactured by a reputable company.

Before even deciding to purchase a serger, though, consider some of these questions:

  • Do you need a serger?
  • Will you use it a lot as in more than thrice a week?
  • Do you seam knitted fabrics frequently?
  • Are you fond of embellishing fabric with flatlock stitches?
  • Do you constantly experiment with using decorative threads?
  • Will you use the serger for more than just edge finishing sewing projects and crafts?
  • Do you plan to use the serger on large projects such as drapes and curtains which will require clean and neat seams?
  • Can you learn the various built-in stitches quickly?
  • Do you think you will use most, if not all, of those built-stitches?

Sergers typically cost more than the traditional sewing machines and even more than the newer digital models. You have to make sure that a serger is what you need, not just what you want. Purchase the serger from a reputable company to have the chance to give feedback, ask questions, and utilize the warranty which usually comes with the product.