What is a Serger Sewing Machine?
A serger sewing machine is a complex machine that can be used for a variety of sewing projects such as edging fabrics, finishing a seam, and hemming clothing. The machine also trims excess fabric from the edge as it sews. In countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, the word “overlock” machine is used widely in place of a serger machine. Overlock is also the name giving to the type of stitches produced by a serger machine. In professional circles, this type of stitch is also referred to as a “merrow.”
A serger trims the edges of fabrics and encases it in thread. The edges are stitched with overlocking stitches to make them look beautiful as well as prevent them from unraveling and fraying. The machine can also be used to sew actual seams. The machine uses multiple spools of thread at a time to sew the overlock stitches. As a general rule of thumb, the more threads the machine uses, the tighter the stitches.
What type of Serger Sewing Machine Should I Buy?
Sergers are typically classified by the number of threads they come with. They can use 2,3,4, and 5 threads at a time. You generally use the 2 and 3 thread to overcast the edges of a single-ply fabric before folding the edge back to sew a traditional hem. If you have a baby onesie at home, this is usually the type of stitching you’ll find on the sleeves. So if you are sewing a type of clothing that will not be overly stressed or pulled apart, this is the type of stitching you should get.
For other types of projects such as shirts, you’ll need a four-thread or five thread serger. This can be used to make seams and makes the most durable edges. If you are wearing a shirt at this very moment, you’ll notice that the sides are often sewn with a four or five thread serger. You’ll see this if you look at the inside of the side seams. Please note that not all higher thread machines can sew with a lower number of threads. For example, some four-thread sergers might not be able to sew with two threads. You’ll want a machine that is adaptive if you’re going to work with a varying number of threads.
If you are someone who wants to sew as a source of income, you need to invest in a five thread serger machine. If you are a crafter or casual sewer, a four-thread serger should be enough to give you the same effect as a five-thread unit.
Who Should Buy A Serger Sewing Machine?
Before deciding to buy this type of sewing machine, please note that a serger is not a replacement for your regular sewing machine (see my best sewing machines list on our homepage). But, if you sew projects such as curtains and drapes, you’ll most likely need a serger. Those who sew commercially also often need a serger. For the casual hobbyist or home sewer, a serger is not essential but adds a professional finish to your projects if you have one.
Features of a Serger Sewing Machine
Sergers are often separated by the number of threads they can sew simultaneously. Apart from this, sergers also come with some basic features. These include speed, feed differential, and a slew of user-friendly features.
Feed Differential of a Serger Sewing Machine
This mechanism smoothly pushes the fabric into the cutting and sewing part of the machine. The differential feed is often found on newer models. When shopping for a serger machine, look for this feature as it makes feeding the fabric through the machine much more straightforward. This feature will have ratios that range from 0.6 mm to 2.0 mm. This is the rate at which the fabric is pushed through the machine. A higher ratio means that the machine will push more fabric through than it will pull.
You must pick a machine with a differential feed feature because you can then adjust the mechanism to sew through different types of fabrics. This also helps to prevent the material from puckering or rippling. The adjustable nature of the feed also makes it easier for you to gather fabrics to make ruffles.
The best serger sewing machines will sew through your fabric faster than a traditional sewing machine will. When considering sergers to buy, look for one that can sew at a speed of at least 1,500 stitches per minute (SPM). Some machines record this speed as revolutions per minute (RPM). Just know that both of these terms refer to the same thing. A faster machine means more efficient use of your time as you sew quicker and with less effort than a slower machine. But keep in mind that generally, the faster the machine, the more expensive it is.
User-Friendly Features of a Serger Sewing Machine.
Some convenient, user-friendly features to look out for in a serger machine include a threading guide, easy access to the threading section, a basic stitch to roll hem conversion feature, an easy way to unfasten the cutting knife, and an easy way to change the stitch width and length.
Accessories of a Serger Sewing Machine
Sergers often come with a range of accessories that make it easier for you to complete your projects. Some of these accessories to look out for include
- Tweezers – In some sergers, there are small interior threading areas which are not easily accessible. You’ll use the tweezers to grab the thread and easily wind it through the machine.
- Padding and Trim Catcher – A serger can bounce around and vibrate during sewing. This can cause damage to the surface of the sewing table. Also, the excess fabric trimmed by the machine will fall to the floor. With a padding and trim catcher, you slide it underneath the machine, and it will catch the trimmed off fabrics and serve as a cushion between the machine and the table. It also keeps the machine in place during sewing.
- Foot Variations – A good serger machine will come with a variety of foot attachments to help you accomplish various sewing tasks easily. Some of the foot attachments include elastic, lace, beading, shirring, and cording.
- Mat – Some machines will come with a mat that can be placed underneath the machine. This will reduce the amount of noise the machine makes during sewing and also help keep the machine in place.
Selecting the Best Serger Sewing Machine
I have personally used a few of these machines and the others I’ve chosen based on research and talking to friends and other sewers. For the price, features, build quality, and user-friendliness, I’ve concluded that the best serger from an all-around standpoint is the Brother 1034D. Does this mean I believe it is the best serger out there? No, you can buy better sergers than this, but those are often very expensive and likely out of the average consumer’s range.