A serger (also known as an overlocker) is a hemming machine that produces the professional, ready-made finish you see on professional garments. This look is achieved because the serger machine will hem, neaten edges, and trim excess fabric, all in one go.
Sergering enables you to create decorative hems. It also gives stretch to knitwear and jersey fabric seams.
It is important to note that sergers are not suitable, generally, for producing t-shirt hems. You would typically use a coverstitch machine for this. Also, as the serger trims fabric as it sews, you have very little margin for error. Sergers are, however, a popular and useful addition to the sewing room. They are an essential for the professional or semi-professional sewist.
Best Serger Machine Reviews
The Brother 1034D offers the option of sewing with three or four threads. It features 22 built in stitches, including specialty stitch for formal or bridal wear.
It is easy to learn and use, and offers high performance and reliability across a range of fabrics.
The brightly lit work space eliminates the need for a desk lamp. This saves space in your work area, whilst also being a practical benefit to those working on darker fabrics, or who struggle to see detail work.
The 1034D comes with a good range of basic accessories, and an accessory bag and soft machine cover. There is also an instructional DVD included.
The 1034D does not take kindly to running over pins whilst it is sergering. Unfortunately, sewing machines hitting pins, as any sewist of much experience will tell you, is an occupational hazard if you sew regularly.
The Singer 14CG754 Pro Finish features four built-in rolled hems, and the option of using 2, 3, or 4 stitches together. It also offers adjustable stitch length and width, which is great for customized projects.
At 1,300spm (stitches per minute), the Pro Finish is a fast worker. It also has the added benefit of allowing the blade to be moved out of the way, to prevent fabric being trimmed as you sew. This makes the Pro Finish ideal for novice serger machine users, as it allows you to go back and unpick incorrect stitching, etc. The Pro Finish is also a portable machine, which is useful if you will be using it in a classroom setting.
The Janome 8002D comes with a range of comprehensive accessories and features. This machine would suit those working with cottons and silks who are looking for a professional result. It is not recommended for those working with thick or heavy fabric.
The 8002D is a quiet machine when in use, making it ideal for apartments. It is also well-built and durable. As a good basic serger, the 8002D should last well.
The Siruba HSO-747D comes complete with a user manual which includes a helpful adjustment chart. This chart guides you through exactly how to adjust the machine settings to accommodate different thicknesses of fabric and different kinds of thread, etc.
There is a free arm sewing option, which enables sleeves and cuffs to be attached easily, and finished professionally. This makes this machine particularly appealing to individuals looking to create their own clothes, but who also want a professional, stylish look.
This is a fairly basic machine, and cannot handle heavy weight fabric. It is, however, a perfectly adequate machine for the beginner who is just starting out with serger machines.
Finally, the Juki MO644D is a portable serger machine, which is ideal for individuals wanting to take their serger to classes.
This is a versatile and durable machine, which can easily handle hemming thick wool.
While the M0644D can be a little difficult to thread, this is a small price to pay for the overall functionality. On the whole, this is a good, solid machine suitable for all abilities.
Sergers vs. Coverstitch Machines vs. Sewing Machines
Sergers are used to create professional, durable hems on fabrics such as knitwear, jersey, and denim. They trim and neaten the fabric as they sew. Coverstitch machines do not trim the fabric for you, and cannot produce the neatness a serger is capable of. They are, however, ideally suited to producing t-shirt hems, and the kind of raw hemming that is common in “Boho” and ethnic fashions. Sewing machines can produce a very basic zig zag hem, if you purchase the right machine. They can also do simple chain stitching, which is fine for crafting pillow slips and small, decorative items, but not suitable for garment work. A sewing machine will never produce a truly professional-looking hem.
In terms of price, sewing machines are the cheapest option, ranging from $20 for a basic starter machine, to $350 for a something that would be suitable for the professional hobbyist with a high volume workload. Coverstitch machines range from $350 to over $800, making them the most expensive option. It is advisable to think about whether you genuinely need a coverstitch machine, if your budget is limited; sergers are a more common addition to the craft room, and come in, typically, at between $150 to $500. As with almost everything in life, you get what you pay for. The higher price brackets yield machines that can handle a range of fabric types, including thick and heavy duty fabrics, and provide a greater range of stylizing options.
For those new to sewing, the order of purchase, machine wise, will usually be sewing machine-serger-coverstitch machine. The coverstitch machine is aimed more at the professional or semi-professional sewist. This is reflected in its pricing position, as the most expensive of the three machines.
In terms of features, the serger typically doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, as it is dedicated to hem work. Sewing machine features will vary depending on price – the more you pay, the more options you get. While a coverstitch machine is, like a serger, a single-purpose machine, a good coverstitch machine will offer a wider range of features than an equivalent serger. However, because of its multipurpose functionality, a sewing machine, even a fairly basic one, is always the go-to option if it’s feature-richness you’re after.
Sergers produce the strongest and most durable hem result. They can also offer a wider variety of hem styles. They are also better than coverstitch machines for decorative hems, and for adding edging fabric. Sewing machines are better suited to light craft work and domestic repairs, although they produce a reasonably strong chain stitch, which is suitable for joining fabric in, for example, a patchwork piece.