The Complete Guide to Choosing a Serger Sewing Machine
Thinking of adding some more creativity to your sewing? If so then a serger sewing machine is exactly what you need. It will not only help you add a decorative flair to your projects, but it will also improve your overall sewing skills.
Whether you are making homemade clothes, pillow cases, drapes, curtains, napkins or what have you, a serger will give it that professional finish it deserves. Many people, including some very experienced sewers, spend a lot of time and energy creating seams using ordinary sewing machines.
I would NEVER recommend that. It is a very tiring process that takes way too much time. And in the end the seam might not even be as good as you would like it to be. Why? Because that is the job of a serger, not your ordinary sewing machine. Now, before we get into the nitty-gritty details of serging, how about we start from the basics…
Serger sewing machines comparison chart
|Picture||Brand & Model||Thread Capabilities||Ratings||Price|
|Brother Serger 1034DX||4 or 3||(4.4 / 5.0)||$$$|
|Singer ProFinish Serger||4 - 3 - 2||(4.0 / 5.0)||$$|
|Brother Designio Serger||4 or 3||(4.4 / 5.0)||$$|
|Singer Professional 5||5-4-3-2||(4.1/ 5.0)||$$$|
Brother 2340CV Serger
(4.3 / 5.0)
Juki MO654DE Portable Serger
(4.6 / 5.0)
Juki MO654DE Portable Serger
(4.3 / 5.0)
Singer 14J250 Serger
(3.7 / 5.0)
Singer 14J250 Serger
4 - 3
(4.0 / 5.0)
Juki Pearl Line Serger
(4.3 / 5.0)
What Is a Serger Sewing Machine?
By simple definition, a serger sewing machine is a machine that can be used to trim and enclose a seam edge/allowance within a thread casing in just one step. It is exceptionally good for finishing clean seams, edging fabrics and hemming clothes.
Part of the reason is because it trims excess fabric on the edges as it sews. The machine then encases the edge in thread leaving a nice and beautiful finish to your project. The best serger sewing machines usually create overlocking stitches that are not only pleasing to the eyes but also strong enough not to unravel.
It is because of the overlocking stitches that serger sewing machines are at times called “Overlock” machines. You will hear a lot of that name in the UK and Australia. The overlocking stitch made by the machine is also known as a “merrow” (especially in professional circles).
How Is a Serger Different From an Ordinary Sewing Machine?
Most of us are well-versed in sewing machines. It is the machine that we all start with when getting into sewing.
A sewing machine basically stitches two or more fabrics together. On the front side, the seam made by a sewing machine usually looks awesome. But when you turn it around you may be shocked to see pesky leftover bits of the material. They are called seam allowances or edges.
The problem with seam allowances is that at some point they will fray at the edges. If you do a decent job then at best you will end up with strings hanging out. At worst the whole edge will fray and the pieces of material will separate. You definitely don’t want that happening to your garment or any garment you have worked on for that matter.
Now most people usually resort to using pinking shears to cut the seam edges. Others create zigzag stitches as a form of reinforcement. Well, both methods might hold the materials of your garment together but they are still prone to fraying and will have hanging threads. In short, they don’t make an ideal solution. And that is where a serger machine comes in.
A serger sewing machine is a finishing tool designed specifically to solve the problem of seam allowance. Its operation takes two main steps. First it makes a clean cut on the edge of the fabric. Secondly, the machine wraps multiple threads around that edge to create a strong and nice looking enclosing. The exact number of threads varies depending on the machine.
Having said that, the very best serger sewing machines have as many as 5. But you can still make a good seam with 2 or 3 threads. Ultimately the resultant edge will be strong enough not to fray under any circumstance.
In short, your serger machine is a perfect complement to your ordinary sewing machine. It is not a replacement for the regular machine. First you create the project using the sewing machine and the finish its seam allowances using a serger machine.
Advantages of Using a Serger Sewing Machines
The short story is that serger sewing machines make it easy to create strong and beautiful seams. The long story is that they bring so much to table. You most certainly won’t get the service that serger machines offer in a regular sewing machine. Here are just a few reasons why you need to consider picking up one of them for your projects:
- Finish seams in a secure and nice looking way with just a single pass
- Create perfect rolled hems
- Overcast raw edges to prevent fraying
- Create stretchy as well as flatlock seams that are more durable
Things to Consider When Buying a Serger
Picking the best serger sewing machine is the key to finishing your sewing projects in a classy and easy way. The problem is there are literally tens of serger brands on the market today. And new models are being released faster than you can keep up. So how do you ensure that the one you pick is in fact the best one for you? Here are the things to keep in mind:
#1: Your level of experience
This is perhaps the single most important consideration. You don’t want a machine that is beyond your serging skills because it will frustrate your effort and may make you lose interest in sewing altogether. At the same time, one that is too basic might hinder your creative progress, especially if you are an advanced sewer. Basically you need to find one that matches your level of skills. Feel free to use the recommendation below:
Best serger sewing machine for beginners
The best serger sewing machine reviews recommend entry level units for beginners, and rightfully so. Such models offer the most basic functions – only those that you need to learn the skill of serging.
However, they still offer an appealing opportunity for finishing your projects in a pleasant way. Beginner sergers are usually the most affordable so don’t expect to spend so much on one. But most of them will not offer such features as coverstitching, automatic tension control and automatic threading.
One good example of a beginner serger sewing machine is the Singer 14CG754 Pro. It comes pre-threaded, which makes your work a lot easier.
Best serger sewing machine for intermediates
If you are an intermediate in sewing you need to be looking at machines with mid-range price tags. They typically do basic stitching but their seams are more reliable than what you will get from a beginner model. At this point you can also consider going for an automatic serger that can thread and adjust tension easily.
A unit to consider is the JUKI MO644D. Equipped with a multi-function presser foot, this machine appears in many best serger sewing machine reviews because of its high speed, ease of use, and built-in seam guides.
Best serger sewing machine for advanced sewers
Sergers made for advanced sewers offer a ton of special functions in addition to everything that basic and intermediate sergers do. Besides being very durable, most of them feature automatic threading, tension control and coverstitching.
The Brother 3234DT is one such serger. Known for creating professional edges, this machine brings several bonus features to the table. With it you get a removable tray for clippings, extra feet, automatic threader and many more handy features.
#2: Type of serger
Sergers are usually classified by the number of threads they use. In which case you can either have a 2, 3, 4 or 5-thread serger. Your choice depends on how you plan to use it. For instance, 2 and 3-thread sergers are generally great for single ply fabrics. They make excellent seams on the sleeves. For other edges and seams like those found on the neck you may need a 4 or 5-thread serger. Industrial-grade models go as high as 8.
The best serger sewing machines are actually adaptive. They can support 2 to 5 threads, depending on what you need. If you are shopping for a long-term machine that may be the way to go.
#3: Automatic or manual?
Threading is definitely not one of the most enjoyable parts of sewing especially if you are a beginner. Sometimes it even becomes annoying. If you can get one that does automatic threading that would be a plus. Otherwise you may have to rely on user manuals to figure out how to thread the serger in the particular manner it should be threaded.
#4: Differential feed
A serger’s differential feed makes it possible to create various decorative styles like ruffles, edge finishing etc. Usually, serger machines have two feed dogs whose task is to push the fabric. The feed dogs are controlled by the differential feed. The whole feature is known as “differential fabric feed ratio” and is usually given as a decimal number. Most home-based sergers have that rate between 0.70 and 2.0.
If the tension of the serger’s thread is too tight it (the thread) might break. If it’s too low you won’t get the desired flat seam. That is why you need the perfect thread tension. If you are an expert at threading machines you can get it right even after manual threading. Otherwise, you may need to purchase an automatic serger machine that determines thread tension automatically.
How Much Should You Pay For A Serger Sewing Machine?
So, with all that in mind, how much should the best serger machine cost? If you are just getting started with serging you can go for an entry-level model. They typically cost anything between $200 and $350.
Intermediate serger machines are slightly costlier than entry level ones. You may need to have a budget that stretches to $500, $600 or $700 if you want a reliable model. And if you are more interested in a high-end unit it may set you back as much as $1,500 or even more.
But do not break the bank in an attempt to purchase one of these devices. The best serger machine is not necessarily the most expensive. At times it boils down to the brand. Renowned brands like Singer, Brother, JUKI and Janome usually have an excellent product line to choose from.
If you’ve come this far it means you’re ready to take your sewing to the next level. That means it’s time to add a serger sewing machine to your tools of sewing. With this guide you’re guaranteed to pick the best serger sewing machine from the hundreds or perhaps thousands of models available on the market today.
Just remember that your level of skills play a major role in your decision. So do the features of the machine, including its type, differential feed, tension and whether it is manual or automatic. Now go on and make those beautiful crafts for the world to see.