What to Look For in a Serger

What to Look For in a Serger
What to Look For in a Serger
Page 1
Not long ago, sergers were only available
for commercial use. The machines were
huge, heavy and impractical for home
sewers. Fortunately, the market has
changed and there are wonderful
assortments of industrial-quality sergers, at
a variety of price points, designed
specifically for home sewers.
What is a Serger?
A serger is a special-purpose machine that
produces professionally finished seams, like
those found on ready-to-wear garments. It
uses between two and nearly a dozen
threads to encase the raw edge of the
fabric with an overcast stitch, while
trimming away the seam allowance—all at
speeds of up to 1,700 stitches per minute.
Instead of a bobbin and single needle, the
serger has a cutting blade, “loopers” and
multiple needles.
Sergers are used to clean-finish the seam
allowances although today’s models can do
far more than that, and they have become
increasingly easy to operate, creatively
diverse in their stitch capability and more
economical than ever.
What Sergers Do
• Finish seams and edges
• Sew stretch seams
• Embellish with decorative thread
• Embellish with flatlock, chainstitch or
• Reduce puckering and rippling on
hard-to-sew fabrics
• Apply elastic and other trims
• Hem sheer and lightweight fabrics
without puckering
• Hem garments with coverstitch
• Edge-finish reversible items
• Execute beautiful rolled hems
• Finish with decorative edgings
• Gather fabric (differential-feed
• Speed up construction time
What Sergers Don’t Do
• Baste
• Sew in reverse
• Install zippers
• Make buttonholes
• Embroider
• Topstitch (unless the machine is
capable of coverstitching)
What Does a Serger Do?
A serger does not replace a sewing
machine. Its primary function is to cleanfinish a raw edge, giving the project a
professional appearance. Many serger
stitches have built-in stretch, making them
the perfect tool for seaming knit fabrics.
the eyes of the
loopers are
larger than the
eyes of sewing
needles and
can therefore
Bernina 800D
About Serger Stitches
As the number of needles and loopers
increases, so does the diversity of the
stitches; and as the stitch diversity
increases, so does the price. Once you
understand the stitches, you can ask a
serger dealer which machine best suits your
needs. For information on types of serger
stitches and what they're used for, see
Guideline 2.220.
Features to Look For
Everyone has different serger needs;
however, most agree that the following key
features are worth investigating.
What to Look For in a Serger
Threading Ease: Nothing is more frustrating than a
machine that is too difficult to use. Thread and rethread
any machine you’re considering buying. Be sure you
know how to thread the lower looper; it’s usually the
most challenging thread path. Most sergers have colorcoded thread paths and lay-in threading.
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Ask yourself:
• Will you use the
machine for more
than edge finishes?
• Will you seam knits?
Differential Feed: This adjusts the movement of the
feed dogs, and therefore how the fabric feeds, to
eliminate puckers, stretching and ripples in seams. It
can also be adjusted to gather the fabric.
• Will you experiment
with decorative
Included Accessory Feet: The more accessories that
are included with the machine, the better. They’re quite
expensive to buy separately.
• Will you embellish
fabric with the
flatlock stitch?
Instructional Classes and On-Site Repair: If possible,
take classes to learn all the functions of the machine.
Hands-on experience will help you get the most
mileage from your purchase. Ask if classes and/or an
instructional video are included in the cost of the
• Will you be sewing curtains, drapes and other large
items that require clean seams?
LCD Screen: Found on more-expensive machines, the
display panel indicates machine adjustment
information for all the various stitches.
Conversion Ease: Be sure to ask how the machine
converts from a standard serger stitch to a rolled hem
or chainstitch. Sometimes it’s a button/dial; sometimes
it involves disengaging a thread path or adding a
conversion plate. How do you disengage the
Pfaff Hobbylock 4842
Determine how much you think you will use a serger,
familiarize yourself with the various stitches and then
take time to visit at least two serger dealers. Have the
dealer demonstrate the machine and explain its stitch
capability. Practice threading several different models
before making a purchase. If possible, purchase your
serger from a dealer so you have the opportunity to
take classes, ask follow-up questions and utilize
convenient repair and maintenance service.
Do You Need or Want a Serger?
Do you need a serger? Probably no. Do you want a
serger? Most certainly yes!
Both beginning and experienced sewers benefit from
tools that simplify sewing and make professional results
easier. Most sewing machines have an overlock or
overcast stitch in their library of stitches, so why do you
need a serger? You don’t really need one, but they’re
nice to have, and, while a sewing machine can certainly
perform an overcast stitch, it can’t cut the fabric as it
stitches, and it can’t use the thicker, decorative threads
that are so popular. And most sewing machines don’t
sew anywhere near as fast as sergers.
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