Serger Sewing Machine: How to Achieve Professional Stitching

How to Achieve Professional Stitching in a Short Time? A Serger Sewing Machine Has Your Back!

With a serger sewing machine, we’ll need some definitions right from the start. 

The word “overlocker” is synonymous with a serger sewing machine. The terms are interchangeable—overlocker (and overlocking as a verb) is used mainly in European countries, while serger/serging in stateside. 

A serger is a type of specialty sewing machine. It creates an overlock (serger) stitch using three or more thread sources, providing a professional-grade binding for fabric. Read more on Goldstar Tool.

A serger cannot replace a regular sewing machine, although it’s possible to complete some projects on the former. A regular machine will still be necessary for 

    • facings, 
    • zippers, 
    • topstitching, 
    • buttonholes, etc. 

i.e., tasks which a serger can’t do.

According to Sewing Machine Savvy, a serger wins a standard sewing machine over by making more professional and durable seams thanks to its multiple threads looped together. In addition, the threads lock around the seam to prevent fraying. 

Watch “How to Change Threads in Serger in 3 Minutes (Easy)” by Lynette A.:

You may also want to check out our blog to learn to sew and discover how to thread a sewing machine (a regular one). 

Sergers also give you the possibility to use a blade that cuts off the seam allowance as it sews.

Overlockers for beginners
Image source: We All Sew

Are you still wondering if you need a serger? Watch this video response on Thoughtful Creativity – CRAFT, SEW, DIY YouTube channel:

The author of the video uses two sergers by Brother sewing machine

    • Brother Lock 1034DX, and
    • Brother Designio DZ1234

She breaks down some common myths about sergers helping us discover if we actually need a serger. 

Serger sewing machine
Image source: Sewing Society

Serger sewing machine—how does it work?

What does a serger sewing machine do, and how does it differ from a regular one?

The primary function of the former is to create professional edges that resist fraying. We also use it to join two pieces of fabric together to create an extremely durable but stretchable seam (top choice for knits).

Important! In the hands of an experienced individual, a serger can do almost as much as a sewing machine. 

Here are the main differences:

Sewing machine Serger

To create a stitch, a sewing machine uses 

    • two threads, 
    • a needle,  
    • a bobbin;

A serger uses

    • three to five threads,
    • one or two needles,
    • no bobbin (doesn’t have one),
    • has several loopers to create seams, 
    • has blades that cut the fabric as you work;
Sewing machines have many stitching options.  Sergers don’t have multiple options for stitches—only overlock stitches.
Sewing machines sew the material. Segers sew and cut the material as you go. 
Sewing machines have average sewing speeds. Typically, a commercial, industrial sewing machine is the fastest.  Sergers perform at much faster speeds than sewing machines. 
Sergers only sew along the left side of the needles—plan your projects around that factor. Read more on Goldstar Tool

“Sewing Machine Types Explained” by Sewing Report is an excellent lesson about primary differences between various types of sewing machines: 

Thanks to We All Sew, we can not only learn how to sew with a serger but also get familiar with the basics. Read “Overlocker for Beginners—The Essential Overlock Stitch” to learn all the quirks of this device. Check also our sewing machine for beginners for regular models overview. 

According to We All Sew author Hayley Grzych:

“Threading is usually the most intimidating hurdle for folks new to overlockers […]. It’s not a difficult process, but it is certainly a process. Just be patient and take your time to thread all the appropriate guides. After you do it a few times, you’ll get the muscle memory down!”

Find out “How to Thread an Overlocker” in the other We All Sew article. 

Best serger sewing machine
Image source: We All Sew

A serger uses multiple threads to seam fabric while also overcasting to cover raw edges. 

We can utilize serger for 

    1. construction, 
    2. finishing, or 
    3. both at the same time;

Using serger can involve from two to eight threads, depending on the 

    • serger model, 
    • the stitch selected;

On average, most stitches or techniques use three or four threads. So the question that comes to mind is: What can a serger do that a sewing machine can’t?

Also, what’s the opportunity that you can grasp that fellow sewers may not be aware of?

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All you have to do is order custom woven labels, care labels, and/or hang tags

If you are:

    • DIY/clothing crafter at home,
    • textile/sewing fanatic,
    • small/starting clothing brand,
    • fashion designer, or
    • hotels, bars, and hospitality business 

and you support Super Label Store‘s mission to supply sustainable, affordable, and customized solutions—don’t think twice! 

According to Sew4Home, a serger allows you to 

    • sew a seam, 
    • trim the seam allowance, and 
    • overcast the edge all in one step; 

The stitch that enables it is called a 4-thread safety stitch, and you can create it on all sergers.

So, what are the top five reasons to add a serger to your sewing room ideas according to Sew4Home

    1. To secure and finish seams in one pass,
    2. To overcast raw edges,
    3. To make tiny, perfect rolled hems,
    4. To create flatlock seams,
    5. Because differential feed is super cool and helps edges to ease and flatten;

Overlocker serger stitch tutorial
Image source: Tilly and The Buttons

A big part of using a serger is knowing which sewing supplies to have at hand. 

    • tweezers L 450 and L 460 make it easy to reach into the tight spaces when threading, making it easy to thread loopers, needles; (our take on sewing machine needles here),
    • the brush helps to keep the lint at bay since sergers create a lot of lint, dust, and scraps because of cutting,
    • a can of compressed air—another good cleaning aid,

We All Sew in “Overlocker for Beginners An Introduction to Sergers” also advises to equip oneself with 

    • tapestry needles—a large-eye, blunt-tipped tapestry needle is perfect for securing thread chains at the end of your serged seams by weaving or tucking them back into the seam about an inch, 
    • an awl or stiletto—such pointed tools will benefit when feeding fabric close to the presser foot and the cutting knife. Move your sewing fabric around, keeping your precious fingers away from the danger!
    • Wonder Clips by Clover—keep a metal pin clear of the cutting knife as well. While you can (but shouldn’t) sew over pins on our standard sewing machine, this is an absolute no-no with a serger. You’ll damage your cutting knife severely if doing so, not to say how injured you can be by the potential shrapnel! All in all, you better get yourself a couple of Wonder Clips, and you’re ok,
    • elastic—if you work with lighter weight or super-stretchy knits, learn the trick where you’re layering clear elastic with knit seams. This small act can add stability to your project;

Best rated serger sewing machine
Image source: Art News

Common issues

Of course, it’s not all roses! 

With all the stunning advantages, there are a fair number of possible issues as in everything. 

According to Tilly and the Buttons, here’s what can happen when you’re using your serger:

    1. The loops from the right side are peeping out on the wrong side,
    2. The loops from the wrong side are pulling over to the right side,
    3. You can see the stitches from the right side when you pull the fabric pieces apart,
    4. The seam looks stretched out,
    5. The seam looks gathered,
    6. The threads snapped when you started sewing,
    7. When you stretched the finished seam, the stitches popped;

Find all the answers in the Tilly and the Buttons article. Read also our study regarding sewing machine repair

Sewing machine and serger
Image source: Tilly and the Buttons

Types of serger sewing machines

There are three main types of a serger. These machines are categorized by the number of threads used for each operation:

    1. a 2–4 thread serger makes a two-thread overlocked edge, 
    2. a 3–4 stitcher uses three or four threads, and 
    3. a 5-thread serger uses three threads for the overlocked edge, and two for the seam line—a serger with five threads gives you the option of a cover stitch. 

Serger overlock sewing machine
Image source: We All Sew

It’s beneficial to a sewer at every stage of their sewing adventure to have a look at “Different types of overlockers/sergers & stitches? Merrow, 3 Thread, 4 Thread, 5 Thread, 6 Thread” by the ABC Sewing Machine Inc.:

And since Grandma Likes to Sew also using a serger, her knowledge helped us to create the table below:

Types of serger stitches Description
3-thread serger stitch

It is best used on stretchy knits or woven fabrics that won’t have a lot of stress put on them. 

This stitch uses one needle, so it’s not very durable and, therefore, could be used to make a blink hem.

4-thread serger stitch

Most commonly used, especially to finish the seams on clothing. 

This option lets you create a strong, long-lasting, and durable seam.

Flatlock (2 or 3 thread)

Great for stretchy clothing like yoga pants or other athletic wear. It has a distinct stitching pattern: one side has loops, and the other has horizontal lines (or “ladders”). Flatlock creates a very flat and thin stitch, adding relatively little weight to your garment.

If you often use lightweight and sheer fabric, feel free to investigate 2-thread capabilities. 

2-thread rolled edge This variety of stitch, commonly called “rolled hem,” is typically used to create narrow seams on sheer fabrics. You’ll find it, for instance, on the edges of tablecloths and napkins. It’s a decorative stitch that adds a beautiful finishing.

This brief guide should help you choose the correct stitch for your project. As a rule of thumb, serger stitches are excellent at finishing seam edges and creating a stable, tight seam made to last.

Read also on Craftsy “The 5 Most Popular Types of Serger Stitches — and When to Use Them.”

What does a serger sewing machine do
Image source: We All Sew

And the ultimate question is—which we might have instead asked at the beginning of this article—do you have to have a serger?

A serger isn’t a piece of necessary sewing equipment. Yet, it makes life much easier on many of today’s fabrics. Moreover, it adds a lot of strength to seams (think children’s clothing). 

With a serger, the inside of your sewn items will look like they were manufactured—a feature that is more than desirable, especially for averagely experienced sewers. (read more on The Spruce Crafts)

Best-rated serger sewing machine

Are you on the lookout for the best serger sewing machine? We’re in it together!

Before you buy overlocker sewing machine, it’s worth having a look at as many options as possible. 

But before we see what the most recommended serger sewing machine choices are, let’s note down “Tips for Buying a Serger” by Blog.Treasurie:

    1. Choose one of the well-known brands such as Singer sewing machine, Brother, Juki, Pfaff, or Janome sewing machine. Not only will these brands last (as some of them have for the last hundred years), but they also come with convenient, customer-friendly warranties. Have a look at our best sewing machine overview.
    2. Do your best to try your machine out before purchasing it; It can be hard to arrange with a retailer but insist on it.
    3. Don’t get intimidated by the multiple spools of thread. Sergers use looper threads to lock in the needle thread. A self-threading machine will save you a lot of time in threading. These machines are more expensive but worth the candle,
    4. Choose 3-thread machines for smaller neat seams or 4-thread machines for regular and knit seams.
    5. Pick a model that is color-coded and has thread guides. These directions guide you and save you from grabbing your manual all the time.
    6. The manufacturer should clearly indicate oiling spots on the machine for your convenience of use.

Also, you mustn’t forget to take good care of your machine after you get it.

As you know, such appliances aren’t the cheapest—paying attention to their condition can significantly prolong their lives and protect you from further expenses. To learn how to look after your serger, read “Overlocker Care Cleaning Tips” on We All Sew

Cheap overlock sewing machine
Image source: Sewing Is Cool

What is a good serger sewing machine to find among a myriad of options available in the market?

The top choices presented in various reviews are:

    • Juki MO-1000 Serger,
    • Brother Serger DZ1234,
    • Brother 2340CV Coverstitch Serger,
    • Brother 1034D Heavy-Duty Serger,
    • Singer ProFinish 14CG754 Serger,
    • Singer 14T9668DC Professional Serger,
    • Brother ST4031HD Serger,
    • Janome 8002D Serger,
    • Juki MO654DE Portable Serger,
    • Juki MO654DE Serger,
    • Janome MyLock 634D Serger,

The list is relatively homogenous, with no Baby Lock sewing machine and serger making the shortlist. Yet, also this brand has a few popular models, such as 

    • Baby Lock Acclaim,
    • Baby Lock Accolade,
    • Baby Lock Celebrate,
    • Cover Stitch BLCS-2,
    • Baby Lock Diana

Discover them on Serger Pro.

What is a good serger sewing machine

Image source: Chicago Tribune

What’s the best serger overlock sewing machine, according to Bob Vila? The author goes with Brother Serger DZ1234 (for $349.99 on Amazon).

Basic sergers cost $200, so this model isn’t relatively a cheap overlock sewing machine, but it isn’t too expensive either. 

Typical sergers have two to four threads, and more costly ones (the price of high-end models can be even up to several thousand dollars) exhibit up to five threads. Some sophisticated sergers will also have differential feeds that allow for extra adjustment. 

Serger sewing machine reviews
Image source: We All Sew

Brother Serger DZ1234 is a reasonably simple serger sewing machine.

It’s compact, powerful, and features 

    • 22 built-in stitches, 
    • a mat to keep the machine steady while in use,
    • the impressive speed of 1,300 stitches per minute, 
    • adjustable stitch length (between 2 and 4 millimeters),
    • adjustable stitch width,
    • includes three accessory feet;

This serger’s foot attachments adjust to accommodate thicker fabrics, but it’s not the best machine for heavier textiles. (read about sewing leather and leather sewing machine). 

The color-coded guides are a user-friendly option to make manual threading simple. 

Brother Serger DZ1234’s motor may be pretty noisy, and the machine is comparatively heavy.

Best overlocker sewing machines
Image source: Gathered

If you’re wondering what is the best serger sewing machine to buy for a low price, you’ll find something suitable among these models (by Threads Monthly):

    • Brother 3034DWT,
    • Brother 2104D,
    • Brother M343D,
    • Elna 664,

On the other hand, on the same website, you’ll find “Beginner overlockers to avoid (5 brands).” We recommend looking at this selection with a few sentences of explanation. 

Another pick by Bob Vila is Brother ST4031HD Serger.

This machine is moderately affordable ($379.99), sturdy, powerful, and speedy, featuring 1,300 stitches per minute.

Brother ST4031HD Serger has

    • 3- and 4-thread options, 
    • a heavy-duty metal frame,  
    • multiple foot attachments,
    • removable trim trap,
    • user-friendly color-coded thread guides on the machine, 
    • a wide, adjustable table (will do wonders for larger projects).

It’s a durable serger, different from its plastic counterparts. However, this model is not suitable for sewers using elastic thread with their machine.

These are just two cons to keep in mind: replacement parts for this serger are hard to find, and it isn’t as tough on heavy or thick fabrics as expected.

Types of serger sewing machines
Image source: YouTube

Go to Sewing Crafter for “Top 4 Best Brother Serger Reviews” or dig into serger sewing machine reviews best on Gathered for more brands’ variety. 

If you’re looking for a Singer sewing machine with a serger function, you’ll be happy to get to know the Singer SES1000.

It’s a computerized sewing machine, embroidery sewing machine, and serger, all built into one model. 

Now there’s no excuse from putting all the craziest projects you’ve even imaged to life! 

Get to know Singer SES1000 on Sewing Machines Plus