How many times have you wished you could sew with multiple needles and threads? Ever wish you can sew multiple seams or hems? With a serger sewing machine, you can do these with ease. Here we’ll show you three of the highest rated serger machines out there today, with a quick breakdown of each.
Whether you’re new to sewing in general, or you just haven’t used a serger, these machines may appear to be complicated, scary looking contraptions. They really aren’t, but it does take more time and experience to get comfortable with a serger than with a standard sewing machine.
Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger
This machine is ideal for sewing projects that require decorative finishing stitches on stretch and linen fabric. The Brother 1034D also will produce rolled hems for slipcovers and pillows. It can join delicate lace fabrics without snagging and also produce those difficult narrow spaghetti straps with ease.
Use this machine for serging narrow sleeves, creating ruffles and also for arts and crafts projects. Priced at under $200 on Amazon, the Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger with easy lay in threading with differential feed is a great gift for a sewing beginner or for an advanced user who needs a more versatile machine.With the Brother 1034D 3 or 4 Thread Serger, beginners will find several convenient features:
- Built-in threading
- Adjustable differential feed
- Threading system with lower looping
- Stitch finger for rolled and narrow edging
- Ribbon locking stitch
- Low noise
- Choice of 22 stitches
- Equipped with standard sewing needles
- Two snap-on feet
The Brother Designio Series DZ1234 Serger
The Brother Designio Series DZ1234 serger weighs 18 pounds and is great for arts and crafts. Sewing enthusiasts find this machine is also great for working with apparel. One quick hint is to redesign clothing using this machine’s many features. Change the style of suits and dresses and children’s clothing easily.
The Brother Designio Series DZ1234 serger is a top of line serger sewing machine for beginners with numerous features. It’s priced under $250 on Amazon. Some features to consider are:
- Gathering and Piping feet
- 1300 stitches per minute power
- Blind hem stitch foot
- Free arm
- Flat bed sewing surface
- Differential feed ratio of 0.2 to 0.7 to improve quality of stitching
- Stitch width control of 3.0 mm to 7.0 mm
- Simple upper and lower loop threading
Singer 14CG754 ProFinish 2-3-4 Thread Serger
This serger is ideal for beginners, but will provide tons of value over its lifetime. The DVD it comes with provides instructions that make it possible to begin using this machine immediately. It’s a sturdily built machine that also features free arm serging for difficult projects like cuffs and sleeves.
This machine makes short work of rolled hems and seams and the feed differential prevents bunching with bulkier fabrics. It’s priced under $200 on Amazon, which makes it affordable for beginners who want more sewing freedom.The Singer ProFinish is a 2-3-4 thread serger that lives up to the Singer reputation for excellent quality. It has several attractive features:
- Color coded threads that lay in easily
- Adjustable stitch length and width
- Automatic fabric trimming
- 1300 spm (stitches per minute)
- Wrapped edge overlock stitching
- Rolled overlock stitching
- Numbered tension dials with one-turn
What Exactly is a Serger Sewing Machine?
At first glance, a serger sewing machine looks slightly different than a regular sewing machine. A more in depth review of the serger shows the big advantages this type of machine offers.
A serger sewing machine has three, four or even five thread overlocks and fabric feed differentials. Originally, these machines were used mainly in the garment districts by professional seamstresses.
With the addition of computerized mechanisms, even beginners make great use of serger sewing machines. The difference is that instead of one small thread tower, a serger machine can have three of more thread towers for longer, complex sewing projects.A serger sewing machine produces what was once called “overlocking” stitches.
You’ve likely seen these stitches many times on fabrics with overlocked seams and hems. Look for the stitching to be sewn with several threads so the final result appears as a solid formation of threads.
There are several types of serger stitches. These include from one to four formations of threads on rolled hems and fine pintuck pleating on blouses and skirts. Often, these stitches are used for decorative purposes. For example: With the one-thread stitch, the final result looks similar to zig zag stitches with a longer threaded stitch vertically. This stitch is produced with a single thread about 5/8 inches wide and 12 stitches to the inch. The two thread stitch will produce 20 1/8 inch stitches per inch.
It’s best for beginners to start with a serger sewing machine to learn the unbridled freedom this type sewing machine offers. They work as well on cotton fabrics as they do on polyesters.
Unlike standard sewing machines, the multiple thread options take sewing to a more advance level using the simplest, computerized features. The choices of stitches, ease of use for different hems and edgings and the host of convenient features make this the ideal choice for beginners.
Why Do I Need A Serger?
You don’t need a serger. Home sewers have been creating beautiful, quality clothing, accessories and decorating products for over 150 years without the benefits of a serger. You also don’t need an electric mixer or a blender, but they sure make cooking a lot easier, faster and efficient.
A serger produces a sturdy, fray-free edge to fabrics and can stitch while overlocking seams. It also can make strong, break-resistant seams for knit fabrics, sew rolled hems and do a number of decorative sewing chores.
Is A Serger The Same As An Overlock Machine?
These terms are generally used interchangeably. The machines vary in the number of functions they can perform and may use two, three, four or five threads – up to eight threads, depending on the brand, make and model.
Just as Kleenex has become synonymous with facial tissue, Baby Lock is often used as a generic term for a serger. This is a misnomer, as Baby Lock is a company that manufactures both sewing machines and sergers.
Can I Do Regular Sewing Projects On A Serger?
You’d be surprised how much of a sewing job you can do with a serger, but there are several exceptions. You can’t sew in a zipper or make a buttonhole with a serger. For things like lined yokes or shirt cuffs, there isn’t any virtue in using a serger, as the seams are hidden within the two layers of fabric.
However, you can do the bulk of your sewing on a serger. If you’ve been using a zigzag stitch on a standard sewing machine to prevent fraying after stitching a seam, you can cut your sewing time in half as the serger seams and overlocks in one step.
What Else Can I Do With A Serger?
Here again, it depends on what features your machine has. They all can be used to do tiny rolled hems, and you can make ruffles or gathers by changing the differential feed.
Some machines do a cover stitch. A cover stitch is a two or three thread hemming stitch used on t-shirts and knits. A cover stitch makes quick work of your hemming jobs.
What Are All Those Knobs And Dials?
There seems to be a lot of mysterious dials and settings on a serger. Here’s where the scary part comes in, and it’s a good time to get your machine’s manual. Every make and model may have these dials and settings placed a bit differently, but every machine has some basic form of these settings.
These dials are typically on top of your machine. There is a dial for each needle and each of the lower and upper loopers. They are often color-coded. Just as you suspect, they regulate the tension of the thread as it passes through to the needle. They’re usually set by the manufacturer for standard stitching tension.
This is the pressure the foot maintains on the fabric. It’s usually set to a higher pressure for heavyweight fabrics, and a lower setting is used for lightweight materials.
Whew – here’s one that’s easy to understand. The higher you set the number, the further apart the stitches appear. As you reduce the number, the stitches become closer together.
If you look at the area under the machine’s foot, you’ll see two rows of teeth or feed dogs. When the dial is set to one, they move in tandem, so the fabric remains flat as it moves through the machine.
Changing the setting makes the feed dogs shift at different rates. If you set the dial to two, one set of teeth moves twice the speed of the second, and the fabric gathers as it’s stitched. This is a fast and easy way to make gathered ruffles.
Stitch Cutting Width Adjuster
Your machine’s cutting blade can move to make a wider or narrower serged edging. Too narrow an edge can be unstable when stressed and the loop stitches will hang away from the fabric while too wide an edge can cause the fabric to curl under the stitching loops. If you don’t want to cut the seam allowance, you can disengage the knife completely.
Needle Plate Setting
Stitching a rolled hem requires a very narrow looper stitch. Looper stitches are formed around the stitch finger prongs. You can disengage one of the fingers to create the narrow, rolled hem used for lingerie, handkerchiefs or napkins.
Create A Cheat Sheet Of Stitches
Take time to learn what changing those dials can do to your stitching. You didn’t learn to make a perfect buttonhole or install a perfect zipper the first time you tried, so don’t expect to know everything about your serger the day you open the box.
For practicing, it’s a good idea to use a different color thread for each needle. Now you can easily see which thread is used in what capacity.
Learn what changing the tension, differential feed, stitch width and length does to your seam. First, make sure you know and write down what the standards are for the settings. That way, it’s easy to go back after experimenting.
Cut up a bunch of pieces of fabric and start playing with the different settings. Move a setting from low to high and sew a different fabric for each setting change. You can staple the examples on sheets of paper and write the settings for each. This becomes your master index of all the setting combinations.
Every time you want to try a new technique, make a new sheet with a stitched sample and written settings. Soon you’ll know what to expect from your machine and how to use it in a wide variety of projects.
Cleaning A Serger
Because the serger is cutting the fabric as it stitches, lint can build up inside the machine quickly. That lint can bog down the machine and even jamb it. Get in the habit of cleaning at the end of every sewing session.
You can use a soft brush to get in the crevasses, but for really easy cleaning, get a container of canned air. A quick spritz with canned air takes only seconds and does a good job of dislodging lint and threads.
You can also use a Q-tip dipped in rubbing alcohol to get into small spaces. Never use water, as moisture on metal causes rust.
Those big cones of serger thread are the most economical threads to use on your serger. Yes, you can use regular thread, even though it’s slightly thicker. However, you go through it quickly, and you’ll find it’s a very expensive alternative.
How Do I Thread A Serger?
This is a tricky question, which is why the above video should be very helpful for you. Furthermore, some sergers are much easier to thread than others. If you throw enough money at something, you can get the biggest, best, easiest or most desirable of virtually anything. If you want to spend a lot of money – and by that, I mean over a thousand dollars – then threading a serger can be a piece of cake.
Many higher-end sergers have a self-threading function, so you don’t need to worry about a thing. However, if you’re a beginner and just want to get your feet wet in the world of serging, it can be a pretty costly purchase.
Sergers costing less than one thousand dollars do not come with the self-threading feature, so you need to learn how to thread them yourself. Here’s where the question of ease in threading becomes important.
Most sergers need to be threaded in a particular order. If you don’t follow that order, they will not sew properly or may jam. There are also many steps to thread each of the spools. It gets very frustrating to change colors when you have up to eight threads to replace.
Photos, diagrams and written instructions help, but they only go so far. The best way to learn is by watching someone thread the needles. If you aren’t attending a class, there are online videos that are very helpful.
Unless you absolutely have to, don’t change the threads. Use white or beige as you standard serger thread color; the stitching is on the inside, so it doesn’t show. Look at ready-to-wear clothes. They all tend to use white thread, regardless of the color of the garment.
If you must change spools, don’t remove the threads. Cut the thread up near the spool so you have a tail. Tie that end to the new color thread and gently pull it through the threading maze until you get to the needle. Then, if you can’t pull the knot through the eye of the needle or looper, you can cut if off at that point and thread the eye.