When you’re starting to work with different types of sewing projects, or even when you’re just starting out, there’s a lot of information that might be a little confusing. One of those things might be whether or not there’s a difference between a sewing machine and serger, and if there is, what makes them different. Today, we’re taking a look at that question, as well as others, and then bringing together some serger reviews for your benefit.
What is a Serger?
An overlock is a type of specialized stitch that is used in sewing over the edge of one or more pieces of cloth for seaming, edging or hemming. Overlock sewing machines, known as sergers in North America, will normally remove the edge of a cloth as it is fed through. By including the process of automated cutters, this allows the overlock machines to create finished seams effortlessly.
This type of sewing machine is known for being run at high speeds ranging from 1000 to 9000 rotations per minute, or stitches per minute. A common stitch per minute count with sergers is 1,300.
Sergers are mostly known in the industry for being used for edging, seaming, and hemming a variety of fabric projects. This type of stitch work is versatile and can be used for all kinds of construction, reinforcement, and decoration in various types of fabric items.
Other terms for overclocking and serging are overedging and merrowing.
- METAL FRAME: The Brother 2340CV is a sturdy coverstitch-dedicated serger made with a metal frame and internal parts. The two needle 2-3-4 cover stitch functions are great for working with stretch fabrics, as well as creating necklines and hems
- HIGH PERFORMANCE: Featuring tri-cover stitch, wide and narrow coverstitches along with easy-to-follow color coded threading and cover stitch capability of 3mm to 6mm for thicker materials
- 1,100 STITCHES PER MINUTE: The 2340CV has a maximum sewing speed of up to 1,100 stitches per minute allowing you to serger more in less time
- EASY TO THREAD: A fast thread looper system, color-coded guides on machine, and lay-in threading make the C2340CV easy to use
- INCLUDED ACCESSORY FEET: A standard foot plus blind stitch and gathering foot are included with the 2340CV
How Does a Serger Differ from a Sewing Machine?
Although some projects can be done one hundred percent on a serger, a serger cannot replace a regular sewing machine. You will still need a regular machine for facings, zippers, topstitching, buttonholes, et cetera, as sergers cannot do these jobs.
What sets apart a serger from a sewing machine is the stitch being used. Sergers, also known as overlocking sewing machines, was first used only in industrial settings.
As technology advanced, it was possible to create smaller machines that still produced the same sort of stitch standard that could be found in the full-sized machine.
Today, serger sewing machines can be found in households around the world.
While today’s sewing machines offer a variety of stitches, there are still just three basic stitching methods in which sewing machines are classified.
1. Chain Stitches
Chain stitches are the method which was used by the earliest sewing machines. This would involve just one thread and one hooked needle that would mimic a hand stitch. While this was a technical marvel at the time, the chain stitch was proven to be weak and could only be used in straight lines.
2. Lock Stitches
Lockstitch machines are the type of sewing machines that are the most commonly found in homes today. This is a stitching method that utilizes a metal bobbin that is right under the stitch plate and uses a small spool of thread while there is another spool on top of the machine.
The top thread gets passed through a tension mechanism and then goes through the eye of the sewing machine needle. With every revolution, the needle goes through the fabric and pulls the top of the thread through the bottom below the stitch plate, grabs the bottom thread, and locks the thread and fabric together.
3. Overlock Stitches
The overlock stitch is used by the serger sewing machine. The great advantage of this is that it finishes the edge of the fabric and utilizes built-in cutters to remove any excess. Depending on the type of stitch needed, the serger uses anywhere from one to five thread cones.
These are high-speed machines and are ideal for hemming, construction, or reinforcement. They are great machines to have if you do a lot of decorative sewing, use stretchy fabrics, or just want to make the strongest construction possible.
What is a Serger Used For?
Sergers are sewing machines that are used for finishing the edges of fabric inside a thread casing with just one step. There are many variables available for use on a serger. Like with most machines you purchase, the more you spend the better quality of a machine you get with more options.
How to Use a Serger
Sergers are a great type of sewing machine to use. Here is an easy-to-follow list of steps for how to use one.
1. Locate the power switch and make sure it is turned to the off position.
2. Determine the correct threading order on the machine because most sergers have four spools of thread.
3. Take a spool of thread and place it on the upper looper.
4. Make sure you thread the upper looper by placing the thread so it is just below the needle, remove the faceplate at the front and pull the thread through the metal loops underneath the plate.
5. Next, make sure you thread the lower looper. Set the spoof of thread on the second spindle and bring that thread over the front of the machine.
6. After setting the threads on the spindle, bring the thread to the front of the machine and thread the needles.
7. Next, turn on the serger in order to adjust the tension.
8. Decide which stitch you are wanting to use.
9. After deciding what kind of stitch then, you need to adjust each spool’s tension dial.
10. The next step is to do a practice stitch. You do not need to use fabric to test, all you have to do is press down on the machine pedal and let the machine do the work.
11. Check the looped thread to make sure it is the stitch that you are wanting to use. If it is too loose, you can adjust the tension dials to make adjustments to the stitch.
12. Next, practice on a scrap of fabric to test how the stitch looks being used on a piece of fabric.
For finishing seams, you would do the following:
1. First, lift the presser foot and needle up and turn the needle dial towards you while lifting the needles.
2. Place the fabric under both the needles and foot.
3. Next, lower the presser foot and the needles
4. The next step is to cut the fabric edge with the machine.
5. Make sure to guide the fabric edge as the serger is working.
6. As the sewing is happening, make sure to use the foot pedal to control the speed so that it doesn’t go out of control.
7. Make sure to continue sewing for a few extra stitches at the end of the seam in order to create a tail of stitches which can be tucked under and hand sewn.
The Top Seven Sergers
Reading tons of serger reviews, we’ve created this list of the best sergers available on the market.
Brother Designio Series DZ1234 Serger
- METAL FRAME: The Brother Designio DZ1234 is a durable 3-4 thread serger made with a metal frame
- HIGH PERFORMANCE: A high performance 3-4 thread serger with an adjustable stitch width between 3.0mm to 7.0mm allowing you to select the right stitch width for your project
- 1,300 STITCHES PER MINUTE: Create more in less time with the DZ1234's fast stitching speed of up to 1,300 stitches per minute
- INCLUDED ACCESSORY FEET: The DZ1234 comes with 3 accessory feet including blind hem stitch, gathering and piping feet in addition to 2 sets of starter thread
- EASY TO THREAD: Easy-to-use with color-coded thread guides, numbered upper and lower thread loopers, included instructional video and printed manual
One of the most well-known sewing machine makers, Brothers has produced another fantastic serger in the Designio Series DZ1234. This serger includes a blind hem stitch foot, gathering foot, piping foot, and two sets of starter threads to get you started.
You can make up to 1,300 stitches per minute, with a differential fabric feed of 0.7 to 2.0 ratio on many fabrics, including lightweight knits. Stitch width is easily adjusted between 3 millimeters and 7 millimeters.
This machine even has color-coded threading for easier use.
Singer Sewing Machine 14J250 Stylist II
- 2-3-4 Stitch Capability provides more stitch variety
- Needle Threader & Wide Open Threading makes set-up a breeze
- Differential Feed eliminates stretching and puckering on all fabrics
- Cutting Width Gauge ensures the fabric is cut and sewn consistently
- 1,300 Stitches Per Minute allows professional speed for faster results. 110 volt sewing machine designed for United States and Canadian use only.
Reading serger reviews across the web, we knew that the Singer 14K250 Stylist II had to be included in the top ten list. The Singer 14K250 has 2-3-4 stitch capability, wide-open threading, and a needle threader to make your job easier.
There’s a great differential feed that eliminates that annoying fabric pucker and allows for 1,300 stitches per minute for a fast, professional finish. This particular machine is only recommended for the USA and Canada, or other locations that use 110 voltage. Because of that, it’s only warranted in the USA and Canada.
Janome 8002D Serger
The Janome 8002D serger gives a professional finish at a great value. This is a 3 and 4-thread convertible serger that cuts, serges, and finishes seams in a single, quick motion. The tension dial comes with color coding for easy threading and has a rolled hem changeover device to easily convert over to a rolled hem.
The serger from Janome has an adjustable cutting width of 3.1 millimeters to 7.3 millimeters, and a differential feed ratio from 0.5 to 2.25. There’s a retractable upper knife, snap-on presser feet, a changeable thread guide, adjustable foot pressure, and speeds for up to 1,300 stitches per minute.
JUKI MO644D Portable Serger
- 2/3/4 Thread serger with automatic rolled hem
- Color coded threading breakaway looper adjustment for stitch length and differential feed
- Powerful knife system with dedicated drive mechanism. Sewing Speed - Max. 1500 spm
- Sews light to medium weight fabric
Serger reviews also led us to present the Juki portable serger for the folks who need a more mobile option. The Juki MO644D incorporates power, a dedicated cutting system, and a high-quality stitch together in this easy to use a machine. It’s a convertible 2-3-4 thread serger with automatically rolled hem capability.
The Juki portable has color-coded threading and a breakaway looper for easy threading. And the upper knife easily moves out of the way for an easy, safe threading process. There’s adjustable stitch length, differential feed, a multi-purpose foot for sewing a wide variety of stitches. This serger from Juki easily pairs with a number of presser feet, as well.
Singer ProFinish 14CG754 Serger
- SINGER SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER ProFinish 14CG754 Serger has 2-3-4 thread capability providing a wide selection of stitch options for all types of projects with professional results every time
- ADJUSTABLE STITCH LENGTH SEWING MACHINE: Adjustable stitch length and width, differential feed and color-coded lay-in threading provide ease of use
- PORTABLE SEWING MACHINE: Carry handle makes it easy to transport your serger
- FREE ARM SEWING MACHINE: The optional free arm lets you easily sew sleeves and cuffs. At 1, 300 stitches-per-minute with automatic fabric trimming, this machine will have you zipping through projects from day one
- 4 BUILT-IN ROLLED HEMS: Converting to the Rolled Hem sewing mode is effortless. An easy access lever moves the stitch finger in position for rolled hemming
Another fantastic serger from Singer, the 14CG754 serger has 2-3-4 thread capability to provide a wide selection of stitch options for any project. This Singer is an adjustable stitch length and width machine, with a differential feed, and color-coded threading, making it a super easy to use the machine.
This Singer also happens to be a portable machine, with a handy carry handle for easy transport. The Singer 14CG754 is a free arm sewing machine, which is optional, and easily lets you sew sleeves and cuffs with up to 1,300 stitches per minute, and automatic fabric trimming. There are four built-in rolled hem modes and an easy access lever that makes it easy to switch over. This is not recommended for people outside of North America, because of the power supply.
Janome 7034D Magnolia 3 & 4 Thread Overlock Serger
- 3, 4 thread convertible
- Maximum speed: 1,300 spm
- Rolled hem change over device incorporated
- Adjustable foot pressure: Yes (adjusting screw)
- Snap on presser feet
More serger reviews reveal another fantastic Janome serger that needed to be added to our list. The Janome 7034D Magnolia 3 and 4 Thread Overlock Serger has a ton of features, all in this one machine. It’s got the sturdy design and precision you’ve come to expect from the Janome brand. This machine provides a professional finish, at a lower price than many other models of similar quality.
The cutting width is adjustable from 2 to 5.7 millimeters, and there’s a differential feed to help prevent bunching of fabric. The upper knife deactivates for decorative sewing, and generally, the Janome Magnolia makes for fun projects. There’s color-coded threading, an extra-high presser foot lift, and an electronic foot control. This model is also super quiet.
Brother 1034DX 3 & 4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed
- METAL FRAME SERGER: The Brother 1034DX is a durable serger made with a metal frame
- HIGH PERFORMANCE: A high performance 3 or 4 thread serger that can handle multiple layers of denim and other thick materials
- 1,300 STITCHES PER MINUTE: Serge more in less time by sewing up to 1,300 stitches per minute. Control speed with the included foot pedal
- EASY TO THREAD: Easy-to-learn with the included instructional videos, color-coded thread guides and numbered upper and lower thread loopers
- INCLUDED ACCESSORY FEET: Standard, blind stitch and gather feet are included with the 1034DX along with a soft, protective machine cover
The Brother 1034DX is another fantastic serger from the well-trusted Brother. This serger delivers the high performance and professional edge finishing you expect, on a wide range of fabrics, including linens, formal wear, and knits.
There are 22 built-in stitch functions, with 4-thread overlock, 3-thread overlock, rolled hem, ribbon lock, and narrow stitches, as well as specialty stitches for things like home décor, formal wear, heirlooms, crafts, and reinforced tape applications.
The differential fabric feed provides professional quality even stitching on thin or heavy fabrics, and the whole thing is easy to thread. The Brother 1034D comes with a limited 25-year warranty.
Finding Your Serger
If you’re ready to purchase your first, or your next, serger, you should definitely consider one of the seven that we’ve presented above. Every one of them meets the standards of highly-rated serger reviews the web over, whether given by professional reviewers or real-life users.
These are all great machines that should be capable of doing any projects you have planned that requires a serger.