These days, sewing is generally a fun pastime or hobby that we indulge in for the sake of creativity. Most of us crafty people own a sewing machine that we use on the regular, and that's fine because a sewing machine does everything you need it to. But let's say that you've got Rumplestiltskin on your back and he wants you to make a quilt with golden thread before dawn: we hate to say it, but in that case you might need a serger instead of a traditional sewing machine. But wait, what is a serger?
If you've never heard the term before, it's fine. We're here to help you learn everything you need to know about sergers and when to use a serger for sewing.
What Is A Serger?
A serger is a different type of sewing machine. There are different styles and different ways the machines are powered, but a serger is essentially a step up from your trusty, traditional sewing machine. Sergers more or less handle tougher jobs more efficiently.
But what is a serger exactly and why should you be using one? Well, to fully answer that question, we'll have to break down the precise differences between sergers and sewing machines, as well as explain when using a serger is more efficient than using a sewing machine. Sergers are extremely useful and extremely irreplaceable for certain crafts.
Sergers And Sewing Machines:
A Thread Of Difference
When we ask, "What is a serger?", we first need to review sewing machines in general. While a sewing machine and a serger might look similar, it's important to know that both of these machines are two different beasts with two different uses. There is some overlap between the machines, but the way that there is some overlap is like the overlap between a general surgeon and a specialist surgeon.
A general surgeon can do a lot of surgery, but we all would rather have a practiced specialist poking around our organs under certain circumstances and for certain specific surgeries.
We owe a lot to sewing machines for helping propel us into the advanced era. Without sewing machines, we'd all still be spending a great amount of time making our own clothes and upholstery. Sure, other inventions like electricity and assembly line factories might have had a bigger influence, but the impact of sewing machines is nothing to sneeze at.
While today's sewing machines might primarily be used by at-home crafters for their fun projects, this doesn't mean that sewing machines themselves are basic.
A sewing machine is a tool that helps join two pieces of fabric together with the use of a single thread and one bobbin. A sewing machine can be operated by the foot or automatically and is generally powered by electricity these days. A small sewing machine will perform simple jobs, like fixing stitches, while you might find that larger sewing machines are better for making clothes or other larger projects.
Traditional But Slow
Sewing machines can sew any kind of seam you want in any direction you want and at any speed you want. Your traditional sewing machine is flexible and reliable, but it can also be a little slow. Sewing machines can also limit the materials you can use as well as the type of projects you can craft.
While you might like using a sewing machine to make costumes or linens, you might find that you run into difficulty with denser materials or that sewing something like curtains takes quite a long while.
At first glance, a serger looks an awful lot like a sewing machine. The exception is that a serger has multiple threads and bobbins attached to the machine,which means that the stitches made by a serger are more secure. Most sergers have anywhere from three to five bobbins. Those bobbins combine the threads into a single strand that the serger stitches with. The multiple threads on a serger produce a "stretchy" stitch, so sergers are good for projects that involve stretchy fabrics as well as projects that employ more durable fabrics.
Sergers can be used for a lot of tougher jobs, such as quilt-making or any other craft that involves a thicker piece of material. Sergersdo have some limitations in that you can only feed material into the machine in one direction and all sergers have automated speed controls. However, sergers are more efficient and produce a more professional-quality product than a normal home sewing machine. Many sergers also have built-in cutters so you won't need to use scissors with the machine.
Fast But Limited
What is a serger? This is a multi-functional tool that can seam, trim, and finish edges all at one time. Completing three tasks in the time it would take to complete one is a huge draw for many crafters, especially those who sale their goods and rely on time efficiency to help cover overhead costs.
Sergers do their work well; and they do their work quickly. However, like most multitasking endeavors, that efficiency is also a bit limited. While you can conceivably use a serger for any project, you might be limiting the design of your project: a fact that many crafters don't like when it comes to sergers.
Is A Serger Better?
Inevitably, the question "What is a serger?" is quickly followed by wondering if a serger is better than a sewing machine. And honestly, we have to say that this is something that is left to the eye of the beholder. We like sergers for their efficiency and the durability of the stitches made with sergers. We also like sergers for the way they open the door to new projects that can't be done as easily with a traditional sewing machine.
But is a serger better than a sewing machine? That's up for debate. Many crafters who own both a sewing machine and a serger say that they use both machines equally and sometimes even for the same project The sewing machine is used to join seams, and the serger is used to finish edges.
Depending on your current craft, using both machines for the same project is frequently and commonly done. However, there are plenty of crafters who use sergers exclusively and don't even bother with sewing machines that can slow them down. Using one or both is totally a choice that is up to you.
Features Included With Sergers
Like sewing machines, there are many differences in the features that are included with sergers, depending on the brand you buy. However, most sergers share the same standard features, which can make choosing the right serger something of a headache. Sergers like the Brother 1034D 3/4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed are a good example of a basic serger that comes fully loaded with features.
The features of this serger include 22 stitch functions, a differential fabric feed, a foot controller, a soft cover, and needles for the bobbins. Sergers like this one give professional finish edges on fabrics, allows for the creation of ruffles and decorative edges, and can join even the most narrow of fabric pieces. Their specialty stitch functions include settings for formal wear, home decor, and reinforced applications. This particular serger, and others like it, also have color-coded settings to make threading easier.
In Review: Why You Need A Serger
What is a serger? A step up from a sewing machine that produces professional-quality products at a fraction of the time. While sewing machines will always hold a special place in our hearts, sergers are ideal for intermediate level crafters who want to prioritize efficiency and superior design. Sergers are excellent machines for a variety of reasons.
The stitches made with a serger are stretchy, which means that they are more durable. Sergers are also able to work with a broader spectrum of fabrics and allow crafters to make interesting designs, such as ruffles and decorative edges. Sergers might have some limitations in the direction of how you can feed the machine, but the multiple threads and bobbins of a serger more than make up for that.
Sergers are also multifunctional, able to do a three-in-one job in a fraction of the amount of time it would take to perform a single function on a sewing machine. That efficiency is the major draw that sergers have for busy crafters.
Overall, sergers are a great option for serious crafters with serious projects. Sergers can perform any duty assigned to them with professional-level results and a longevity that is not seen in traditional sewing machines for at-home use. If you have craft projects that could do with a boost in efficiency, then a serger is a good option for you, either to use solo or in tandem with a sewing machine. Purchasing a serger will make your crafting life easier!