HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SERGER FOR YOUR NEEDS
How to choose the right serger for your needs. Sergers are essential equipment in sewing shops and garment factories around the world for one reason: They can cut, pull and sew a seam in one pass, sewing twice as fast as a regular sewing machine. Perfect for any knitted or woven, stretchy or frayed material.
The stitch that all sergers have in common is the 3-thread lock. Before the stitch is formed, the fabric is pulled under the presser foot by means of feeders, where a knife moving parallel to the presser foot trims the edge of the seam allowance just before sewing begins. The two loopers then overlap the edge and weave their threads around a metal stitch finger (which prevents the edge of the fabric from collapsing) to create a bond that is
The ability to professionally finish a garment or project is very gratifying for both beginners and experienced sergers alike. When choosing a new companion for your sewing machine, consider these factors to consider before purchasing a serger.
FIVE FACTORS TO CONSIDER BEFORE BUYING BEST SERGER
- Consider your sewing experience
How to choose the right serger for your needs. If you’re new to serging (or even sewing), you probably won’t know the difference between a high-end machine and one without as many bells and whistles. A serious investment in a serger that has over 70 different stitch options may not be a good idea until you gain some experience and confidence. The base model gives you all the features you need to start converting, and many models include a wide range of features and a reduced price.
- Which features would be most useful
Automatic/Adjustable Thread Tension: Adjustable tension gives you better control and a smoother sewing line.
Differential Feed: This is perhaps the most important feature on any serger. Allows you to adjust the feeders so that knits and other stretchy fabrics do not bunch or stretch. This feature also helps users create professional-quality salad edges and curls.
High-performance knife: The high-quality cutting tool ensures clean and even cutting of multiple layers of fabric.
Comprehensive DVD and Manual: A well-written instruction manual and accompanying DVD will help you quickly navigate the learning curve associated with operating any new serger.
- How often Will the Serger is used
Sergers are not designed as stand-alone sewing machines – they are intended to be used in conjunction with sewing machines. The type of machine you choose should be based on the type of use you intend to provide. For example, if you plan to use it mainly for hemming, sewing, or edge finishing on garments or other projects, a basic 2, 3, or 4 threads over lock would be a good choice. On the other hand, if you plan to do a lot of cover stitch, you’ll want to look for machines that can handle at least 5 threads.
- Don’t shop by price
Everyone likes bargains. So a $100 serger on sale will probably look amazing—especially if you were planning to buy one. Tempting or not, it’s important to remember that you probably get what you pay for. No matter what the serger looks like, the important mechanics are inside. Machines that cost a little more are usually made of metal parts, not plastic. And that can mean the difference between a long-lasting tool and one that needs to be replaced in a relatively short amount of time.
- Familiarize yourself with several models
Look online and read reviews, the professional (ahem) Serger Pro and user reviews on Amazon are another great option. Take the time to research the serger models, and then watch a few online demonstration videos to get an idea of how they work before you visit. Each make and model has its strengths and weaknesses, so it can be easy to thread on one machine while another is quiet and fast. Spending time researching and using several machines can make spending money a more informed decision. The key to finding the perfect serger for your needs is to take your time.
CHOOSE THE BEST SERGER MACHINE FOR YOUR NEEDS
How to choose the right serger for your needs. The serger cuts the seam and closes the seam allowance or fabric edge inside the thread, all in one step. As with anything you buy, the more you spend, the more options you have. Sergers are available with a variety of thread options. You can create different stitches and different results with the number of threads you use on your serger. Again, the more you spend the more options you have.
- Thread Winder 2-4: This machine actually has a safety stitch and double thread over locked edges. Two threads are used in each operation and you can use the machine to make each stitch separately from the other.
- 3-4 thread serger: This is a machine that can work with three or four threads. Any number of threads will have a seam with some stretch; however, a four-thread seam will give you a wider and tighter seam. Most of these machines also have the option of a rolled hem by replacing the neck. With a rolled hem, the machine rolls the very edge of the fabric to the underside and wraps the edge with thread. A four-thread stitch is sometimes referred to as a “false safety” stitch. It has a lot of the strength of a seam made with a safety stitch or a separate seam, but not as strong.
- 5-Thread Serger: This machine is in the expensive range, but has all the serging capabilities you could want. Three threads are used on the locked edge and two are used for the straight seam line. This is the seam you see on a garment that has a straight chain stitch across the locked edge. When doing production work, this machine eliminates the need to switch between heavy duty sewing machines and finishing sewing machines.
A differential feed machine gives you more options. When working with knits, you can adjust the feed to achieve the same results as with an even presser foot on your regular machine. When working with one layer of woven fabrics, you can “quick feed” to create a ruffle. You can also adjust the machine to create a curled edge effect.
WHICH SERGER IS RIGHT FOR YOU
How to choose the right serger for your needs. Serger models are often described with a string of numbers and slashes. This countdown tells you that the machine can sew specific stitches, all of which are described in “Six Utility Stitches to Consider” (below). For example, a serger savvy sewer knows that a 2/3/4/5 machine can do all the basic serger stitches that require two to five threads.
2/ means the loader will sew 2 threads over the edge stitch; so if the serger is identified as a 3/4/5 machine, it cannot create a 2-thread stitch. 2/ over the edge and 3/ over the safety stitches can be adjusted to be flat. 5/ indicates that the machine also sews a chain stitch; this 2-stitch stitch can be used alone, but when combined with the 3-stitch lock, it creates a 5-stitch safety stitch.
Over the past few decades, as the serger has become increasingly popular, various stitches have been developed for it, and its use is no longer limited to finishing edges and seams. The knife can be detached so the machine can sew without first cutting the fabric, allowing the stitches to be placed a certain distance from the edge of the fabric – useful for chain stitch and necessary for the cover stitch of the hemming stitch available on some sergers.
Some operations, such as overstitching or rolled and blind hem finishing, finish the edge but do not sew the seam. The serger can even be used to create embellishments using flat lock stitches, chain stitches, and cover stitches. Cover stitch is often seen on ready-to-wear; above it appears as two rows of parallel stitches, on the reverse it encircles the raw edge of the hem with interlaced threads. Some machines offer different styles of cover stitch that are equally nice on both sides of the fabric for double-sided applications or different decorative effects.
FEATURES THAT IMPROVE SERGER SEWING
How to choose the right serger for your needs. Engineers continue to add bells and whistles to the basic serger. These either simplify setup and operation, or extend sewing functions. What to look for:
- Differential feeding
Differential feed, once an optional feature, is now seen on most machines at every price point. Its function is to adjust the way the fabric is fed under the needle and thus ensure a smooth seam without creases on different fabrics. This is achieved by two sets of feed dogs, one in front of the other. By changing the speed of the front feeders, you can create a stitch that is slightly puckered (loose) or slightly stretched. This feature is also used to deliberately stretch or gather the fabric for decorative purposes, as with the edge of a salad – the billowing, gathered effect created when the stitches prevent the intentionally stretched edge from loosening.
- Ease of threading
Sergers have a reputation for being difficult to thread. Grippers are awkward, with eyes at awkward angles, and usually have to be threaded in a specific order to avoid thread tangling. Many models offer features for easy threading: Snap-on and flip-up presser feet and tilting needle clamps make access to the needle easy. Color-coded threading paths and charts printed on the machine remind you how to thread so you don’t have to follow instructions. Needle threaders, threaders and air threading make threading easy; and tubular loopers encapsulating the thread can be threaded in any order. These features greatly simplify threading, but are luxuries that increase the price.
- Voltage setting
Setting multiple thread tensions to achieve a balanced stitch on a serger is more complicated than setting a single tension on a standard sewing machine. Additionally, different stitches can be sewn by changing the thread tension, so users can change settings frequently and sometimes drastically. Although adjusting the tension is not difficult, the automatic and self-adjusting tension available on some machines virtually eliminates confusion. Some models set the voltage automatically; others use a chart or LCD to point to recommended settings. On several sergers, tension selectors have disappeared entirely because the automatic adjustments work so well.
- Application of decorating
Special feet are available for decorative or trimming techniques such as fagoting, cutting or attaching lace or beading, and for specialized tasks such as making pins and belt loops. Yarns and ribbons are easy to thread through loopers for decorative sewing and because they are fed from spools, they won’t run out like on a spool.
- Through the Stitch lock
The 3-thread lock is the basic serger stitch. It is made with one needle thread and two loop threads. Used for stapling seams and overlapping seams at the same time, it has medium strength and stretch – ideal for t-shirts or loose fitting garments and garments made from light fabrics. It is also used to cover the raw edge of one layer of fabric. If the tension setting is adjusted, this stitch will create a narrow rolled edge or a flat lockstitch. A second needle and a fourth thread add a second row of straight stitches to create a 4th read lock, which creates a tighter appearance suitable for heavy fabrics such as denim or areas that are subject to stress.
How to choose the right serger for your needs. There is no denying that a serger is a very handy tool and there are many benefits to sewing with a serger. They make working with knitwear easier. They are fast and efficient. They add elasticity to the seams, which makes them more durable. Because the raw edges are sealed, the finished edges create a professional look without fraying. Sergers can also be used in other ways, such as adding elastics, rolling hems, and creating decorative stitches. As amazing as serges can be, they also have some negatives. It is not a standalone machine that can do it all. Some garments can be completely sewn with a serger, but many also require a regular sewing machine for zippers, buttonholes, and topstitching.