Should I buy a serger/overlocker?
I asked myself this question a couple years ago when I began to get more serious about sewing. I would read blog posts where seamstresses showed off the insides of their garments, revealing professionally trimmed and finished seams, that looked like what you find in RTW clothing. Up until this point I had been trying to use my overcasting foot to finish my seams but I wasn’t satisfied with the results. I didn’t like how the insides of my clothing looked and felt like I needed to step up my sewing game.
After reading a blog post on tee-shirt making I found out that a serger, also called and overlocker was what I was looking for. I wasn’t living on my own yet and I had the money to spare so I decided to look into the options and invest in a new machine. I’m not the type to spend money without thinking so it took me a long time to decide which serger I would buy. I did research and read tons of reviews..in the end I went with the Brother 1034d (pictured above) . It had good reviews and was supposed to be one of the easier sergers to use. I decided to put together a few pros and cons attached to the decision to buy one of these machines with the hope that it will help someone who is trying to make the same decision.
- Speed– I had to get used to how fast my machine worked ,and it was a little hard to handle the first few times, but now I love it. I can get a simple knit skirt done in 20 minutes at this point with my serger.
- Professional Finish – Even though no one was going to be looking at the inside of my garments, I loved the fact that they looked as good as an item bought in a store . Now that I plan to sell what I make I’m very happy that I made the investment.
- Durability – The items I’ve made using my overlocker have held up very well over the last couple years. My Hudson pants get almost daily wear, and after multiple washes the seams are still intact. I love being able to wash and dry my handmade items with my store bought clothing and still have them look great.
- Great for Knits & Swimwear – This book ⇓
The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, made me realize how valuable a serger was for working with knit fabric. I almost completely sew my knit items and also swimwear with my overlocker. I tried attaching elastic to a swimsuit using my sewing machine and it was a misshapen mess.
- Trims Seam Allowances – My serger has a knife attached that trims off excess fabric as you sew. It’s a bit scary at first when using a machine that is so fast , but it’s fine as long as you keep your fingers well away from it! the knife can also be disabled if you prefer not to use it. I love not having to grade seam allowances, so I almost always use it.
- Expensive – I spent about $200 on my serger and it was a big deal for me to spend so much on one item. Now that my boyfriend and I are living in New York supporting ourselves there is now way I could spare that amount without saving up first. It was definitely worth it for me ,you just have to look at it as an investment. Some over lockers have a cover stitch function and can cost up to $500.
- Difficult to Thread – I had a few very frustrating occasions trying to re-thread my overlocker. It comes pre-threaded and has a color coded chart but it needs to be threaded in the correct order or it won’t work properly. I had some threads breaking when my attempts to thread it the easy way, by tying in my new thread to the old one had failed. That caused me to have to thread my machine multiple times to get it working again. I’ve got the hang of it but it caused me to stop working on my projects at times.
- Noise – This is a really small thing, but I noticed how loud my serger was compared to my sewing machine and I thought it might be a nuisance for some seamstresses out there who had to get their sewing done with a little one sleeping nearby.
- Uses Alot of Thread – My overlocker can use three or four threads, but I prefer to use 4 for the strength of the seams. You can’t just use ordinary thread spools on this machine, you need to buy cones of thread that usually contain about 3,000 yards. I alternate between black and white depending on what I’m sewing I might try to match the color. If I decide to match a color it means buying 4 large cones of one color thread.
There are other ways to finish seams so that they look professional that don’t involve an overlocker in case you feel as though the investment isn’t for you.
French Seams – With this technique you sew your pieces with the wrong sides together, then trim your seam allowance and sew your pieces right sides together as you normally would, trapping the original seam, leaving no exposed edges.
Flat Felled Seams – Take a look at most men’s button down shirts or a pair of jeans and you will see flat felled seams. It creates a very strong seam with two parallel lines of stitching.
Hong Kong Finish – A method of binding seams with bias tape. There is a great tutorial Here from Colette.
Pinking shears – Use a pair of pinking shears to create a zig zagged edge on more stable fabrics.
Clean Finish – Just sew your seam as you normally would and press open, turn the seam allowance under 1/4 in and sew close to the edge, through seam allowance only!
Zig Zag stitch.
Thanks for reading!