Types and features of sergers
Serger sewing machines create that loopy seam finish you see inside commercially
made garments. For garments, a serger is meant to enclose the raw fabric
edge in thread to prevent it from fraying. Sergers can also be used to stitch
and finish a seam all at once; this is particularly useful for stretch fabrics
since a serger's stitch will stretch -- unlike a stitch created with a regular
Additionally, sergers can also be used to make ruffles or create a decorative
rolled-hem finish, which folds over an edge of fabric and creates a tight
overcast of thread -- a look that's especially nice for baby and children's
clothing, or for lingerie.
Some expensive sergers can coverstitch; this is a specialty stitch that's
used on stretch garments such as swimwear and workout clothes to give a topstitched
look that still stretches.
Some things to keep in mind as you're shopping for a serger sewing machine:
- A serger can't replace a regular sewing
machine. Sergers are best for finishing seam allowances to prevent fraying
and for a professional look, and they can be used to both stitch and
finish seams at once, particularly for knits. However, sergers can't topstitch,
aren't very good for zippers and can't make buttonholes or specialty
for a 2/3/4-thread serger. This is the most basic and inexpensive type
of serger, best for those whose main interest is simple seam finishing
and some rolled hemming.
- For stretch fabrics, look for differential
feed. Almost all models have this feature, which lets you adjust the
feed dogs to keep knit and spandex fabrics from stretching out as you sew.
Differential feed can also let you make ruffles or a lettuce edge on hems.
- Auto threading
is nice, but costly. The least expensive sergers have manual threading,
which all reviews say takes some time to master. Higher-end sergers often
include some type of automatic threading, but this feature can add $500
or more to the price.
- CDs and instructional videos are nice. Owners say included how-to DVDs or CDs are a major bonus. Even for
some machines that didn't come with a video, some owners were able to call
the manufacturer and request one.
- For coverstitching, you need at least
five threads. We read many comments from serger owners who thought
they'd be able to sew a coverstitch with a four-thread serger. You need
at least five threads for this, and the machine must specifically say it
can coverstitch. You can also buy dedicated coverstitch machines, but these
can't trim fabric for a serged edge.