Home Sewing 101Sewing TechniquesMachine Sewing Techniques What is a Serger and Do I Need One?

So, you’ve entered the world of sewing and keep hearing about sergers? What are they and do you even need one? 

Sergers make an overlock stitch. Okay, but what is an overlock stitch?  It is a stitch that completely surrounds the edge of your fabric.  In other words, it encloses your seam allowance with thread.  It also simultaneously trims your fabric. Because your seam is surrounded by thread, your fabric will not fray.  It just can’t.  There’s nowhere for it to go because it is covered with thread. 

Pick up the hem of the shirt you are wearing right now.  Take a look at the stitches on the inside.  Most likely, it is a serged hem.  See how nice and tidy it looks?  Not to mention, professional?  If you want to learn to sew (serge) like that, then you need a serger.

An Example of a Serged Seam

Sergers are commonly used in garment making, bag making, and some sewists even piece quilt blocks with a serger.  There are some things a serger can’t do though, so don’t plan on replacing your sewing machine with a serger.  A serger can not sew zippers or buttonholes as well as other things.  A serger complements a sewing machine but will never replace it. 

A serger uses 3, 4, or even up to 8 threads at one time, depending on the model of the serger.  Some older models can be a bit tricky to thread but after you’ve done it a time or two, it gets easier.  Many of today’s higher-end models come with a self-threading capability.  Whoever invented that option deserves a Nobel Peace Prize!  It’s amazing. 

Sergers are like sewing machines in the fact that you get more bang for your buck.  The more you spend, the more features your serger will have.  Is it necessary to spend a lot?  No.  You may find a barely used serger from 1970 at a garage sale that does an amazing job.  If you like a lot of bells and whistles and will be using your serger quite a bit, you may decide to invest in a high-end machine.

Whatever serger you decide on, you can be sure that you will have a lot of fun creating and sewing new projects with it.  Whether it is an apron, tablecloth, dress, or a purse, it will definitely look professional when you make it with a serger.

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