Investing in a serger can be exciting and somewhat intimidating, especially if you’ve never operated one before. It’s commonly considered the next step beyond a sewing machine on the skills and experience scales. Becoming accomplished on one of these machines can expand your creative horizons far beyond that which you may have accomplished on your sewing machine. Being able to put a professional finish on a garment or project is highly gratifying to beginners and seasoned serger experts alike. Before choosing a new companion for your sewing machine, weigh the following factors
1. Consider your sewing experience
If you’re new to serging (or even sewing), you probably won’t be familiar with the difference between a high-end machine and one without as many bells and whistles. Making a serious investment into a serger that includes more than 70 different stitch options might not be a good idea until you’ve gained some experience and confidence.
A basic model will provide you with all the features you’ll need to get started serging. Many models include a great range of features and functions at a greatly reduced price.
2. Which features would be most useful?
Beyond the bells and whistles, a serger machine should include several basic functions and features that will make it more user friendly and productive.
- Color-coded threading: Not every machine includes automatic threading, but comprehensive threading guides or lay-in threading are both helpful features.
- Automatic/adjustable thread tensions: Adjustable tensioning gives you better control and delivers a smoother line of stitching.
- Differential feed: This is possibly the most important feature on any serger. It enables you to adjust the feed dogs to keep knits and other stretchy fabrics from bunching or stretching. This function also helps users produce professional-grade lettuce edges and ruffles.
- Heavy-duty knife: A high-quality cutting tool ensures clean, even cuts through multiple fabric layers.
- Comprehensive DVD and manual: A well-written instruction manual and accompanying DVD can help you quickly cut through the learning curve associated with operating any new serger.
3. How Often Will the Serger be Used?
Sergers aren’t designed to be stand-alone sewing machines – they’re meant to be used in concert with sewing machines. The type of machine you choose should be based on the type of use you’re going to give it. For example, if you plan to use it mainly for hemming, seams or finishing edges on garments or other projects, a basic overlock 2,3 or 4-thread machine would be a good choice. On the other hand, if you plan to do a lot of coverstitch work, you’ll want to look at machines that can handle at least 5 threads.
4. Don’t Make a Purchase Based on Price
Everyone loves a bargain. So, a serger on sale for $100 will probably look amazing – especially if you’ve been planning on purchasing one. Tempting or not, it’s important to remember that you’ll probably get what you pay for. No matter what a serger looks like, the important mechanics are on the inside. Machines that cost a little more are typically constructed of metal parts, not plastic. And that’s what can make the difference between a long-lasting tool and one that needs replacing in a relatively short amount of time. Even a good second-hand machine is a better investment than a low-end model.5
5. Familiarize yourself with several models
Check online and read reviews, both professional (ahem SergerPro) and user reviews on Amazon are another great option. Take the time to do some research on serger models, then check some online demonstration videos to get an idea of how they operate before visiting a few dealerships. Each brand and model have their own strengths and weaknesses, so you may find threading one machine easy while another is quiet and fast. Spending time on research and a few machines can make spending your money a more informed decision.
The key to finding the perfect serger for your needs means putting in the time and effort to find one that will work best with the creative plans you have in mind.