Best Advanced Features You Can Find on a Serger
When you first start sewing, whether it be on a sewing machine or a serger, it’s undoubtedly simpler to learn on a machine with basic, limited features. Fewer features allow the user to focus on their technique, and the actual act of stitching. Over time though, as we hone our skills, many of us yearn for machines that have more capabilities or advanced features. While a serger is thought of as a simple, basic workhorse in the sewing room, you can find some great advanced features on higher-end models.
To compile a list of the best, advanced features you can find on a serger we looked for features that aren’t necessary but desirable for their ease of use or convenience – all the bells and whistles a sewist would like to have but doesn’t have to have, to complete a project. These features help make the process move along more quickly while being more enjoyable.
Coming in squarely at the top of the list of serger headaches is manual threading, especially the first handful of times you work with your machine. Making sure you’re threading in the right order, and following color-coded instructions that look like the trail on a treasure map is enough to frustrate even the most capable person. Sergers with automatic threading use jet air to force the thread through loopers and also thread your needles’ eyes, making threading a breeze, literally. Gone are the days of trying to remember if loopers are thread before needles and if you do the upper or lower first.
Automatic Tension Control
Following threading complaints, adjusting the tension control is the second most common gripe about using a serger. Figuring the tensions out on a sewing machine is challenging enough, and you’re only dealing with the upper thread and bobbin tension. With a serger, you need to adjust the tensions on 3, 4, or more threads. A machine with automatic tension control is designed to set the tensions based upon the type of stitch you are creating and its parameters, significantly cutting down on time spent fiddling with tensions, allowing you to begin your project instead.
Cover Stitch Capabilities
If your sewing projects include knit garments, having a coverstich machine is a dream for making quick work of finishing hems. It’s the machine that creates the stitches you see on the bottom hem and on the sleeves of your knit tee shirts. A coverstitch machine turns and hems knits beautifully with a seam that has plenty of stretch and flex, matching the stretch of a knit. For some sewists though, they don’t have the need – or desire – to invest in another machine to put in their sewing room if they aren’t using it regularly. Having the ability to convert their overlocker to sew cover stitches expands their sewing capabilities without putting a big dent in their pocket, saving money for other expenses, like fabric!
Automatic Rolled Hem
One of the great features of an overlock machine is switching from an overlock stitch to a rolled hem. Rolled hems are a great way to finish lightweight, delicate fabrics such as satin, chiffon, or taffeta. However, switching from a standard overlock stitch to a rolled hem means disengaging the stitch-width finger and removing one of the needles to create the specific stitch. Sergers with an automatic rolled hem setting will automatically retract the built-in stitch width finger and put it back in place when the setting is switched back to an overlock stitch. Keeping track of what needs to be disengaged or engaged for each type of stitch can get confusing; an automatic setting makes it convenient to switch back and forth.
Typically, when you finish sewing on a serger and lift the presser foot to remove the fabric, the thread tensions stay in place, making it hard to remove your material. Unlike a sewing machine where you can pull the fabric and threads out after lifting the presser foot, you have to continue the stitch until the fabric is out from under the foot, and the tail is long enough to cut. Machines with an automatic tension release circumvent this step! Once the presser foot is lifted, all of the tensions immediately go to zero to pull the fabric out like you do a sewing machine.
An LCD screen on a serger puts set-up instructions and the tension settings for your stitch options right at your fingertips. When switching from one stitch to another, quickly glance at the on-screen instructions to ensure your machine is set up correctly, and your tensions are dialed in. No more searching for the owner’s manual or looking online for instructional videos.
High Maximum Number of Threads
Beginning serger machines can sew with either 3 or 4 threads, maximum, creating either 3-thread or 4-thread overlock stitches. Higher-end machines offer a more extensive range of stitch capabilities by accommodating a higher number of threads. Various machines have 5, 6, 7, and 8-thread stitch options, expanding the available techniques at your fingertips.
Anyone who sews for any length of time can attest to their eyes getting tired after staring at the needle, straining to keep seams nice and straight. Bad or inadequate lighting on a machine exacerbates this eye strain, and it’s no secret that as we age, our eyes don’t work as well as they once did. Sergers with more lights – especially LED lamps – help ease eye strain by brightening the workspace compared to incandescent bulbs. Less eye strain means working on projects longer in comfort!
One of the benefits of sergers is their smaller footprint. Compared to sewing machines – or embroidery machines – they take up much less space on your sewing table. This smaller footprint equates to less throat space on a machine, giving you little room to work. Higher-end sergers offer the user a larger space between the needles and the machine’s right side, and more height through the throat. Having a larger workspace to accommodate fabrics is useful when creating flatlock stitches or working with oodles and oodles of ruffles, lace, or tulle when sewing costumes. Plus, it keeps your hands and fingers further away from the needles and knives.
Extra-High Presser Foot Lift
The higher the presser foot can lift, the easier it is to position or feed fabric under the presser foot and needles. It gives you more room to work with thick layers of material, but it makes it easier to see where your stitches will start. An extra-high presser foot lift cuts down on wrestling thick fabrics under the foot and ensures you start sewing precisely where you want your stitches to begin.
About Amanda S.: Growing up, I was fascinated by watching my mom and grandma turn fabric into beautiful handcrafted items. In my early 20’s, I finally got brave, buying a sewing machine and teaching myself to sew. As I fell in love with sewing, my machine collection expanded, and I ran an Etsy shop sewing children’s clothing for a few years. As a single mom of 3 great kids, my sewing time has lessened, but I still try to find time to work on quilts, bags, and projects with my kids, teaching them what I love.