Serger Vs. Coverstitch – Differences & Similarities
Using specialty sewing machines such as a serger or coverstitch machine is sure to make your creative life easier. Both offer a wide range of different stitching features and functions. While many are similar in appearance, the finishing and decorative functions they offer vary widely. Neither machine will take the place of your standard sewing machine, but both possess unique qualities and features that will put a professional finish on your sewing projects.
A serger (or overlocker) adds a clean, professional finish to hems, seams, sleeves, and tailored items by trimming seam allowances and securely encasing raw edges in one smooth operation. While most are designed to work best on knits, the majority also produce attractive, professional results on multiple fabric layers, very heavy and lightweight fabrics. Depending on the model, these machines, some of which operate at speeds up to 1,700 stitches per minute, can hold up to eight spools of threads and typically contain two needles.
The Coverstitch Machine
A coverstitch machine is designed specifically to put a professional finish on hems, especially on knit fabrics. It creates secure, even, stretchable seams that move with the fabric. Like a serger, it can also be used to attach lace, elastic, and other trims to any garment or sewing project. Also, like a serger, a coverstitch machine produces some beautiful, decorative top stitching effects.
The Major Differences
Many professional home sewers prefer owning a traditional sewing machine as well as a serger and coverstitch machine. If investing in two extra machines doesn’t fit your needs or budget, weigh the following differences and similarities to help make your decision.
- An overlocker is designed primarily to serge the edges of fabrics while trimming them. This dual operation is the main and most time-saving difference between the two machines.
- The coverstitch machine can also sew fabrics like a traditional regular sewing machine, but is designed to produce a dual line of stitches to provide a visible finish on hems.
- The work area of a coverstitch machine is larger than that on a serger, although several newer serger models do feature extended work areas.
- There’s typically far less space between the right-hand needle and the machine housing on a serger.
- The coverstitch machine has only one looper to thread, while sergers possess two.
- Serger machines invariably feature two cutting knives which trim uneven fabric edges as you stitch, creating an even working area, while a coverstitch machine has none.
- The coverstitch machine contains three needles, while the majority of sergers feature only two. However, several late-model sergers offer you the option of using three or four needles.
The Major Similarities
- Both types of machines include an adjustable differential feed with a control dial.
- Needles for both the serger and coverstitch machines are seldom universal types such as those used on home sewing machines. These needle requirements will be mentioned in your owner’s manual.
- Both sergers and coverstitch machines work best with threads that are fine and strong, with very smooth or slick surfaces.
- Both machines commonly include a free arm feature that makes working on sleeves and small areas easier and an adjustable presser foot that accommodates thick or multiple fabric layers.
While both machines are great additions to any amateur or professional home sewing room, both are somewhat limited in terms of what they’re designed to produce. Unless you’re an accomplished, professional home tailor or seamstress, investing in a coverstitch machine designed primarily to produce professional-grade hems is an extravagance. You can get the same results on a good double-needle sewing or embroidery machine that offers multiple stitch options. On the other hand, a serger is a must for producing strong, secure seams, hems, edge finishes, and decorative stitches at a high rate of speed. A serger also evenly trims fabric edges as you sew, which completely omits this often-tedious process when done by hand.