Thread Options: 2-3-4 or 5 Thread Serging
Sergers are wonderful tools that work in tandem with your sewing machines. While somewhat limited in their abilities compared to sewing machines, they’re highly useful time savers and are best at putting a professional finish on all types of garments and other sewing projects. All sergers include multiple needles and naturally require using multiple spools of thread. While some models offer owners the option of using up to eight different thread spools, most home sewists own sergers that typically top out at four or five threads.
In serging, the number of threads you use will dictate the types and strengths of the stitches you choose and the more threads a machine can handle increases its versatility. Some thread options are designed to work best with certain fabrics or applications. However, many new serger models offer a huge range of thread options and stitches. Here’s a look at some of the differences in the machines and the stitches.
2 to 4 Thread Serger
This machine pretty much does it all. In addition to three overlock stitch options, it’s capable of producing a secure safety stitch and a nice 2-thread rolled hem stitch on sheer fabrics. At least two threads are in use to produce each stitch and using all four thread spools will result in strong, yet flexible stitching.
3 to 4 Thread Serger
Because this machine is limited to using only three or four threads, it’s typically purchased mainly to quickly produce strong, yet flexible seams. Most 3-4-thread sergers will produce a nice secure rolled hem, but you may have to change the throat plate to make the stitch change. The 4-thread overlock stitch offers nearly as much strength and durability as a true 5-thread safety stitch.
2 to 5 Thread Serger
These machines are often top-of-the-line models; their prices and capabilities enforce that. They include the most varied menu of stitch options and most models also include a 2-thread coverstitch option, which produces seams and top stitching more like a sewing machine. You can produce very secure seams by disengaging the cutting blades sewing the straight seam and then re-activating the blades while finishing the garment with a 5-thread overlock stitch. You can also create very strong seams using the chain stitch option. This machine eliminates the need to move between it and your sewing machine when creating hand-made garments.
Unless you’re already highly skilled at serging or if you plan to produce professional-grade garments and projects, a 2-3-4 serger should be more than adequate for your needs. However, a 5-thread (and up) machine will give you the added advantages of being able to coverstitch and chainstitch. If you’re in the market for your first serger, here are a few of the most often-used stitches and the number of threads:
2 Threads: overlock stitch for seaming sheer and lightweight fabrics, rolled hem stitch for sheer fabrics, flatlock stitch and a very delicate chain stitch.
3 Threads: standard, wide or narrow overlock stitches for seaming medium-weight fabrics, flatlock stitch for joining separate fabric pieces, strong rolled hem stitch, narrow hem stitch, chain stitch, picot hem stitch, super stretch stitch and a cover hem stitch.
4 Threads: standard, wide or narrow overlock stitches for seams on heavier fabrics, flatlock stitch, super stretch stitches for sewing stretchy knits and athletic wear.
5 Threads: standard and wide overlock stitches for bulky fabrics, extra strong or stretchy seams or fabrics that tend to fray or ravel, coverstitch (decorative top stitching), thick chain stitches often run off the machine in a length for decorative uses.
In addition to an increased versatility, a 5-thread serger will cost more than a 2-3-4-thread serger. Not only do they usually load these machines with all the latest technology, an increased number of features and functions are fully automatic. If you’re new to serging, investing in a well-made 2-3-4-thread serger will provide you with plenty of options. High end models will naturally offer even more. No matter which type of serger you’re looking for, do your research and try each model out at the dealership before parting with your money. Once you get it home, turn your creativity loose!