how does a serger work

Have you ever wondered how a serger works?

 

A serger has the ability to trim seams and enclose the edges of fabrics (or the seam allowance) inside thread casings, in just one simple step. The density and width of stitching are just two of many variables that can be adjusted on a serger.

 

Of course, these options will vary from serger to serger. As is the case with most electronic and household items, the more you spend, the more options you will find.

Brother Serger, 1034DX, Durable Metal Frame Overlock Machine 1,300 Stitches Per Minute, Trim Trap, 3 Accessory Feet and Protective Cover Included

How Does a Serger Work? – If You’re in a Hurry

  1. Feed System: A fabric is first fed into the machine, where it meets the feed dogs
  2. Cutting System: The fabric moves along until a knife begins to trim at its edges
  3. Loopers: The needles and loopers start forming stitches on the edge of the fabric
  4. Stitch Fingers: The fabric is then fed to the stitch fingers, behind the needle

 

What is a Serger Used For?

A serger, also referred to as an overlocker, is a type of sewing machine which utilizes multiple threads to form seams on fabric, while also overcasting it to cover any signs of raw edges. These machines are used for both – finishing or construction, and in some cases, can pull-off both of these jobs at the same time!

Brother ST4031HD Serger, Strong & Tough Serger, 1,300 Stitches Per Minute, Durable Metal Frame Overlock Machine, Large Extension Table, 3 Included Accessory Feet

Two-Three-Four or Five Serging: What’s the Difference?

Ideally, sergers are distinguished according to their various thread options. You will have the option to make different stitches, all of which have unique results. Again, the more you are willing to spend, the more options you will have access to. Let’s briefly go over what each option’s main benefits are:

 

2-4 Thread Sergers

This machine can help create what is known as a 2-thread overlocked edge and a true safety stitch. To do so, 2 threads are used for each operation while you use your serger to create each stitch separately from the one before.

 

3-4 Thread Sergers

As the name suggests, this machine can use 3 or 4 threads to create a seam that will also have some stretchiness to it. However, the addition of the 4th thread seam will result in a stronger and wider seam.

 

Most of these sergers also offer ‘rolled hem’ capabilities, and you will only be required to switch out its throat plate. For rolled hems, sergers roll the edge of fabrics toward their underside before enclosing it with thread. The 4th thread seam is often also known as the ‘mock-safety stitch’ because it has the strength of a seam that was made with a safety stitch but isn’t as strong.

 

5-Thread Sergers

This machine falls toward the expensive end of sergers but it also offers all the seam capabilities you could possibly imagine. For instance, it uses 3 threads for the overlocked edger and 2 to form the straight seam line.

 

The seam we described above is typically the seam one would see in ready-made clothes that also have an overlocked edge with a chain stitch over a straight seam. During the production stage, a serger can eliminate the lengthy process of stitching in between for the strongest seam and seam finish possible.

Juki MO-114D Serger Overlock Machine

What Is the Differential Feed on a Serger?

A serger with differential feeds allows use with a lot more options. For instance, if you are working with knits, you will be able to adjust your serger’s feed so that you experience the same results as you would with the traditional even feed foot that comes with regular sewing machines.

 

Whenever you’re working with woven fabrics that have a single layer, you can always choose to ‘speed up’ the feed, in order to create a beautiful ruffle. The differential feed may also be adjusted to create the ‘lettuce leaf’ or waved edge effect on your choice of fabric.

Juki MO-114D Serger Overlock Machine

Double Needle or Cover Stitch?

Now you’re probably wondering whether a serger can create those intricate 2 rows of topstitch while also complementing that serged look on the inside? This is usually the finish you are bound to find in seams or cuffs that are topstitched or double-needled. This is also known as a cover stitch and most premiumly priced sergers tend to have this capability.

 

If you use the double-needle technique on your old sewing machine, you will be able to create the same effect. However, the same designs will not have the stretchiness you experience with a serged seam.

Janome MOD-8933 Serger with Lay-in Threading, 3 and 4 Thread Convertible with Differential Feed

Can Sergers Replace Regular Sewing Machines?

Even though a 100% of most of your sewing projects can be completed using a serger alone, these gizmos cannot entirely replace the traditional sewing machine. You see, you will not be able to complete buttonholes, topstitching, zippers, facings and many other elements of your project without a sewing machine. Sergers, on the other hand, cannot handle these assignments.

Janome MOD-8933 Serger with Lay-in Threading, 3 and 4 Thread Convertible with Differential Feed

Our Final Thoughts

So which is the best machine, really? Well, let’s put it this way, all the sewn products you have lying around in your house, were probably be sewn with the help of a commercial form of a serger.

 

Still, as is the case with any electronic item, your definition of the best machine (sewing machine vs serger) will vary based on your expectations. For this reason, you should take your time to research through the market while testing each product. With time, you will be able to understand which machine works best for your needs.

 

One thing is for sure though, sergers are definitely a new experience and if your dealer is offering lessons on how to use the machine to its fullest potential, then by all means, make the best of your purchase. However, you are bound to come across many tutorials and books online, all of which are aimed at mastering many different types of projects.

 

Don’t get us wrong, a serger isn’t a necessary tool which is required to sew. However, it does make life so much easier for us, especially against most of today’s fabrics. Another great benefit of sergers is that they add a lot of additional strength to seams, especially when it comes to children’s clothing.

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About Lindsay

Lindsay is relatively new to sewing but has absolutely fallen in love with the hobby. She especially loves sewing bags and hats, and regularly gives them away to friends and family. Sewing has become Lindsays passion!