How serious are you about sewing? Since you’re on the lookout for a serger machine, you either don’t know what you’re getting yourself into, or you’re an experienced sewer. I’m only saying that because sewing is becoming a lost skill. There aren’t that many people who pass on the tradition. Mostly because we live in an incredibly fast-paced world, where few people have the patience for a complicated hobby. Also, why sew something that you could buy online, cheaper and more easily than making it?
Thankfully, that isn’t true for everyone. Some people still have an interest in learning how to make clothing and decor. Instead of buying the same mass-produced stuff as everyone else, you might want to set yourself apart and add a touch of unique style. If your primary interest is making clothing, I imagine you’ve heard great things about serger machines. But before you leap, it’s a good idea to look into the details.
First, do you need a serger? A serger is different from a standard sewing machine. It can do some things a regular sewing machine can’t. At the same time, it has some limitations. Next, if you’ve decided you need a serger machine, how do you pick a good one? It turns out, there are some specific qualities you’ll need to keep in mind.
What Is a Serger Machine?
A serger machine is also known as an overlocker. It commonly uses three, four, or five threads to sew a seam. Some devices may use more or less, but these are the most common. They create beautiful and durable seams. Not only do they make your garments sturdier, they simultaneously trim and finish the edge for you. That keeps your projects looking professional and tidy.
You should use a sewing machine first and go over it with the serger machine afterward. So don’t skip over the fact that you should have a sewing machine long before you have a serger machine. A regular sewing machine has a wider variety of uses. A serger machine has a more specific purpose.
Why Should You Buy a Serger Machine?
Serger machines are not the best for all types of sewing because they are for specific jobs. Specifically, a serger is made for sewing garments. It can make the job quick and easy once you learn your way around your machine. However, there will be a bit of a learning curve when you first use your device.
A serger is best for clothing or decor because reinforcing the seam of your garments will help them stand the test of time. If you’re making something that will go through the wash on a routine basis, you may need the extra security. Otherwise, your project may begin to unravel much more quickly than a professionally made piece of clothing.
A serger machine will give you many different stitching options and also keep certain fabrics from rolling up at the seams and looking messy. They will also make sewing specific materials much easier. Any material with a lot of stretch or elastic can be challenging to sew without making it stretch and bunch as you go. Serger machines are a huge help in that area. They are also extremely handy for making perfectly rolled seams, ruffles, or cover stitching. But you will have to do your research to know what you’re looking for.
What Should You Look for in a Serger Machine?
There are a few specific functions that you may want in a serger machine. These functions can vary from machine to machine. Basic designs are commonly much cheaper. However, there are a few handy functions you can find in the more expensive devices.
Most serger machines have a differential feed. That is the primary function that makes sewing stretchable fabrics possible. It allows you to adjust the feed dogs to keep knit and spandex fabrics from stretching out as you sew.
We all know auto-threading is the way to go. But it usually comes with a bit of a price tag. It’s difficult to find a machine that has auto threading at a reasonable price. Instead, you’ll have more luck finding machines with color-coded threading guides. That will make the whole process less confusing, and it is relatively universal across these devices.
You should also remember that most devices will come pre-threaded from the factory. Taking a look at the professionally threaded serger will give you an idea of how everything is supposed to look. So it might not be a bad idea to study it a little before diving in.
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Automatic and adjustable tensions
A common difference you’ll find in these devices is the tension controls. Some will include automatic tension control that will be a huge help. That is an excellent feature if you have a hard time finding the perfect setting for different fabrics. But most machines will come with an instruction guide that will help if you don’t have the automatic feature.
How We Reviewed
We looked at a variety of mid-priced sergers. You can find a few for less than those on our list and a very large number that are more expensive. In addition, serger veterans highly recommended the machines on our list for beginner and intermediate users.
In our review process, we considered the features that sewing enthusiasts might want. And then we factored in customer reviews, so you could see what actual consumers thought of their purchases. This list is in no particular order.
How much will you pay for a serger machine?
There is a wide selection of serger machines, and we will only be covering the tip of the iceberg. We chose five of the highest rated serger machines, and you can expect to pay anywhere from $170 to $415 for the products on this list. But there are serger machines available that can exceed $1,000. It all depends on what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend.
The 5 Best Serger Machines
There are a lot of brands on the market, but the most common are Brother, Singer, Juki, and Janome. Another important name is Baby Lock. Unfortunately, Baby Lock serger machines are only sold in select stores. The devices and their features are on their website. But since they aren’t usually sold online, it is hard to nail down exact prices and unbiased customer reviews. We decided not to include them on this list but feel free to check them out.
1. Brother 1034D and 1034DX
You will find two versions of this Brother serger machine, the Brother 1034D and the 1034DX. There are subtle differences between the two. The control panel, lighting, and stitch lengths are the main differences. They perform similarly, but the 1034D may be easier for left-handed users and the 1034DX for right-handed users.
Other than those small differences, however, they are the same machine. They perform at high speeds of 1,300 stitches per minute with a capacity of 3 or 4 threads. Both include color-coded threading, convenient stitch control, and a removable trim trap. Each of these machines has a differential feed for smooth stitching. The 1034D can stitch at a width of 1.0 to 4.0 millimeters, while the 1034DX is a bit more limited at 2.0 to 4.0 millimeters stitch width.
Both come with a 25-year limited warranty and tech support. These machines are famous for their ease of use, and instructional DVD. But tech support is only a phone call away if you need any help.
Even the price is similar, and they cost about $180 to $190. Amazon customers loved the reliability of these devices and gave them an excellent rating of 4.3 out of 5.0 stars.
2. Singer Professional 5 14T968DC Serger
If you’re looking for a larger thread capacity, you might want to consider the Singer Professional 5. It has a capacity of anywhere from two to five threads, self-adjusting tension, and a wide range of stitch options. That includes four rolled hem settings. You also get a helpful color-coded threading diagram, detachable trim trap, and multiple accessories. This Singer is another fast machine that runs at a speed of 1,300 stitches per minute.
Using this serger machine is relatively simple, but it will take some time to learn the ropes. It isn’t the best for absolute beginners. Singer includes a CD workbook, an instruction manual, and a 25-year limited warranty. The price of this device may be the most challenging thing to get over since you can find it for $400 to $415. Amazon customers didn’t mind the price much and gave it a solid rating of 4.0 out of 5.0 stars.
3. JUKI MO654DE Portable Thread Serger
The Juki portable serger machine uses two, three, or four threads. It includes a color-code threading diagram, differential feed, and a powerful knife system for clean trimming. The safety switch keeps this machine from accidents while threading. The safety switch is for the best because this Juki serger machine runs at 1,500 stitches per minute.
The lower looper threader disengages for easy looper threading. Cutting width or stitch length adjustment is simple. But many customers are not impressed with the instruction manual that came with this device. It might be easier to learn with instructional videos.
The Juki MO654DE is about $315 to $330. Even though this isn’t the most comfortable machine to use at first, Amazon customers gave it an excellent rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars.
4. Singer ProFinish and the Singer Stylist Serger Machines
If you’re looking for an incredibly convenient serger machine, you might want to consider the Singer ProFinish or Stylist. Believe it or not, they are the same, except for some cosmetic differences. They have a two to four thread capacity and an optional free arm for sewing sleeves and cuffs. Both are highly portable and run at 1,300 stitches per minute. They also have adjustable stitch width and length, a differential feed, and color-code guide for lay-in threading. Singer includes multiple maintenance accessories, along with a 25-year limited warranty.
You can find both the Singer ProFinish and Stylist for about $170 to $185. Both have Amazon customer ratings of 3.9 out of 5.0 stars.
5. Janome Magnolia 7318 Sewing Machine
The Janome Magnolia is another portable serger machine with a sturdy and reliable design. You can use three or four threads, and it also runs at 1,300 stitches per minute. The cutting width can be set anywhere from 2.0 to 5.7 millimeters. You can deactivate the upper knife for decorative sewing as well. It also includes a blind stitch foot and a beading attachment. Not to mention, changing over to the rolled hem sewing mode is effortless.
The Janome Magnolia is a perfect option for beginners. It has a five-year limited warranty. The color-coded threading diagram and a user manual make everything easy to understand. The Janome Magnolia comes at a reasonable price of $240 to $255 with an Amazon customer rating of 4.4 out of 5.0 stars.
The Best Serger Machines: Time to Sew like a Pro
These are the top five serger machines on the market. At least, they’re the most popular. Listening to experienced customers is the best way to get a feel for hands-on devices. They are the ones who will be able to explain the ins and outs of these complicated machines. That is why we focus on real customer reviews.
Which is the best one? Well, for our money, we like the Janome. It’s a powerful, feature-rich machine that’s simple to use. It comes with an excellent warranty. On top of that, the price is right. Janomes are typically high-end machines, and for this much machine, it’s a bargain.
Before you purchase any serger machine, however, make sure that it’s the right decision for you. Starting with a serger can be intimidating because it will be a lot to keep track of. It is a better idea to get experience with a sewing machine first and decide to add a serger to your collection. If you sew clothing very often, you might make that leap pretty quickly. But at least you will know you’re ready to take on one of these formidable machines.
If you already have a serger machine feel free to share your experience in the comment box below!Featured image via Amazon.