Nebraska Cooperative Extension NF 93-142
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What is a serger? A serger is a sewing companion for the traditional sewing machine. Also known as an overlock, it can stitch, trim, and overcast in a single motion. A serger streamlines the construction process through convenience and speed. A serger can sew up to 1700 stitches per minute whereas the traditional sewing machine sews from 700 - 1100 stitches per minute.
Sergers can do wonderful things within the construction process, but they are a companion and cannot replace the traditional sewing machine. Sergers work well for making finished narrow seams, rolled hems, blindstitched hems, and overcast seams. Sergers alone can produce garments that only require those applications such as basic t-shirts, swimming suits, and table linens. But, sergers cannot do everything a sewing machine will do, such as install zippers in "inside" areas.
Sergers may look similar and their stitches resemble each other until various serger types are identified. There are six types of sergers determined by the number of threads they use to create stitches. The types are: (1) 2-thread, (2) 3-thread, (3) 4/2-thread, (4) 4/3-thread, (5) 4-thread, and (6) 5-thread. Depending on the types of serger, the following stitches can be made:
Which serger is right for me? As with most consumer products, the more features a serger has, the higher the price. Do not buy more than you think you will use, but do not buy one that will quickly fall short of your needs. Determine your needs and what you want the serger to do before shopping.
To help determine your needs, ask yourself the following questions:
After asking yourself the previous questions, use the chart to determine which serger is for you.
|Types of Stitches||2-Thread||3-Thread||4/2 Thread||3/4 Thread||4-Thread||5-Thread|
|2-Thread Overedge||yes||some models||yes||some models||yes||some models|
|2-Thread Chain Stitch||yes||yes||yes|
|3/4 Thread Overlock||yes||some models|
|4/2 Thread Safety Stitch||yes||yes||some models|
You have determined the type of serger best for your needs and the brand with the best operating ease. Now you must shop for your serger before you buy. Shopping before you buy includes "test driving" and shopping for a dealer. Use the Serger Buyer's Checklist to help you compare brands.
When "test driving" several different sergers, take scraps from recent projects and note the answers to the following questions:
The last consideration when buying a serger is a dealer. Having a good, local dealer will make operating a serger easier. When shopping for a dealer, consider the following questions:
SERGER BUYER'S CHECKLIST
|Serger 1||Serger 2||Serger 3|
|MANUFACTURER AND MODEL NUMBER|
|WARRANTY ON PARTS AND LABOR|
|LESSONS INCLUDED IN TOTAL COST: yes or no|
|FEATURES OF SERGER:|
|1. Number of threads used: 2, 3, 4, 5|
|2. Type of stitches:|
|b. rolled edge|
|c. blind hem|
|e. safety stitch|
|3. Stitch quality on fabrics most commonly used|
|4. Ease of changing stitch width and length|
|5. Ease of changing to rolled edge|
|6. Needle: conventional or industrial|
|7. Knife blades: movable or stationary|
|8. Location of needle guard or knife blade guard|
|9. Location of presser foot lever|
|10. Differential Feed: yes or no|
|11. Threading: color-coded thread guide/threading charts|
|12. Threading: ease of threading lower loopers|
|13. Thread: cone adapters and spool caps|
|14. Ease of adjusting tension: dials numbers, color-coded, or unmarked|
|15. Ease of cleaning and oiling|
|16. Power switch: yes or no|
|17. Location of power switch and light switch|
|18. Location of light|
|19. Stability of machine when stitching|
|20. Size of serger bed: adequate work space|
|21. Instruction manual: easy to understand|
|22. Attachments: availability and/or additional costs|
|a. carrying handle|
|b. free arm|
|c. special table|
|d. dust cover|
|e. travel case|
|f. accessory case contents|
|g. waste container|
Electronic version issued July 1995
Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Acts of May 8 and June 30, 1914, in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Elbert C. Dickey, Director of Cooperative Extension, University of Nebraska, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension educational programs abide with the non-discrimination policies of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the United States Department of Agriculture.