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Sewing Machines and Sergers

Sewing can be a valuable skill. Many seamstresses are trying to navigate the sea of machines that are available for the home user. A conventional machine is the starting point, and a serger is a very useful sidekick.

What is the difference between sewing machines and sergers?

The sewing machine is the traditional tool for constructing garments, upholstery, and other items made from fabric. It uses two strands of thread. One strand is threaded through the needle from the top, the other comes from the bobbin at the bottom. The fabric is run between the needle and the bobbin, and the two strands of thread interlock, creating the stitch. Trimming the seam and finishing it so it will not ravel requires two extra steps.

Serger machines use three or four strands of thread, depending on the model. All the strands feed on the top of the machine, so there is no bobbin. Sergers sew a straight line to fasten the layers of fabric together, but they also bind the edges with an overlocking stitch and cut off the excess.

What are the features of sergers?

These machines can be used on any fabric to make and finish seams, but they really shine with knits. Serged seams can stretch, so they are great for T-shirts, swimsuits, and workout wear. Serging is also an easy way to make the narrow, rolled hems that add a delicate touch to lingerie. The differential feed on these machines can produce ruffled effects on knits or compensate for stitching that is stretching too much.

Because sergers are so fast, they are useful for long, straight seams. If this describes most of the sewing you do, a serger will let you finish projects in little time.

If you sell the items you sew, a serged edge has a professional appearance. This finish is commonly seen on company manufactured clothing.

Are overlock and cover stitch machines the same as sergers?

The terms “serger” and “overlock” are often used interchangeably. Technically, there are overlock machines that do nothing but finish edges, but you are not likely to encounter them in the home-sewing market.

Cover stitch machines are not the same as sergers. Take a look at the hem of a T-shirt. On the wrong side, the edge is covered by a row of close, slanted stitches. This was done by a serger. On the right side, you will see a double row of straight stitches. This is the cover stitch. While some sergers can do this specialized stitch, they may require an attachment. If you want to use this type of stitching often, you might want to invest in a separate machine.

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