The best serger sewing machines offer a few key advantages over conventional sewing machines. They create stronger, more durable seams and deliver professional results. They’re also faster than traditional sewing machines and create multi-thread stitches, giving garments and other fabrics extra stretch.
Sergers are ideal for hemming, seaming, and edging stretchable fabrics. Unlike other sewing machines, a serger features multiple bobbins and threads. Typically, sergers are the top choice for commercial garment production due to their speed and efficacy.
If you’re someone who foresees taking on a heap of fashion or household fabric projects in the near future, consider investing in a serger machine.
- BEST OVERALL: Brother Serger DZ1234
- RUNNER UP: Brother ST4031HD Serger
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Janome 8002D Serger
- BEST PORTABLE: JUKI MO654DE Portable Serger
Popular Serger Stitches
Serger machines are also called overlock machines because of the overlock stitches that they create. Overlock stitches ensure that the edges and seams of fabrics are finished, which makes both more durable. Sergers reinforce the edges of fabrics to prevent clothing and other materials from unraveling or fraying with use.
Unlike regular sewing machines, sergers use multiple needles and threads. That’s how they create stronger stitches. Essentially, the more threads used in a stitch, the more durable it is. These machines also trim off excess fabric, which speeds up the sewing process and leaves behind a neat and tidy result.
The 4-thread overlock is the most popular stitch for a reason. This stitch is the go-to for finishing seams. It produces a strong, tough stitch that’s unlikely to unravel or fray.
Not as sturdy as the 4-thread overlock, a 3-thread overlock stitch is best for medium-weight fabrics and for creating a blind hem. It’s also ideal for finishing off seams on knits and woven fabrics that don’t see a lot of wear and tear.
Use this stitch to finish off the edges of lightweight fabrics. It’s not a very strong stitch, though, so it’s not ideal for seams.
This stitch allows you to join two portions of fabric together with a flat seam. The resulting seam is stretchy, reversible, and pretty durable.
This is another option for sheer and lightweight fabrics because this stitch has a barely-there quality. The machine rolls the fabric edge and finishes it off with a thread to create this stitch.
This is a very wide seam that creates a super-durable hem. It’s best for medium- or heavyweight fabrics.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Serger Sewing Machine
Are you on the hunt for a serger machine? It can be overwhelming to take in all the features and terminology. Here’s what you need to know before you start browsing for a new serger machine.
Do you even need a serger? If you’re new to sewing, should you go with a traditional sewing machine? Whether you invest in one or the other depends mainly on what kinds of projects you intend to pursue.
If you’re used to a regular sewing machine, you will need some practice to get used to a serger. Starting with a serger isn’t dramatically different from starting with a sewing machine if you’re new. That said, most beginners will get more use out of a conventional sewing machine than a serger. Unless you have specific projects on your list, such as knit garments, that would benefit from a serger.
Purpose and Frequency of Use
If you’re interested in sewing for income, a serger is a worthy investment. It won’t necessarily replace a sewing machine, but it adds a level of professional detail that you can’t get with a regular sewing machine. So, you might need a serger if you:
- Sew a lot
- Want to create a polished, professional look
- Prioritize speed
- Plan to sell your garments
You can use a serger solely for finishing off projects. You can also skip sewing and go straight to the serger for projects that won’t see a lot of wear and tear. A serger should also be your weapon of choice for specific fabrics, like knits, because serger-made seams allow for stretch. A sewing machine can’t compete with that.
Most professional sewers own a sewing machine and serger. Take stock of your desired projects to decide whether you need a serger. These machines are not suitable for:
- Sewing zippers
- Adding buttonholes
- Adding decorative stitches
Here’s what you need to look for if you’re interested in basic serger functionality:
- 3- or 4-thread stitches
- A unit that’s adjustable and easy to thread, preferably with color-coded guides right on the machine (or a built-in needle threader, which is a handy feature for anyone who has trouble with this step)
- A differential feed (where the bottom feeds faster than the top)
- A built-in retractable cutting knife
If you want more versatility from your machine, these features are a must:
- 2-thread stitches in addition to 3- and 4-thread ones
- A more powerful motor to handle more projects
- Additional serger feet
- An adjustable pressure dial
- A high presser foot lift for thicker fabrics
Beyond functionality, other factors to consider include size, weight, adjustability, build material, and motor power.
- Size and weight: There are only a handful of portable sergers on the market. Most models are relatively large and heavy, requiring a permanent setup. Sergers don’t necessarily take up a lot of room, but you’ll need plenty of space if you’re working with big swaths of fabric.
- Adjustability: Adjustable pressure allows you to raise and lower the pressure the machine puts on the fabric. Thick fabrics require more pressure. Most machines have a few settings, but if you want added pressure control, pick a machine with more levels. The best sergers should also allow you to adjust the length and width of stitches.
- Material: Most sergers are made of metal, with a metal or plastic outer casing. Units with more plastic parts aren’t as durable as ones containing mostly metal. While a predominantly metal serger is more expensive, they’re a worthwhile investment for heavy, prolonged use.
- Motor power: Look for a serger that can churn out speeds of at least 1,500 stitches, or revolutions, per minute (SPM). Faster machines tend to be more expensive, but they’re a lot more efficient, too.
Attachments and Accessories
Your serger machine may come with accessories and attachments such as:
- Different foot attachments (e.g., elastic, beading, and cording attachments)
- Tweezers to help with threading on some machines
- A trim catcher to catch excess trim before it falls to the floor
- Mat or padding that goes under the machine and prevents it from bouncing around and damaging surfaces
Our Top Picks
Each of our top picks comes from a highly reputable brand and meets the considerations outlined above.
This compact, yet powerful machine features 22 built-in stitches and comes with a mat to keep the machine steady while in use. It’s noisier and weighs more than the top pick, but it’s a little faster. Users can adjust the stitch length between 2 and 4 millimeters. The stitch width is adjustable as well.
The foot attachments adjust to accommodate thicker fabrics. The color-coded guides help make manual threading user-friendly. That said, this serger may require a more significant learning curve than other machines.
This affordable, sturdy machine features 3- and 4-thread options, a heavy-duty metal frame, and multiple foot attachments. Powerful and speedy, it gets through 1,300 stitches per minute. Users can refer to color-coded thread guides directly on the machine. The wide, adjustable table is great for larger projects.
This serger is a great choice for those who started out with a model heavily encased in plastic and want something a little more durable to last them down the line. However, it’s not a good pick for those looking to use elastic thread with their machine.
This Janome is both easy to use and compact. It’s great for users who aren’t quite ready to commit a ton of space to a serger. Threading is a bit difficult at first, but it shouldn’t take long to get the hang of it. It is versatile enough to handle a variety of fabric types. Like most user-friendly models, it also features a color-coded threading guide. Additionally, it has an accessible tension dial and comes with a handy workbook, tweezers, needles, and other accessories.
The simple portable machine has 2-, 3-, and 4-thread options and offers various adjustments, including stitch width and length. The serger includes multiple foot attachments and has color-coded threading guides. The differential feed allows users to work with a variety of fabrics. Despite its compact design, it’s a powerful machine that performs just as well as full-size models.
FAQs About the Best Sergers
Do you still have some lingering questions about serger machines? Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about serger machines.
Q. How is a serger different from a sewing machine?
A serger is a specialized type of sewing machine that does one job very well: creating polished hems. Unlike a sewing machine, sergers have multiple bobbins, needles, and threads. They’re faster than sewing machines and ideal for finishing off edges.
Q. Do I need a serger and a sewing machine?
It depends entirely on the projects you intend to work on. A serger can’t do certain things that a sewing machine can. It’s useless for sewing zippers, for instance, and isn’t the machine of choice for topstitching.
Q. How do I choose a serger?
Your most important considerations should be your budget and the projects you intend to complete with your new machine. Once you’ve settled on these, look for a machine from a well-known company like Brother, Janome, or Singer.
Q. What is a good serger for beginners?
Try the Janome 8002D Serger. It’s compact and inexpensive. If you’re just starting out with a serger machine, you might not have the desire to invest a lot in your first machine. You may also lack a dedicated space for sewing projects if you’re entirely new to the hobby. That’s why a compact, easy-to-use unit is your safest bet. This one should still have enough stitch options that you’re not constrained when attempting new projects.