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Why a serger?

momee's picture

Should I buy a serger?  I have a good sewing machine, but everybody says its so much better to use a serger when sewing garments.  I can get a 4 thread used one for about $250.  What do you think? Thanks.


Momee

rodezzy2's picture

(post #26739, reply #1 of 26)

I have a serger and rarely use it.  It's great for finishing seams, but I don't construct garments with it.  That doesn't mean that you will be like me, do you have a friend with a serger, will she demo for you?  Or go take a demo at a shop that sells sergers and see what you think you will be comfortable sewing with it before you buy. 


And just to be totally honest, I don't make a lot of clothes in the first place.  But I love finishing the seams of my coats with it.  Especially fabric that is very ravelly.  I've done a simple straight seamed coat with attached dolman sleeves.


I'm sure you will get lots of posts with very good advice. 

momee's picture

(post #26739, reply #2 of 26)

That's kind of what I was thinking.  I do fine with my sewing machine.  However, I do like to sew knits and I am told there is nothing like a serger for knits.

rodezzy2's picture

(post #26739, reply #3 of 26)

I've never done it, but I'm sure they are right.  Anyone here with more knowledge care to chirp in for momee?  She needs more than me.  giggle.

starzoe's picture

(post #26739, reply #4 of 26)

I don't have a serger. I sew everything on a 23 year-old Husqvarna and I sew a lot. Knits can very well be sewn without a serger. Everything from sails to lingerie has been sewn on my various machines and I have never felt the need of a serger but then speed is not a priority.

sewslow67's picture

(post #26739, reply #13 of 26)

I have two sergers, and really use just one of them (although Mary in Colorado has give me such encouragement that I'm going to "get with it" and start doing special things with the other one.  THANKS MARY!!)


I do like using my serger for knits, but ...you don't need one to sew them nicely (as I think Starzoe said already).  Years ago, I taught "Stretch and Sew", and we didn't have sergers back then, and I think the techniques are still valid today and ...sergers just are not a necessity to sew knits nicely.  I do like them for finishing seams, esp. on ravely fabric like Rodezzy mentioned, and I would miss mine terribly.  I suspect that it is more of a personal preference - like a lot of tools.


Good luck with whatever you decide.  Everyone has made some great suggestions to consider. 


Edited 4/24/2009 1:00 am by sewslow67

Crazy K's picture

(post #26739, reply #5 of 26)

I have a total of 5 sergers in my sewing room........one is going to be sold to a neighbor and one actually belongs to DD but resides at my house due to lack of space at hers.  I use my sergers more than my sewing machine when I'm making garments and often home dec. things as well.  When sewing for the DGC sometimes I construct a whole garment without the use of the sewing machine..........all done on the serger.  But that's just me..........I like the finished look and for play clothes, the seams are tough and take lots of wear.  I have one serger set for coverhems so when making knit shirts, etc. I can press my hem, go to the serger and have a nice, durable hem in no time.


There......you have my nickel's worth..........for whatever it's worth!! ha ha


Kay

Ralphetta's picture

(post #26739, reply #6 of 26)

I love my serger. It makes certain steps so, so, fast and professional looking. It doesn't replace couture hand work, but it's great for everyday things and gives me more time to spend on the better things. I didn't think I needed one until I had an opportunity to use one for a while. Yours is a frequent question and if you SEARCH you can find a variety of opinions pro and con.

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #26739, reply #7 of 26)

Before buying a used machine, I would want to "test drive" it just as you would a car.  Do a bit of research online and do a search here as we have discussed alot about sergers.  I am a real advocate of the serger and use it for so many things you wouldn't believe it.  You can also test drive the machines at a dealership and compare prices and ask questions.  $250.00 may be an excellent price, but depends on what you are getting for your money.  They range from a few hundred up to over a thousand dollars depending on what they do.  You don't need all the bells and whistles, but Coverstitch capability is a feature that I love for hemming knits and even blue jeans and for beautiful decorative serging.  The two or three thread rolled hem is a great feature too.  You might try www.patternreview.com and look at their machine reviews and see if they have a review of the machine you are considering as well as others.  Mary


 

KharminJ's picture

(post #26739, reply #8 of 26)

Good Morning! And Welcome to one of the warmest, most helpful groups of fun people you'll ever find!

I second what others have said, about test-driving the machine you're thinking about, and others (to see what you'd get, and what you wouldn't)... Also, look into what kind of service is available locally for that brand before you buy it. It's always a good idea to give a new-to-you machine a check-up (and maybe a tune-up) by a pro, before you start, so budget for that, too. (Exactly like buying a used car!)

Bright Blessings!

Kharmin

Sancin's picture

(post #26739, reply #9 of 26)

I don't have a serger and and never felt I wanted one. I both quilt and sew. My sewing machine can finish seams just fine or I make enclosed seams. I think it depends upon the type of items you sew or want to make.

If I ever wanted one, I would see if I could rent/borrow one for a month or two, just to see how often I would use it. Sometimes a demo or trial in a shop promises more than they deliver or help you realize how often you would use it.

Betakin's picture

(post #26739, reply #10 of 26)

I can't imagine not having a serger if not for just the time saving alone. Serging also gives a professional look to finished garments as you can tell when you purchase items made by the garment industry.


I realize that many use their sergers just to give a nice cut and finish to their seams and edges but sergers are used for so much more. Gathering for instance is done so nicely on a serger and soooooo much quicker than when using a machine. Many of the items purchased for the home, like bedskirts and ruffled curtains are also done by serger and you can do them so quickly on a serger at home. Sergers are all about edges and they do make beautiful edges on blankets and throws, necklines and cuffs even double edges using great types of different threads and yarns.


You can also use your serger so much faster for doing pintucks, attaching ribbon, braid and elastic and lace plus couching and felling, applying beading, piping and making button loops. The small rolled hems done on a serger on certain fabrics cannot be done the same on a sewing machine not to mention how fast they can be done on a serger. Besides rolled hems a serger can also do fishline hems and blind hems.


Flatlocking can also be done on a serger not to mention the different types of threads, yarns, pearl cottons and ribbon floss that can be used to acheive great deco looks on your clothing and home dec.


Sergers are also great fun when exploring their capabilities. A serger can expand your sewing ability to the limits.


Edited 4/23/2009 6:22 pm ET by Betakin

Sewista's picture

(post #26739, reply #11 of 26)

I have a basic serger that I bought new 15 years ago. I could not live without it. I use it to finish my seams on all of my basic sewing. For that alone it is worth the 250$. I sew a lot of linen and love to stitch my seams, serge them together to finish, then topstitch them on the right side, very professional looking finish. And above all it is fast fast fast..My sewing output tripled once I got a serger.

rodezzy2's picture

(post #26739, reply #12 of 26)

Wow, you guys sound so proficient with the serger, I'm glad you gave her some experienced comments.  I'm not that proficient with my serger.  I need to take some classes.

momee's picture

(post #26739, reply #14 of 26)

Thank you everyone for your answers to my question.  It has been very helpful and thought provoking.


Betakin, how did you learn to do all of these things on the serger? Is there a book or a class that you recommend?  And what kind of a serger do you have and what features do you think are a must?

Betakin's picture

(post #26739, reply #15 of 26)

I think the best way to learn about serging is to first learn about the serger you purchase. Classes are nice but one can still be self taught by learning the different parts of sergers and their functions and practice then go from there by reading all the different books you can find at your library including videos and TV shows like Sewing with Nancy who has been doing her shows for 25 years. There used to be more shows like hers on TV in the past (like Shirley Adams) and it is a shame there are not many like them any longer.


There are many brands of sergers offered today with 4 threads and differential feed that offer more than enough for most home sewing with some models having more bells and whistles than others. Some models might need to have the plate changed to do a rolled hem where others don't need to change the plate but instead have a little lever that needs adjusting and some models can drop the stitch finger. Some 4 thread models do only 3 or 4 thread stitches while others can also do 2 thread stitches besides 3 and 4 threads. Some brands and models might be more noisy than others and some need a lot of oil where some models need none.


There are also the 5 thread models and 8 and 10 thread models with some being computerized and some not. I suggest to try out as many you can to see which model you are most comfortable using.


I have owned several sergers through the years and my older Babylock served me well for many years until I went to a model with more features that besides doing many overlock stitches can also do chain stitch and 3 cover hem stitches, has auto tensions and is only a 4 thread serger. I also own another basic 4 thread model with a free arm with a different knife system but is not as heavy duty as my coverlock but both machines get used equally depending on the project. I have never owned a serger that I did not like and put to good use. I hope you find a serger too that you love and do have fun using it.


 


Edited 4/23/2009 9:47 pm ET by Betakin

momee's picture

(post #26739, reply #16 of 26)

Thank you for the comprehensive answer.  When you sew a garment with the serger, do you also need the sewing machine for some tasks?

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #26739, reply #18 of 26)

not necessarily, it depends on the serger model's capabilities, the pattern, and your abilities.   I often use only the serger for complete garments.  Serger Secrets has many examples of garments as well as Secrets to Successful Sewing by Rodale Press that may be helpful to you. 


Kwik Sew Patterns has serger specific patterns, as does www.lindaleeoriginals.com 


Hope this is helpful.  Mary

momee's picture

(post #26739, reply #19 of 26)

Everybody, this has been so helpful.  I am totally bowled over by how nice everyone is to take the time to respond so thoughtfully to my question.  I have decided to read up on the subject, but I think I will buy one.  However, I am glad you reminded me of how important dealer support is, especially with a piece of equipment that, to my eye, looks pretty complicated.  Therefore, I am going to buy a new machine instead of used one.  I think the savings in headaches and stress from not knowing what I am doing and having no one to turn to is worth the extra couple of hundred dollars.  But I am very excited now at the prospect of improving my sewing skills and learning new skills and of a greater professional look to my work.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I can't say it enough.


Momee


 

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #26739, reply #20 of 26)

Most dealers will provide free "learn your machine classes".  I hope you find the perfect machine for you!  I love to serge and hope you will too.  Another thought if someone hasn't mentioned it is: do they do any necessary maintainance on the machine locally by a certified brand name serviceperson?  You probably don't want to have to pay shipping for a heavy machine if it has a problem.  Mary

marymary's picture

(post #26739, reply #21 of 26)

Another use for a serger that was not mentioned is serging the edges of fabric before you wash it.  All my fabric goes directly to the serger from the shopping bag and then into the washer.

momee's picture

(post #26739, reply #25 of 26)

Great idea.  Thank you.


Momee


 

ThreadKoe's picture

(post #26739, reply #22 of 26)

Dealer Support, Lessons, and Someone to Ask Questions Of on and ongoing basis. Worth every extra penny. We sometimes forget to pay for the brain behind the machine. Cathy

sewslow67's picture

(post #26739, reply #23 of 26)

Hi Mary,  I'm wondering if I got the wrong book, as I bought "Serger Secrets: High-Fashion Techniques for Creating Great-Looking Clothes".  I thought that was what you had recommended, or was it just one of several?  I can't find your original note.


Either way, it is a wonderful book and I am slack-jawed when looking at all the creative ways to serge.  It just arrived a couple of days ago, and want to thank you again for all your suggestions, help and encouragement (see message #14 above).  After studying a number of the photos and reading about some of the techniques, I already have some ideas of what I might do to add interest to some of my summer dresses.  Thank you again, Mary.  I really appreciate "the push" in the right direction.  ;-)  I needed that!


Edited 4/25/2009 11:28 am by sewslow67

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #26739, reply #24 of 26)

That's the one!  I went and looked at the book to make sure.  Guess I forgot the end of the title when I told you about it, but that's the right one!  I am so glad that you like it too!  That's how I got so inspired to learn all about what the serger can do.  It's amazing isn't it?  So happy to hear that you are enjoying your serger for more than finishing seams.  Such a joy!  Mary

MaryinColorado's picture

(post #26739, reply #17 of 26)

Serger Secrets is my favorite serger book.  It has great illustrations and instructions for many techniques.  Secrets to Successful Sewing also has some great serger info.  Both are by Rodale Press


www.lindaleeoriginals is a great serger website and she has a nice workbook and serger specific patterns too.


www.nancysnotions.com has some great serger books too. 


Many of the stores that sell sewing machines/sergers also have books on serging.  Sometimes when you buy a serger you can order a large workbook for the specific model you are buying also. 


Hope this helps!  Mary

Clairezbo's picture

(post #26739, reply #26 of 26)

You will love the serger. There are lots of different uses. And that is a very good price. It finishes seams beautifully. Look at the store bought cloths you have. they will all be serged. And if it has a rolled hemmer, you will love it on silks, and jerseys. I use mine allot, in fact it sits right next to my conventional machine, and i switch from one to the other