Four Signs You Should Invest in a Serger
We hear it all the time from our customers. Do I really need a serger? Are they hard to thread? Can I get by with my sewing machine? My answers to those questions are yes, usually, and yes.
When I started getting serious about sewing I was handed down a Pfaff sewing machine from my mother. The machine utterly hated me. It couldn’t wind a bobbin, the tension was always off and I had to rethread the machine to fix every issue.
Then as a gift one year to her three daughters, my mom bought my sisters and I sergers. She purchased what is affectionately referred to by many in the online sewing world as the “blogger serger”. She bought us the Brother 1034D. I had used my mom’s serger once or twice so I was familiar with how to sew with one. But I had no idea how to thread it.
For the first few months of owning the serger I rarely touched it. I wasn’t yet obsessed with sewing with knits, and to be honest I didn’t see the benefit of finishing my seams. I was still a total newbie at sewing garments.
But as my curiosity for new sewing projects peaked and my frustration over my Pfaff grew, I forced myself to use that serger. Today, I’m not sure what I’d do without one.
So yes, any level of sewist can get by without a serger, but I’m a total proponent of making this purchase. So if you’re on the fence, read the list below. If any of these steps sound like you, give it some thought.
1. You sew mostly garments.
One day you will realize that unfinished garment seams, especially on woven garments, just aren't durable. As the fabric frays your seams will start to unravel making the garment completely unwearable.
If you sew garments, a serger is a great way to tidy up your seam allowances and keep your handmade wardrobe looking great. You can still sew the initial seam with your sewing machine if you’re hell bent on using it. But running that sewn seam allowance through the serger will make your garments stand the test of time.
2. You prefer to sew with knits.
A serger’s stitch is perfect for stretch fabrics. You can throw on that fitted Senna Dress and be sure that you’ll never pop a seam no matter how snug the fit. When I've used a stretch stitch with my sewing machine, inevitably a seam would pop in high stress areas like armscyes and waistbands. This has never happened with a serged seam.
I especially love sewing my knits on my serger because I don’t have to use my sewing machine in combination. Certain patterns like the Julia Cardigan or the Lane Raglan can be sewn entirely with a serger.
3. Your sewing time is limited.
We know that many of you sew during the hours that your kids are napping or after they go to bed. Maybe you sew for a few hours after you get home from your full time job. Whatever the reason, if your sewing time is limited, a serger can help you whiz through projects faster.
Because a serger sews a seam and finishes the seam allowance at the same time, it can cut the length of a sewing project almost in half.
4. Rolled edges drive you crazy.
Even though I know that knit fabrics don’t fray, a rolled up seam allowance on a knit garment drives me batty. It makes it difficult to sew other intersecting seams and it causes unnecessary bulk.
Sergers create a nice flat seam allowance when sewing knit garments. Your waistbands and side seams look neat and professional.
What serger is best?
You’re convinced? Yes! Now that you’re ready to take the plunge, let’s talk about sergers on the market and which is best for you.
Brother 1034D: “Blogger Serger"
You’ve likely seen a photo or two of the Brother 1034D on your favorite sewing blogs. It’s the only serger I’ve ever owned and it’s going on its fifth year of daily use. This serger is affordable and pretty darn trustworthy, but being at the lower end of the price bracket it does have a few drawbacks. It’s pretty loud, tough to thread, and requires constant cleaning and oiling. Few sewing shops service Brother sergers. But with a little care and maintenance this serger will serve you well for many years.
I sew with a Janome 6600 sewing machine and I can’t speak highly enough about this brand. My sewing machine is an absolute beast and I can only assume their sergers get the job done too. I’ve used a Janome serger only twice before when teaching at Fancy Tiger Crafts. I found it a bit hard to thread, but otherwise the stitch and tension seemed to be spot on with little adjustment. Plus, your local Janome dealer will likely keep your serger in good working order.
If you’re ready to shell out the big bucks, buy a Babylock. When my current serger bites the dust, I’ll be getting one of these. I’ve demoed several Babylocks at my local sewing shop and they are revolutionary. Some Babylock sergers thread themselves with the push of a button. Some models never need tension adjustments. The machine senses the density of the fabric and adjusts the tension automatically. If you want to skip the entry level machines and go straight for the top, Babylock is where you should look
Indiesew.com has no affiliation with the above mentioned brands.
So yes, you can totally get by without a serger. But if you've been sewing for awhile and you're ready to take your hobby to the next level, you might consider the investment. Get advice from your friends who sew with sergers. Visit your local fabric store and get their opinions. Above all, do your research. And when you take the plunge, be patient with getting to know your sergers quirks. Once you master this tool you'll never look back.
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