Top 10 Big Ticket Items Every DIYer Should Own: day 6

March 4, 2011

A Serger.
I know that a serger can be a difficult item to justify buying. I mean, yeah, it just finishes edges. And if you were just starting out learning to sew I wouldn't recommend buying one. Often I get along without it. But if you're going to be selling anything on etsy or giving things as gifts it's a GREAT item to have. Plus the feeling of putting on a homemade garment without a whole bunch of stringies hanging off the inside is immeasurable.

But also, if you are in a hurry, having a serger can save oodles of time. For instance, one Christmas I had the family over but didn't have enough placemats. In just under 20 minutes I cut rectangles out of scrap fabric and serged a 'rolled hem' over the edges in a contrasting color. They looked like I had bought them in a store.

Here are a few tips I would recommend for those of you thinking of buying a serger.

1. If you can afford to, get a serger with 5 threads. This will make a chain stitch and coverstitch. A chain stitch will exclude a lot of your sewing machine usage. It's basically a long stitch next to your overlocking threads. If you ever used a serger you know that you must sew your pieces together and then serge the edges. Otherwise your seams open a bit and show all your overlocking threads. And that's no good.
A coverstitch is what is seen in the hems. Mostly knits. It's basically what looks like two parallel lines on the top sides but underneath is an overlocked stitch. Instead of overlocking the edges and then going back and hemming the fabric, the overlock stitch will do this all at once, at the same time. Neato.

2. DON'T exclude buying a used or off-brand one. I bought mine off Craigslist. It was brand new in the box and only $150. I think I got a good deal. Although it didn't come with a cover stitch feature which I probably would have made a priority if I would have known better. But if you have a little more $$$$ to spend I would recommend searching Craigslist or ebay for a used newer model Babylock serger with all the best features for waaaay cheaper than retail.
3. Get at least four threads.

4. Don't give up on threading your machine. I won't paint any illusions for you. It's a b**ch to thread a serger. Whenever my thread snaps I feel like crying. Fingers don't seem to fit in the tiny spaces you must fit the threads through. It's always helpful to have a DVD that comes with your serger. If you bought a used serger that didn't come with a DVD I recommend searching youtube for a video on how to thread a serger. Maybe use the keywords of your serger's brand.
5. Now for those of you lucky enough to justify spending a lot of money or just plain rich I recommend getting a serger with an automatic jet stream threader. Babylock makes sergers that do this. That way you don't have to ever worry about the whole threading debacle. I've never seen one in person but from what I've read one touch of a lever and the thread is jet-aired through the tubular loopers. Also the thread tension automatically adjusts itself so you don't have to worry about choosing the correct tension. Like a dream.

My two cents on serging. Hope it helps some of you who might have been in the dark about purchasing one!

32 {comments}:

The Geeky Seamstress said... Best Blogger Tips

I just got my first serger today :-) it's 4 threads, I'm SO EXCITED!!!

marissa said... Best Blogger Tips

oh gosh i've got three sergers, one lives at my mom's though so she can help me. Of course I sew LOAD for my etsy store, but even before I started that I had one and I LOVED it.

My friend tells people it's like a microwave, technically unnecessary since you can do the same stuff on the sewing machine but once you have one you don't know how you lived with out it since you can do everything quicker and easier and in the case of the serger I'm going to say nice

Suzanne Beaubien said... Best Blogger Tips

Another great reason to own a serger: making ruffles is a sooooo fast when you use a gathering stitch (I just got mine and am finding ways to save time with every project).

An Ivory Beauty said... Best Blogger Tips

I just started using my serger... I am in LOVE!

Malinda Jane Sieg said... Best Blogger Tips

I have to tell you, I LOVE your 10 big ticket item posts. They are so helpful. I think you are amazingly skilled, so what you say goes a long way. Thank you!

Catherine G said... Best Blogger Tips

I have a babylock serger and I will never have any other kind - I love it so much and I have never had a moment's trouble with it in the 8 years I have owned it.

Chloé and Me said... Best Blogger Tips

Love your post! I just got an overlock machine for my b-day back in December and can't wait to use it, I am just too involved in my other endeavours!! Typical me, I sewed like a mad lady when I was 38 weeks pregnant, tons of bags, a dress (silk! if you can believe it), a long skirt including a lining! and summer I am up to my neck in jewelry making! Ha, gotta love maternity leave in Québec of one year!!!

Jenny said... Best Blogger Tips

I have the Brother featured at the top -- probably the cheapest serger you can get, but I saw enough really positive reviews, and since I'm still learning to sew, I knew I wasn't getting a serger otherwise. I love it! I would love a coverstitch and an automatic tension adjustment, but whatever.

Here's why I'm commenting, though. If you're having trouble threading, just stay the course. Don't do the knot-and-pull-through trick. It seems so ridiculously impossible, but if you get out the manual and just do it, every single time it will get easier. After 15 times, you will not curse to rethread it. I promise. After 15 times, you'll think, "Okay, no problem."

Jenny said... Best Blogger Tips

sew. I hardly ever saw anything.

Jenny said... Best Blogger Tips

oh, sorry. nevermind. I had it right. This is embarrassing.

Bless by Tone said... Best Blogger Tips

now I just want one even more - thanks for the good advices. Tone

Trina said... Best Blogger Tips

Ordered a Brother the other day for personal use. I didn't want to spend alot since I don't sell what I make. It should be here Monday, so excited!

jenni said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh my word. I don't do enough serging to justify the fancy one, but holy freaking cow i want a jet-stream-threaded serger!!!!!

icandyhandmade said... Best Blogger Tips

I bought a brother 1034d, which was less that $200 new, but since I mainly sew for myself it is just fine! It is a little loud and only 4 threads, but I think it works like a champ. Super happy with that purchase!

Marci said... Best Blogger Tips

Marissa's friend is right! it's like a microwave and now I can't go without one! ha!

i have one of those wonderful self threading Babylock sergers. I WON IT FREE in an online drawing I didn't even realize I was entered in! The Lord is so good!

Jane said... Best Blogger Tips

I love using my serger to quickly run over the cut edges of new fabric before I do a pre-wash. Saves all those tangled frayed edges.

Sheila said... Best Blogger Tips

My MIL has a jet stream serger and I have been using it for years, I think it's a HUGE PAIN, but I haven't used the other kind.

Ana said... Best Blogger Tips

This is definitely a must have. When I first started learning how to sew I would use the zigzag stitch twice to finish my seams and it worked really well. I have a Kenmore now and I love it!

Kayla said... Best Blogger Tips

I got a serger for FREE from freecycle (I don't know if you have that in your area but I got lucky) and have been so intimidated I haven't even tried to thread it yet! I need to get my butt in gear I think =)

sjones said... Best Blogger Tips

I actually don't think its that bad threading mine I have a brother and its way easy!
they do sell a brother cover stitch that is a very good deal if you want that.
Also I've heard the serger that can both serge and coverstitch are a big PAIN to switch, So I don't know if getting one that can do both would that great.

Christie said... Best Blogger Tips

Are 5 thread sergers uncommon? I can only find one from Singer. Does anyone have recommendations?

Tracy said... Best Blogger Tips

LOVE my Baby Lock Evolve Serger!

by night said... Best Blogger Tips

I just bought one today!

Angel said... Best Blogger Tips

Definitely a must have that i agree with. Mine has saved me so much time, and makes things so much stronger when pieced together.
It is a bitch to thread. Not complicated just hard to get stupid fourth looper in its slot.
Over all I highly recommend sergers.

a little sewing said... Best Blogger Tips

I agree with everthing you said. Once I knew I would really use it, I splurged on a Babylock. Best serger ever!

catslye said... Best Blogger Tips

awesome! great advice - exactly what I needed!

Ana @ Don't Fear the Ripper said... Best Blogger Tips

I got that Brother serger almost a year ago and LOVE it. Sometimes it's hard to figure out the tension, but still, I wouldn't use anything else to finish my seams.

Ashley said... Best Blogger Tips

@marissa - that microwave analogy is genius!

Oh my goodness THANK YOU for this post! A serger is definitely next on my list as far as big ticket items go.

Your list on this will be extremely helpful! I've spent time researching sergers, but never quite knew what would be best for me (currently a hobby garment maker, wouldn't mind one day selling a few things in boutiques, but don't need anything for mass production). One thing's for sure, I'll definitely splurge on an auto-threader! I'm certainly not rich, but I'm definitely not patient either. ;)

Susan said... Best Blogger Tips

I have been sewing now for 3 1/2 years and I am on my 2nd serger, the babylock. My first want was from Walmart and it worked well for me. I realized that since I mostly sew knit fabrics, the upgrade was worth it.

Kelley said... Best Blogger Tips

I hate hate hate threading my serger. Takes me forever. I try soooo hard not to!

Laura Wilkerson said... Best Blogger Tips

Ugh! I've had my serger for over a year now and am scared to death of it! I don't know why cause i've been sewing since I was knee high to my momma but I can't figure this stupid thing out! I thread and rethread and rethread and cry then thread again then say a bad word and thread again and then have a glass of wine and forget about it! Maybe I should drink the wine before trying to use the machine? BOOOO!!!! I wish you could give classes on using a serger or maybe therapy for those of us who are loosing hair over it :)
I found your blog through No Big Dill and lovin' it!
Many blessings!

Angelica said... Best Blogger Tips

I just bought my grandmothers 2 year old serger, when she bought the Babylock with automatic treader. She was having some serious trouble treading her old one (a Bernina 1150MDA). On the Babylock, it is only the 2 lower treads that is treaded by air, but the 2 other treads have been made easier to tread, by making more room for the fingers. I am getting mine this sunday, and I am so exited about it! I am glad to get a machine that I know well (my mother has a similar one), and is very easy and fast to tread.

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