What’s a serger, and should I buy one?

I remember when I found out what serger was. I was 19, and I was shocked that it took me so long to pay attention to how my t-shirts were sewn together. So if you don’t know what a serger is, you’re definitely not alone. If you’re wearing a t-shirt right now, the interior side seams were sewn together with a serger. If you’re wearing jeans right now, the interior inseams were sewn together with a serger. You can tell because the two pieces of fabric are bound together with multiple threads. A serger is also called an overlock machine, and most of them cut the excess fabric edge as the two pieces are sewn together.


In case you’re reading this naked and can’t look for yourself, here’s an example of an interior t-shirt seam:

what's a serger

Here’s an example of an interior denim inseam:

what's a serger

I didn’t use a serger until I got to apparel design school, years after I learned what they were. It was a bit of a mind blowing experience to be honest. The worst part about them is when you have to thread one, but otherwise they are totally amazing. It makes the interior of any garment look very polished, but you can also serge and cut as you go to make something really quickly. I would recommend buying a serger if you: make more than a dozen projects a year, would make more projects (baby burp cloths, etc.) if it was easier, or if you just want to learn something new. They’re extremely easy once you know what you’re doing. I got mine off of Craigslist for $120 about 8 years ago and I use it all the time. I get it professionally serviced every couple of years and that’s it. Below are some ideas if you’re in the market for one.

  1. Singer 14CG754 Pro Finish
    Cost: $197.07
    Rating: 4.4/5 with 381 customer reviews
  2. Janome 8002D
    Cost: $249
    Rating: 4.6 with 23 customer reviews
  3. Brother Designio Series DZ1234 Serger
    Cost: $252.55
    Rating: 4.5/5 with 258 customer reviews
  4. Check Craigslist or Ebay for an inexpensive option. The one I have now is a Euro-Pro (which I would obviously recommend), and the ones I used in school were Juki.

Set aside some time when you first get it to read the entire manual, and then set aside some more time to learn how to thread it. It’s the hardest part, but once you have that down you’ll be smooth sailing.

Good luck!

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