An overlock sewing machine — also known as a serger — sews a stitch over the edges of one or two pieces of fabric to create neat seams or hems. If you do a lot of sewing, you may be considering investing in one of these machines, so what are the pros and cons?
Firstly, these machines are excellent in producing a professional finish for your edges. An overlocker will produce the seam and trim the edges in a single step (although the blades can usually be retracted if you do not want to do any trimming). They, therefore, make quite a complicated job very easy.
These machines are also extremely fast. They can run at twice the speed of an ordinary machine and can finish lengthy jobs in a matter of minutes. They can, therefore, be a way of saving valuable time and ensuring your projects are finished much sooner.
Added to this, the stitches produced by an overlocker are extremely strong and will not fray easily. The seam holds the fabric together securely while allowing enough slack to stop it from tearing. This makes them particularly suitable for hemming stretchy fabrics or attaching elastic. Your seams should last for years without any problems.
One problem with an overlock machine is that they use a lot of thread very quickly. Most machines use up to four different spools of thread simultaneously, and because of their speed, they can get through them in seconds. Not only does this require buying numerous large spools, but it also involves the inconvenience of having to keep threading them through the loopers on the machine. Although some models include an auto-threading function, this greatly increases the expense.
The cost, of course, is another consideration. In general, overlockers are like anything else — you get what you pay for, and although some machines can be bought cheaply, you will need to think about whether they are really good enough for the job you want and whether the expense of the machine justifies the time and labour it will save.
You should also remember that an overlocker cannot do everything. It is an addition to your sewing machine, not a replacement.
If you do a lot of sewing and hemming, an overlocker is a vital piece of equipment that will save you time and give professional results. You will wonder how you ever managed without one.