6 Easiest To Work On Sergers For Beginners – Reviews And Buying Guide
Last updated: Apr 14, 2020
56Hours of Research
If your old sewing machine is starting to limit the types of designs you can make and the appearance of your finished garments, it may be time to consider upgrading to a serger machine. A serger machine, also known as an overlocking machine, uses three or more threads to create an overlocking stitch that is much tidier and stronger as a finishing stitch. Tailors typically use sergers to make the nice-looking seams that you see on the outside of your clothes.
In find the best serger for beginners, we considered a number of factors. First, we looked at how many threads each serger is designed to use – some household sergers offer 2, 3, and 4 thread options, while others offer only more advanced 3 and 4 thread options. We also looked at the weight of the machine, since you’ll likely want to move it around the house between when you are using it and when you are not. Speed was another major consideration as many people prefer sergers over sewing machines for the stitching speed they allow. Finally, we considered whether each serger offers a manufacturer from the warranty to protect your purchase.
Top 6 Sergers For Beginners Review 2020
We spent tens of hours combing through reviews and technical specification of the most popular sergers to come up with our six favorite models, listed in the table below. Continue reading for detailed reviews of each serger, complete with pros and cons. Our Buying Guide covers everything you need to know about how sergers work and how to choose the model that is right for your sewing needs. Finally, we sum up our three overall favorite sergers for beginners on the market today.
Singer has long been the standard-bearer of the sewing industry, and this high-quality serger for beginners lives up to their reputation. The serger has a 2-3-4-thread stitch configuration to enable the widest variety of stitches for home users, including rolled and blind hems, flatlocks, and standard overlock stitches. While this configuration can be quite complex to thread, Singer makes the task easier by including a color-coded threading diagram right on the side of the machine.
The differential feed is fully adjustable, as are the stitch length and width using a conveniently located dial on the outside of the machine. The stitcher itself uses a free arm design, which reduces vibration transfer to the needle for a more accurate stitch every time. Like most sergers for beginners, the needle head is capable of producing up to 1,300 stitches per minute.
The main issues that users had with this serger was the presser foot, which is prone to bending when working with especially heavy fabrics. However, replacing the presser foot is straightforward and relatively inexpensive.
The serger is surprisingly compact and lightweight at only 13.5 pounds, but it is constructed with a durable metal casing that is built to last well beyond the serger’s included 25-year warranty. The serger also comes with a variety of helpful accessories, such as a pair of tweezers, a needle set, and a soft cover.
Color-coded threading diagram for easier threading
Comes with cover and needle set
Free arm design reduces vibrations
Presser foot can bend when working with heavy fabrics
This serger from JUKI sets itself apart from all of the other sergers we reviewed by offering an impressive needle speed of 1,500 stitches per minute. That makes it an ideal choice for sewers who are short on time or working on large projects where any bit of added sewing speed can make a big difference in total project time.
The serger has a 2-3-4-thread configuration to offer a wide variety of stitches and also has a feature to automatically stitch rolled hems to make quick work of that simple design. The stitch length is adjustable up to a maximum of four millimeters using a simple dial adjustment on the exterior of the serger. In addition, the cutting width and stitch width are both easy to adjust to get the perfect fabric edge.
The knife has its own drive system to increase its cutting power, making this serger a good choice for those who work with heavy fabrics often as well. However, users noted that the feed differential may need to be turned all the way up to create straight stitching patterns in heavy-duty fabrics. Unfortunately, threading this serger can be an extreme challenge as there is no diagram on the machine itself and the instructions are typed in rather small font. Users suggest taking a lot of pictures of the machine, as it arrives pre-threaded and following photos is much easier than trying to follow the instruction manual.
Also note that in contrast to the usual 25-year warranty on serger machines, this model only comes with a five-year warranty.
1,500 stitches per minute
Knife has independent drive system
Automatic rolled hems
Only five-year warranty
Differential needs to be cranked for heavy fabrics
Don’t let the compact design of this serger from Janome fool you – it is no lightweight serger. The 17-pound weight of this machine reflects its heavy-duty construction, which allows it to take on heavy fabrics like denim with surprising ease. The presser foot is able to hold up to the wear and tear of working on these fabrics and offers a fast and easy pressure adjustment so that you can quickly adapt to whatever fabric you’re working with. The serger is fully-featured with adjustable stitch length and width dials as well as an adjustable cutting width. As well as being a great sewing machine for jeans stitching, it can be also used as an upholstery sewing machine.
The primary downside to this serger is that it only has a 3-4-thread configuration, making it difficult to create imitation coverstitches when you need them. In addition, because of the heavy-duty design it is not the fastest serger on the market – it is limited to a maximum speed of 1,300 stitches per minute. Users found that the motor can be slow to start up, but the machine runs smoothly and quietly within a few minutes of use.
Users found that while this serger lacks a threading diagram, it is easier to setup than many competing sergers for beginners thanks to the detailed instructions and easy to spot thread openings.
Janome offers a 25-year warranty on this serger to protect your investment. In addition, the serger comes with some accessories including tweezers, a needle set, a blind stitch foot, and a beading attachment.
Durable presser foot
Relatively straightforward to thread
Comes with accessories including blind stitch foot and beading attachment
For sewers who are interested in a serger primarily for working on heavy-duty fabrics, there are few options more suitable than this machine from Brother. First of all, the serger is constructed from a durable metal frame with primarily internal components to protect it from wear and tear. The adjustable presser foot is able to stand up to abuse from keeping heavy fabrics under pressure, and the unique add-on table stand serves to hold up fabrics so they don’t hang down and pull on the needle. It is worth noting that, like other heavy-duty and beginner sergers, this machine is limited to a maximum speed of 1,300 stitches per minute.
The serger also features a highly durable blade for cutting through dense fabrics without wearing down as quickly as competing blades. However, this blade is one of the larger detractions to this serger as once it breaks, you are forced to buy a replacement from Brother directly at up to three times the cost of most other serger blades.
The serger includes convenient controls for adjusting the stitch width and length, as well as a removable trim disposable bin so you can keep your work area clean as you go. Thread spools hang on a metal frame above the machine so they’re out of the way while threading the machine is relatively straightforward thanks to the arrow-based diagramming on the front panel. This is a great machine for future users of an industrial serger type.
Brother offers a long 25-year warranty on this serger to reflect its durable design.
Heavy-duty serger with metal frame
Extension table and trim disposable bin
Threading is relatively easy
Blade replacements must be purchased from Brother directly and are quite expensive
This serger model from Janome is more versatile and lightweight than the company’s Magnolia serger to provide beginner sergers with a wider range of options for stitching lightweight to medium-weight garments. The serger is configured with a 3-4-thread design, so don’t expect to be able to create imitation cover stitches. However, making rolled hems is quick and easy and the serger features a differential feed dial for preventing the fabric from bunching up or stretching out.
The serger offers a variety of standard features, including a 1,300-stitch per minute speed, adjustable foot presser pressure, and adjustable stitch length and width. In addition, the cutting knife is retractable so that you won’t accidentally slice through your important fabrics while stitching. Note that unlike other sergers in the same price range, there is no free arm for reducing vibrations to the needle head.
Threading is both easier and more difficult than on comparable serger machines. On the one hand, the door to the threading loops opens wide to give you a well-lit view of the threading mechanism. On the other hand, there is no color-coded diagram as on other sergers to help walk you through the threading process. It is a great learning device to get beginners familiar with it as a sewing machine for kids.
Janome offers a 25-year warranty on this serger to protect your new machine against defects, although users did not report any manufacturing issues with this serger.
This modestly priced serger from Brother is a great choice for people who are on a tight budget, who only need a serger for a few small projects, or who want to try out a serger before investing in a more powerful model. The serger has a 3-4-thread configuration and as such is designed primarily for making overlocking stitches, but it can also be used to make quick and simple hems.
The serger features a wide range of adjustments for the stitch length, which can be customized from two to four millimeters. However, stitch width can only be adjusted from five to seven millimeters and thus may be a limiting feature in the types of fabrics that you can work with. The serger is capable of a speed of 1,300 stitches per minute, on par with competing and more expensive sergers. A removable trim trap helps you keep your work area clean without stopping in the middle of a project.
To make use easier for beginners, the serger features a color-coded thread diagram that walks you through the process of threading the machine. In addition, the serger comes with an instructional DVD to teach you about how to make the most of your new serger. A soft cover is included with the machine to protect it from dust when not in use, and despite its low cost it comes with a 25-year limited warranty from Brother to ensure you’ll have it in working condition for years to come.
Wide range of stitch length adjustments
Removable trim trap
3-4-thread configuration only
Stitch width adjustment is limited
Now that you’ve learned more about our six favorite sergers for beginners, how do you choose between them to find the serger that is right for your sewing needs? In our Buying Guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about why you need a serger, how to use it, and the important features that you need to consider in order to get a serger that will serve you for years to come.
Finish the deal – why do you need to buy a serger?
Most beginning sewers think that a standard sewing machine is all that is needed to produce store-quality clothing. But if you’ve tried to make stitches that mimic the ones you find in your store-bought clothing, you know this simply isn’t the case.
Most store-bought clothes have raised stitches around the cuffs and important seams that are much stronger and more pleasant to look at than anything a standard sewing machine can make. In fact, these are the very stitches that a serger is designed to produce. These overlocking stitches are designed to be more durable than finishing stitches from a sewing machine and allow a garment to stretch to its user’s body over time without the threads pulling loose. While similar effects can be achieved with a double-needle sewing machine, a serger makes this process much faster and easier.
Of course, a serger can’t do everything on its own. It is typically better as a finishing tool to be paired with a sewing machine than a sewing machine replacement. In general, you’ll also need to use a sewing machine and not a serger to sew on buttons, zippers, facings, and top stitches. Plus, if you find yourself sewing mostly quilts and stretchable fabrics rather than garments, you can likely produce finished products without pulling out the serger at all.
Advice for all the newbies: how to use a serger
Ask anyone who has used a serger machine before and they’ll immediately tell you about the steep learning curve that comes with these devices – as well as the payoffs once you’ve mastered the process. To make the process easier for you, we’d like to offer some tips on how to use a serger and describe the basic stitches.
The first thing you need to know is how to thread your serger. Threading usually involves taking a close look at the instruction manual and the color-coded pictures printed on the side of the machine. Some people even recommend adding numbers to your serger so you remember what order to thread it in in the future. If you find that your serger isn’t stitching right after you set the thread, it is much better to rethread the entire machine from scratch rather than try to only rethread a single part.
Another important thing to consider is the pressure settings. Typically, your serger will have pressure dials for each needle and the upper and lower loops, as well as a foot presser control. Every serger has a specific set of default pressure settings, so be sure to consult your user’s manual and note that you may need to increase or decrease pressure based on the type of fabric you are sewing. For the foot presser control, you want to add just enough pressure so that the fabric you are working on doesn’t move around at all as the serger is going to work on it.
When it comes to stitches, there are a variety of basic stitches to know about. The four-thread overlock stitch is the one you will likely use most often, as this is a highly durable seam stitch often found on clothing. Three-thread overlock stitches are also common, although they are not quite as strong as four-thread overlock stitches. Three-thread overlocks are also good for blind hems.
Two-thread stitches are the least durable types of stitches you’ll use your serger for, but they do have some utility. A two-thread overlock stitch can be used to finish raw edges while keeping them light and flat. A two-thread flatlock stitch can be used to imitate a two-thread coverstitch, which is normally made with an entirely different type of sewing machine.
Finally, a rolled hem may use either two or three threads and is primarily placed for decorative purposes. Rolled hems are also an easy option for quickly hemming lightweight fabrics.
Basic rules for keeping your serger neat and clean
In general, it’s good practice to clean up your serger after every project to ensure it will run smoothly the next time you want to use it. If you have an especially large project, you may even need to clean it a few times during that task to prevent lint and thread waste from building up.
To clean your surger, first unthread the machine and remove the presser foot and needles. Use a soft paint brush or lint brush to clean the interior of the serger and remove any threads from the interior of the machine with a pair of tweezers. A pipe cleaner can also be extremely useful for getting deeper into the interior of the machine to remove lint and dust. For even deeper cleaning, apply a vacuum – but stay away from compressed air as this can push lint deeper into the machine rather than push it out.
Once the serger has been thoroughly cleaned, apply oil to any areas where metal touches metal. Most serger instruction manuals will provide information about recommended types of oil. Finally, floss the tension dials to remove any lint caught underneath the dials.
This is also a good time to check on whether the knife need to be replaced. You know the knife needs replacing when thread fabric looks chewed up rather than clean after passing under the knife.
How much you want to spend on a serger depends on your budget and how much you expect to use the machine. But for those just starting out with sergers, expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars for a quality model. Basic sergers start out between $200-$300, while sergers that offer some room to grow into the machine and make basic sewing functions a little easier typically cost around $500.
Consider following features to choose the best serger for beginners
While most sergers offer the same basic functionality, there are a number of important differences between machines that can affect their ease of use and suitability for your particular projects. Here, we’ll cover the main features of sergers that you need to consider in order to find the right model for you.
Size and weight
One of the first things to consider when choosing a serger is whether the machine will be a fixture in your house or if it will need to be put away after each use. Since sergers can be quite large and heavy, it’s important that the main person who will be using the serger is able to lift it and put it away if that’s what you plan to do.
Threads and threading types
Sergers use multiple threads, but how many depends on the exact machine style. Most residential sergers are either 2, 3, and 4 thread machines – like the Brother, JUKI, and Singer models – or 3 and 4 thread machines only. While machines with 5 or more threads are available, these are typically reserved for commercial use and are not suitable for beginners.
Importantly, threading a serger is one of the most difficult parts of operating this type of machine and even experienced seamstresses and tailors will take 15 minutes or more to properly re-thread a serger. The reason is that the thread has to be run through the machine in a highly specific order and you need to be able to reach the thread in extremely tight spaces. For this reason, many people who use a serger frequently or who are short on time will opt for a more expensive machine with automatic threading capabilities.
A serger machine has two feed dogs that push the fabric through the machine, with the feed dogs controlled by a differentia. The differential ratio can be adjusted to achieve an even finish to the seam or to produce a more decorative, ruffled edge.
Speed and noise
Many seamstresses upgrade to a serger not only for the clean edges they produce, but also because they can stitch faster than standard sewing machines. All of the sergers we reviewed except for the JUKI machine are capable of producing 1,300 stitches per minute – the JUKI model is capable of an even faster 1,500 stitches per minute.
Noise is also an important consideration since you will likely be using your serger inside your house for long periods of time. While most machines aren’t particularly loud, excessive noise can push you towards one machine over another. Note that if your serger is becoming louder over time, it may indicate that the machine needs cleaning.
Stitch length and width
The stitch length and width control much of the technical aspects of the stitch. The stitch length on a serger describes the distance between stitches, just as on a standard sewing machine. The stitch width controls where the blade cuts the fabric – ideally, the thread will be just tight enough on the fabric for the seam to sit flat without hanging off the edge.
All of the serger machines that we reviewed allow you to adjust the stitch length and width.
Thread tension regulation
The thread tension is controlled by dials on the face of the serger machine and can make a big difference in how the final project will look. Every serger machine has a different recommended thread tension setting, so it’s important to consult the manual and understand when the thread tension needs to be adjusted on different fabrics.
The cutting blade on a serger is designed to move to make the edge narrower or wider. An edge that is too narrow can be unstable, while an edge that is too wide can cause the fabric to curl under the stitching, so it’s important to position the cutting blade correctly. Most sergers, including all of the ones we reviewed, allow you to completely disengage the knife when needed.
Having accessories can help you with the process of making stitches with your serger or protect your machine when you’re done using it. While some sergers, like the model from Singer and the Brother 1034DX, come with soft cover cases to help save you money and protect your machine. However, if you transport your serger frequently or don’t have a case, Embroidex offers a large carrying case and Tutto offers a wheeled tote bag for moving your machine around.
In addition, while the Brother ST4031HD serger doesn’t come with accessories itself, it does have a built-in storage space for small accessories.
A serger machine is a major investment, so you want to be sure that your new machine is protected against defects. Most serger manufacturers offer a 25-year limited warranty, reflecting the anticipated longevity of these machines. However, note that the JUKI serger only comes with a five-year warranty.
No, a serger is designed to complement a sewing machine rather than replace it. You should use a sewing machine for the majority of your garment and then use a serger to join and finish seams to prevent the fabric from fraying.
Yes. You’ll need to oil the interior of the serger at any places where metal touches metal, such as where the upper loop arm is connected to the machine. Typically only one or two drops of oil are needed in each spot.
Our three overall favorite sergers for beginners are the Singer Finishing Touch 14SH654, the JUKI MO654DE, and the JanomeMagnolia 7034D machines. Both the Singer and Janome machines come with 25-year warranties, which reflect the manufacturers’ dedications to producing high-quality products. The JUKI serger stands out from the pack for its speedy 1,500-stitch per minute maximum pace, while the Janome serger is remarkable for its compact yet heavy-duty design. Both the Singer and JUKI sergers feature a versatile 2-3-4-thread configuration, whereas the Janome serger does not have the ability to make imitation coverstitches. We feel that the Singer machine is the overall best serger for beginners thanks to its color-coded threading diagram, simple and abundant adjustment knobs, and free arm stitching head to reduce the negative impact of vibrations on your project. The inclusion of accessories such as a soft cover case also adds to the impressive value of this serger.