These are not overly common for a lot of sewers for several reasons; including cost or simply not knowing they exist. In the UK they are known as overlockers but in the USA they are known as Sergers.
I have always used an overlocker ever since I started sewing so they have never been really scary to me. However I understand that other people may not have the same experience with one, so I want to sing the praises of overlockers as I think they are amazing. If you look around your home, the majority of your clothes, home furnishing etc will have been overlocked somewhere.
What is an overlocker? An overlocker is a special sewing machine that sews 3-5 threads at a time in a special stitch over the edge of fabric to prevent it fraying. They also trim away the excess seam allowance so they can be used to hem and seam garments.
Why to use an overlocker
There are so many reasons to use an overlocker, all of which either make your life easier to step up the level of your garment:
- Saves you time as it hems/seams, trims and finishes edges in one go.
- Able to do rolled hems, flat lock seams (like on leg edge of leggings) and decorative edge finishes
- They create a stretchy stitch, which makes sewing stretch fabric garments easy
- They add a professional finish to your garments
- Expensive machines even have the ability to produce a cover stitch
- They are brilliant for attaching elastic due to the stretch in the stitch
However Over-lockers can be expensive ranging from about £300+ brand new, however they can be found cheaper on auction sites etc. It is important to remember that if an overlocker is looked after properly with regular cleaning and oiling then they will run for a very long time, my others is over 25 years old and is still going strong.
The other negative to consider is the original threading and sorting the tension of the four threads. However once it has been threaded, as long as you don’t run out of thread or break a thread you wont have to re-thread it to change colour or type of thread. What you do is add the new thread to the spool holders, cut the old thread and tie the ends of new and old threads together. Then using a scrap of fabric, overlock the edge until the knots reach the needle. Cut above the knot so it doesn’t get stuck in the needle eye. Then all you have to do it re-thread the needles. It may look complicated to thread but actually its fairly straight forward as they will already come threaded with instruction son the machine showing you how to do it. So you can have a look at how its threaded as soon as it arrives and take photos to keep for future reference.
Things to consider
You need to consider what your sewing life consists of to see if an overlocker would be useful. If you only sew to men garments there is very little point in owning one. However if you sew a range of garments in different fabrics then an overlocker would be a great addition to your usual sewing machine.
Please don’t think I’m saying that you can’t sew without one as obviously you can but it makes your life so much easier. Try asking a person who has sewn with an overlocker for any period of time to stop using it and you’ll see how much they improve your sewing enterprises.
I hope this has been helpful 🙂 Follow me if you enjoy my waffling!!
Love Heather xx