Lately, I’ve been working on a guest post for Deby @ SoSewEasy (which I’d suggest you to read and share, if you’re intrigued by the topic) about choosing your first serger, where I help you deciding which are the must-have features to ask for if you are just going start your journey in SergerLand!

It’s a really in-depth article that weights a lot of different useful (or not) options… and which made me think about what follows…

Here are my

5 essential tips that will hopefully help you choose your first serger

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1) Brand or no-brand?

Please choose a trusted brand – no cheap “off-brand” you could find on the web.

Why? Consider that:

1) sooner or later you could need to replace a piece… and if it’s not an internationally known brand (or you don’t live near the producer you could have some troubles finding the right pieces!

2) maybe you would like to buy new accessories, like a specialty foot. Not all the serger feet were created equal, usually you can’t swap them from one brand to one other!

I am the proud owner of a Necchi Lock 181, which looks exactly the same as the Singer 14J250 STYLIST II

I’m telling you this to say that almost all of the Overlocker you can find on the market are built  in Asian Countries from the very same manufacturers… Just choose the one it’s best for you (considering also if you have a local dealer available for buying accessories and for maintenance after purchase – and ask them if they can do that also if you didn’t buy your serger from them!)

2) Browsing serger’s brands sites

… where you can find truck loads of information that will help you compare different overlockers and narrow your field of choice!

I’ve listed below, in alphabetical order, some of the most well-known brands. I’d suggest you visit each link (by clicking on titles or images) and browse their sites to discover each brand/model features and steal some eye-candy projects from their “sewing suggestions” sections… you’ll be (even more) sure you NEED a serger…

Baby Lock:

Serger Pepper - 5 best tips for choosing your first serger

Their auto thread feature is the most awesome of all, if you don’t mind the price!

Bernina:

Serger Pepper - 5 best tips for choosing your first serger

 

Their sergers are usually filled with a wide range of different stitches, and support your creativity with a host of convenient functions.

Brother:

Their 1034d is one of the most affordable, with a good value for the price (hearing what iis owners have to say about it)

Elna:

 

 

Lots of different stitches and automatic tension settings are some of their goodies!

Husqvarna:

 

…nope… they don’t create chainsaws only! They makes awesome sergers too, with plenty of accessories, for each and every needs!

Janome:

Their range is wide, from the very basic to the computerized serger and coverstitch machines, coming packed with easy thread guides, advanced feed system, and more sewing space!

Juki  (& their accessories)

They make industrial sergers and their home versions are solid performers

Pfaff:

They have 2 Hobbylocks (overlockers) and 4 Coverlocks (with coverstitches) models for each and every sewing level

 

3) Other little helpers from around the web

A great way to help yourself to decide what brand/model you need, is reading (and eventually asking for a suggestion from other members/serger owners) a sewing forum: they usually have a search box: type in “new serger” or “first serger” or maybe “serger suggestions” and you’re hopefully going to have many un-biased reviews to read!
Don’t know of a sewing forum? Why not trying one of these:

Sewing forumThe Sewing forumArtisan’s Square – Everything sewing –  Sewing Mamas – So Sew Easy sewing forum (waving, Deby!)

 

BONUS TIP: When you’ve already narrowed the number of choices and you know the name of a few models you’re considering to buy, you can move on and search between previous owner’s experiences and reviews, reading sites like epinions or Amazon’s reviews!

 

4) The difference is inside

When I made my first choice, I’ve read almost everything I’ve found about  sergers and how to find one that had a great value, with nice features (for the price). One of my priorities was that it had to be cheap but sturdy, it had to be a machine that could last me for a long time!

The most important thing I learnt I had to consider (which, by the way, isn’t that obvious when you first look at a serger) was that its mechanical parts inside had to be built in metal and not in plastic!

In fact, I’ve heard that a lot of low-end overlockers are made with a high quantity of plastic mechanisms: when you heavily use it (or even when you do an average use of it), they break… so you need to take it to the dealer, who will fix it and you’ll spend some more money, then again and again and again… until you spend much more than if you started with a sturdy machine built using metal parts!

But… how can you choose the right one?

  1. ask to the dealer… they know how each model is built inside;
  2. … just try to lift it: a plastic-inside machine will be relatively light, while a metal-inside one will be heavier!

If you have a trusted source for an old metal model, have this one instead of a new all-plastic overlocker… you’ll need less maintenance (= less $ spent!!) and you’ll have a good powerful machine with a lot of strength!

5) Better try, before you buy!

When you decide it’s time to buy your fist serger, you should be prepared for spending some (a lot of) time testing different models and brands, just to be sure you choose the best one FOR YOU!

What you should test for:

If you’ve never tried (or even seen in it real life) a serger, you may find this list confusing and overwhelming.

Use it wisely: before you decide to buy anything, collect more than one test and sleep above them.

Even better: if you have a friend who have a serger and comes with you in this dealer’s trip, it will be so much easier for you not to be charmed by the dealer’s mermaids whispers!

One last thing: follow your gut! If you feel there’s something wrong… well, probably it’s wrong, so: don’t buy there!

Here’s My List “to watch for”!

  1. Hear the sound of the serger… it has to be smooth and not too loud;
  2. Feel how it feeds the fabric: the perfect one should be flowing and not jerky;
  3. Evaluate which stitches are available (a dealer can help you, showing you how to switch between different settings)
  4. Convertibility between stitches

A good question to ask is: “How easy it is to convert to and from a rolled hem?” Some machines require you change the throat plate making it more difficult.

  1. Check if there are accessories available (specialty presser feet, guides…) and a place to put them away while you switch to another stitch;
  2. Carry with you some “real fabric” scraps to test sergers: dealers often gives you stiff (and probably starched) woven cotton: better test a serger also with sheers, or spandex, or whatever specialty type of fabric you plan to sew with it, and see how it goes!
  3. Ask the dealer about which needles do you need do buy: serger’s needles (or even industrial needles, with all round shank) which are both built to resist to the fast speed you’re going to use them (around 1500 stitches/minute… which is 25 stitches each single second, if math is unquestionable!) or regular sewing machine needles (which in turn are easier to found and comes in several dimensions and for various fabrics)

My conclusions: do your tests at local dealers, then buy online to save some bucks. Consider asking your local dealers how do they manage maintenance after purchase: some of them may choose not to fix your machine if you haven’t bought it from theme.

 

… and now? Go and do your homework: choose your first serger right ahead… and read my twin post on SoSewEasy about your must-have #1 serger features!

 

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