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Can Sewing Machines Do Overlocking? (Explained!)

Overlocking machine, also known as a serger, is different from a sewing machine. It can cut the edge of fabrics and put together two parts of fabrics by stitching. An ordinary sewing machine cannot overcast, trim, and sew all in one step, unlike a serger.

But a sewing machine can create buttonholes, sew zippers and do decorative stitching that a serger can’t do. Both of them are costly machines. This is why many people prefer to buy the combination of two instead of purchasing it separately. 

Can sewing machines do overlocking?

There are sewing machine models that can do an overlock stitch but not all of them can do overlock work. They are completely separate machines that can be combined into two. However, the quality of performance in the combination model is not the same when compared to an individual overlock machine. 

These sewing machines come with inbuilt foot attachments for overcasting fabrics that allow them to perform the same functions as an overlock machine such as edging and seaming. Instead of spending money on both machines, a combination of the two can save a lot of money. 

It is important to note that the quality of stitching performed by a sewing machine varies greatly when compared to an overlock machine.

The reason for this is because sewing machines only use two threads at a time which makes them unable to stop the edges from fraying and seam-finishings are not as precise.

For that, only overlocking equipment can be used which has several threaders, stitching loops, stitch-locks, and blades. 

Can you get a sewing machine and Overlocker/serger in one?

You can! But before you look into one, let’s look at its benefits and drawbacks.

The biggest advantage is that it saves you a lot of money. Instead of buying two separate machines, you only have to purchase one.

You also don’t need to buy additional furniture to support the items. It saves you space as well and you only have to set up one machine instead of two which as a result, saves you time. 

It does sound great but the combo has some drawbacks too. An independent overlock machine has a higher quality of stitching than the combo. They are also not as fast and strong when compared to an independent overlock machine.

Moreover, not all the features are included in these combos so you better lookout for what you need. 

Some good sewing machine and overlocker combination are as follows:

  • SINGER Professional 5 14T968DC
  • SINGER 14CG754 ProFinish 2-3-4 Thread Serger
  • Brother 1034D 3/4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed
  • Janome Coverpro 2000
  • Brother Designio Series DZ1234
  • Juki MO644D Portable Serger

What is the difference between a sewing machine and an Overlocker?

Both sewing machines and overlockers have a neck, threads, needles, a spinning wheel, and a variety of feet. Although sewing machines and overlockers have similar construction features, they differ a lot in their functionalities. 

The speed of the machines is one of the greatest differences between them. Overlock machines can produce professional and neat projects faster than sewing machines. Overlock machines are twice as fast than the average sewing machines that we have at home. 

Overlock machines can do multitasking such as binding fabrics and decreasing extra seam but in sewing machines, you have to cut your fabric to sew it. Overlock machines can work with many layers while sewing and cutting them at the same time. 

Overlock machines can use up around 3 to 8 cones of threads at a time whereas a sewing machine can only take up to 2 cones of thread at once. 

They look similar but the neck of an overlock machine is usually longer than the neck of a sewing machine. And overlock machines have a telescopic needle bar that helps direct several lines of thread. But sewing machines do not have this feature. 

You can also sew your fabric from any side of the needle using a sewing machine but an overlock machine only allows serging on the left side. This makes sewing machines more flexible as an overlock machine is only limited to one side of the needle.

Sergers are more expensive than average sewing machines because of their advanced techniques. 

What’s the difference between an Overlocker and a serger?

There is no difference between an Overlocker and a Serger. They are different names for the same machine. “Serger” is popularly used in Northern America whereas “Overlocker” is preferred in Europe and Australia. A serger or an overlocker is a type of sewing machine. 

When the word “Serger” is used, attention is brought to the machine’s serging ability. Although very rare, there are no serging knives in a few Overlocker models. 

Is it worth buying an Overlocker/Serger?

It always comes down to your needs and preferences. An overlocker definitely makes sewing easier but you can finish most sewing projects without buying one.

Many professionals prefer it because it saves a lot of time. If you work with knits daily and do plenty of overlocking stitches then you might need one. 

Moreover, the price may seem like a huge factor but the prices have reduced in recent years. You can find a good quality serger with around $300 nowadays. It doesn’t have to be a big investment. 

But a serger gives a nice store-bought look to your fabric and increases the durability of your seams.  

When should you use a serger?

If you work with a lot of knits on a daily basis then your projects can be done faster and made easier by using a serger.

Knitting can be time-consuming. Sergers are very fast. They go up to speeds of 1700 stitches per minute! It cuts away extra seam allowances and encases raw edges. 

If you’re planning on selling clothing then you will require good quality edges and need a more professional look. This is when a serger should be used. Your work can look unprofessional and incomplete without properly serging the edge. The fabric will also fray quicker. 

If you are a starter seamstress, learn the basics first with your sewing machine before jumping onto a serger. Sergers create a more durable seam than average sewing machines as they have multiple threads looped together.

It includes a blade that cuts off the extra seam as it sews and the threads lock around the seam to avoid fraying. 

Which is better serger or sewing machine? 

This depends on the type of project you are doing. If you are a beginner, you should start with a sewing machine before moving on to a serger. Sergers are used when you require neat and professional finishes. 

This chart can help you decide which is better for you. 

When to use a sewing machine instead of a serger When to use a serger instead of a sewing machine 
If your work entails topstitching, zipping, creating buttonholes, and making decorative stitches then you will have to use a sewing machine because these cannot be done by a Serger. If your project requires a lot of knitting, a serger is better since they are faster.
Sewing machines are ideal for beginners to gain experience.If your project requires hemming, edging, and seaming quickly then an overlock machine is the best option. 
Sewing machines produce good quality stitches. Sergers are stronger, durable, and have a better stitch than sewing machines. 
There are sewing machines available that can do seaming and edging. They include the features of a Serger. An example of when it would be better to use a serger: Hemming Pants. If you use a sewing machine, you’ll need scissors and you have to iron the pants. 

Do I need an Overlocker and a sewing machine? 

You do not necessarily need both a sewing machine and an overlocker. You can get away with most projects using only a sewing machine without the need for a serger.

If you have a good quality average sewing machine, you don’t need a serger. If you only have a serger, there are certain things that a serger can’t do such as facings, topstitching, creating buttonholes, and zippers. It is not a standalone machine. 

If you’ve been using sewing machines for a long time, an overlocker is an additional item that you can add as you gain experience. 

An overlocker foot suffices for many people as it can make a decent quality of stitches for your edges. If you think that your overlock attachment cannot make durable stitches when compared to a serger, then you could purchase one. 

How can I finish my edges without an Overlocker? 

You can finish your edges without making an expensive purchase. All you need is an overlock foot for your sewing machine. But make sure that it is suitable for your sewing machine. To avoid any hassle, buy both the sewing machine and the overlock foot from the same brand. 

You can create the effect of an overlocker on your edges using an overlocking foot. It makes the overlocking, pin, and ladder stitches tight and doable. The options will be available on your sewing machine on how to create the serged effect. 

First, test it out using leftover fabric and give it a fold. This skill of perfecting edges can take time.  

To achieve an overlocker look without buying an overlocker, you can do a ladder stitch or a pin stitch that looks similar to a serged edge.

This alternative can be used to give a beautiful finish to your edge. A prin stitch can make your edge more beautiful as it is typically used to attach lace tap or other fabric onto your cloth. 

Whether you only need a sewing machine, a serger, or a combination of the two is for you to decide. You might not need a combo or both at all if you can work with an overlocking foot. The ideal option is whichever suits your stitching needs and preference.

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