What Is The Difference Between A Serger And A Sewing Machine
It’s Gina and I’m back to talk more about sergers! You may have heard of a serger. Now you’re wondering “What is the difference between a serger and a sewing machine?”. There are a few major differences between a serger and a sewing machine. Let’s go over some specifics about both machines. Then you will know if you need to add a serger to your sewing room! Need tips on using your serger? Check out THIS post for everything you need to know, plus a full video walk-through with tons of tips and tricks for using your serger!
What Is The Difference Between A Serger And A Sewing Machine?
Are you BRAND NEW to sewing and not sure where to start? Check out my new free Sew Simple Series where I will walk you through everything you need to know starting at the very beginning!
The main differences between a serger, sometimes called an overlock machine, and a regular sewing machine may seem minor. However, they are what will tip the scales when it comes to deciding which one you may just want to pull out as you are making your next project. Let’s go over the specifics for each machine so you know their functionality.
If you are new to sewing or sergers, here are the two beginner machines I recommend.
If you want to learn MORE about your serger, check out this Serger Course from Emily at Life Sew Savory. She is the master and will teach you all the things!
A regular sewing machine has multiple stitch options. Depending on the machine, that number can range anywhere from 10, to 30, to upwards of 150! Each stitch has a purpose and depending on what you plan to use your machine for, you may or may not use them. I’ve never come across a time I needed all 150 stitches but hey, maybe someone has! For the most part, sewing machines use one spool of thread and one bobbin to sew your stitches.
Once you have sewn your seam, you will end up with a seam allowance. As you may already know, that seam allowance leaves a raw edge that can fray. I’m sure we have all grabbed a loose thread or two and snapped it off. If the fabric frays enough, you may end up with a seam that comes completely undone. To prevent this, you could use some pinking sheers to trim your seam allowance. Another option would be to use your zig zag stitch along the raw edge. This would secure the edge and help to prevent it from fraying but it will not end up looking too pretty.
One last thing to keep in mind is that this zig zag stitch, along with a couple other stitches your machine may have, are the only stitches that stretch. This is important to keep in mind if you are sewing a garment or something else that will need to give along the seam.
In contrast, a serger has a limited number of stitch options. Many of these stitches are simply dependent on the number of spools of thread you choose to utilize. You can use two, three, or even four spools of thread in your serger and the stitches will all look different! In contrast to your sewing machine, a serger does not have a bobbin. Instead there are some mechanisms inside the machine that intertwine the threads as you sew.
The serger has knives that cut the seam allowance off at the same time you are sewing your fabric together as well. Yes, it really does have an upper and lower knives that cut off the messy edge of your fabric. Don’t worry, you will grow to love these little magical knives, promise! This is one of the main benefits of a serger. There is no raw edge that can fray, meaning your seams will not only be sturdier, they will look much more professional.
The stitches sewn with a serger will stretch quite nicely as well. This means you do not have to worry when it comes to sewing clothing. Those seams will give and take in all the right places. Thankfully you will get that stretch without any of the threads breaking and causing an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. How nice would it be to have the construction and finishing seams done all in one quick, efficient step?!
Can You Use A Serger For A Regular Sewing Machine?
You can get by with using your sewing machine for pretty much any project you want to sew. While it may take some extra steps to get a finished seam, you can still accomplish the task. The serger isn’t really an all purpose machine like your sewing machine and you will need a regular machine in addition to the serger. This is because your serger is meant to finish seams. The serger can not sew a simple straight stitch which you will most likely need to be able to do. I like to think of my serger as my go-to when it comes to sewing garments and knits. If you are looking to sew a gorgeous quilt or baby blanket, you will want to stick with your trusty sewing machine. It will still get the job done for you!
Do You Need A Serger?
This is the real question, isn’t it?! While “need” can be a strong word, in my opinion, you won’t be sorry you decided to take the plunge and get a serger. It seems we all have limited time to sew. The serger can cut your sewing time in half as it sews your fabric together and finishes the seam in one fell swoop. Do you find yourself sewing garments or with knit fabric? Do you have an inner Joanna Gaines that just loves to decorate? If so, you will love having a serger. It will sew through knits and other delicate fabric like butter. Your seams will have a professional finish and look to them. Gone are the days where your seams unravel or roll like you can get when you sew with your sewing machine! You will be amazed at how fast and beautiful your seams end up when you use a serger.
Now that you know the difference between a serger and a sewing machine, do you think you will take the plunge and add a serger to your collection? Let me know what you plan to sew first after you get your lovely new machine! Already have a serger but it just stares you down with all those spools of thread and complicated threading directions? Head over to my other post here where you can learn the basics.