Three best sergers

Stacey L. Nash

Most sergers have a foot pedal that allows you to control serging speed. Because sergers go so much faster than regular sewing machines, we recommend starting slowly before you press the pedal to the floor.

The serger is the powerhouse of the sewing world, enabling you to produce professional results from home. These machines work well on knits, delicate fabrics, and almost everything in between. With the right serger in your sewing arsenal, you'll be able to complete projects in no time with results that are hard to distinguish from products you find in stores.

Today, sergers come with an impressive number of stitches and functions that you may or may not need. We're providing this shopping guide to help you wade through the growing number of sergers on the market to find the one that's right for you.

Considerations when choosing sergers

Threads per stitch

Sergers intended for home use come in 3/4- or 2/3/4-thread models, with a few 2/3/4/5-thread models. The numbers represent the number of threads the machine uses to create a stitch. Models with 2/3/4 offer a greater variety of stitches than 3/4 models, but these are often more complicated to use. Unless you're doing professional-grade serging, a 3/4 serger is probably all you need.

Serger features

Stitch options: Don't be fooled by a long list of possible stitches. Most people only use a few basic stitches like the three-thread overlock, four-thread overlock, two- or three-thread flatlock, or the two- or three-thread rolled hem. Take a good look at your skills and the stitches you really need for the sewing you do before buying a machine. You don't want to pay for stitch options you'll never use.

Differential feed: This is hands down one of the single most important features on a serger. It controls the speed of the fabric as it passes under the needle and the presser foot. A differential feed prevents stretching and/or bunching of the fabric.

Threading ease: Sergers are notorious for being difficult to thread, but today's machines are much easier to thread than the first domestic models on the market. Sergers with a color-coded diagram on the machine are much easier to follow than models that have directions and pictures in a manual. Some models come with an instructional DVD, providing a good visual on how the process should go. Professional-grade machines have jets of air that blow the thread through to thread the machine, but these models can cost well over $1,000.

Blade location: A unique feature on sergers is the blade that cuts away extra fabric around the seam, leaving a clean, professional look. Sergers have one of two blade designs:

The blade cuts from underneath the fabric. These blades are less likely to cut your finger, but they tend to get caught in the fabric more often.

The blade cuts from on top. These blades cut better, but they tend to cause more injuries. (Any machine with a blade and needle moving at high speed has the potential to cause injury.)

Serger prices: You can find a reliable machine with an incredible variety of stitches for between $200 and $400. There are a few machines between $400 and $600 with a five-thread option, and some have at least one needle that self-threads. For $1,000 and up, you'll find the professional machines that have up to eight threads and use air to thread the machine.


Q. Can sergers do everything a sewing machine can do?

A. Sergers can do almost everything a sewing machine can do except for decorative work like topstitching. While sergers can make buttonholes and install zippers, it's difficult to do. A sewing machine is the best tool for certain applications.

Q. Do I need a serger with a free arm?

A. A serger with a free arm has a compartment that can be removed so you can sew narrow, round fabric pieces like those found on sleeves and pant legs. While this isn't a necessity, it makes serging much easier. Our three picks all have a free arm.

Sergers we recommend

Best of the best: Brother 1034D 3/4 Serger

Our take: This serger comes with a wide array of stitches yet works for all sewing levels, from beginner to advanced. It offers the perfect combination of quality construction and features.

What we like: Threading this machine is relatively easy, and so is learning how to use it. The 22 stitch options provide enough variety for even advanced home users.

What we dislike: A few users have run into the occasional lemon that needs frequent servicing.

Best bang for your buck: Singer 14CG754 ProFinish 2/3/4 Serger

Our take: Beginners flock to this machine. Easy to use and affordable, it's one that will keep you sewing for years.

What we like: It gives you two, three, or four thread options to open up a whole new world of stitch possibilities. Puckering and stretching are rare due to the well-timed differential feed.

What we dislike: Threading and tension control can be problematic.

Choice 3: Janome 8002D 3/4 Serger

Our take: Janome is well known for its reliable sewing machines, and its sergers are no different. If you want a serger that will work for years, this is the model for you.

What we like: At 1,300 stitches per minute, it significantly cuts down on your work time. The instructional DVD provides clear steps to learn each of the functions.

What we dislike: Though it's fast and reliable, it doesn't provide as many stitches as some of the other models.

Stacey L. Nash is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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