The Difference Between a Serger and a Sewing Machine Update 06/2022

The sheer number of sewing machines on the market can be overwhelming if you’re new to the hobby. A lack of familiarity with the huge variety of models makes even seasoned sewers wary about testing new specialty equipment. If you’re debating between a serger and a sewing machine, for example, you’ll undoubtedly want to know the differences between the two.

A serger is a type of sewing machine that has specialized features. The fundamental difference between a serger and a sewing machine is that a serger can sew a seam, cut off the seam allowance, and then enclose the raw edge all at once.

You’ll learn how a serger works and how it differs from a standard sewing machine in this post. Consider the following while making your final decision on whether or not you require one.

Serger vs sewing machine

What is a Serger/Overlock Machine?

As the serger stitches over and around the seam allowance, it encases and seals the seam. When using a serger, it’s common practice to also reduce the extra seam allowance when sewing. With factory-like precision, these machines sew clean, flawlessly finished seams all the time.

Overlock machines may alternatively be referred to as sergers. The overlock stitch is the over-the-edge stitch used by these machines. In the United States, these machines are referred to as sergers. Overlockers or overlock machines are commonly referred to as such in Europe.

The use of multiple spools of thread by sergers is by far their most distinctive feature. You may use up to five cones of thread depending on the model of your sewing machine.

The huge, triangular-shaped cones of thread seen in most sewing supply stores are commonly used by sergers. In order to accomplish overlock stitching, they require a lot of thread.

Polyester thread is commonly found in sergers. Fast, accurate sewing on these machines necessitates a strong thread that can withstand the elasticity of this one.

For many sewing projects, matching the proper thread color to the right fabric is a favorite pastime. Maybe it’s time to stop this bad habit! Because large cones of thread are so expensive, many sewers don’t bother trying to match their serger thread to the color of their cloth.

What is a serger

Rethreading these machines is likewise time-consuming. You don’t want to have to replace your spools on a regular basis!

As a result of the various thread sources, various overlock stitches can be created. When sewing a seam, a standard sewing machine produces one row of straight stitches. Straight stitches are made by a serger, but it also stitches a pattern of threads on the raw edge of the seam allowance.

Differential feed is yet another unique feature seen on several sergers. Diverse speeds are used simultaneously to move a machine’s feeding dogs with differential feed. Knit fabric may be slid through without straining, resulting in lovely ruffles.

Describe the process of using a serger. Sergers, in contrast to most other sewing machines, do not utilize bobbins. Instead, they sew with stitch fingers and thread loops to keep the threads from slipping under the fabric’s edge. Stitch fingers are the needle plate’s little metal prongs.

Although not all sergers are equal, they may all produce an overcast/overlock seam. These machines might also be used to create a little hem using this stitch. Flatlock seams and a beautiful cover stitch are also common skills among models.

What Does a Sewing Machine Do?

Sewing machine

A sewing machine is a machine that utilizes thread to sew several layers of fabric together. A zigzag stitch, buttonholes, and even lovely flowers are all within the capabilities of most home sewing machines.

You can sew a variety of seams, hems, zippers, buttonholes, and even certain embroidery designs using a typical domestic sewing machine.

There are a vast variety of stitching patterns pre-programmed into modern sewing machines. There hasn’t been a lot of change in the fundamental mechanics of sewing machines since they were invented during the Industrial Revolution!

In other words, how does a sewing machine work? While sewing, the needle is pulling thread out of its spool and inserting it into the fabric. Each time the needle pushes through, the bobbin (basically a tiny spool of thread beneath the needle) uses a special hook to catch this thread and slide the bobbin thread through it. This holds the thread on both sides of the fabric, creating stitches!

In other words, how does a sewing machine work? While sewing, the needle is pulling thread out of its spool and inserting it into the fabric. Each time the needle pushes through, the bobbin (basically a tiny spool of thread beneath the needle) uses a special hook to catch this thread and slide the bobbin thread through it. This holds the thread on both sides of the fabric, creating stitches!

Serger vs Sewing Machine: What’s the Difference?

So, how exactly does a sewing machine operate? Thread is drawn from the spool and fed into the needle while the machine operates. While sewing, a tiny spool of thread beneath your needle called a bobbin is used to capture the needle’s thread with a specific hook and then pull it through so that the bobbin thread can be used. As a result of this, stitches are created on both sides of the material.


Sergers, on the other hand, typically feature a rack of tall thread cones on top of them. One spool of thread and one bobbin are commonly used in sewing machines. Threads are drawn from three to five cones and looper threads are used in place of a bobbin in a serger machine.

The design of sergers tends to be more squared and compact than that of sewing machines. Sewing machines with a longer neck are the exception rather than the rule. For activities like putting in zippers, these machines require more room than sergers, which are meant to make seams.


Sergers are manufactured and sold by many of the most popular sewing machine companies. On the manufacturer’s website or on Amazon you’ll find models from the likes of Brother and Janome.

Some sergers have more features than others, just like sewing machines do.

Number of Threads

You obviously know this, but the amount of threads each machine uses is a major difference.

One bobbin and one spool of thread are all that are needed to make stitches on sewing machines (unless you are using a double-needle, but even that only uses two spools of thread).

Using two to five cones of thread at simultaneously, sergers generate completed seams that are resistant to fraying.

Cutting Knife

Serged edges

There are a few advantages to using a serger over a regular sewing machine, including the ability to trim the seam allowance. The seam is sewn in the process of creating a precise finish.

There are many different ways to finish seams, but one of the most common is to use a zigzag stitch. then stitch the seam. Remove the fabric from the machine, and then trim the seam allowance. Afterwards. To complete the seam, switch to a zigzag stitch on your sewing machine.

All of this may be accomplished in a single pass using a serger’s cutting tool!

Number of Stitches

Difference between serger and sewing machine

Many different stitches can be programmed into today’s sewing machines. Sergeants almost never do. They only offer a small selection of stitches, but the ones they do offer can be used to a variety of diverse uses.

A basic sewing machine, on the other hand, can execute a wide range of jobs that overlocking machines are unable to accomplish.

Easy to Thread

You may simply learn how to thread a regular sewing machine with a little practice. Sergers may be more challenging to thread.

Why? Because there are between three and five alternative paths to study, rather than just one!

As a beginner, it’s a good idea to read the handbook and even watch some instructional videos on YouTube.

Setting up your serger will be a breeze once you get the hang of it.

Performance: Stitches per Minute

The stitching speeds of sewing machines and sergers vary slightly, although sergers typically produce more stitches per minute than the average sewing machine. The typical sewing machine can stitch between 1000 and 1500 stitches per minute (stitch count). A serger can go between 1300 and 2200 stitches per minute!

Learning Curve

Using a serger may be more difficult to grasp than using a regular sewing machine.

It is likely that you began your sewing journey with a basic domestic machine and learnt to sew straight seams, hem garments, and add zippers. Eventually, you make the decision to invest in a serger in order to improve your skills and produce more professional-looking finished seams.

Is it more difficult to operate a serger than a sewing machine? Not always, but the majority of sewers who use them have already mastered the basics of using a normal machine. Using a serger can be a bit of a challenge for someone who is used to sewing on a machine.

The good news is that sergers can perform fewer things than most sewing machines, which is a big plus. After learning these few abilities, you’ll be good to go!


The cost of sewing machines and sergers is about the same. It is possible to buy a new, basic serger for under $300, but the more complex ones can cost up to $2,000!

As a rule of thumb, a good domestic machine will set you back between $200 and $300. It is possible to purchase sewing machines that have 1,000 different stitch patterns pre-programmed into them. These machines can cost upwards of $2,000! But that’s another story. The majority of high-end sewing machines are actually computerized embroidery machines.

Pros and Cons of Sewing Machine

Here’s a quick rundown of the advantages and disadvantages of the typical sewing machine for your consideration.

Machines that sew:

  • Use one bobbin and one thread on each spool.
  • Long-necked shirts enable for easier fabric manipulation, such as when adjusting sleeves.
  • Sewing jobs include facings, hems, zippers, buttonholes, ruffles, and seams.
  • Frequently include numerous of stitch patterns pre-installed on them.
  • Using a zigzag stitch to enclose the raw edge of the fabric, seams can be finished.
  • You can’t encapsulate the seam allowance and sew a seam at the same time.
  • Cannot use an overlock stitch with a stretchy material.

Pros and Cons of Serger

Finally, here’s a concise review of the advantages and disadvantages of the ordinary serger.


  • Consolidate three to five thread cones at a time.
  • Have a more slender build with a shorter neck.
  • Has the ability to sew seams with enclosed edges for specific projects
  • Sews 1000-2000 stitches per minute at a high rate of speed.
  • Can stitch a seam, trim the excess fabric, and encapsulate the seam allowance all at the same time.
  • Sew robust and secure seams for children’s clothing or anything else that will be subjected to a lot of wear and tear.
  • Doesn’t have the ability to sew things like sleeves and collars, as well as inserting zips and buttons.

Can You Use a Serger for Regular Sewing?

With a serger, you can accomplish some sewing chores, but for others, you’ll need a machine with more advanced functions like a serger. To a large extent, this is a personal preference issue.

There are many sewing projects that may be completed by utilizing merely a serger for straight seams and perhaps some hemming. You’ll even save time with this! It is true that a serger cannot replace all of a sewing machine’s basic operations, but for many applications, it can be a more efficient option because it can perform multiple tasks at once.

Because of the overlock stitch’s unique properties, sergers are particularly well-suited to sewing knits. Stitches with some give to them, like these. Stitches made with a sewing machine do not stretch, although a zigzag stitch can be used on knits in a hurry.

A wedding dress, on the other hand, requires a lot of hand sewing activities including topstitching, facings, setting sleeves, zippers, and many little buttonholes and loops. This type of sewing is better suited to a typical home sewing machine.

Do I Need a Serger?

When it comes to sewing, it all depends on what type of stitching you enjoy. With a serger, even the most basic of sewing projects become more faster and easier to complete.

As a skilled seamstress, you’ll likely want to finish your products using overlocked seams. There’s a noticeable difference in the appearance of this.

When deciding whether or not to buy a serger, here’s the answer: if you sew frequently or want to open an Etsy business from your house, an overlocking machine is a necessity. You may want a serger if you’re sewing tough-wearing items like sports jerseys or children’s clothing, because overlocked seams are more durable.

For those who only sew for themselves or their families a few times each year, a serger can become an expensive piece of art in your craft area.

If you’re looking to replace your sewing machine, a serger may not be the best option. For ordinary stitching, it lacks some features. A sewing machine is the preferable choice if you just have room for one machine or a limited budget.

You can, of course, buy one of each in the ideal situation! If you’re looking for something a little more unique, you can check these combo machines.

Sewing Machine with Serger Function

An overcast foot is a tool that may be used on some conventional sewing machines to sew an overlocking stitch. You can save money by only purchasing one machine, and you can free up storage space by only having to keep one machine!

Even if you’re convinced that an overlock stitch sewing machine is the answer to all your woes, there are a few things to keep in mind. To make a stitch as strong and elastic as a real overlocker, modern machines with overlocking capabilities need more than one or two thread sources. Even if you use an overcast foot, you won’t be able to use your conventional sewing machine’s trimming tool while sewing.

Is it worth experimenting with a cloudy foot? It is possible to create beautiful rolled hems with the help of these little gadgets. A true serger, on the other hand, will be necessary if you want perfectly enclosed seams.

Sewing Machine Serger Combo

A proper serger/sewing machine combo isn’t currently available from any of the major manufacturers. Since it was retired, Singer has been selling a high-end combination machine that had a variety of sewing stitches, computerized embroidery possibilities, and serging.

You might conclude that this is all a ruse by large corporations to get you to buy two computers from them and hence spend more money with them in the long run. It’s possible that you’re at least partially right! There is no way to effectively use a combination of serger and sewing machine procedures because they operate in such completely distinct ways.

In comparison to a typical sewing machine’s needle and bobbin, sergers use a far more complicated looping of threads to create an overlocked seam. Each of these devices carries out a certain duty by utilizing a distinct set of methods.

Best Serger Sewing Machine

Choosing the right serger for your sewing needs is the most important consideration when purchasing one. A three-to-four thread model with color-coded threading instructions is a good place to start for new users. There is a considerable difference in stitches per minute for sewing professionals, and they’re also seeking for a four-to-five spool machine with more stitch options.

For sale or not, sergers are available in a variety of places. To ensure that your new machine is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, you can buy it directly from the company, check Amazon, or go to a sewing supply store like Joann Fabric. On eBay and Craigslist, you can purchase a variety of used sewing machines that are less expensive but less reliable.

Before making a purchase, do some research to learn about the features and capabilities of each model. There is no need to acquire a serger from a used shop if all you want to know about it is what it can do and how easy it is to operate.

What is the Best Serger for Beginners?

As a beginner, you may wish to start with a less expensive serger. Look for a model that uses fewer threads and has instructions that are easy to understand and color-coded.

Other popular brands are Brother and Singer, which you may like. Both firms have high-quality devices that are ideal for newbies.

To give you a taste of what’s out there, here are a few models geared for novices.

Singer Finishing Touch 14SH654 Serger

The quality and reliability of the Singer name is well-known in the sewing community, and this well-designed machine is no exception. This durable machine has six different stitch possibilities and can sew with three or four threads. Create ruffles and work with knits easily with its color-coded threading system and differential feed. Free arm and extra high presser foot for working with thick or bulky materials are also included in the machine. This device is a fantastic entry-level serger for any home sewer due to its affordability and functionalities.

Brother Serger, 1034DX, Durable Metal frame Overlock Machine

Brother is an excellent choice for both novices and experts. There are three accessory feet included with the Brother Serger 1034DX, and it can stitch at a rate of 1,300 stitches per minute with both three and four threads. This model has a sturdy metal frame that sets it apart from the rest. For the price, it’s a great investment! Beginners will find it easier to use this machine because it comes with a set of instructional materials. Instructional videos and color-coded thread pathways are among the resources available. Lastly, the “trim trap” on this machine captures all the cut-away seam allowance as you sew!

What is the Best Serger for Professionals?

Professionals want for a serger that is both fast and functional. Machines manufactured by Singer, Brother, Janome and Juki are all outstanding.

To help you better understand professional sergers, read these reviews.

SINGER Professional 14T968DC Serger Overlock with 2-3-4-5 Stitch Capability

This Singer model 14T968DC has professional features including three, four, or five thread stitches, despite its moderate price range. It has a variety of cover-stitch settings and four different rolled hem designs.

A rarity among sergers, this type is renowned for its whisper-quiet operation. Using five spools of thread may be difficult.

Professionals may be able to use this model because it has a large variety of stitches.

Janome MyLock 634D Overlock Serger, with Self Threading Lower Looper

When it comes to sewing, Janome is a name you’re likely familiar with. This business specializes in the design and manufacture of high-end machines for the professional market. Self-threading lower loops on the Janome MyLock 634D save you a lot of time when setting up your machine. There is a retractable knife that allows you to cut the seam allowance when sewing. It also has a variable feed rate and a range of cutting widths. The hems can be rolled in a variety of ways using this stitch.

That’s about the only thing that could detract from this high-end and professional sewing machine. The beading tool and piping foot it includes more than make up for it.


Sewing machines and sergers are not interchangeable. Despite the fact that they are capable of performing some of the same functions, each machine is designed and operated in a different way. Overlocked seams are the most common result of using a serger. There are many advantages to sewing machines, but they don’t produce overlocked seams.

Does your favorite sewing machine or serger have a particular model number? Both types of devices, have you tried them? Let us know if you prefer to sew with a serger or a sewing machine by leaving a comment below!

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