Monday, April 23, 2012

Fear of Overlock

It was interesting to see that your suggestions on sewing with knits were representative of the sewing community as a whole. About half insist that you can successfully sew knits on a regular sewing machine; the other half insist that life is immeasurably better if you have a serger/overlocker and coverhem machine.

I will experiment with my basic sewing machine before making any investments in more advanced equipment, but the discussion did inspire me to research the types of machines and address some of my fears.

My first fear is cost.

It took me months of deliberation before I invested a whole $140 in my new Singer last year. Now, of course, I am thrilled that I have it, and I can’t believe it took me so long to make the decision. I’d imagined that sergers were in the $1000 range and I would never be able to spend that much. When I found that there were functional, popular machines available in the $200 - $400 range, I had to reconsider.

The next fear is the difficulty of use. I don’t think there is a sewist out there who hasn’t felt daunted by a new serger with its row of slots, loops, needles, blades, and dials, all of which must be threaded and adjusted perfectly in order to get a good result.
One of the 48 pages of a Singer serger instruction manual

The consumer reviews and help sites are full of desperate people ready to tear their hair out or throw the machine out the window because they can’t get the tension right. But, since some machines also have glowing reviews from happy users, it must be possible to learn eventually. (I see that the Brother that Anita recommended is very popular on all the sewing sites – that’s good news!)

Brother 1034D

Another problem (not a fear, just a limitation) is my work space. I can barely push my fabric through my regular sewing machine with all the stuff stacked up on and around my work table. Where on earth would I put a serger, and how would I get to it in order to use it? Another major reconfiguration of the room would be required.

And finally, there’s the fear of losing ground on that slippery slope of “I just need one more thing.” So maybe I have a sewing machine and a serger. I expect I would immediately decide to need a coverhem machine, because who wants a silly messy hem on the T-shirt, when you’ve got nicely overlocked seams. Once I have the sewing machine, the serger, and the coverhem, no doubt I would decide I don’t want to do embroidery by hand anymore, so I need a fancy sewing machine that does programmable embroidery. At that point, why not take up quilting and invest in an industrial free-arm machine? You can see where I’m going with this. I can control myself (really, I can), but if I do invest in additional technology, I will have to be very sure it does everything I’ll need in the foreseeable future.

As I mentioned, I’ll be testing out different methods with the current machine and will share any interesting findings. In the meantime, any additional suggestions on sergers (particularly overlock/coverhem combo machines) are very welcome!



  1. I'd love a coverhem machine but have no intention of buying one, at least not until after I've won the lottery.
    My overlocker is a Toyota - chosen because it was being sold 2nd hand but as new. It happened to be the same model used at the sewing class I attended last year and the tutor was very helpful in setting me off with it.
    Go for it, I say.

  2. I love this post; very funny!

    Although I am a real gadget person, not to mention a lover of "stuff" in general, I easily drew the line at the serger. No coverhem or embroidery machine for me! I've never been a fan of machine embroidery; nothing can replace the look of something stitched by hand. As for hems on t shirts, I am happy to leave them unfinished, or to hand sew it.

    I completely understand the space issue, though! When I started working in my living space, I got hard plastic covers for my sewing machine and the serger, and I keep the one I'm not using under the table or in the corner. Not ideal perhaps, but it does the trick!

    I second Snippa and say go for it! I predict that you will wonder how you lived without it for so long.

  3. I have a serger - a Brother - I forget the number. It isn't an overlock, which I lament. But, oh well. I use it only to finish my edges. I haven't delved into all it's uses yet because, like you, I'm afraid to tackle it. It's a handy tool to have but it doesn't replace your sewing machine. Could I have lived life without it? Absolutely. But, I haven't tried sewing knits on it yet. Frankly, I haven't done knits as my past experiences with knit haven't been good.

    They are a handy tool and very quick and convenient.

  4. You are truly talented. Keep up the good work!