What Is a Serger Overlocking Machine?

Suppose you are a seamstress, tailor, or DIY sewing hobbyist who wants to give a refined, professional-looking finish to the items you sew. In that case, consider having an overlocking machine.

Also known as a serger, an overlocking machine is used on rough and unraveled edges of fabrics to make them look even, neat, and well-finished. Overlocking your material doesn’t only enhance it, but it also ensures its longevity.

Overlocking machines and standard sewing machines usually complement each other. An overlocking machine or serger sews fabrics together and cuts the fabric simultaneously. The serger’s blade cuts the fabric right before multiple needles bind it together.

Professional overlock sewing machine with black thread in workshop. Equipment for edging, hemming or seaming clothes at tailors shop.

Do you want to buy an overlocking machine or serger? Here’s what you need to know.

Did you know that there is a wide range of types and styles of overlocking machines or sergers in the market? Are you starting a small clothing business, or do you just need to give your homemade clothes a neat finish? You may be interested in buying an overlocking sewing machine. But before you get to buy or order one, first you should look at some of its essential features:

Automatic threading feature

Given that an overlocking machine has multiple threads working together, easy threading is important. A manual threading serger could take up to 10-20 minutes on average for re-threading. So, to avoid that hassle, consider an overlocking machine with an automatic threading feature.

Number of threads

Different overlocking machines use a different number of threads to work with. A serger for beginners has at least 4 threads, while some professional-grade sergers can have up to 8 threads. But if you want an overlocking for home use, then a 4-thread machine should serve you more than enough.

Stitch configuration

As overlocking machines typically have at least four threads, so their stitch configuration also relies on the number of threads. Most overlocking machines would only allow three threads to be used, and others may allow more or less to be used. The stitch configuration really depends on you. A two- or three-thread stitch also looks just fine. But if you are looking for a more secure and durable stitch, then you can consider an overlocking machine that supports a higher number of threads, i.e., four or five.

Adjustable stitch length

Stitch length matters a lot when you deal with different types of fabrics. Adjusting the size of stitches according to the fabric can make a lot of difference in the seaming quality. The shorter the stitch length, the more stitches can be in a greater area. If you want a loose and stretchy seam, you can adjust the stitch length to long, and if you’re going to get tighter and smoother corners, then you can adjust the stitch length to small.

Adjustable tension

Adjustable tension is an essential feature in sewing machines and greatly enhances the overall look of your project. The same goes for overlocking sewing machines, as you will need to adjust the tension depending on the fabric.

Usage and price

Overlocking machines can have several features. The more components a sewing machine has, the more expensive it will be. Suppose you are looking for an overlocking machine that can provide you with a high-quality finished product, and you don’t need to perform complex procedures with your machine. In that case, getting a basic and beginner-level serger will be enough and also save you money. However, don’t scrimp on features either, and make sure you’re getting suitable options for your needs.

Overlock sewing machine in tailor office. Fashion designer equipment serger

Advantages of using an overlocking machine or serger

Long-time users of overlocking machines or sergers – from home hobbyists to professional seamstresses to tailors – are unanimous in their praise for these machines. The following are the reasons for their love for overlocking machines or sergers.


One thing that makes overlocking machines unique is their ability to trim allowances as you sew. All types and models feature upper and lower cutting blades that jump into operation as soon as you apply pressure on the pedal. If you’re planning to work on a project that doesn’t require trimming the fabric, most serger models can also retract the cutting blades to render them inoperative.

High speeds

The speed of an overlocking machine or serger depends on the model. High-end models can operate almost triple the speed of a regular sewing machine. While handling certain fabrics running through a sewing machine at up to 1,700 stitches per minute may take more practice, in no time, you’ll successfully create a finished product, such as a knit skirt, in less than 30 minutes instead of hours.  

Excellent for stretchy fabrics

Overlocking machines are primarily designed to produce smooth yet secure and durable stitches on all types and weights of knit and other elastic fabrics.

Secure and durable stitches

Anyone who sews, either by hand or machine, knows the frustration of seeing the seams separate because of the fraying fabric or broken stitches. Having an overlocking machine or serger can prevent any of these problems, as it produces strong, secure, and durable stitches using multiple threads that keep the fabric from fraying and will last for a long time. Whether using two or eight threads, an overlocking machine encases the fabric securely while allowing sufficient give to prevent broken stitches or tearing, even after countless launderings.

Professional results

Overlocking machines have the ability to put a clean and professional finish on hems, seams, and sleeves, making your clothes look like they’re purchased from a high-end department store.


An overlocking machine or serger is a special-purpose machine that can trim, stitch, and overcast seams as it sews, producing professionally-finished seams. Here in this article, you’ve learned all its essential features and advantages. As most of the sergers work just great in providing quality finishing quickly, you may start looking for the one that fits your budget and requirements.