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Choosing a serger

TeamDEMP | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I’m new to sewing clothing, except for costumes. I had my own home dec sewing business(window treatments, bedding, upholstery, etc) for several years before going to work for Calico Corners. My daughter has been designing clothing for several years now and its time to get her sewing her fun designs. I am baffled by the choices for sergers out there! Does anyone have a recommendation for a machine that is going to provide us with all of the edges, stitches and hems that will give us professional looking garments? I would prefer to purchase one machine that will be easy to use but provide us with great results. When looking in the local sewing shops the machines are all well over $1500 and while I would be willing to make the investment, I still need help making a choice. Thank you!!


  1. Crazy K | | #1

    I have several brands of sergers.  My first purchased 12 years ago is an Elna.  It's great and I love my Elna because its such a workhorse.  I also have a Janome Compulock which is a great machine for the money and does the coverhem but takes a bit to switch it over.  I also have a Babylock Evolve which does an awesome coverhem.  It is the 8-thread Evolve before the Evolve Wave came out.  The threading is easy with the jet-air and it has a 'cheat sheet' that is great for switching from one stitch to another.   It does 3 coverhems........narrow, wide and 3-thread......... plus lots of other stitches, both utility and decorative.

    I'm fortunate to have the space and machines that I leave my Evolve set for coverhem and serge seams with my Elna.  That is this optimum in efficiency but I realize not everyone can do that.  If you have a choice and aren't worried about the investment, get an Evolve for coverhems and decorative stitches(then you have a back up serger as well with lots of different stitches) and get yourself a small, serger for serging the seams.  Many of those can be purchased for under $200 now..........and the most important is differential feed which nearly all have these days.

    Hope this info has been somewhat helpful to you.  I'm sure others have their opinions.  I've found that sergers and sewing machines are mostly all good but, like cars, people seem to have their favorites.  And finding a dealership (that you trust) close-by is a big plus as well..........both for classes and servicing.


  2. MaryinColorado | | #2

    What a wonderful and exciting venture for you and your daughter!  I hope you will be very successful in bringing her designs to life! 

    You can click on "advanced search" here and type in "serger" or "purchasing serger" etc.  We've had several discussions on this that may be helpful to you.  Also http://www.patternreview.com has sewing machine, serger, and pattern reviews that may help you in making your decision.

    I have owned the Husqvarna Viking Huskylock 936 for over 10 years.  It is a very sturdy machine, I use it often and it is still like a brand new machine.  I've never had any problems with it in all this time.  It makes beautiful stitches and is very hardy.

    The heavier sergers have less vibration than lighter weight ones and you'll want a sturdy table. 

    I used a spiral notebook and researched the machines for about a year, going to all the dealers and test driving with my own fabrics.  If you want to use those beautiful heavy threads and yarns in the looopers you'll want to be certain you can adjust the tensions.  Also adjusting the tensions in a variety of ways can change the way a stitch looks.  Such as making a wrapped edged that looks like piping that I have used on quilts rather than binding the edges.  You can use fine machine embroidery thread or even metallic threads for finish work and hems.  (Even fishline for those wavy hems).  Gathering with the serger is a breeze as is edging your fabric for washing before sewing.

    You can do heirloom serging as seen on Martha Pullen's tv show, http://www.marthapullen.com has videos and books.  My favorites are Cathy McMakin's Serging for Babies and one about heirloom serging.

    Two favorite serging books are Serger Secrets and Secrets to Successful Sewing with lots of great photos and instructions for techniques and beautiufl clothes created using the serger. 

    http://www.lindaleeoriginals.com is Linda Lee Vivian's site, she's known as the "Serger Lady" and has a new book coming out soon, she has serger specific patterns also and has retreats.

    You can create your own lace with a 3 thread overlock and water soluble thread, make beautiful rolled edges, beautiful knit hems, and everything from decorative work to complete garment seams with the right stitches.  Enjoy the search! 

    http://www.nancysnotions.com also has books, patterns, and videos...PBS Sewing With Nancy

    Hope this helps somewhat.  Mary

    1. sewslow67 | | #6

      OK Mary; when do you give your first series of classes ...because I'm ready to sign up!  Seriously, I wish I lived next door to you, as I've never used my sergers efficiently and stretched their abilities (or mine, for that matter). 

      I'm copying your message and adding it to my files.  Thanks for all the great information; and I will add some new learning techniques to the already long list of new things I want to learn this year.

      PS:  I must say, I'm really impressed!  I had no idea that sergers could do all that.  ;-)

      1. MaryinColorado | | #7

        You are too kind!  But thank you!  I just love serging and all these wonder machines can do.  It was so frustrating the year I spent researching them because people in the shops really didn't have much to say about them, many couldn't even thread them so I'd make an appointment with their "serger expert" and go away frustrated with their lack of information too.  That's why I try to let as many people as possible know these machines do so much more than finish seams and coverstitch knit hems.

  3. Palady | | #3

    As CrazyK posted, the Babylock machines are gems.  For any serger there is a learning curve.  How steep depends on the machine & the learner. 

    As was suggested, if at all possible work through a dealer with whom you feel a rapport.  Because you mention an interest in >> ... a machine that is going to provide us with all of the edges, stitches and hems that will give us professional looking garments? ... <<, realize the cost factor increases with the complexity.

    In addition to Babylocks, Husqvarna/Viking 936 is another consideration.  There's a support group on line as well as a HQ/V web site that is chock full of helpful information.  A bit more than is found on some of the other serger company web sites.  Including Babylock.  The company produces other sergers, but the 936 is the only one with the coverstitch function. 


    Just recently the company has posted, as pdf's, the booklets on their publications directed to the 936 that were once by purchase only.  If you scroll down to the Miscellaneous category on this next URL, the first 2 offerrings will give you some insight on what the 936 can do.


    The caveat with the coverstitch on the 936, and some other of the machines capable of the cover, is the need to convert the mechanism.  For some this is a deterrent.  So much so, there are sewist who have dedicated cover stitch machines despite their delight with all the 936, or other machines, can do.   If budget allows, you might choose this route.  In addition to BL, I think Elna offers a dedicated.  Caveat with the BL one is a shallow throat. 

    The Yahoo group for the 936 is -


    If you scroll a bit, you'll note they've been on-line since Apr 2001, and continue very active.

    I do have to say again, please look for a relaible dealer.  And if at all possible test run the machine you might lean to owning. 

    When you've made you choice, please post again & let us all know.




    1. pinkit | | #4

      Thanks for the info on the yahoo group for Viking 936.  I hadn't thought of this or heard of it before.  I have had my Viking 936 for about a year now and am thrilled to have it.  However, I do have a very supportive staff at the Viking shop and also a great group of others learning to serge.  We have serger club every once a month and learn a new skill or relearn if you happen to have forgotten something.

      1. Palady | | #5

        Your very welcome for the URL's on the HQ/V 936.   It's wonderful you're in a local group to exchange ideas, and commiserate.

        The booklets being accessible as pdf's is a positive step from HQ/V. 

        Word amongst the Yahoo group is the company is working on a replacement for the current 936. I bought mine in 2000.  To date, specifics are nil.

        Circa 2001/'02 there was a modification to back needle screws.  Also, the 2 thread converter is attached to the upper looper on the revised model, with extra sliding clips at the tension disc for decorative threads.



        1. pinkit | | #9

          Thanks for the update on the Viking 936.  I had been wondering when they would decide to do an upgrade.  Since I am comfortable with what I have I don't know if I would want to make a change.  Also, my two thread converter is attached to the looper and just have to connect it to the looper or disconnect it.  No problem except you have to remember what you are doing.  Keep in touch

  4. Cityoflostsouls | | #8

    I have the Babylock Imagine.  Now you would probably buy the Imagine with the wave stitch.  I also have the Babylock Cover Stitch machine.  I'm the impatient type and do not want to spend valuable time "switching over" when I want to do hems and decorative stitching on fabrics.  If you buy just one be sure you can move the cutting blade out of the way for different operations.  There are ways to avoid cutting your fabric but it looks to me as tho this would take more skill and concentration than I have.  I wasn't willing to pay the extra money for one stitch-the wave stitch.  My coiver stitch can be set up and it has tension controls.  I don't see the need for tension controls on the Imagine.  You can bypass some of the threading but I haven't done this.

    1. MaryinColorado | | #10

      On the Huskylock 936, there is an M foot that you can set to different widths to avoid the fabric going into the cutter.  It came with the serger.  I almost always prefer to let the cutter trim off a bit of fabric though so have rarely used it. 

      When I bought my serger, I got them to include a box of accessory feet for regular serging (3mm piping foot, 5.5mm piping foot, pearl foot, gathering foot, and elastic foot) and the Coverstitch Kit with a cording foot, bias tape foot, piping foot bieas tape folder foot, and hemming foot at no extra charge. 

      Since they are coming out with a new serger soon, perhaps the price will be going down on the others, depending on what the new one might be replacing.  Maybe it will be a coverstitch only machine or new top of the line.  Does anyone know yet?  I'm thrilled with the one I have but like to keep my ear to the ground.   Mary

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