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HKseam | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I am trying to decide what type of Overlock/Coverlock machine to purchase. I do apparel sewing, using mostly woven fabrics, but would like to start using knit fabrics, as well as have cleaner seams on woven fabrics.
I’ve done some initial research and it seem that the lower end machines don’t do a cover hem stitch – is this necessary? And do the Coverlock machines also have all the functions of an Overlock machine? What functions should I be looking for in a machine? I may have my terminology mixed up, if so, I would also appreciate some clarifications.
My price range would be mid-range – I don’t need anything computerized, but I’d also like something that I can grow into rather than grow out of quickly. I’m located in Hong Kong and so will need to shop around online first, then visit specific dealers as there is no “one stop shop”. I don’t think there is a Babylock or Brother dealer here, so I will be limited to Japanese brands, or brands such as Singer, Pfaff and Bernina (that I know of off hand).
Thanks so much for any advice – I need it!


  1. MaryinColorado | | #1

    I have a Husqvarna Viking 936 which is an excellent serger that I have owned for over a decade.  I will use it as an example as I am most familiar with it.  It is not an industrial machine, but it is very solid with no vibration issues.   It is an overlock and coverlock machine.  I think you would prefer a machine which does both in working with wovens and knits in your clothing construction.  Differential Feed is absolutely necessary in my opinion!  Here are it's capabilities:  2/3/4or5 thread overlocking for seaming and edge finishing at once, which includes a very fine 2 thread rolled hem (as for silk chiffon as well as a 3 thread rolled edge for heirloom sewing and faux tucks and lettuce edging on knits.  3 thread overlock is the most basic common stitch and can set to wide or narrow needle widths.  5 thread is a safety stitch.  Gathering with a serger by opening the differential out all the way is easy and fast.

    Coverstitch width of 3mm and 6mm and 2 choice of 2 or 3 needles with it.  This is excellent for hemming knits, making belt loops (like jeans have).  This and the Chain stitch can be used for decorative stitching.  The chain stitch is good for basting as it is very easy to remove.

    You can do even more: apply elastic, apply two sizes of threaded beads, create or insert piping, apply zippers, make bias binding, gather and stitch at the same time. 

    As you can see, there is no simple answer.  You must do your research and decide on a budget.  I kept a spiral notebook and test drove sergers for about a year. 

    I have heard good things about Juki which I believe is available in Japan.

    http://www.patternreview.com has serger and sewing machine reviews done by owners and you can join for free.  They are good people there.

    An excellent resource for all you can do with the coverstitch and overlock is Serger Secrets...High Fashion Techniques For Creating Great Looking Clothes by Rodale Press. It is written by 5 sewing experts.

    Hope this is helpful and not too much info at once.  Mary






    1. HKseam | | #2

      Thanks Mary,
      I really appreciate the advice and info - the more the better! I'm likely to do a similar amount of research, though I'm not sure I can wait a year. My biggest hurdle is getting to all the various dealer offices which are usually located in not-so-convenient locations.
      Will check out patterreview.com and definitely test my options once I've narrowed it down.
      Thanks again,

  2. MaryinColorado | | #3

    I suggest you have some companies send you brochures on there sergers so you can see the stitches and capabilities.  There is much to consider to get the right machine for you (just like car shopping).

    Does it have a Free arm for cuffs and panlegs, etc?  Differential Feed (eliminates waves and puckers or creates gathering).  Adjustable stitch length and width.  Adjustable presser foot lift. Thread cutter that can be disengaged.  Exta wide design so you can use it for larger or bulkier items.

    Do you want it to have a Converter for 2 thread overlocking, rolled hem, and flatlocking for very lightweight fabrics and heirloom work?

    good lighting?

    color coded thread guides are helpful, and numbered tension disks.  Speed controls?  low-med-high

    Local service and repair?  What kind of needles and are they available there?  Warranty? 

    I thought they all seemed difficult to thread let alone comprehend all they can do when I first started looking.  There is a little learning curve, but these are wonder machines! 


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