Oliver + S

To over lock or not to overlock, that is the question?

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    Linda @Knitting1

    Hi all, it is my birthday today (59, unfortunately.) I can choose a birthday present from my husband. My Janome sewing machine is a very basic model, so no one-step buttonholes and complains when sewing over a thick seam, but other than that, its fine. I don’t need fancy stitches, other than for sewing knits (been there, did fancy, would rather hand embroider.) Anyway, I am debating whether to get an overlocker/serger/coverstitch or dress form. So, seeking your opinions. If I get a dress model I will still need to adapt it, even if I get a dialling one. I am 95% way through doing my own and can’t quite seem to get padding correct and its such hard work. But would be handy as only males left at home now and rubbish at helping with fit, etc. And if I am honest, despite reading lots of info, I still don’t really know what a server/coverstitch/over locker actually does- or doesn’t. Is it a sewing machine as well? Does that mean I can give my machine to my eldest daughter who is returning to UK from Canada, by the way!! Yippee! There is an offer locally for a Janome 8050XL that comes as a combo with a Janome overlocker 8002DX with £100 off the overlocker. Would I be better off buying a separate more expensive over locker/server/coverstitch? I’m not talking mega money here, just a few hundred pounds. Thank you! Nicole- hope you are around as you sound like Serger Queen of the Outback!!!!

    Sarvi @Sarvi

    Nicole is the queen of a large number things, this board is rich in queens!

    I will leave the dressform vs overlock question to Nicole as she has both and plenty of experience with them.

    I can tell you that the consensus is generally in favor of separate machines for serging and coverlock, as switching between modes is often cumbersome. I had a lot of these same questions before I bought my machine. It is definitely not a sewing machine, although you could probably do something like a knit tshirt entirely on it, because of the way a tshirt is constructed. If I’m making something very special that I want to keep forever, and that is kid sized, I won’t use the serger much or at all. If I’m making an adult-sized dress for frequent wear I would absolutely serge as many seams as possible for a durable, quick, easy seam finish.

    I’m *pretty* sure it does a lot more than finish seams but I’m a novice. Experts, what else can you do with a serger?

    Liesl Gibson

    Oh yes, if I may weight in on this one. It’s so much nicer to have separate serger and coverlock machines, since they’re a royal pain to switch back and forth and the cost is about equivalent (in my experience) to buy them separately as opposed to one multi-purpose machine. Even I, with my very limited NYC space, would happily find extra room for a separate coverlock machine if I was getting one. (I actually had one for a while and decided I didn’t use it enough to hold onto it, so that might be something to consider as well.) On the other hand, I LOVE the serger. So fast and neat.

    With regard to the mannequin, they’re very useful for developing a pattern like I do, but I’m not a big fan of them for basic sewing and fitting. They’re just not as useful as you might think. There was a time when I thought I really needed one in order to sew for myself. Then I got one and never used it, even though our measurements were very similar. Unless you’re planning to actually drape new styles for yourself, you really don’t need one. For fitting, your body is your best friend. Well, that and maybe a real life friend who sews and can help you.

    I’m sure you’ll hear plenty of other opinions on this, and this is just my opinion and experience. Take it for what it’s worth.

    honeymadeit @honeymadeit

    Here is my 2 cents worth. I have been using a serger for about 25 years and never want to be without one. Not only do they neaten a seam but they also make the seams stronger. This is very important with children’s clothing. You could sew some things with just a serger but only if you were sure of your seams and wouldn’t have to take it out. It is a pain to take a surged seam out and it will have already been trimmed.

    If I were ever to get a new sewing machine, I would opted for a heavy duty machine with auto threading, auto buttonhole maker, needle position adjustment and only a few stitches. I never use all the fancy one on my machine. I mostly use straight, zig zag, overlock, buttonhole, 1/4 inch quilting stitch.

    I would like to upgrade my serger as mine is very basic. Maybe someday I will be able to afford an embroidery machine. I think that would be very useful.

    I have never used a cover stitch and unless you are hemming a lot of knits I can’t think of why you would need one.

    Happy Happy Birthday to you!!

    Linda @Knitting1

    Thanks everyone, that’s given me a lot to think about. I think I will do some research before I do anything. And Liesl, thanks for your thoughts on dress forms- I don’t intend to do drape or design clothes. I am learning with the Fit for Real People book and a Butterick toile which I’ve just today finished fitting, cutting out and marking. Then I had to break for chocolates, lots of birthday chocolates… PS what is the difference between an overlocker, server and coverstitch? Honeymade it- do you mean you just use the server to finish raw seam edges, not to sew with?

    honeymadeit @honeymadeit

    I mainly use the serger for finishes. I sew knits with it. I have a 3 or 4 thread with differential feed. But it is old and finicky. LOL just like me. I can’t tell you what all a cover stich is for but I do know it is used to hem knits. it’s that chain like stitch you see on RTW. I like serger finished seams. They don’t fray and are stronger. I want a serger that can gather and do rolled hems, that would be wonderful.

    If you do get a serger be sure you can drop the cutters so you can make a lot of things just with it. You will always need a regular sewing machine to do fine stitching. A serger doesn’t replace a sewing machine. It adds to it.

    honeymadeit @honeymadeit

    I will add you still need a sewing machine to do things like top stitching, edge stitching, narrow hems and putting in a sleeve etc.

    Linda @Knitting1

    Thanks, honeymadeit, useful info. I appreciate it. By the way, in case anyone thinks I’m a complete idiot, I DO keep typing in the word SERGER but it keeps changing to SERVER and I don’t notice until I post it. Damn technology again…

    nellmight @nellmight

    Linda, an overlocker and a serger are different names for the same machine. Just depends on where you live in the world as to what this machine is called! The US use ‘sergers’ and seams are ‘serged’, but in Australia (and maybe the UK?) the same machines are called overlockers. Hope this helps!

    with love Heidi @with love Heidi

    A serger (north American) and an overlocker (Australian) are the same machine by different names. I’m not sure which names are used in other parts of the world 🙂 A coverstitch can be integrated into the above orCcan be a separate machine. I prefer mine separate as I move between them regularly on one sewing project.

    I love mine and it was the first thing I bought after getting back into sewing (about 5 years ago), I did already have a sewing machine. I use the overlocker almost every project and I’ll often overlock straight down the seams rather than sewing on the sewing machine first. But it depends on how I’m feeling and the project.

    It’s amazing for knits, when set correctly gives lovely stretchy seams.

    I also use mine a lot for gathering, I have an attachment that allows me to gather one piece of fabric onto another. It’s great for ruffled teired skirts which I make quite a few of.

    With a few adjustments it also does an amazing rolled hem. Although I am seriously considering getting a second overlocker just for rolled hems 🙂

    I would recommend a basic overlocker, I have a Janome 644D and love it. It can take a while to get the hang of threading from scratch but it just takes practice.

    A coverstitch machine bascily does 2 things. Double or triple needle sewing resulting in two or three parallel lines lines of stitching which is nice and stretchy. This is the finish you see on the hems of store bought tshirts and other items. You can use the reverse side of the Double/triple stich to give the look of exposed seams on sports wear. It also does a chain stitch, using one needle. This can be used for decorative embellishments and sewing things together that you may want to easily take apart as when you pull the back of the chain stitch it comes right out. I only recently got a coverstitch machine (like 6 months ago) but I have used it a lot. I have a Janome CPX and I like it because of the large harp space to the right of the needle as I often used it to get perfectly straight double lines of top stitching in the middle of a garment.

    I recommend a serger/overlocker first and then finances permitting a coverstitch. Although if you go a more basic overlocker you might be able to convince hubby that you can have both 🙂

    Nicole @motherof5

    Tis nobler to have separate machines and machines rather then dress forms.

    Seriously, get the new machine. Second hand dress forms pop up all the time, and even if they look a bit tragic (I suspect mine has mange) they work fine!

    Jed purchased me a very expensive coverstitch/overlocker as a gift and it is permanently set as a coverstitch. AND now I am lusting after a semi-industrial coverstitch machine.

    I don’t know the machines you speak of, I had a second hand Huskvarna before my Juki and it was awesome.

    (PS, thank you for all your lovely compliments, I feel like the queen of soggy clothes at present) 😉

    Nicole @motherof5

    PPS Happy Birthday to you!

    Lightning McStitch @LightningMcStitch

    When I went to buy my overlocker I was all ready to buy the more expensive model that included Coverstitch option. The salesman talked me down, perhaps wisely, I don’t know. I’d still quite like a coverstitch machine but can’t see it would get much more use than hemming, and I’m very happy with the double needle gems i get from my sewing machine.

    I recently played with my overlocker and achieved a flatlock style exposed seam with that machine. It’s totally doable and was something I initially wanted an overlocker for.

    The easiest machine to fiddle with and rethread but which will always perform perfectly I reset to default tensions would have to be the best buy in my opinion. If you’re not a tinkerer then stick with an overlock only machine.

    Mine’s a Bernina 700D and I can’t praise it highly enough.

    Once you’re sewing knit fabrics on the overlocker you won’t need a dress form cause knits always fit better and it will take you no time at all to knock up version 2!! 🙂

    Tamara @justsewit

    Happy birthday! And what a wonderful way to celebrate.

    I would go for the overlocker/ serger myself. I have one that was a Christmas gift from my hubby and parents a few tears ago. It is a basic version with no coverstitch and I am not even sure it does flatlock. But it does overlock the seams nicely and does do a great fine finish.

    I have found that since using my overlocker, my sewing has become more professional looking than the previous useage of just a zigzag. I bought a coverstitch machine separately because I wanted a better finish on hemming t shirts and other knitwear. My sewing machine has bells and whistles but doesn’t have an embroidery component so somewhere along the line when I am old and decrepid I will probably want an embroidery machine – it is awesome at sewing and quilting so I am happy (and I too would rather hand embroider).

    I have a dressmakers dummy but I only use it to hold the headdress I made for the lead character in a school play a few years ago. It doesn’t house my measurements and has now become a bit of a white elephant – especially since I tower over it anyway. I would rather make one from my body to assist me with fit, so even though you are saying you are having a hard time with your home made one, if you have made one to your body (with tape etc) then persevere. I believe it would be a better item because it resembles you!

    I think you would also stand a better chance of recruiting your daughter for fit sessions once she returns to the UK (provided she is close enough). The guys do try but many just have no idea or interest. The books you mentioned are also helpful and I know there are lots of classes online out there that will give you help and plenty of instruction also.

    Good luck and I hope you enjoy your birthday gift.

    Linda @Knitting1

    Nellmight! Ah! Didn’t know that! Thank you. I am in UK, so over locker then, I think.

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