Serger vs Sewing Machine: What Is A Serger And Do You Need One?

Sewing Machine vs Serger

Need help with whether to use a Serger vs Sewing Machine? Find out what is a serger machine, when to use it and how it is different from a sewing machine. 

A Serger is a specialized sewing machine that trims fabric while creating a neat and professional looking hem. They differ from a regular sewing machine as they have more bobbins and threads. This makes them faster and more effective for certain sewing projects where durable and professional edges are needed. 

Want to know more about a serger and if it would be a helpful addition to your sewing kit? Keep reading as we share everything you need to know about sergers. 


What Is A Serger


Firstly, what is a serger sewing machine?

As we mentioned before a serger is a specialized sewing machine. Unlike a regular sewing machine, as you sew a serger will trim away the edge of your fabric ( or seam allowance) while sewing a thread edging with a special overlocking stitch. You can also alter how thick this thread edging is, as well as the width of the edging itself. 

How Is A Serger Different From A Sewing Machine

The main difference between a Serger and a sewing machine is the number of needles and bobbins, as well as a blade for cutting. 

A sewing machine usually has one bobbin and one thread ( unless you are using a double needle). A serger machine can have 3 to 5 bobbins and 3 to 5 threads. This of course makes them much more efficient for certain projects like edging and hemming. 

A serger also has a blade which neatly trims the fabric edge as it sews. This may of course be turned off if not needed such as for a rolled hem. 

While a serger can do some amazing things it cannot replace a regular sewing machine when it comes to things like sewing zippers, creating button holes and other sewing techniques. 

Serger vs Overlock

You may be surprised to find out that a serger and an overlocker machine are the same! A serger is the term used for this machine in the USA while other places in the World such as Europe and Australia use the term overlocker. 

The stitch created by a serger is usually called an overlock or overlocking stitch so this may also cause some confusion. 

So, what does a serger do?

How To Use A Serger


sewing machine vs serger

Now you know exactly what a serger is. How and where would you use one?

What Is A Serger Used For

Sergers are used to create neat edges on seams and single layers of fabric. They trim the seam while sewing and leave a neatly sewn finish all simultaneously. The way the serger works helps prevent fraying while also making it much faster to edge or hem sewing projects. These edges are much more durable than hems created with a sewing machine, especially on fabrics with stretch. 

When To Use A Serger vs Sewing Machine

There are so many uses for a serger and you are only limited by your imagination but here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Use on stretchy fabrics like knits to create edges that stretch with the fabric
  • Creates professional and neat hems on lightweight and delicate fabrics.
  • Create decorative hems on projects with visible edges. This is ideal on single layers of fabric like ruffle collars.
  • Create strong edges on projects that need to be durable like children’s clothing and soft toys. 
  • Can be used for quilting

Using A Serger Machine 

When you first see a serger it can be very overwhelming as there are so many bobbins and threads, as well as dials and buttons.

Don’t let that overwhelm stop you from using it though because once you have mastered how to use your machine you will love how much quicker and more professional your sewing projects look. 

By using different amounts of threads you can create edges with various looks and purposes. 

Reading any instruction manual can be hard work and complicated. We actually prefer to learn by watching videos and taking classes. 

One of our favorite ways to learn online is via Udemy

You may also find this class really useful if you love being able to follow and learn at your own pace. Click on the button below to find out more. 

Serger Machine Basics And Techniques


What Is Differential Feed on a Serger? 

This feature allows you to alter the speed at which you feed the fabric as it sews. You can change this to allow for better finishes on knit fabric by allowing for the stretch during sewing or to even create special effect edging such as gathers or waves. 

Not all machines come with a differential feed.

Here is a great video so you can check if your serger has a differential feed and how you can use it to create different edging. 



Best Serger Sewing Machine

As with all sewing machines, the more you pay the more functions you will usually have on your machine.

It is possible to get basic sergers that only use 2 threads. These still create a neat and durable edge but will not provide a variety of stitch types.

The most common type of serger for personal use tends to be a 4 thread version. This can do most stitch variations and covers the needs of many home sewers. 

Some things you may want to consider before purchasing a serger machine:

  • Do you want a feature to roll hems (rather than cutting the fabric)?
  • What kind of materials do you tend to work with? If you use lots of fabrics with stretch then spending more on a machine with more threads may be valuable. 
  • Does your machine need to have the capability to sew a straight seam line or coverstitch too? If you are creating lots of projects or are selling sewing items then spending more on a serger that can sew the seam while edging will save you lots of time and effort. 

We recommend getting the machine that will cover your basic needs.

For example using 5 threads can get complicated on a serger and is really only needed if you are a professional sewer or are using your sewing projects to make money ( because time is money and you will also need the most professional finish you can).

This is a perfect starter serger for beginners. 

If you need a serger with different functions but not quite professional level then this serger will be a great addition to your sewing supplies. 

If you sell your sewing items then this serger is ideal for professional finishes to save you time and effort while leaving your projects looking amazing. 

Can’t afford a serger just yet or just starting your sewing journey? Check out some alternatives below. 

Sewing Machine With Serger 

It’s easy to see how a serger can really make your sewing projects easier and more professional, but what if you do not have the funds or space for a whole new sewing machine?

There are a few options. 

  1. Side Cutter Sewing Machine Attachment

This attachment can turn your sewing machine into a basic serger. It will trim fabric and sew an edge similar to a serger machine. 

While a cheaper option than purchasing a serger it is important to remember that it will not provide exactly the same results as a serger but is a great substitute if you do not have the budget for a new machine. 

Find the correct Side Cutter Attachment For Your Sewing Machine HERE

2.Overlock Foot

You cannot cut fabric edges with this sewing machine attachment although it will give a neater edge than a regular hem stitch. As you are still only using one thread on your machine it will not give as a professional finish as a serger machine but is a cheap alternative to a serger. 

Find A Overlock Foot For Your Sewing Machine HERE

Need help choosing the perfect sewing machine for you? Check out the best sewing machines for beginners here. 

Will you be adding a serger or attachment to your sewing supplies? We love hearing about our readers experiences as well as seeing your projects so be sure to share with us in the comments below. 

serger vs sewing machine

what is a serger

sewing machine vs serger


Difference Between Sewing Machine And Serger


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.