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Buyers Guide to Overlockers

Overlockers were originally used in industrial sewing venues but are becoming increasingly popular in the home. An overlocker is a special-purpose machine that produces professionally finished seams, similar to those on ready-to-wear garments. The machine uses between two and a dozen threads to encase a raw edge of the fabric with an overcast stitch while trimming away the seam allowance.

Overlookers aren't designed to replace the sewing machine. As the overlooker grew in popularity, the market became more saturated and choice increased. It can be challenging to know what to look for overlockers. Fear not; we’ve developed the ultimate buyer's guide to overlockers, including a budget, stitch capability, weight and lifespan.

 

Features To Consider When Choosing An Overlocker

  • Thread capacity (Ideally, a machine will have four threads)
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • Adjustable pressure foot (Perfect for different fabric thicknesses)
  • Differential feed (Allows thicker fabrics to feed through evenly)
  • Free arm for sewing sleeves etc
  • Retractable knife (So it can be moved out of the way without cutting the fabric when overlocking)
  • User-friendly controls

The main difference between overlockers is the quality of and variation of features. Entry-level overlockers will stitch a basic range of dress fabrics but struggle with thicker or thinner fabrics. They require more adjustments to achieve a neat finish.  

 

How To Choose The Right Overlocker For You?

Reputable Brand

There are so many overlockers to choose from on the market, and it can be tempting to find the cheapest one to start with. With overlockers, like most things, you get what you pay for. A reputable brand, like Singer, is a great choice even for your first machine. At some point, you may need to replace a broken element or buy more accessories to upgrade your machine.

Household names are known for their high-quality manufacturing and reliable after-sales support. You want to build confidence with overlocking, which can be difficult using a cheaper machine.

 

High Thread Capacity

Overlockers can use between 2 and a dozen threads at any one time. The number of thread spools an overlocker uses depends on the chosen model; the more threads a particular model comes with, the higher it will cost. 

There are more elements than costs when choosing your machine. A 2 thread overlocker, you can only create elementary edges. A 3 thread setup, however, will prevent seams from fraying. If you’re looking to create a more decorative hem, an overlocker that can sew four or five strands is the best choice. 5 - thread overlockers are the most versatile but can be more expensive. The Bernette by Bernina Funlock B48 Pro Series Overlocker and Coverstitch Machine offers 2, 3, 4 and 5 thread seams with a total of 23 stitches, 15 overlock stitches, three cover stitches, four combo stitches and one chain stitch.

 

Differential Feed

There are lots of different machines that will claim to offer differential feeds. Differential feed is an excellent feature if using an overlocker on various materials. For example, the differential ratio for stretchy fabric differs from woven textiles. A machine that can detect this won’t snag the fabric and ruin your work. You also won’t have to adjust the tension when working.

Machines with this feature have two sets of feed dogs. They regulate how fast or slow fabric moves through the needle are to protect it. The Singer Elite SE017 2/3/4 Overlocker is an excellent example of a machine that offers differential feed. It eliminates the stretching and puckering of seams without adjusting the tension.

 

Free Arm

The free arm changes the work surface area. This is great when working on smaller, curved areas of garments like the cuff, collar or sleeve. An added bonus to machines with a free arm is the hollow storage compartment in the free arm attachment area.  

 

User Friendly Controls

The usability of an overlocker will affect your confidence in experimenting with different hems and projects. Here are some user-friendly questions you should ask yourself when buying a machine.

  • Does the device have simple to adjust stitch length, cutting width, and differential feed?
  • Is there a colour-coded threading guide to help with threading?
  • Are the dials clearly labelled?
  • Does it include a bulb to illuminate the work area?
  • Can the presser foot be quickly snapped on and off, or is it screwed in place?
  • Does it have a built-in cutter, or do you have to trim excess seam allowance manually?

 

Whether you’re just starting with overlocking or looking to step up your game with a more experience machine, we have the choices for you! Contact our friendly and professional team today for tips and tricks on your sewing journey!       


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