What is the Difference Between a Sewing Machine and a Serger Machine?

What is the Difference Between a Sewing Machine and a Serger Machine?

Sergers and sewing machines are often confused for the same thing. One can't replace the other, but instead, they complement each other very well. They are similar but not similar enough for either one to do the job of the other. 

What is a Serger?

Sergers are not sewing machines, but it is fair to say that they're a type of specialty sewing machine. A serger sometimes called an overlocker, uses an overlock stitch that does not come on sewing machines. It uses three or more thread sources to create this overlock stitch and create a professional-grade binding for fabric. 

What is a Sewing Machine?

A sewing machine, specifically modern machines, are lockstitch machines. That means that a top-thread and bottom-thread loop and lock to create a series of secure stitches. These machines often cover at least the very basic straight, chain, and zig-zag stitches, and many sewing machines have a number of decorative or design-focused stitch options as well. 

Key Differences

These are entirely different machines, so there are many differences, but you'll quickly realize that the differences are mostly subtle. The primary difference is the form of binding. A serger uses an overlock stitch, whereas most sewing machines use a lockstitch, and some use a chain stitch. 

Other differences include:

  • Sergers use three or more thread sources. 
  • Sergers do not have multiple options for stitches. You're just getting an overlock stitch.
  • Segers do "sew" material, but they also cut it. Typically these machines have blades that cut as you go. 
  • Sewing machines perform at much slower speeds than sergers. Even commercial machines and sergers still have a dramatic stitch per minute difference. 
  • Sergers only sew along the left side of the needles, so you must plan your projects around that factor.

When Should You Use a Serger?

Segers or overlockers are great options for working with garments and projects where you can eliminate a lot of the tedious work. They not only faster, but the blade makes a huge difference because now you don't have to do a lot of cutting before sitting down at the machine. 

Many garment makers rely on sergers for a professional look and more durable stitch. If you're hemming anything or working on a project that will take on a lot of wear, then it's worth using the serger. 

When Should You Use a Sewing Machine Instead?

The primary thing that a sewing machine has that a serger doesn't is a topstitch. The top stitch is essential in completing most projects. It's the stumbling block that forces many crafters to invest in both machines. 

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