Sewing & Pattern making Terms

Serger / Overlocker

In the realm of sewing, achieving professional and polished finishes is a top priority for seamstresses. One tool that plays a crucial role in achieving those clean and professional edges is the serger, also known as an overlocker. This powerful machine is designed to trim fabric edges, encase raw edges with neat stitches and prevent fraying, resulting in durable and beautifully finished seams. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of sergers/overlockers, exploring their functions, features and the benefits they bring to your sewing projects.

Brother Lock 1034D Serger/Overlock Machine inside a fashion studio
Brother Lock 1034D Serger/Overlock Machine inside a fashion studio

Introducing the Serger/Overlocker: Elevating Your Sewing Projects

Understanding the Serger/Overlocker:

The serger, also known as an overlocker, is a specialized sewing machine that trims fabric edges and creates finished edges simultaneously. It typically operates with multiple threads and needles, enabling it to sew, trim, and finish edges in one smooth motion.

Functions and Features of a Serger/Overlocker

  1. Seam Trimming:

The serger trims excess fabric from the seam allowance, ensuring a clean and uniform edge. It cuts off any uneven or raw edges, preventing fraying and providing a polished appearance.

  1. Overcasting:

Overcasting is the process of enclosing the raw fabric edge with stitches, preventing fraying and adding strength to the seam. The serger’s needles and loopers work together to create secure and durable overcast stitches.

  1. Seam Finishing:

In addition to trimming and overcasting, the serger can also create various decorative seam finishes. These finishes include rolled hems, flatlocking, and decorative edges, adding a professional touch to your garments.

Benefits of Using a Serger/Overlocker

  1. Clean and Professional Finish:
  • The serger’s trimming and overcasting functions ensure that your seams have a clean and professional appearance, both inside and out.
  • It eliminates the need for additional seam finishing techniques, saving time and effort.
  1. Enhanced Durability:
  • By encasing raw edges with strong overcast stitches, the serger reinforces the seams, making them more resistant to wear and tear.
  • This is particularly beneficial for garments that undergo frequent washing or experience heavy use.
  1. Time-Saving:
  • With the serger’s ability to trim, overcast and finish seams in one step, it significantly speeds up the sewing process.
  • It allows you to complete projects more efficiently, especially when working with large quantities of fabric or time-sensitive projects.
  1. Versatility:
  • Beyond its primary functions, the serger offers a range of stitch options and settings.
  • It enables you to experiment with different seam finishes, decorative edges and specialty techniques to elevate your sewing projects.

How To Use a Serger/Overlocker

  1. Thread and Tension Adjustment:
  • Before starting, ensure that the serger is threaded correctly, with each thread in its respective guide and tension set appropriately.
  • Adjust the stitch length, differential feed and other settings according to your fabric and desired outcome.
  1. Practice and Test:
  • Before working on your actual project, practice using scrap fabric to familiarize yourself with the machine’s features and stitch options.
  • Test different settings and stitch techniques to achieve the desired results.
  1. Seam Alignment:
  • Pay attention to aligning the fabric edges accurately when feeding them into the serger.
  • Proper alignment ensures that the trimming and stitching occur precisely where intended.
  1. Finishing Techniques:
  • Explore the various stitch options provided by the serger to create decorative finishes such as rolled hems, lettuce edges, or flatlock seams.
  • Refer to the machine’s manual or instructional resources for guidance on different techniques and settings.

Maintenance and Care

Regularly clean and oil your serger to keep it in optimal condition. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for maintenance, including changing needles and cleaning the thread paths.


The serger/overlocker is a game-changer for seamstresses, allowing for professional, durable and time-efficient seam finishes. By harnessing its trimming, overcasting, and seam-finishing capabilities, you can elevate the quality and appearance of your sewing projects. Embrace the versatility and benefits of a serger/overlocker to unlock endless creative possibilities in your sewing journey.

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Melissa Villegas
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