Our Top Pick for 2018: Brother 3234DT 2, 3, or 4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed
Read our full review.
A serger is a serious investment for the avid sewist. Sergers can give you a quick way to clean finish an edge and make your garments look more professional. The seams they leave behind mimic those found in ready-to-wear garments.
However, they are a complex machine that, if used improperly, can result in serious injury. Just imagine a finger that’s been caught in a serger blade and you’ll want to make sure you’ve bought a high-quality, safe machine. A well-made serger is going to save you a lot of trouble and frustration in the long run. Threads can easily get tangled and broken in a bad machine. Once you know the key features to look for, you’ll be able to find a serger that meets you needs.
Let’s Have a Quick Look of Our Top 4 Picks:
|Brother 3234DT 2, 3, or 4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed||42 Reviews||$1,093.94||Buy on Amazon|
|JUKI MO654DE Portable Thread Serger Sewing Machine||174 Reviews||$328.67||Buy on Amazon|
|Singer | Professional 5 14T968DC Serger with 2-3-4-5 Threaded Capability, including Cover Stitch,...||279 Reviews||$410.50||Buy on Amazon|
|Brother Designio Series DZ1234 Serger||331 Reviews||$327.65||Buy on Amazon|
#1. Brother 3234DT 2, 3, or 4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed
The Brother 3234DT 2, 3, or 4 Thread Serger with Differential Feed (Brother DT) is a high-quality machine that is reliable and safe. It can be used with both woven and knit fabrics so you’ll be able to serge whatever fabric comes your way. For convenience, the Brother DT uses standard sewing machine needles so there is no need to buy special needles for the machine.
The Brother DT comes with three different feet – a blind stitch foot, gathering foot, and standard foot. The blind stitch foot can help you make a blind hem that is commonly found on trousers, skirts and dresses. A gathering foot makes doing ruffles painless. The foot, when used in conjunction with differential feed, gathers the material for you while finishing the edge at the same time.
You can work with two, three, or four threads. This offers you greater flexibility of use and versatility in the type of fabrics you can serge on the machine and the types of stitches that you can use. A two thread stitch will work well on delicate fabrics that may be too lightweight and fine for a three or four thread machine.
This machine has the features you need for easy threading. Color-coded threading allows you to follow a single color all the way through to the needle for each thread on the machine. This type of system makes changing between thread colors or types of thread fast and simple. There is an automatic threader that brings the thread through the needle for you. As it can get crowded with four needles and a blade in this area, the automatic threader will save you time and a headache.
The Brother DT has a large, removable extension table. This table provides a number of valuable benefits. It makes serging large or heavy projects much easier. Heavy, large projects such as drapes or costumes can be difficult to feed correctly because the weight of the fabric pulls it out of the machine. The fabric often falls off the table as well, making it difficult serge in a straight line. The large extension table gives you more area to drape the fabric as you’re feeding it through the machine.
Another benefit is the extra space it gives for storing accessories. Some sergers don’t have any onboard storage but with the Brother DT you have space to store extra needles, tweezers, oil, and extra feet directly on the serger. This makes keeping track of these items much easier as they aren’t stored separately.
A retractable blade, such as that found on the Brother DT, allows you to serge close to the edge of the fabric without actually cutting the fabric. This is useful when doing a rolled hem. There are times when you don’t want to use the blade and having one that retracts will save you from having to remove the blade entirely.
Serging sleeves and pant legs can be difficult as you have to manage a circular shape of a flat plane. It is easy to get the opposite side of the sleeve tucked under the needles and end up damaging the fabric. To prevent this from happening, the Brother DT has a removable free arm. Once the arm is removed, it leaves a space that allows circular garments to be pulled through the machine in a circle rather than trying to hold them flat on the extension table.
The Brother DT has a removable stitch finger along with two additional stitch fingers. The stitch finger is the part that the loopers wrap around to create a stitch. When it is removed, you can have a narrower stitch because there isn’t as much width for the thread to wrap around. The additional stitch fingers work best when using knits as they help prevent the fabric from stretching.
A removable trim trap catches all the fabric that is trimmed by the blades. This fabric can easily spread from one end of your sewing area to the other without a trim trap. Once it is full, it can be removed and emptied in the garbage.
The needle area is lit by an LED light that provides better viewing for serging. Many sewing machines and sergers have a dim, yellowish light that can make seeing the fabric and needles difficult, especially if you are sewing at night. Better light allows you to make adjustments quickly and efficiently.
Sergers and sewing machines can occasionally bounce across the table when you begin to sew at high speeds. The Brother DT is solid and well-balanced so that it doesn’t begin to ‘travel’ across the table when you serge at top speed.
This serger comes with a DVD to help explain all the features and stitches it can do. It is worth your while to watch it as it will give you a better visual understanding of how the machine works. Brother provides free phone support for the life of the product as well as a 25-year limited warranty.
#2. JUKI MO654DE Portable Thread Serger Sewing Machine
The JUKI M0654DE Portable Thread Serger Sewing Machine (JUKI) is a well-made machine that can hold up to heavy use. The design is based upon an industrial serger to provide the home sewist with a powerful, yet affordable machine.
It comes with a single multi-stitch presser foot. This foot can be used for many purposes including a rolled hem and gathering, however, if you want specialty feet to help in any other tasks they will need to be bought separately. Using the multi-stitch foot you can also add tape, elastic, and sequins to your projects.
The JUKI has a built-in rolled hem stitch, overlock, and flatlock stitches. You can change to a rolled hem with the flip of a switch. You don’t have to change the feet or presser plate. It’s simple, easy, and fast.
The JUKI can be used with two, three, or four threads, giving you the ability to handle almost any fabric. You can use two threads for delicate fabrics that cannot withstand the tug and pull of four threads. When you can use 2 – 4 threads, you have the ability to serge heavy fabrics such as denim and canvas as well.
Color-coded threading with a breakaway looper can help you with the threading process. You can follow the color coding to help you get threads in the right place. However, this machine is not as easy to thread as others. Some users reported that the threading instructions in the provided manual were not as clear as they should be. Others went so far as to order a manual for a similar machine to help them in the threading process. It may be a good idea to take a picture of the machine with the threads done out of the box. This will give you a visual aid to use when rethreading the machine.
Some sergers have computerized controls for thread tension and length. However, these machines tend to be pricey. The JUKI uses a simple external adjustment system for both the thread tension and stitch length. Sometimes simple design makes using a complex machine, like the JUKI, easier. If you have problems with your machine, they are often easier to fix on your own when it does not involve a computerized mechanism.
The JUKI has a differential feed to give you greater adaptability. Fabric can be unpredictable. Different fabrics may slide, pull, or stretch when serged. A differential feed gives you the ability to account for these fabric differences. You can adjust the feed to keep puckers and bunching from occurring in your projects.
While this serger has a powerful knife, it runs on a dedicated drive system to assure that it can handle any fabric. It works just as well on denim or brocade as it does on chiffon and other delicate fabrics.
A built-in seam guide keeps your serging accurate. There is a gauge on the cover guard to keep you sewing with precision. Your seam allowances will stay as precise as your guide hand. You can also adjust the knife cutting width with the turn of a dial. Easy adjustment with this dial allows you to make accurate seams and rolled hems.
It comes with the following accessories presser foot, large and small screwdrivers, spare lower knife, spool caps, oiler, thread nets, vinyl cover, needle pack, tweezer, brush and needle inserter, needle threader, guide bar, 2/3 thread selector, light bulb, instruction manual, and foot control and power cord. All the accessories can be stored in an accessory pouch.
Many users love the JUKI. It is reliable, fast, and versatile for a machine in this price range.
#3. SINGER 14T968DC Professional 5 5-4-3-2 Thread Capability Serger
The Singer 14T968DC Professional 5 5-4-3-2 Thread Capability Serger (Singer) is a professional grade machine commonly used by the home sewist.
The Singer uses 2-5 threads depending on the stitch used, which gives you a wide variety of stitches from which to choose. It can do cover hems, chain stitching, rolled hems, and flatlocking to name a few. For the serious sewist, this machine will give you a range of stitches to take your work to the next level. These extra stitches come with a price. Unless you already know you will use all the features that this machine has to offer, you may be better off with a simpler machine.
Cover stitching is a stitch found in ready-to-wear garments and many home goods. The Singer can do a narrow cover stitch, wide cover stitch, or triple cover stitch to provide you many finishing options. You can experiment to find the stitch that gives your projects the right look.
The Singer has four built-in rolled hem options. You can switch to a rolled hem with a switch so you don’t need to change the foot or any other accessories. You are going to be able to handle a wide variety of fabric types from heavy to lightweight. You’ll even be able to do different types of rolled hems on delicate fabric giving you extra style options.
With the Singer, you can add decorative covers and stitches. You can use a chain stitch to accentuate structure or other decorative stitches as part of the garment styling. If you are looking to create variety in your sewing projects, this serger provides many options.
A highlight of the Singer is the automatic self-adjusting tension system. Getting the right tension on a serger can be one of the most difficult adjustments to make. Many factors come into play such as fabric weight, thickness, and thread type. Having a system that can make all those adjustments for you will save you time and save you from ruining a project.
It has a color-coded threading system to aid in threading and rethreading. However, this isn’t the easiest machine to thread. Beginners that have never used a serger before may have a hard time managing the threading at first. It takes some time to learn as the manual is not as clear as it could be. If you have experience threading a serger, you should be able to follow the color coding correctly.
There is an attached trim pocket to catch the fabric trimmings. This will keep bits of fabric from being spread all over your sewing space. The pocket is not removable, which means you’ll have to scoop out the fabric to take it to the garbage. This might add a little time but is not a big inconvenience.
An extra-high lift presser foot allows you to work with heavy fabrics that cause thick seams. This is another feature that adds to the versatility of the Singer.
It includes the standard accessories of an all-purpose foot, needle set, tweezers, spreader, screwdrivers, clean pocket, serging knife, spool caps, anti-spill net, oiler, brush, cone adapters, soft-sided dust cover, CD workbook, instruction manual, foot control, and power cord.
There are also some bonus feet for greater variety. They include a beading foot, blind hem foot, cording foot, elastic foot, shirring foot, and taping foot. Extra feet are expensive to add later on, so you are getting a great deal to have them included in the price of the serger.
The Singer offers you amazing versatility with professional results. This machine is best suited to an intermediate sewist that has used a serger in the past. If you are a beginner, be prepared to take some time to learn to use the machine before you get it to work perfectly for you.
There is a 25-year limited warranty.
#4. Brother Designio Series DZ1234 Serger
The Brother Designio Series DZ1234 Serger (Designio) is a quality serger at a fraction of the price of many other models. It uses standard sewing machine needles.
The Designio offers three or four thread serging options. It has a differential feed which allows you to adjust the feed to accommodate the kind of fabric you are using. This is useful when you are working with different types of fabric such as slick fabrics, knits, or outdoor fabrics that will all feed differently through the machine.
A color-coded threading system is used to make threading easier. Users have found this machine relatively easy to thread. However, there are four spools included with the machine that has low-quality thread that breaks often. Most users were happier with the machine once they replaced this thread with some of higher quality they purchased separately.
The Designio has a removable table section that allows you to easily serge circular pieces such as sleeves or trouser hems. A serger can be difficult to adjust the fabric for these kinds of projects. When the table is removed it essentially creates a rounded area to keep your project correctly lined up with the needles.
The provided trim trap holds the extra fabric trimmed by the knife for easy and quick disposal. The knife is retractable for easy storage when doing a rolled hem. Because the knife is retractable, you don’t have to take the knife off manually every time you want to do a rolled hem.
The Designio comes with four feet. A standard foot, gathering foot, blind hem stitch foot, and a piping foot are included, making this a great value for the price. The blind hem stitch can install a zipper and the piping foot lets you make your own piping for garments or upholstery. Extra feet such as these can add an extra $75 or more when bought separately.
It also includes the standard accessories of a soft case, foot controller, 4 large white thread cones, mini color thread, needle set, thread net, thread spool cap, hexagonal wrench, tweezers, cleaning brush, power cord, operation CD, techniques CD, techniques book, and operation manual. It also comes with a 25-year limited warranty.
For the price, the Designio is a good serger. It has the basic features that you need, with good reliability.
Purpose of Use
How you plan to use your machine will greatly affect the types of features that you need. If you are mostly going to use the machine for finished edges, a pricey machine with a lot of extra stitch features is going to be overkill. Do you mostly sew wovens or knits? Some machines handle these types of fabrics with greater or lesser success.
Know what kind of sewing you plan to do before you begin your search. This will help you narrow your choices and eliminate machines from your list as you go.
Horror stories float through the sewing world of people spending hours trying to rethread their serger. However, serger design has come a long way in making threading more simple and intuitive. Look for a serger that not only has an instruction manual with diagrams showing you how to rethread the machine but also has guides printed on the machine itself.
The best guides will be color coded for each specific thread on the machine. The serger should also come with special tweezers to help you pull the thread through the tight spaces around the needles and knife. Before you purchase, try threading and rethreading the machine. Pay particular attention to the lower looper as it is commonly the most difficult to thread.
A differential feed allows you to adjust the speed of the feed dogs to accommodate the fabric as it enters the needle area. It helps to prevent puckers, ripples, and the stretching of the fabric. You can adjust it to gather fabric for ruffles and other decorative effects. Understanding how it works will allow you to adjust the machine quickly if you have problems with the fabric. It will also make your finished pieces look more professional.
Feet are the most common accessories that you need to purchase separately and they can get expensive. The more accessories that are included with the machine the better. It will save you a lot of money in the long run. Also, be sure that the feet that are included are the ones you are looking for, particularly if you have specialty sewing in mind.
Ease of Conversion
It is important to understand how the serger converts from a standard three thread overlock to a rolled hem and other stitches. Some machines simply require you to push a button while others may require the use of a conversion plate.
Ease of conversion is going to be more important to you if you plan on using many of the different stitches offered on your machine. If you are only planning to use a three or four thread overlock for the majority of your sewing, conversion ease will be less important.
Conclusion (Wrapping it up)
Know your budget before you begin looking. It’s easy to get caught up in purchasing a machine that can do everything, only to find later on that you’re stuck with a serger that you only use for finishing off seams.
Sergers have come a long way since they have been designed for home use. There is a great variety of features available. As you examine your needs, you’ll begin to understand what features are going to be the most important to you.