Saturday, July 09, 2016

A Public Service Announcement Re: Sergers

Sewing blog misconception #1:

Reading "I can't wait to get a serger so that I can start sewing knits!"


I read this over and over in the comments of sewing blogs. Where has this idea come from, that you must have a serger before you can even attempt to sew knit garments?

Reality: You Do Not NEED A Serger

The truth is people have been sewing up knit garments on standard sewing machines for years with no problems. Even though the overlock (the stitch that a serger produces) was invented in 1881 and the machines that primarily use it have been in existence for over a century, their use was predominately industrial for decades. Nowadays, knits can be made up well using either a simple zig-zag stitch (my personal favorite), the simple overlock or stretch stitch available on the majority of sewing machines, or a dedicated stand-a-lone serger.
In my opinion, there is only two reasons to use an overlocker to sew knits: 1) If your desire is for the insides of your garments to have a finish like the insides of RTW garments. 2) You desire a way to construct knit garments fast and in bulk. I understand that desire but just not enough to make me pay for a separate special machine that can range in price from $200 to several thousand dollars. So, I want it made clear especially to those just beginning to sew or striving to sew on a budget that they can start sewing knits NOW without making that particular financial investment and still be extremely happy with their makes.

I use a practically vintage 1993 Babylock Companion BL2100 sewing machine (I would like to upgrade eventually) and I am incredibly proud of my knit makes. It took some education since I started sewing 20+ years ago but since having learned 1) not to let any part of my knit fabric hang off any surfaces and to 2) help feed the fabric through instead of pulling it, my hems have been just as uniform and flat as any of my woven hems. In other words, it can be done.

After a while, if you still want an overlocker, then by all means do your research and find the one right for your purposes and wallet. Just don't feel that the lack of one should hold you back. Thanks for listening and keep on sewing!


JustGail said...

As a serger owner, I absolutely agree. The part I'd debate in your post is the use of the lightning (sometimes called stretch stitch) - it's a Royal Pain In The A.....ahem, I mean Behind to remove!

The last 3 knit tops I've used, I use the sewing machine on a very narrow zig zag stitch. And most knits, at least the ones I use, unlike most woven fabrics, will not ravel. I think I've used the serger more on wovens to finish the edges, or to sew the seams so I didn't have to finish separately.

Robin said...

I agree, sergers are very popular items to have in the sewing room, but not a necessity. They do so much more than finish seams and fabric edges. I have one and I can't imagine sewing without one. I also own a Coverstitch machine for hemming knits and doing special stitching (rarely). I wanted to sew garments that closely matched rtw, especially for customers. A lot of investment, for sure, just my own preference. I read an article years ago about electronic/manual sewing machines vs. computerized sewing machines (with all the bells and whistles) vs. industrial sewing machines. One very wise comment I've never forgotten: 'Do you think the famous designers from years past had fancy machines and gadgets? No. Yet, their garments became what we now know as couture. There is no substitute for professional skills'.