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Hi, I am a fairly experienced, largely self-taught sewer, having made dresses, trousers, jeans and men’s shirts. However, I have never used an overlocker. My sewing machine is a Brother Innovis with a wide range of stitches and I have used it successfully on stretch jersey. Am I missing out by not having an overlocker? I would be grateful for your views!


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  • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

    Nov 9, 2012, 10.50 PMby katexxxxxx

    It depends how professional you want your seam finishes to look, how stretchy you want your knits, and how fast you want to sew them. While I frequently do a complete project without touching the overlockers, I couldn’t survive without my two!

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    Nov 10, 2012, 07.04 PMby tothepointe

    I think once you get the hang of a serger it becomes a valuable tool. I’ve had a couple over the years from an OLD babylock from the 70’s to one of those Costco brother model everyone loves to the Pfaff I currently have (last 8 years) A good one will last you for years and that doesn’t mean expensive a simple machine is very affordable.

    Bottom line I feel the overlocker makes things look closer to RTW and that increases your confidence that your items don’t look “homemade” For knits it’s great because you don’t need to sew then overcast the seams.

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    Nov 11, 2012, 03.53 AMby arisaid

    Love my overlockers! I just can’t imagine not having one. They certainly make your sewing look more professional.

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    Nov 11, 2012, 08.17 AMby judypeg

    Wow! Thanks Guys! I think that really answers my question because I never feel my outfits are quite good enough to call professional, no matter how well I sew them. I know what’s going on my Christmas list!!!! Judith

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    Nov 12, 2012, 03.48 AMby tothepointe

    Yeah get a good solid one (doesn’t have to be new or expensive) and you probably won’t regret it. Bite the bullet in the beginning to get the thread down cold and learn how to balance your tensions that way you won’t spend anytime fretting about it.

  • Purplefan_large

    Dec 14, 2012, 01.57 AMby purplefan

    I’m not familar with the Brother Innovis but one version found online, the Innovis 40, indicates that an overlocking foot is in the accessory kit. Have you checked to see if you have one in your kit?

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Dec 14, 2012, 06.50 PMby katexxxxxx

      The major problem I find with the so-called overlocker stitches on a regular machine is that they are thread-hungry and make the seam stiff. They also show on the outside a lot more than serger/overlocker stitching. They lack the suppleness and stretch of real overlocking, and, even when using an over-edge/overlocking foot, they are nothing like as tidy a finish. If you ever need to unpick them, gimmee the overlocker every time! So easy to slide a needle thread out and pull the wrapping threads off, rather than unpick, painfully and slowly, all those stitches back and forth and through previous stitches…

      For stretch fabrics a straight forward narrow zigzag and classic stretch techniques give a much softer and stretchier result if that’s what you need.

      While the overlocker is also massively thread hungry, because of the types of thread used (typically 120’s polyester) and the way the stitches are formed, knitting two threads together over the edge of the fabric as it is cut, the finish is softer, smoother, and much stretchier. For fabric that frays a LOT, and for swim/dance wear applications, bulk poly or nylon thread (‘wooly nylon’) gives an even softer seam, with greater cover of the edges and a lot more stretch where needed.

      You can get cutter accessories for some sewing machines, that work a bit like the walking foot, but the results are far from stellar even with the Bernina one. They don’t like tougher fabrics, anything really bulky like polar fleece, or anything heavy like wool coatings. And you are still stuck with the knarly-looking stitches rather than the smooth finish of the true overlocker.

      These gadgets are also expensive. Probably more to buy than a decent pre-loved overlocker

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    Dec 19, 2012, 12.58 AMby pinktulipdesigns

    Love my overlocker, could not live without it. I find it cuts my sewing time in half and professionally finishes my garments. It’s the most valuable tool in my sewing kit apart from my snips!

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Dec 21, 2012, 03.04 AMby katexxxxxx

      I think mine is possibly the tinsnips… Or maybe the pet hair shaver! Depends what we are making… ;)

  • Purplefan_large

    Dec 23, 2012, 04.16 AMby purplefan

    Had a chance to make a fleece scarf today and used the light serger feature to finish the sides—Kate, you’re right about the stiff seaming! Had to unpick some of the stitches when one layer failed to get stitched down and it was tedious unpicking that thread. +1 Kate!

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      Dec 23, 2012, 09.41 AMby tzyg0nka

      I’m sorry, but my Janome makes overlock stitches identical to those used on commercial garments, That is not to say that an overlocker wouldn’t save a lot of time or make my sewing easier.

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