Serger Vs Sewing Machine: Which One Should You buy?

Sewing machines and sergers are both very useful tools in the sewing room. They each have their own pros and cons, so it can be difficult to choose between sewing machine vs serger. In this article we will discuss the differences between these two types of equipment so you can make an informed decision when purchasing your next machine or serger.

In this article we’re going to compare and contrast serger vs sewing machine. We‘ll explore the similarities, the differences, and what you need to know about these two types of equipment before you decide which one is right for your needs. After reading this article you will be prepared to make an informed decision on which one is best for you, your budget, and your projects.

What Is A Sewing Machine?

Before the invention of modern sewing machines, people relied on hand stitching their projects using needles and thread. This was time consuming and often created products that were of poor quality because of the manual process. With the creation of modern machines, stitching became faster, more precise, and easier to produce high-quality products.

Sewing machines are used to create basic stitches using two spools of thread. The machine uses a series of loopers, needles, feed dogs and other mechanisms to form the stitches. They are perfect for creating seams, hems, buttonholes and other basic types of stitching.

How Does A Sewing Machine Work?

Although each sewing machine is a little different, they all work in a similar manner. Thread from spools on the top and bottom of the machine is pulled through guides on the needle plate and shuttle hooks. The needles pass through loops of thread to create stitches while the feed dogs pull fabric through at regular intervals to ensure straight stitching.

serger vs sewing machine

The Different Types Of Stitches

Sewing machines are capable of producing a variety of different types of stitches. Different types of stitches are formed using two or more threads that are twisted together to create stronger, more durable seams. Depending on the type of stitch you choose, your machine will either use one thread for the needle and another for the bobbin case, or both threads will come from the bobbin case. Here are common types of stitches.

Chain Stitching

It is one of the most popular types of stitches and is used as a base for several other decorative stitches. This stitch works by pulling two spools of thread into the looper and then crisscrossing them at regular intervals to create one continuous line of thread.

Straight Stitching

It is the most common type of stitch that is used to sew seams. A single line of stitches can be created by passing a needle through fabric from back to front, then pulling the bobbin thread from underneath and creating another straight stitch using the top spool.

Zigzag/Overedge Stitching

It is used for decorative purposes, as well as to finish a seam that was stitched with a straight stitch. This type of stitch uses two threads that crisscross over the edge of the fabric creating a zigzag pattern.

A stretch/elastic Stitch

It can be created using a zigzag motion, but only using one spool of thread. This stitch is used to create hems, waistbands and other stretchy fabrics that need a more flexible seam.

Sewing Machine Recommendations

Bestseller No. 1
Janome Horizon Memory Craft 14000 Sewing Machine Bonus Package
  • 400 built-in stitches | 350 built-in embroidery designs | 13 one-step buttonholes | Automatic thread tension | Automatic build-in needle threader | AcuGuide automatic cloth guide | Snap-on presser feet | Memorized needle up/down | Automatic presser foot lift | One-step needle plate conversion | AcuFeed Flex Layered Fabric Feeding System | 7-piece feed dog | Stitch Composer stitch creation program | Free arm | Drop feed | Start/stop button | Speed control slider | Twin needle guard
  • Variable Zig Zag for Free Motion Quilting with width adjustment for satin stitch | Locking stitch button | Automatic thread cutter with memory function | Easy reverse button | Memory capability: up to 4MB of storage | Adjustable knee lift | Independent bobbin winding motor | Extra high presser foot lift | LCD full color touchscreen 7.7” x 4.7” | Foot pressure adjustment | Maximum stitch width: 9mm | Maximum stitch length: 5mm | Sewing application support with on-screen help
Bestseller No. 2
Juki HZL-DX Series Sewing Machine HZL-DX7
  • AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER: The Automatic Needle Threader easily threads the needle with ease and without eyestrain and allows you to start sewing quickly.
  • AUTOMATIC ONE STEP BUTTONHOLING: By placing the button on the buttonhole foot, the machine conveniently sews buttonholes automatically to the size of the button.
Bestseller No. 3
Janome MC6650 Sewing and Quilting Machine
  • The Memory Craft 6650 has everything to help sewists complete projects even faster. The 10" All-Metal Seamless Flatbed provides the perfect work space for projects large and small, and with the speed and precision the MC6650 offers
  • Janome is brining professional power into the project makers home.
Bestseller No. 4
SINGER | Heavy Duty 4452 Sewing Machine with 110 Stitch Applications, Metal Frame, Built-In Needle Threader, & Heavy Duty Accessory Kit - Sewing Made Easy
  • SINGER HEAVY DUTY SEWING MACHINE: The SINGER Heavy Duty 4452 sewing machine boasts an array of features that make creating elegant garments and gifts for yourself and others fun and exciting. The Sewing machine with 32 built-in stitches includes 6 Basic, 7 Stretch, 18 Decorative Stitches and 1 Fully Automatic 1-step Buttonholes. A large variety of stitches for all types of sewing and perfect for crafts, home decor, clothing construction and much more
  • AUTOMATIC NEEDLE THREADER SEWING MACHINE: After following the threading path printed right on the machine, this built-in feature helps you to effortlessly thread the eye of the needle without eye strain or frustration, Machine Size - 15.5 x 6.25 x 12 inches
Bestseller No. 5
Singer CG590 Commercial Grade Sewing Machine
  • Sews at an Impressive 1,100 Stitches Per Minute - When it comes to professional work it is about quality and speed
  • Stainless Steel Bed Plate - Made to Accommodate the Abuse and Needs of a Professional Sewer
Bestseller No. 6
JUKI TL-2020 PE Platinum Edition Special Limited Collector's Edition Mid-Arm Quilting & Piecing Sewing Machine
  • Introducing the new Special Collector's Limited Edition TL-2020 PE (Platinum Edition)! JUKI celebrates 80+ with the Special Limited Collector's Edition TL-2020 PE (Platinum Edition)
  • Platinum exterior and high-quality features, the JUKI TL-2020 PE is designed and crafted to the highest JUKI standard. Only 2,000 sets produced for the United States. In addition, you will receive a serialized, Certificate of Authenticity, signed by the JUKI President, Akira Kiyohara.
Bestseller No. 7
Brother Sewing Machine, GX37, 37 Built-in Stitches, 6 Included Sewing Feet
  • 37 unique built-in stitches: The GX37 features 37 unique, built-in stitches and an auto-size buttonhole
  • Automatic needle threader and drop-in top bobbin: This sewing machine includes an automatic needle threader that perfectly pushes the thread through the needle and a convenient, jam resistant drop-in top bobbin
Bestseller No. 8
Brother XR9550 Sewing and Quilting Machine, Computerized, 165 Built-in Stitches, LCD Display, Wide Table, 8 Included Presser Feet, 20x12x17, White
  • 165 unique built-in stitches: The Brother XR9550 computerized machine includes 110 built-in utility, decorative and heirloom stitches including 8 styles of auto-size buttonholes, plus 55 alphanumeric sewing stitches
  • Automatic needle threader and drop-in top bobbin: The Brother fast needle threading system takes care of threading the needle for you and a convenient, jam resistant drop-in top bobbin
Bestseller No. 9
JUKI TL-2000Qi Sewing and Quilting Machine
  • Updated with LED lights and one pedal operation
  • 1500 SPM for quilting apparel and home décor
Bestseller No. 10
Consew upholstery Walking Foot Industrial Sewing Machine with Table and Servo Motor Drop Feed, Needle Feed, Walking Foot, Lockstitch Machine
  • Perfect for Furniture Upholstery, Leather, Auto, Marine and canvas work.
  • For sewing light to heavy-weight materials such as leather, vinyl, upholstery, synthetics, canvas and various coated and laminated products.

What Is A Serger?

A serger is another type of stitching machine that uses multiple threads to create a variety of different types of stitches. It has many similarities to a sewing machine, but creates more advanced stitches that are used for professional results. The two main differences between sergers and sewing machines are the number of threads used and the type of stitches.

Sewing machines are designed to use two threads, while sergers use four or more threads that pass through different guides that eventually intertwine to create one stitch. This is what gives the fabric a professional finish, since some types of stitches can only be created using multiple threads.

How Does A Serger Work?

Sergers work by passing multiple threads through a series of rollers and blades that cut excess material, creating a finished edge. A serger can create three or four different types of stitches; each one is created using different numbers of threads.

One-thread Serging

This type of stitch uses two spools of thread like a sewing machine, but instead of passing through a looper, the thread is connected directly to the needle and fabric. The spools can be loaded in different positions so that your stitching goes in different directions.

serger vs sewing machine

Two-thread Serging

This type of stitch also uses two spools of thread and requires you to lower a blade on the serger. The threads are wrapped around each other to create one stitch, which leaves a flat edge on the fabric.

Three-thread Serging

The threads crisscross over the edge of the fabric, creating a zigzag pattern that looks very similar to overedge stitching. This type of stitch uses two straight stitches that are both connected to the needle, and two spools of thread.

Four-thread Overlock Serging

It is the most common type of serger stitch and is created by crisscrossing five threads over the edge of the fabric. This gives a smooth flat edge while simultaneously finishing any raw edges on your fabric. The stitches are stronger than traditional single or double-thread stitching, but they can damage some types of fabric.

Types Of Stitches

Sergers are capable of creating the same types of stitches as sewing machines, but they use four or more threads instead. Since there are several layers of thread that intertwine to create one stitch, it creates a very strong seam that is perfect for denim and other heavy fabrics. Here are some common types of stitches created with sergers.


It can be used to finish hems or seams that have been stitched with straight stitching. This type of stitch is created using a zigzag pattern, but instead of two threads crossing over an edge they create four separate lines. It’s very similar to the overedge stitch that can be done on a sewing machine.

Overlock Stitch

It is the main stitch that is created using a serger. It was originally known as the safety stitch because it prevented unraveling in fabrics during manufacturing. This type of seam uses two sets of threads, one for the needle and one for the loopers. The loopers pass in front of both needles to create an overlock stitch, and then pass around the edge of the fabric to create a strong seam.

serger vs sewing machine

Rippling Stitch

It is used on fabrics that tend to unravel or stretch. A special roller on the machine passes next to the needle and loops over two threads before trimming them at an angle. The loopers pass around the edge of the fabric creating a rippling effect, which is great for preventing fraying.

Triple Stitch

It is used to create stronger seams that can be rubbed or pulled without coming apart. The main difference between this stitch and the overlock stitch are the loopers, since they pass in front of all three needles to create a triple pattern.

Decorative Stitches

It can be used to add a decorative element to seams and hems that have been stitched by a sewing machine. It uses one spool of thread and creates three lines of stitching that form parallel rows. The needle then passes over the middle row before cutting it at an angle, which creates a zigzag pattern.

Serger Recommendations

Bestseller No. 2
SINGER S0100 Overlock Serger, White
  • A Lower Looper LED Light to Increase Visibility for Easier Threading.
  • 2, 3, and 4 Stitch Thread Capacity to be Adaptable to Your Needs.
Bestseller No. 3
Juki MO-104D Serger Overlock Machine
  • 3 or 4 thread stitching
  • Lay In Tension System
Bestseller No. 4
JUKI MO644D Portable Serger
  • 2/3/4 Thread serger with automatic rolled hem
  • Color coded threading breakaway looper adjustment for stitch length and differential feed
Bestseller No. 6
Brother ST4031HD Serger, Strong & Tough Serger, 1,300 Stitches Per Minute, Durable Metal Frame Overlock Machine, Large Extension Table, 3 Included Accessory Feet
  • Metal frame: The ST4031HD is a strong, reliable serger built to tackle heavy duty projects with its sturdy metal frame
  • High performance: This Strong & Tough series 3-4 thread serger has a high durability blade made from extra hard carbon steel, producing a smoother cut edge and a clean, professional finish
Bestseller No. 9
SaleBestseller No. 10
Singer Finishing Touch Serger - Recertified
  • 4-3 Stitch Configuration
  • 1,300 Stitches-per-minute

Serger Vs Sewing Machine: Which One Is Right for You?

There are many different types of sergers on the market today, but their main function is to create four or more lines of stitching at once. This gives you a professional looking hem in seconds, and it’s perfect for fabrics that tend to unravel.

A sewing machine uses two threads, so it can only create stitch patterns that require one needle and one looper. It is better for creating hems and seams on lighter fabrics, since it can be difficult to control a serger when stitching through several layers of fabric.

The main difference between the two types of machines lies in their capabilities. A serger will give you many more options when adding finishing touches to your clothes, but a sewing machine can create more precise stitches for hems and seams.

If you are just getting started with your business, a serger will give you the best bang for your buck since it is capable of doing so much. If you’re just looking to add finishing touches to clothing that has already been constructed, then a sewing machine would be better suited for your needs.

serger vs sewing machine

When To Use A Serger Vs Sewing Machine

There are plenty of times when using a serger is better suited for your needs, including the following.

When Creating Clothing

Since it uses four or more spools of thread you can finish seams in seconds to prevent unraveling. A serger is ideal for creating sturdy garments that are bound to last, but it’s also the best choice when sewing elastic or knits since they won’t snap apart when stretched.

When Making Curtains

When making curtains you may need to hem the fabric before adding grommets for hanging. A straight stitch can be used with a sewing machine, but it will be more even and professional looking when done with a serger.

When Making Sheets

It’s tough to get corners of fitted sheets to lay flat, so a serger can come in handy. You can use it to finish the inner seams on your pillows or create decorative lace edges that didn’t come with the sheets.

When Quilting

A serger is ideal for quilters since it can be difficult to use a sewing machine on bulky fabric. The four or more spools of thread will give you plenty of options when it comes to stitching, so you can create sturdier seams that don’t rip apart.

When Creating Decorative Items

You can use a serger to add ribbon and lace embellishments to pillows and other home decor. It will also allow you to stitch fabric together in a decorative pattern that wouldn’t be possible using a sewing machine.

When Making Drapes

It is best suited for adding hems and finishing seams. Since a serger can stitch through multiple layers of fabric, it is the best option for tackling thick drapes that will fall apart when using a sewing machine.

When Working With Leather

Since it’s more sturdy than a standard three spool topstitch sewing machine you can use a serger to make quick work of hems and seams on leather. You can even purchase one specifically designed for working with this material, which should prevent the blade from wearing down after repeated use.

When Working With Denim

Denim is extremely tough to work with using a sewing machine, so a serger should be used instead. It will eliminate any loose ends that could become unraveled, and the serged seams won’t pop apart when you stretch them.

serger vs sewing machine

When Sewing Swimwear

Since swimsuits are made to be tight-fitting a sewing machine will give you trouble. You can use a serger to finish hems and seams that will hold up even if the fabric is stretched out.

When Making Pillows

There are many times when you need to add hems and seams to pillows while they’re still in progress. If you don’t have a sewing machine available, then a serger can come in handy. It will make quick work of any unfinished jobs and allow you to create decorative edges on the inner and outer pillow seams.

When Sewing On Buttons

Without a serger it can be tough to get the thread through the small loops of a button. It’s best to use a sewing machine since it will give you an even seam that won’t damage or break apart the threads on your buttons.

When You Need A Quick Fix

If you need to hem a shirt but don’t have time to wait for your machine to warm up, then a serger can be used in a pinch. It can easily replace the straight stitch on your sewing machine when you’re in a bind, and it will also allow you to add decorative finishes that would be impossible using a regular machine.

When Creating Artistic Fabrics

A serger can make quick work of creating artistic fabrics by allowing you to increase the width of your stitches, which will add texture and dimension. You can also use special threads such as metallic or glow in the dark to create unique decorative effects that would be much tougher to do using a sewing machine.

Factors To Consider When Choosing The Serger Vs Sewing Machine

There are many different factors that go into choosing the right type of serger or sewing machine for your business. Here are a few things that you should consider before making your purchase.

The Types of Stitches That You Will Be Creating

Both machines can create an overlock stitch, but they won’t be able to produce the same types of decorative stitches. When choosing the machine that is right for you, think about what type of hem or seam you will need it for.

The Layers of Fabric That You Will Be Stitching

If you are looking to create hems on multiple layers of fabric then a serger would be the best choice. It is capable of stitching four or more lines at once, so it can be used on most types of fabrics without any issues.

serger vs sewing machine

The Amount of Space That You Have

Whether it is a sewing machine or a serger, most types of machines will require some form of storage. Make sure that you have enough space for whatever type of machine you choose before making your purchase.

The Budget That You Will Be Working With

Both types of machines can be extremely pricey, so unless you have a large budget to work with it may be best to start off using a sewing machine. A serger is recommended for experienced tailors that want additional options when finishing garments, but their considerable price tag keeps them out of reach for many new business owners.

The Fabric That You Will Be Working With

If you are sewing clothing then a serger is ideal for most types of fabrics since it will prevent them from fraying when the seams are finished. It’s also perfect for creating hemmed garments that can be pulled on over your head since it will prevent the fabric from ripping apart.

Which Benefits You More

Unless you have a large budget to work with, a serger isn’t going to benefit your business as much as a sewing machine. It is easy enough to find used machines that are in good condition for beginners, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to purchase one right away.

Choosing the right type of machine can be difficult when there are so many factors to consider. If you can afford it, then a serger will give you more options when it comes to creating hems and seams on your clothes. But if cost is a concern, then a sewing machine would be better suited for most types of fabrics.

Serger Vs Sewing Machine: Frequently Asked Questions

– How do you keep the fabric from puckering on your fabric with a serger?

To keep fabric from puckering, your machine needs to have a blade and chain that will cut and hide any loose threads. If you’re using a serger to hem the edges of two layers of fabric, then use no more than two threads at once when stitching so it’s easy for the blade to cut them both.

– What is the difference in durability between a serger vs sewing machine?

A sewing machine is great for making sturdy articles of clothing, curtains and sheets. But if you need to create quilts or decorative stitching then a serger would be the best choice.

serger vs sewing machine

– Can I use my serger as a zigzag stitch?

Yes, you can use your serger as a zigzag stitch by using the proper needle plate. Most use an all-purpose or universal needle plate, but you can purchase their specialty plates if you require them for certain types of fabric.

– How do I know if my serger or sewing machine is working?

If you are using your serger then you should be able to see the needle moving up and down as well as thread coming out of the front. If there is too much thread or not enough, then make sure that you are using the right tension setting. As for your sewing machine, make sure that it is making the proper noise as the needle moves up and down. If both are working correctly then they should be fairly quiet when in use.

– Can I use my sewing machines for quilting?

If you have a basic sewing machine then you can use it to sew multiple layers of fabric together. But if you are looking for a quilting machine then look into models that come with an additional feed dog drop. These feed dogs drop from the needle plate to allow the user to sew multiple layers without putting too much pressure on them.

– Can a serger substitute as a sewing machine?

A serger can be used as a replacement for a sewing machine, but it will not have all of the same features and options. A standard sewing machine will have a higher price tag, but it can be used for decorative stitching and many fabrics while offering more options for the user.

– Can I use my serger on knits?

Yes, you can use a serger to hem the edges of your knit fabric. The differential feed of your serger will ensure that the fabric isn’t pulled too tight so you can create a clean edge on whichever part of your knit fabric that you are hemming.

– Can I use my serger to hem clothing?

Yes, you can use your serger to hem the edges of any type of fabric. Some users may find that they might need a twin needle in order to create a double row of stitching when hemming their clothing. But it is possible with the right combination of thread and stitch length.

– Can I use my serger for decorative stitching?

Yes, you can do decorative stitching with the use of a standard needle plate. This is much like when you would use a twin needle in order to add two rows to your hemming project. It’s also possible to purchase specialty plates that feature designs for quilting and other types of projects.

– Can I use my serger to sew feather stitching?

It is possible to create a feather stitch with a standard needle plate on your serger. If you have an all-purpose or universal needle plate on your machine then it should work just fine. You’ll want to make sure that the length of the stitches are under 3mm before your stitching comes out the other side.

– How do I know if my serger needs oil?

If you find that your machine is making grinding noises after only a few minutes of use, then it needs to be oiled. You can read your manual for more information or contact the manufacturer directly with any questions that you might have.

– How often should I oil my serger?

You should oil your serger after every few hours of use. It’s best to check your manual to see what the manufacturer recommends for oiling frequency. If you don’t oil it then it can cause the machine to lock up so always keep an eye on how often you are using your serger and adjust accordingly.

Here is a video on the differences between a serger vs sewing machine and what machine you should buy.


Sergers and sewing machines are both used to create a variety of projects. While they have some similarities, there are also many key differences between serger vs sewing machine that you should be aware of before making your decision on which type of machine is right for you.

Read Also:

How To Sew Elastic By Hand – Everything You Should Know

How To Iron Silk? – Simple Steps And Tips To Iron Your Silk

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