If you have gained some experience making your own clothes, but you’d like to be able to work with a wider range of fabrics, then you might be considering an ideal overlocker. This machine, which is also known as a serger, finishes seams and then cuts off the excess fabric. Overlockers are often used for sewing jersey and fleece fabrics. They are great for materials which have some give in them. The looser style of stitching an ideal overlocker provides deal with that better than traditional machine stitching.
Overlockers all do the same thing, but different models use a different number of threads. This impacts the quality of the finished seam.
Professional quality machines are called cover stitchers. These not only act as overlockers, they also provide a line of stitching on the right side of the garment which neatens the appearance of the seam from the outside.
Before you buy, it is worth taking some time to think about what you would use an overlocker for. Although it might be tempting to start with a cheaper model, as with sewing machines it’s worth investing in as high spec a machine as you can afford to give you more flexibility. Features worth looking out for include:
• Number of threads – four is a good number
• Adjustable foot to cope with different thicknesses of fabric
• Differential feed (walking foot) which will help with thicker fabrics
• Retractable knife, so you can put it out of the way if you don’t want the excess cut off.
When choosing an ideal overlocker, it’s worth reading online reviews to find out the strengths and weakness before you buy. Magazines like Good Housekeeping frequently feature them, like this one for the Bernina 800 DL https://www.goodhousekeeping.co.uk/institute/product-reviews/sewing-machines/bernina-800dl-overlocker-sewing-machine.
A good ideal overlocker will be able to cope with a range of dressmaking fabric. A reliable supplier such as http://www.quality-fabrics.co.uk/dressmaking-fabrics-14-c.asp will be able to advise whether the fabric you have in mind is best suited to an overlocker or a sewing machine.
Once you’ve got to grips with your ideal overlocker, you will wonder how you ever lived without one. You’ll be able to tackle even delicate fabrics and pull off advanced techniques such as rolled hems. Although they are an investment for the hobbyist dressmaker, they are an invaluable tool for those who sew with more flexible fabrics.