Buy A Serger?

Sergers have gotten a lot less expensive, sure. Brother makes a really well reviewed serger for about $200. Heck, it has the new lay-in thread method where my older Janome/MyLock has knobs….and my Janome, while not even close to top of the line, was a lot more than $200. But some of the advice I’ve read out there to get a serger or not get a serger never quite get to the real dedication one needs to have a serger.

I love my serger. Sergers make fabrics that love to fray like flannel and corduroy much more enjoyable. Try to give a mother of a newborn new flannel pants for her baby and watch her hate you a month later after she’s picked an infinite amount of lint out of her baby’s diaper area….not good.

I Heart Flannel
I Heart Flannel

And as much as I LOVE a good French seam, when you’re doing a dozen pairs of flannel pants for Christmas, the serger is so much faster. Look at this flannel interfacing, enough for 4 coats…takes minutes:

pile of serged flannel interfacing
pile of serged flannel interfacing

My issue isn’t with the serger. My issue is you need to respect the serger. That $200 machine is just burning money if you don’t respect the serger. Sergers are the infants of the sewing world. You have to love and baby them often or they throw a tantrum of epic proportions. Doubt me? Call up your local dealer, ask them how often they see frozen up sergers and what the cost is for repair. It’s not pretty. These photos of lint are from the little pile of flannel interfacings above:

inside serger
inside serger
lint under feed dogs
lint under feed dogs
Lint on Serger Foot
Lint on Serger Foot

Of course sewing flannel on anything is going to make a ton of lint. It’s that plus the other maintenance. You should run every sewing machine you have at least once a month to keep it happy and moving. The owner’s manual to my serger reads to oil every 2 weeks. It’s not like a food processor that you can just leave in the cabinet until you take it out once every 6 months. Are you really going to sew with your serger that much? I’ve had a serger freeze up. A friend gave me an old 3-spool that was sitting around, I tinkered with it long enough to have it freeze up. Took it in, and it costs more to fix it than replace it. If I didn’t sew as much as I do, and I’m barely on the cusp of sewing enough, I would not have a serger. Pinking sheers, zig-zag stitch, French seams….there’s plenty of other options for clean seams. A serger not only takes a financial dedication, it takes a hefty time dedication.

That said, there are financial benefits to a serger. I can go into the fabric discount aisle (this was the Mill End Store) and pick out a <1 yard remnant of a knit and use a pattern I’d normally need more than a yard for. I know I’ll only use 1/4 seams on the serger instead of the 5/8 inch seams allotted on the pattern, so I can fudge a fit in a simple leggings design for my daughter:

 

perk: size-fudging
perk: size-fudging
using all the fabric
using all the fabric

 

less than 1 yard pants
less than 1 yard pants

These pants are a size 12ish girls and cost less than $5 with elastic and thread factored in and took less than an hour with the serger doing all the seems and edges. I finished the hem and waist band with the sewing machine.

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