The Difference Between a Serger and Sewing Machine

Sewing machine vs a serger

I run into this question often when I’m on blogs and forums; what’s the difference between a serger and sewing machine? To answer the question we’ll have to start from the beginning. To understand what a serger does first we have to understand what a sewing machine does.

What does a sewing machine do?

A sewing machine stitches two pieces of fabric together. There are hundreds of different types of sewing machines in varying sizes and prices. A starter machine can range from $50 to $300. They all virtually accomplish the same goal but with different features. Most sewing machines offer a common set of stitches; straight, zigzag, 3-step zig zag, blind hem, overlock, and stretch stitch. High-end machines may have over 100 stitch types.

The problem with sewing machines is with fraying edges. When you look at the wrong side of the seam you’ll notice excessive fabric. This excessive fabric can fray at the edges which can lead to your beautiful garment falling apart. This is where a serger shines.

What does a serger do?

A serger is a “finishing” machine that trims the seam and encloses the edge of the fabric to prevent fraying. Sergers can stitch in multiple widths and densities. The finished seam lays flat and is far more visually pleasing than a sewing machine seam. Plus, a seam sewn with a serger will stretch. A straight stitch from a sewing machine will not stretch. You would notice the difference between a stretchable stitch and one that doesn’t if you were putting on a t-shirt. The stretchable stitch would be easier to put on and take off.

Should I get a sewing machine or a serger?

I would recommend starting off with a sewing machine. Sewing machines are more flexible when it comes to different projects. A serger cannot do facings, zippers, button holes, top stitching and more. So start off with a sewing machine and move on to a serger when you’re ready. Be sure to check to Amazon for great prices on sergers.