Do you need an overlocker?

I was thinking what I’d write about today and then noticed that 3 people had asked about overlockers on yesterday’s blog post! Problem solved! let’s talk overlockers! Do you need one? Are they worth it? Should I just use a zig zag stitch?

Ok so I got an overlocker probably after a year or so of sewing. I was doing a lot of clothes for keira and I wanted to be able to do edges more neatly. I do think the edges on the overlocker are amazing. My first overlocker was about $200 second hand on ebay. People often buy overlockers, don’t use them enough so sell them. So picking one up 2nd hand (if you’ve asked the right questions like how old it is, was it bought new, has it been serviced, how often has it been used) can be a smart move.

Now the first overlocker I bought had big dials on it for threading the machine up. Unless you can afford an ‘air overlocker’ (which pretty much threads itself) then get ready for the worst part about an overlocker…………….threading. You are threading 4 threads and you have to go through this loop, and down this little piece and through the eye of this and out and through the back of the machine. You need a bit of patience to do it but it’s always worth it. The newer the machine or the more expensive it is generally the easier it is to thread.

Do you need one? If you are making clothes and selling them then I kind of think you do need one. It gives you a professional finish to your seams and makes them look amazing. If you’re a home sewer and just getting a bit sick of the zig zag or don’t think it’s up to scratch then you’ll love the finish done by an overlocker. And if you’re sewing with stretch fabrics then you can do whole garments on the overlocker because a stretch fabric seam can be done on the overlocker. You can also do a beautiful rolled hem finish on pretty clothes which is lovely for ruffles and bloomers. I also use the overlocker to make quick cot sheets, face washers and muslin wraps as it gives a nice finish.

For me an overlocker has always been worth it and when I was making and selling dresses it certainly made them look fabulous. If you’re hardly ever sewing or just starting out then spend your money on a good basic machine and keep using the zig zag and see how you go or perhaps borrow one for a week and see if you like it. I ran upstairs and quickly grabbed a few things I had made to show you an overlocked seam. So this is done with 2 needles and 4 threads and will not fray, not even a teensy bit which I notice when I do a zig zag.

How much to spend and what brand is always up to you. The easier to thread the better which is why I would personally stay away from the thread around the knob machines (like the older janomes) if you can BUT in saying that I’m also not sure how reliable the cheap overlockers from supermarkets are as well. If you can stick to a brand you know like janome, brother, babylock (which is the same as brother – NO I got this wrong, Babylock USA make the Babylock embroidery machines but overlockers are made by Babylock. I stand corrected!), bernina etc then you’re doing well. It’s easier to find parts, get it serviced and just more reliable. For me I’d always rather buy a second hand one from a good brand than a new one from the supermarket eventhough it’s nice to get the impulse buy at the supermarket.

So do you have an overlocker? What do you love or hate about it and what brand are you using? I use a Brother 3043d and love it. Very easy to use, comes with a DVD and have had it for over 3 years without a problem.

Comments

  1. raina babos says:

    I have just been given (by my daughters for my birthday in Feb) a brother 3034d which I am finding to be wonderful. I had for the past 15 years used my trusty janome 3 thread which had made hundreds of things for my children and grandchildren. It has been a wonderful workhorse but for a while I had wanted a four thread. I am so glad my girls listened as I couldn’t be happier with it. It is easy to thread and use. I had not long before got myself a new sewing machine as my old Husqvarna was over 20 years old. I have to admit though that I am not as happy with my new elna as I had thought I would be!!!

  2. I have a 24 year old janome overlocker and I think it has just about had its day. I am looking at a Bernina overlocker. It was highly recommended as a middle of the range type overlocker. I would if I could afford it the $1500 for the baby lock but do not think hubby would approve. I do however, also have an industrial overlocker that I love.

  3. Yes I do, it’s a Janome and I guess OLD now, my hubby bought it for me when my eldest was 2 and she will be turning 25 on the 24th of this month. WOW 23 years old, unbelievable, they do give professional finishes on clothes that’s for sure. The ONE and only thing that annoys me is the threading as you say Corrie but she’s still going, most likely needs a service but I can’t justify spending money on a new one just for the threading issue.

  4. I have a bernina overlocker and love it, though am totally with you re the threading – HATE it, but am getting better.

  5. Carolyn Pennington says:

    iI have a Bernina overlocker and just love it!
    I borrowed one ftom a friend a couple of times and loved it so much went and bought exactly the same-I had learned to thread hers, so didnt need to learn that Process again.
    Wouldnt be without my Overlocker-not only does it trim and overlock the whole garment, to me, looks better.
    We have a wonderful man in Canberra who picks up (from your home ) one evenng and drops off the next(with very few exceptions)……..

    • Carolyn, I live in Canberra, would know a good place to buy a new Brother sewing machine? I am not sure where to go for the right information! Kind Regards Leearne

      • Hi Leearne,
        I’m also in Canberra and I got mine from Stitches of Canberra (I think they might have changed their name to Canberra Sewing because that’s what’s on their website) http://www.canberrasewing.com.au and I can’t rave enough about how great they were! Excellent service, honest advice, great after-service (such as when I went in thinking there was something wrong when all I needed to do was change my needle!) and all the staff are super friendly and know their stuff. If you buy from them, they will also give you unlimited lessons in how to use your machine, so if you take a break and forget how something worked, you just go back in and they’ll show you. I’m almost definitely getting my overlocker from them – just trying to decide which one!

  6. I have a Lumina overlocker from Aldi. What do I love most about it – it doesn’t put a foot wrong except when the kids play with the dials. I have had it for 3 years and it is great. It cost $70.00 on sale at Aldi and my mother in law bought it for me for a mothers day present. I would not be without my overlocker. Makes home-made look more professional.

  7. I have a Janome MyLock 204D – nothing fancy, has the old dials. I have had it for about 11 years now. I bought it and used it, then didn’t use if for a number of years, then started again. It does the job, but I would love an upgrade one day…..

  8. I have a very old Janome MyLock 234D that is sadly sitting in my room collecting dust at the moment, because something horrible went wrong the last time I used it and now it keeps jamming. I am waiting for the next opportunity to visit my ex mother in law, as she used to be a seamstress, and she promised she’d take a look at it for me, but given our last visit took 18 months to happen, I’m not holding my breath. And I know this is going to sound crazy, but I love threading my overlocker. Doing all the weaving up and down around the knobs and latches is the best part of my sewing day.

  9. I’ve got a Janome MyLock 845D that i picked up 2nd hand for $75. I had a few teething problems but once I got hold of a manual it was smooth sailing from there. I love the look of my over-locked edges they look so much neater.

    Oh and one thing I never knew until I went looking was overlocker’s are called sergers in the US.

  10. Sarah (Splish Splash Designs) says:

    I have one that I bought from Aldi a couple of years ago and it’s still in its box under my sewing table!! I really need to get it out and use it as I love the finishes the overlocker gives.

  11. I have always been happy with my My Lock Janome. Didn’t realise how old it was until I did my sums OMG! Where did all those sewing years go! Like Erin above, I always gained a sense of achievement threading it correctly the first time. My sister purchased her first brand new Janome machine from Aldi and is happy with it.

  12. I was lucky enough to be gifted a pretty fabulous overlocker from an (overly) generous friend. It certainly has changed how I sew, I started selling clothes because they looked just that more professional and well finished off. Threading it though is a drama, although my mum just ties the ends of her old threads to her new threads and pulls straight through! It seems to work well on her machine better than mine though. I was just wondering Corrie what your preferred method is of finishing the serged threads? Do you thread them back through by hand? Use that glue stuff? I never know which is the easiest and most unlikely to come apart!

  13. I have a Brother 3034D too. I bought it at Spotlight about two years ago when they had a sale on and I love it. The threading is quite annoying but after a while you get used to doing it so it gets much easier and faster. I also tend to stick to white most of the time (or black for dark fabrics) so I don’t have to thread it all the time :)
    It makes a world of difference. I only make things for the kids and gifts for friends and family but I use it pretty much every time; it does give things such a lovely, clean, professional finish. And it reinforces the seams too, which lengthens the life of the garments (always a good thing with little ones).
    Love my overlocker! :)

  14. Catherine says:

    Hi Corrie, thank you for answering my question with a post.

    I notice that a few of your readers have purchased the aldi overlocker and seem happy so I will either get it or look on eBay for one second hand.

    • yes I saw that!!!! So looks like it might be a go:) I love it when readers help other readers:)
      thanks
      Corrie:)

  15. I bought mine off eBay for $80! It had a broken thread holder but was simply fixed and works perfectly. Though I never use it often enough because i HATE threading it!

    Bettina
    http://www.littleoldsouls.com

  16. Hi Corrie,

    Thank you so much for answering my question posted yesterday:)

    After reading about your Brother 3034d, I promptly called up my Brother agent, but guess what? She told me a serger is NOT necessary if my skills is good on the sewing machine (by using zig zag foot, rolled hem foot etc)!!!! She is just not keen to sell a serger for whatever reason. I absolutely disagree with her!! Unfortunately, here in Singapore, we do not have much models and choices when it comes to a serger, and it is more difficult to get a good knowledgeable agent.

    My initial dream serger, the Baby Lock Imagine, blows me away with the ease (as shown on Youtube) and the PRICE!!

    So the search continues…..really hope to find a good one soon….

  17. Suzanne Duffy says:

    I love my overlooker , after resisting for ages I finally bought one a couple of years ago , especially good for dance costumes Lycra etc, don’t know how I survived without one for so long!!

  18. Mine is a Babylock évolvé and I am using it since 7 years or so. I would never buy anything else. The only thing I have to complain about is the price of a new foot.
    The original foot broke after 5 years and I had to buy a new one – of course.
    It was about more than 50€ and that really hit me. But okay – let’s go for another 5 years together…

  19. Baby lock is the Rolls Royce of overlockers with jet air threading and no tensions there is no comparing it to a brother or any other brand.It is like comparing a Ferrari to a Daewoo. There is no comparison. I love my Baby.

  20. Fashionista says:

    It would seem old Janomes never die! I have a 26 year old Janome 3 thread that is still going strong. A threading tip that the delightful gentleman who sold it to me gave, knot your new cotton to the existing threaded cotton, then slowly run a piece of scrap through until you see the knot for the thread for the needle, snip and thread the needle. All the holes and do-dads on the other threads are able to cope with a small cotton knot. That is not to say I haven’t had to thread from the spool, but it has certainly made the process easier most of the time.

  21. Diana Barry says:

    Is there a difference between a serger and an Overlock machine? Also, do you use the Overlock machine only on garments? Do you use it when you quilt? Thanks!

    • In Australia we refer to them as overlockers but in the USA they call them sergers. I’ve never quilted so I can’t answer that, sorry.

  22. I bought an old Husqvarna 3 thread off eBay a while ago. I paid $50 for it, and picked it up from a young girl whose mother had given her her old machine as a housewarming gift. She was so desperate to get rid of it because it was ‘old’.

    It’s roughly 30 years old but has only been used once or twice. I cleaned it up, gave it a new needle and new blades, oiled it and rethreaded it and it works perfectly! Now I’m hemming like a pro and can’t wait to start using it more and more.

    I think it’s the best $50 I’ve ever spent! Of course, I’d love a brand new, super fancy one….maybe one day :)

  23. I too have got an Aldi one. I’ve had it for two years and love it. I had been sewing previously for only one year and had no idea how to use an overlocker but it worked beautifully straight out of the box. I got my hubby to rethread it when I accidentally let the thread run out completely, and he managed it just fine. At other times I have done the trick of tying the new thread to the old thread and pulling it through. I pulled it all the way to the needle then cut it and threaded the needle. I got a bit confused with what to do with it after it went through the needle but after pulling it a bit I just started sewing and it all worked fine. So I too would highly recommend that method as super easy.

    I thought the instructions for it were very complicated to follow, and wondered if that could be one of the differences between a cheaper and more expensive machine.

    Aldi is just about to sell their overlocker again, it’s out this Saturday 16th March. It seems to come out in March/April each year.

    • I’ve just bought an Aldi overlocker for $199. I’m happy with it so far but not impressed with the manual and I’ve been sewing on industrials since 1974.
      Just getting back into sewing. Took my original babylock in for a check up and service and he said don’t spend anything on it, it’s like over 20 years old and been in the garage for about 15. :(
      Cheaper machines don’t last as long, the motor etc. but if you are an occasional sewer I think they are find. I have put a Jamone O/L on layby and then will layby a babylock.
      I’m intending to sew and sell again so I’ll have the Aldi one set up for maybe the rolled hems. I’m trying to work out how to gather on it. I will do most of my overlocking on the babylock as they are built more sturdy and can take the work load. :)

  24. I have the same overlocker you do, and I think it’s fairly common here in the U.S, and I would love to see you do a post on how to do rolled hems with it. I get so nervous when it comes to changing the needles and such.

  25. When I change color, I cut the threads about 6 inches from the old color cones. I tie on the new color. Turn the tension to 0 and pull the threads through. No rethreading, works every time. After 10 years, I still use mine at least once a week.
    Deborah

  26. It seems like Janomes just keep on going!!! I have a Janome Mylock 4 thread which must be 15 years old now. I love the professional finish it gives but have had a love hate relationship with it over the years due to threading (a knob one). The tie the threads trick only worked a few times for me, then I had to learn to thread it properly. One tip I discovered a few years ago when I was up to my neck in overlocker problems was that the threads have to be done in the correct order. Which for my machine was right to left across the machine. Once I had come across that in the manual, the problems I was having disappeared! Still can’t wait for a Babylock one day though!

  27. I have and OOOOOOLD Elna lock handed down to me from my grandmother when she bought her new over locker, which she now rarely uses. It’s a 3 thread and super sturdy. the only issues I’ve every had was actualy my fault. Being the super keen sewist that I am, attempted to use my elna on a hot day and she didnt move a muscle (or part?) so I took down to my machine repairer the next day, and she still didn’t work… but a few days later when he was ready to have a looksie inside, BAM! works perfectly fine again…. so the moral to my story is, if you have an older machine, don’t attempt to use her on a hot day.

  28. Penelope says:

    Well, I just want to say thank-you, to all of you lovely ladies, for the information you have all placed here. Thank-you Corrie for the initial post too.
    I have been sewing for years on and off. I’m no expert. I have wanted an over-locker for many years, yet could not justify spending that type of money on myself.
    Ridiculous isn’t it, to feel worth is measured by money?
    Anyway, I have been pondering the Aldi machine and doing some research tonight to see what people have had to say about them.
    So far, the feedback seems pretty good, so I may just spend some money tomorrow and bring some joy into my life.

    Thank-you all again for such comprehensive commentary and experience sharing.

    Penelope.

  29. Hi, I’ve just bought a Lumina overlocker from Aldi. Can you tell me please where I can buy the right thread spools please? The ones from Spotlight have the cone too big at the base. My overlocker is a 4-thread one. Many thanks Cathy Z

    • hi there, let me ask my readers for you!!!!! I’ll be back later today. I just buy the birch ones from spotlight

  30. Hi I have bought an Aldi overlocker but I am too scared to set it up! I am keen to know about anything anyone can tell me re setting up and the best type of thread spools too…For someone new to this is it easy to set up and use or should I buy from the local sewing shop and return it to be safe! Thanks So much. Amanda

    • Could you please let me know how much the aldi overlockers are worth!

      • I just bought the overlocker from Aldi for $199. I asked my sewing machine mechanic about it after I bought it, he said you have to be careful buying those machines because of buying and replacing parts but he did say it is made by Janome so I’m hoping I won’t have too much trouble with replacing blades etc. especially when it costs $150 for a service, this is why I have put the Janome on layby. In Qld, they have a special on was $800 now $500. That’s why I’ll set the 2 up differently like keep one on a rolled hem which won’t get used as much..

  31. Hello, thank you for this post. I have found it very informative. I have a Bernina bernette 203 three thread. I am yet to work with her due to her arriving faulty. But after reading through this I feel I may need to bring her up to the work bench and have a tinker. I was ready to replace without trying due to cost. She is very old and an eBay purchase. Would you say a three thread will work well ? I am a keen sewer but new to the overlocker world.

    Kind regards
    Becky

    • hi there, have you checked youtube? or googled it? 3 threads will be fine. My first overlocker was an old one and harder to thread up but once it was done it was done. Other option is look up a sewing centre and ask if they service them and they could service and have it threaded for you. Even the fanciest overlockers can be a total pain in the butt!

  32. missnancy_b says:

    Hey There, I’m looking into the Brother 3043d as my first overlocker :/ but before I buy it I am wondering if anyone could comment on whether it will handle making cloth nappies, due to their bulk and numerous layers? Noise factor is also an issue for me due to hubby’s night shift roster. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated, or other good options. Please note that I am an absolute beginner, having never touched an overlocker before, and I am only a novice sewer.
    TIA – Nancy

  33. Hello, I just found your website. Comments are great. I am a keen sewer for years. Have a Globe Lock 3 thread which is fabulous,,, Very old but strong,, probably made in Japan,,,, but some people find them poor. Mine has been awesome always, and looked after. …But now am thinking I need upgrade as retired and was wanting a 4 thread Bernina 800DL with differential feed. When i get one, I will sell the other but would like it to go to someone who will love it. Love your site.

  34. Thank you for this initial post I’ve found it really informative.
    I’ve just recently purchased a Toyota over locker from Spot Light which was on sale for $249 down from $499. It works beautifully and so far I’ve been happy with it mind you I’ve only had it a few days. It came already threaded and I’ve found the manual fairly easy to follow along with as well which is always a good thing!

    I’m planning to start a very small children’s line of leggings and dresses so I think that this will be a major investment and later down the track if I need to upgrade I will. I think the finish over lockers give to clothing makes them look more professional if your reselling clothing etc. Personally it’s something I inspect on clothing for my kids or myself so I know they’re more durable and more unlikely to fray/avoid torn seams.

    Thanks to all the ladies for the re threading tip with tying the new thread to old thread, what a life saver! Re threading can be a tedious task but that sounds like time saver which I’m sure we all appreciate :).

    • Thanks Karlie
      I came across this blog as I was looking to compare overlockers for the exact reason Spotlight has the Toyota one on sale. I’m relatively new to sewing and thought it was such a good buy but I obviously have no idea about overlockers. I think you’ve just convinced me to make the trip and spend some money.

  35. I’m wanting to make wheat bags I sew three of the edges together with a sewing machine but the last edge I hand stitch which takes forever.. I was wondering if I had an overlocker does it just neaten up edges or would it sew seamless edges for me?

  36. I have lots of flat cot sheets to make. Is the rolled hem good enough to do on them for frequently washing. I am going to donate them but want them to stand up to good wear. Should I use wolly nylon thread on one looper or not. Which do you recommend. I have the coverstitch machine but cannot thread it at all.

  37. Hello, I am looking to buy a working over locker. Please email me if you have one or know someone who might be selling. I am just starting out so do not want anything fancy
    Many thanks

  38. Hi Retromummy,
    I just bought myself a Huskylock 905 off ebay after reading though this post a second time when I saw Spotlight advertising the Huskylock S15 half price a few weeks back. Missed out on it but found the older but more advanced 905 second hand. My question is, having never overlocked before, is there a go to book on overlocking???
    Thanks for the helpful post!

    • Did you find what you are looking for. Some company’s if you call will send or email you a copy of the manual.

  39. I so wish I had seen this 7 months ago. I bought a Husky 905 from ebay. It was clean and in great condition from an older woman who didn’t sew anymore. I sew dog beds so need something to handle the thick stretchy material. I was in heaven…for 15 minutes before it just stopped…literally just stopped. So off to a Viking/Husky certified dealer I went. Diagnoses was the motor went and I could send it off to the factory to be replaced/repaired. Eight weeks later I was advised they don’t make the motor anymore and they would try a rebuild. I was so happy to finally have it back but unfortunately yesterday the rebuilt engine seized as well. I am so disappointed as I loved the machine. I guess that explains why I didn’t see too many Vking/Huskvarna listed here. Now the hunt begins again.

  40. After many years of encouragement from my step-mother, I finally got an overlocker – Bernina Bernette 610D for about $A350 on special. I have never regretted it, and can’t believe I didn’t get one earlier (much to my step-mother’s amusement!). For those new to the overlocker don’t be put off by threading it. Yes, it is more fiddly than your sewing machine, but if you take your time and follow the instructions you will be fine. I have sewed for years but am not an advanced sewer – I mainly do craft things, some sewing for the kids and myself. I have no complaints with the Bernina – it is loud, but hasn’t bothered the kids when I sew at night. Is it necessary? Probably not for what I do, but I’m very happy with how things look when they are finished, and the fact I’m sure the fabric won’t fray.

  41. Hi,

    Can you advise how to seeing in labels using an overlocker?

  42. Would anyone who has an Aldi Lumina brand overlocker be able to email a copy of the user manual? My email address is kel_83g@hotmail.com
    Thanks in advance
    Kel

  43. I have a Bernina Bernette Fun Lock 007D, it is 18 year old costing $900 and has been breaking threads for a while (slowly dying). I have had it serviced 3 times but now it is starting to cost me more money as it is more times getting serviced than being used. I am looking at buying a new overlocker. I have looked at the Elna 845 and Elna 745. They are both very good overlockers. It is hard to make a decision which overlocker to buy when you have had an excellent machine for years. If anyone has some suggestions of a better overlocker I am willing to take advise.
    Thank you

  44. I have recently been given an old Janome Ezylock 304D overlocker .. We know that it must be around 19-20 years old as it’s been in our family the entire time.. However the presser foot lifter seems to be broken and the presser foot will not lift or drop from where it is. The guide bars are also bent and I can’t seem to pull the pole up at the back to make the thread travel easily through the machine (I’ve adjusted the thread tension prior to this)… Will be taking it into my local service person this morning to see if they can give me a rough quote on getting it fixed. I’ve been told parts are probably hard to come by as the machine is older.. I’m really not sure if I should bother having it fixed if it exceeds $150 – I think buying a new one with warranty would be better… What would you do?

  45. Di Barlow says:

    Hi. I have just cleaned up my Janome My Lock 234D after many years. I have not got a manual and at a loss concerning tensions or even how to use it. The threading was ok unsure of the rolled hems and advantages. If any one has suggestions or a manual that would be great Many thanks

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  47. Julie Hanfield says:

    Can someone please tell me how you get the parallel straight stitch on one side and the overlocked stitching on the wrong side of fabric as in the hems of stretch tops or track pants or countless other items of clothing??? I am quite a good sewer and now have the use of a friend’s overlocker (20 years old) which I have hankered after for some years but have always just put up with a straight sewing machine. I REALLY want to be able to produce that effect I describe above….the sew hem, overlock edge and cut off surplus stitch on the overlocker I am borrowing gives a ladder effect stitch on the right side, overlocked on the wrong side NOT the parallel stitch I describe above. Can anyone PLEASE help me with this issue??

    • Julie, you are talking of a Coverstitch. Some overlockers come with a coverstitch, for example, Babylock Ovation, Evolution and Evolve – they appear to be high end machines. The Juki MO-735 is another machine that has coverstitch capability.

      There are also Coverstitch machines, such as the Brother 2340CV – which looks very interesting (recommended price $799 according to the Brother internet site). I would be interested to hear if anybody has this machine?

      • I have an Elna 745 which is a combo overlock and coverstitch machine. The threading can take longer to do on the coverstitch but I find this machine is great once its threaded right. The combo is nice but it takes some work to change between overlock and coverstitch

  48. I sew everyday. Mostly bridal, but I also do a wide range of stuff. I have 8 sewing machines and 5 overlockers. Lol a little greedy. All different models. Threading them can be a pain. If the machine/overlocker has cotton already threaded, I snip off about six inches before the machine, join the next cotton and pull through the machine. It’s a bit different with the overlocker. Just incase you try this, pull the needle cotton through seperately from the other 2/3 threads that go through the machine.

  49. Wow, came across your site on a google search and it’s amazing! You’ve done a really great job. I’m thinking of getting started with sewing this summer (in Australia). I’d love to buy an overlocker straight out to get those clean edges. I’m also pregnant with my first so would love to create baby and maternity pieces. Thank you so much for this inspiration you create here. All the best :)

  50. Wow, that’s what I was exploring for, what a information! present here at this web site, thanks admin of this website.

  51. Wow, thank you for the article and comments by all.
    It help me a lot to figure out what i want for a serger.
    cheers
    xoxo from singapore

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