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Is It Worth Buying an Overlocker? (Benefits and Drawbacks)

Overlockers can be difficult to master, thread, and an item of additional expenditure in the sewing room, but there are many excellent reasons to own one.

While they are frightening and can be pricey, they can provide you with a higher degree of neatness, simplicity of use on stretch fabrics and are even useful for hemming.

However, you may be wondering if they are worthwhile to purchase.

If you want to produce many garments, sew with stretch fabrics, or create professional-looking items, overlockers are a good investment.

Overlockers aren’t necessary for individuals who use bindings to finish their seams or construct home décor that doesn’t require overlocked seams.

In this post, I’ll explain what an overlocker is, what it does, and whether or not I believe it’s worth purchasing.

What Is An Overlocker and How Does It Work?

An overlocker is a single standing machine that works similarly to a sewing machine but with a distinct connecting thread and cloth.

Overlockers are machines used to overlock seams and raw edges of the cloth to neaten the edge or avoid fraying.

Overlocking the edge involves winding and twisting 3-5 threads around each other and the cloth to produce a design. This is often done on a fabric’s seams and raw edges.

The machine operates similarly to a sewing machine in that the cloth is supplied by a foot, and twin needles do the stitching.

Another feature of an overlocker is that it can cut and neat the cloth as it sews or leave it raw.

As a sewing machine, an overlocker is operated by a foot pedal, and the more you push, the quicker it goes.

What Are the Benefits of Overlockers?

Overlockers are useful for a variety of sewing applications, including clothes and home design. Those who sew their own clothes are the most common users of an overlocker.

An overlocker may be used to hem seams, hem garments, neaten project or garment edges, avoid frayed edges, and stitch seams in elastic fabrics like jersey or lycra.

The benefits of utilizing an overlocker are numerous, and I could go on and on about them all day!

Fabric Fraying Is a Breeze with an Overlocker

Overlockers are fantastic for preventing frayed edges on textiles. Nothing is more aggravating than a frayed cloth, and you would gladly do anything to avoid it.

Using an overlocker on raw edges of textiles and seams to keep them from fraying while being used, cleaned, and worn is a great technique to protect materials from fraying.

An overlocker wraps three or more threads around the edge of the fabric, creating a solid cover over the fibers and weave, making it difficult for the cloth to tear and break apart.

It’s Ideal for Neat Seams

An overlocker is ideal if you want to ensure that all of your seams are precisely trimmed and cut down.

They’re ideal for hemming seams and raw edges, as well as preventing fraying in textiles.

They’re most commonly used on clothing that sees many usages, movement, and washing, all of which might loosen the fabric’s fibers and cause the garment to change in specific situations.

The Ease of Using

When I say the simplicity of use, I mean you don’t have to alter the settings on your main machine since you have a second machine set up to neaten up the edges of a seam or the raw edge of the cloth.

This means you may use the overlocker to hem and neaten your seam edges while leaving your primary sewing machine on the settings for sewing together and the parts.

Making stitching more fluid, with less friction, and making it easier to finish a job without making too many manual modifications.

The Drawbacks of Using an Overlocker

While overlockers have many advantages, they do have some drawbacks.

Steep Learning Curve

Overlockers are a tremendous benefit to the sewing room, but they are more difficult to set up thread and use.

This is something you’ll grow used to, but it might be intimidating and off-putting for newcomers.

They are more difficult to thread up, which is where the majority of people get stuck.

Though there is a slew of video and blog post-style lessons available on the internet to assist you.

Another Machine To House

If, like me, you don’t have a designated sewing area and like to work in various places throughout the home when possible, owning both a sewing machine and an overlocker maybe a little too much.

If you have to pull out both machines every time you do any stitching, it may get a bit crowded, so it’s not worth purchasing if you’re short on room.

That isn’t to suggest that you can’t have an overlocker if you don’t have a dedicated sewing place and instead use your dining room table.

You certainly can, but working in tighter areas and circumstances may be more difficult for some jobs.

The Same Can Be Done With a Sewing Machine

As previously stated, an overlocker works by intertwining and wrapping three or more threads around the edge of the cloth; however, this may also be accomplished with one or two threads using a sewing machine.

To make an overlock stitch, just run a zig-zag stitch around the edge of the cloth, producing a loose casing to keep the edges from fraying.

While an overlock edge may be recreated, it is not as sophisticated or comprehensive as an overlocker stitch.

What Are the Costs of Overlockers?

Depending on whether you want to acquire a household or industrial property.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re in the market for a domestic overlocker.

Domestic overlockers are significantly more cost-effective in this situation. Similar to sewing machines, some are quite expensive, and others that are much more affordable.

Cheaper Machines

Big-name manufacturers like Brother, Janome, and Singer sell cheaper overlockers, but they’re typically characterized as clumsy, difficult to use, and difficult to thread up.

In this circumstance, Brother offers the most comprehensive variety of overlockers in terms of price, size, and model, with several machines gaining a reputation for being beginner-friendly or the greatest value for money overlockers on the market.

Overlockers are also available at John Lewis, Aldi, and Lidl at a lower price.

These are all either own brands or lesser-known names, but don’t let that deter you because you can frequently find a fantastic price on these.

This is especially essential if you’re new to sewing, or at least new to sewing with an overlocker, and you’re not sure how frequently you’ll use it or how you’ll like it.

My first (and current) overlocker was purchased from Aldi and was made by the Necci brand.

It’s a wonderful machine, well constructed, and made of a nice plastic (sounds odd, but it’s not harsh at all). It was simple to thread up the first time, and I’ve found it simple to use since then.

Machines in this price range will cost between $200 and $300.

While they are pricey, they are considerably more reasonable for people just getting started with sewing and want to learn how to use an overlocker.

Mid-Range Machines

These include Brother, Singer, Janome, and other well-known brands. These machines are of a better grade, with additional functions and attachments. When compared to sewing machines, the cost of overlockers is slightly higher.

In the lower price range, a good sewing machine may be found for $100-$150, but overlockers can cost twice as much.

This is also true of mid-range sewing machines and other similar devices.

What’s more, depending on the brand and any special offers, you can get a lot more for your money with a mid-range sewing machine.

More stitches, attachments, electronics, and other parts are typically available, making your stitching experience easier.

There aren’t as many elements of an overlocker that can be different or of higher quality with overlockers. If you want to utilize certain materials, a mid-range or higher-quality machine may be more appropriate.

Mid-range overlockers may also be more developed, with fewer plastic elements and more metal ones. They may also have different settings than a normal overlocker, which may or may not be as varied.

Mid-range machines, which cost between $400 and $500, are harder, built of stronger materials, last longer, and typically come with additional modifications and extras.

Top Range Machines

Overlockers in the top range cost more than $500 and come into the category of industrial overlockers, which are popular among costume makers who want something particularly strong and long-lasting.

Top-of-the-line overlockers, like Juki, are pricey, but they’re well worth it, especially if you make a lot of industrial-style clothes.

Also, if you’re into sewing costumes, cosplay outfits, or a lot of house furniture made of heavy, fraying materials.

Top-of-the-line overlockers are ideal for individuals seeking to set up a small production line with their job and business since they last considerably longer, do more continuous labor, and require fewer component replacements.

Is Buying An Overlocker Worth It?

When considering purchasing an overlocker, there are a few questions to consider. They may be used for various stitching styles, making them suitable for a wide range of sewing abilities.

If you produce many garments or projects that require hemming and overlocking the edges, I think it’s worth it to invest in an overlocker.

If you’re tired of having to change the stitches on your machine to overlock your seams and then change back for straight stitching, I think an overlocker is a good investment.

Even in the $200-$300 price range, overlockers are well worth the investment because they can help you improve your skills as a new/intermediate sewer, produce a better and more professional edge to your seams, and they are quick to use.

Overlockers, I feel, will also offer coverage to seams and raw edges of cloth that are difficult to replicate with a sewing machine.

This is important for clothes since it improves the stability of the garment, allowing it to endure longer via washing and wearing while also looking neater.

Only if you’re making a lot of toys with fabrics that don’t tear, won’t require precise seams, or projects with enclosed seams in bindings should you consider purchasing an overlocker.

I would recommend waiting to get an overlocker if you are new to sewing because they may be difficult to deal with and thread, so I would start with a sewing machine and gain confidence before moving on to an overlocker.