"I am fairly new to sewing. What is the Serger used for other than hemming? I am thinking about purchasing one,but if hemming is all I would be able to do, I'm not sure it would be beneficial to me. Also, what serger is recommended for a beginner (about 3 years experience in quilting)?"
I'm a new serger user and since I wasn't sure if I'd enjoy it or how much I'd use it, I found a Brother on allbrands.com that I ended up loving. It was refurbished - which was fine by me since my thoughts are that someone else got to work the bugs out of the thing. It is SUPER easy to thread and seems to run like a charm. I will say that my husband prefers I do my serging when he's not working from home. My sewing space is in the same spot as his home office space and sergers can be loud when one isn't used to it. My Viking machine is whisper quiet. The serger, not so much. :)
The very first thing I did with it was run around the edges of fleece fabric to make my family scarves. We're in Florida and rarely, rarely need actual winter gear but this past winter it was cold for a couple of weeks. The scarves came in handy. You can do the same with large fleece to make a throw.
I'll be finishing the seams of some drapes I'm making with my serger and I used it when I was upcycling a pair of jeans into a purse.
I hope to take lessons on it soon so I can really use it to its potential.
i use my serger a million more times than my regular sewing machine ... you can construct garments from start to finish using only the serger (unless you are doing something that require just a straight stitch). you can do gathers even! plus it finishes the edges and makes your garments last longer.
To me a serger is like when I first got a microwave. You just have to use it to realize all the possibilites. It is faster than sewing with a sewing machine. I have done heirloom sewing, clothing construction and even made a baby quilt completely on my serger. I have done crazy patch quilting also. It is wonderful if you sew on knits, expecially baby clothes.
You can't do everything on a serger, but with a little adapting you can do most things.
Most sergers do not hem. Only the higher end sergers have the capability of doing a 'cover hem or cover stitch'. You can do a mock cover hem using 2 needles on your sewing machine.
Sergers are known for doing seams as the serger cuts the fabric before it encases it in thread. A serger actually does a knitting function, the upper looper, loops the thread on top of the fabric edge while the lower looper creates loops on the under side of the fabric edge. the needles or needle comes down and locks the loops in place.
The loopers on a serger are able to handle heavier thread and there is so many wonderful decorative threads you can use.
If you want to use fleece and make a pretty blanker or a jacket (an example https://www.gmidesign.com/stretch/1028.htm ) you could finish the edge ( sleeves, around the neck, front, and bottom) using metallic thread or pearl crown rayon, and if you go slowly many machines can do crochet thread or by loosening the tension you can use silk ribbon.
I use my serger for doing heirloom stitches, rolled hems on napkins or a satin stitch around the edge of a placemat.
There is no serger one can recommend to you unless we know how much money you want to spend and if there is repair support in your area.
It makes NO sense to go to walmart or target and buy a serger if there is no one in your area that can repair it when needed. Many times the brands sold out of these type of stores need to be sent out to a repair center. This would mean you pay the person at the sew-n-vac store to ship if for you and receive it and a % for their time as well as the money to actually repair it. The same goes for any machine you buy on ebay or allbrands or amazon or online stores. Make sure you have a Sew-n-Vac store that can repair in shop the brand you choose.
Often times a Sew-N-Vac will sell used machines as well as new. You can usually get a great used machine that someone either traded up for or purchased and when they got it home put it in the closet because it was intimidating.
If purchased from a sew-n-vac store, you have support ... if you have a problem, take it to them and they will show you how to fix it. Some stores have free classes because you bought the machine from them.. some stores have pay for classes, some colleges have a textile program and have serging classes.
Everyone has personal preferences and more often then not, the first machine a person gets becomes their first love. Some people love computerized machines that do everything .. they push a button and it automatically sets a stitch or threads the lower looper with jet air threading, others prefer the manual sergers so they can create a perfect balanced stitch.
I have a Bernina 700D, which is a good machine, but I slobber over one of the Baby Lock's with self-threading loopers. 8-) I mostly use my serger to sew around the perimeter of fleece blankets for Project Linus and to do rolled hems (a feature that I LOVE!). I would love to learn how to sew clothing together, as some of you do, but I'm not sure how to go about it.
the industry standard for a seam allowance is 5/8 of an inch on a sewing machine, the industry standard for a seam allowance using a serger is 1/4 of an inch.
Before you start to serge clothing together, you need to think about what you are going to do first.
An example is constructing a T-shirt.
1. press sleeve and bottom of shirt hem up at 1 inch. (can be hemmed now or wait until 6.)
2. serge shoulder seams (use twill tape, salvage of fabric, clear elastic into the seam to keep this seam from stretching)
3. serge in sleeves to top
4. serge in ribbing or use the same fabric
5. sew side seams starting at the sleeve edge serging down the side (seam) to the bottom
6. Hem using a mock cover hem (twin needle on sewing machine