Sewing sometimes requires more than just a sewing machine. There are also other types of sewing machines, and for beginning sewists, it can be hard to know what types of machines you need. Two common machines that sewists use are coverstitch machines and sergers. But what is the difference between the two, and how do you know if you need them both?
The main difference between a coverstitch machine and a serger is that a coverstitch machine is used for hemming garments while a serger is used to create seams. There are other differences in the stitch type and the overall function and components that make them up.
In this article, I’ll explain the difference between coverstitch vs serger machines in more detail. I’ll explain the key factors that make up each and what they are best used for so that you can decide when to use both and if you truly need both machines. Finally, I’ll recommend some popular models for each machine if you’re in the market for one or both.
What Is a Coverstitch Machine?A coverstitch machine is essentially used to create hems and add decorative trim to garments. It looks very similar to a sewing machine and serger combination. But while sewing machines and sergers are used to stitch fabric pieces together, a coverstitch machine is ideal for finishing garments.
Coverstitch machines are great because they make flat seams and prevent seams and hems from fraying over time. The machine itself creates cover stitches to hem garments. It’s called a cover stitch because it covers the raw edge as the seam allowance is enclosed in the seam.
Coverstitch machines can be used on any type of sewing project. But where they excel is with stretchy fabrics. Coverstitch machines allow you to create a hem that stretches with the garment without breaking. You can also use them to attach lace, sequin strips, and other decorative accents to garments.
What Is a Serger?A serger is a machine that is used for stitching fabric pieces together to create a seam. Sergers look very different from a sewing machine and use different stitches. Sergers use an overlock stitch to create seams, which is why they are sometimes called overlock machines or overlockers. But ultimately, sergers are used for creating professional-looking seams.
Like coverstitch machines, sergers are great for working with stretchy fabrics. That’s because a serger creates a stretchy stitch, so they’re very beneficial if you’re working with a lot of stretchy or knit fabrics.
A serger uses multiple threads to stitch fabric together with the overlock stitch, which allows the seam to be finished on the inside of the garment. The stitch creates a strong bind between two fabric pieces so that the seams do not unravel. A serger also contains a knife to trim the edges of the seam, which prevents fraying.
Coverstitch vs Serger: Key Points
Now that you know the basics of what a coverstitch and a serger are, we can take a look at the similarities and differences between the two. I’ll start with this chart that compares and provides a quick overview of the two machines.
|Function||Finishes hems and seams||Joins and trims seams|
|Stitch Type||Cover stitch||Overlock stitch|
|Components||Usually two needles, up to 3 threads, one looper||1-2 needles, up to 8 threads, two loopers, and a knife|
|Needles||1-3 coverstitch/overlock needles, size varies||1-2 standard, ballpoint, or embroidery needles, size varies|
|Uses||Ideal for stretchy fabrics and knits, but can be used with any fabric||Ideal for stretchy fabrics and knits, but can be used with any fabric|
|Cost||More expensive||Less expensive|
What Is the Difference Between Coverstitch and Serger?
Now that you have a brief overview of the differences between a coverstitch machine and a serger let’s take a look at the similarities and differences in more detail.
As the name implies, a coverstitch machine creates a cover stitch. This type of stitch is primarily used to hem garments. A cover stitch looks like two parallel lines along the hem on one side of the fabric. On the reverse side, the two parallel lines are connected by zig-zags. The seam allowance is enclosed in the seam by the stitch, which helps to prevent unraveling and fraying.
A serger creates an overlock stitch; as previously mentioned, the machine is sometimes called an overlocker. An overlock stitch is a combination of a straight stitch and a zig-zag stitch. The machine sews back and forth in a straight line, creating a zig-zag stitch between each straight set of stitches. As this type of stitch is used to finish seams, it can be seen on the inside of garments and gives the seam the professional look of store-bought clothing.
A coverstitch machine is used to finish hems and seams but not for joining seams. You’ll primarily use a coverstitch after using a sewing machine and serger to sew garments together. Coverstitch machines create the hem itself and hide the seam allowance to prevent the edge from fraying. Coverstitch machines can also be used to add elastic or decorative trim to clothing.
A serger is used to join two pieces of fabric together and finish seams. While a sewing machine also joins two pieces of fabric together, sergers are ideal if you want a machine specifically to trim and finish the seams to keep them from unraveling. When working with stretchy and knit fabrics, sergers create seams on these fabrics better than standard sewing machines do.
A key difference between the two machines is the components and mechanisms that make them up. A coverstitch machine usually uses two needles to create the double row of stitches but may use three threads. A coverstitch machine usually only has one looper, which locks the stitches in place by looping the thread over another thread.
Sergers usually use two needles, although some may use only one, depending on the model. A serger also uses multiple threads, possibly even using up to 8. Again, it just depends on the exact model. Some sergers use 2-4 threads, some 3-5, and others 6-8. Sergers also use two loopers to loop and hold the threads in place since an overlock stitch is a combination of two stitches. And the key component of a serger that makes it different from a coverstitch machine is that a serger also has a knife blade to trim the seams.
Most coverstitch machines use two needles, but others can use anywhere from 1-3. There are specific needles best used with a coverstitch machine, and those are coverstitch/serger needles. However, the exact type of needle you use with this machine, as well as the needle size, just depends on the machine itself as well as the fabric you’re working with.
Most sergers use two needles as well, and you can use coverstitch/serger needles as well. But again, the exact type and size of needle you use depend on the fabric you’re working with and the machine. Standard needles work for most fabrics, but if you’re using a serger for stretchy and knit fabrics, then a ballpoint needle works best. Also, some sergers may require industrial needles, so keep that in mind when you purchase your serger machine.
Coverstitch machines can be used to finish the hem on pretty much any type of garment. However, they are great for hemming jeans since cover stitches help prevent fraying. Jeans are something that you don’t want the hem to come unraveled and start fraying on. They can also be used with any type of fabric but are great for working with knits and stretchy fabric because they can create hems that stretch with the rest of the garment so that the stitching does not break. Coverstitch machines can sew through multiple layers of fabric, which is why they are ideal for adding decorative trim to all types of clothing.
Sergers can also be used to finish the seams on any type of fabric, but where they excel is with stretchy and knit fabrics. Similar to a coverstitch, the overlock stitch that a serger creates allows the seam to stretch with the garment without breaking. But it also trims the raw edge of seams and binds seams together instead of just attaching two fabric pieces.
On average, coverstitch machines cost a bit more than sergers. However, the exact cost will depend on several factors. How many needles and threads the machine uses, how advanced it is, what the brand and model is, and whether the machine is intended for home or industrial use can all affect the cost.
Machines that are more advanced or capable of doing more tend to cost more, as do industrial machines. In general, coverstitch machines start at around $500, while sergers start at a more affordable $200. However, you may find a model of each machine that is cheaper or on sale, as well as machines of each type that can cost over $1,000.
Coverstitch vs Sewing Machine
Coverstitch machines and sewing machines look pretty similar. So how do these two compare and do you need both of them? Essentially, if you’re going to become a sewist, you need a sewing machine at the bare minimum. Sewing machines are much more functional than a coverstitch and are used to create seams, attach zippers and create buttonholes.
Sewing machines also have more stitches that they use, including decorative ones. Coverstitch machines utilize one type of stitch and are only used for creating and finishing hems or adding decorative trim. A sewing machine can do all of this, so coverstitch machines aren’t a necessity, but rather they are a convenience to have to create better and stronger hems, especially on stretch fabrics. You do not need a coverstitch machine, but they are nice to have if you’re working with a lot of stretch and knit fabrics.
Do You Need Both a Coverstitch and a Serger?
So now you know the difference between a coverstitch and a serger, as well as the difference between a coverstitch and a sewing machine. The question is, do you need a coverstitch and a serger if you already have a sewing machine?
In all honesty, a sewing machine can do what a serger and coverstitch machine can do, as well as a lot more. So, if you’re just using a sewing machine to hem and repair personal garments or create basic projects as a hobby, you probably don’t need a coverstitch machine or a serger.
However, if you’re a fashion designer or want to start your own sewing, tailoring, or clothing repair business, it’s a good idea to have at least one of these machines. These machines make creating seams and hems more convenient and efficient, as well as more professional looking. So, it may be a good idea to have both if you’re working on more versatile projects or with many stretchy or knit fabrics.
If you’re only going to purchase one, the serger may be the better choice because it can sew seams quickly. The coverstitch is just a bonus if you can afford it. And if you do want both, there are combination serger and coverstitch machines, but you will have to take time to set them up differently for each function. So, many people choose to buy them separately.
Popular Coverstitch Machine Models
Janome Cover Pro 1000CPX Coverstitch MachineThe Janome Cover Pro 1000CPX is a very popular coverstitch machine from one of the most well-known and reputable sewing machine brands.
It’s very lightweight and portable, only weighing 15 pounds. This machine uses up to 3 needles and 4 threads and can create a triple coverstitch. It also has both standard and narrow stitch widths and stitches up to 1,000 stitches per minute.
This bundle also comes with two packs of needles, an adjustable seam guide, and a needle threader for an affordable price.
Brother 2340CV Coverstitch MachineThe Brother 2340CV is another popular coverstitch model that is slightly more affordable.
This one uses 3 needles and can do 2/3/4 thread cover stitches with easy, color-coded threading. It also does standard and narrow stitches, but this model stitches up to 1,100 stitches per minute.
It’s smaller but weighs a bit more than the Janome model. You also get two snap-on presser feet, a standard foot, plus a hem sewing foot.
Popular Serger Models
Brother ST4031HD SergerThe Brother ST4031HD serger is a very affordable model that is great for home and professional use.
Even though it has a sturdy metal frame, it weighs less than 18 pounds, so it’s very lightweight and small enough to transport.
It can work with either 3 or 4 threads and stitches at speeds of up to 1,300 stitches per minute. It also comes with 3 serger feet. Overall, this machine is very durable and easy to use.
Juki MO654DE SergerThe Juki MO654DE serger is slightly more expensive and weighs a bit more than the
Brother model, but it is similar in size as far as the dimensions go. This serger can sew with up to 4 threads, and it’s incredibly fast, stitching with speeds up to 1,500 stitches per minute.
The maximum stitch length it can create is 4 mm, but it’s great for sewing lightweight, medium-weight, and heavy weight fabric.
Best Coverstitch Serger Combo
Juki MO-735 5-Thread Serger and Coverstitch MachineThe Juki MO-735 5-thread serger and coverstitch machine is pricey. But it’s high quality and if you have the budget for it, it will do both functions and is a great option if you’re short on space because it prevents you from buying two separate machines.
It can handle all types of fabrics and fabric weights, sew with up to 5 threads at once, and do a 2 or 3-needle coverstitch.
It also sews at speeds of up to 1,500 stitches per minute. It’s also very compact, making it easy to transport and space-saving.
So, now you know the difference between a coverstitch and a serger. Cover stitches are convenient for finishing hems, while sergers are ideal for creating seams quickly and professionally. If you’re interested in becoming a professional sewist, having both of these machines in your arsenal is a good idea. And hopefully, you found a model in here that you’re interested in also trying, although there are plenty of great choices out there.