If you make a lot of garments and want a top quality and professional looking finish every time then owning the best overlocker is a must. Overlockers have a reputation for been more demanding than a standard sewing machine as well as been more expensive. With that been said, you may well be wondering, are they worth the expense? In my opinion and probably that of anyone who owns one, they most certainly are.
There is a reason an overlocker sewing machine was used on almost every piece of clothing you are wearing right now and its because they are the best machine for doing the job to a high standard. As much as I love sewing machines they just aren’t capable of achieving the same results as an overlocker. One prime example is when working with stretch fabrics, if you have ever tried making an item of clothing with a stretch fabric on a sewing machine you will know exactly what I am talking about.
In this guide I will be explaining everything you need to know about overlockers as well as bringing you the top 5 best overlockers in the review section. For those in a hurry to buy an overlocker you can compare my top 5 recommendations in the comparison table below.
|Brother M343D||View Prices|
|Brother 3034D||View Prices|
|Singer 14HD854 Pro||View Prices|
|Janome 9300DX||View Prices|
|Elna 660 Pro||View Prices|
Best Overlockers Buying Guide
Before buying an overlocker there is quite a bit of information worth knowing first. Knowing as much as you can about overlockers before purchasing one will help to ensure you buy the best model for your needs.
What Is An Overlocker & How Do Overlockers Work?
Overlockers were first used in an industrial setting as a quick and reliable way of sewing over the edges of clothing to give them a high-quality and very durable finish. Furthermore, they are also used for seaming, hemming, flatlocking and for giving a decorative edging. Due to technological advancements they are now far more compact and affordable than they used to be, allowing people to have one in their own home.
When compared against a sewing machine there are quite a few noticeable differences. In addition to been faster at sewing they also come with a built-in blade which trims off the excess seam allowance as you go, which again is more time efficient than having to do this task with scissors.
Instead of the bobbins that a lockstitch sewing machine uses an overlocker uses loopers which are fed by spools of thread. The loopers create thread loops which pass from the needle thread to the edges of the fabric all while containing the edges within the seam.
How Many Threads Do I Need?
An overlocker can use up to 5 different spools of thread to create a stitch. The amount of threads an overlocker has can vary depending on the model. Most models come with 4 threads. With the 5-thread overlockers costing considerably more, the question to ask yourself is “do i really need 5 threads”. Generally speaking most sewers rarely use the 5th thread on an overlocker.
Below you can find each individual thread formation and what they are most commonly used for.
1-Thread Overlock Stitch – If you do a lot of seaming then you will be using the 1-thread overlock stitch quite often as it is very good for both butt-seaming and end-to-end seaming.
2-Thread Overlock Stitch – There are a good number of uses for a 2-thread overlock stitch, one of my particular favourites is for giving sewing projects a very good edge finish. Aside from this they are also good for attaching elastic and lace, stitching flatlock seems and everyday hemming.
3-Thread Overlock Stitch – These are often used for seaming but they lack the strength of using 4 threads. They do give a bit more in terms of flexibility than a 4-thread which is good, i would avoid using on high-stress areas though.
4-Thread Overlock Stitch – This is the most common used overlock stitch and for good reason. One of the best qualities of this stitch is its strength and the fact it has some flexibility to it. Ideal for seaming and giving a sturdy finish on woven fabrics, you will be using this one a lot.
5-Thread Overlock/Safety Stitch – The most expensive overlockers for sale are the ones with 5 threads. These are capable of sewing a 5-thread safety stitch which is perfect for creating very strong seams on heavier fabrics such as denim.
The differential feed is a very useful feature of an overlocker. Overlockers come with two feed dogs as opposed to the one of a sewing machine. The purpose of having two feed dogs is that it allows you to set the differential feed rate of each one to a different speed. For example, you could set the differential feed to 1 on both of the feed dogs, which would result in both moving at the same speed, if you then changed one of the feed dogs to a higher setting it would feed fabric through on the selected feed dog at a faster rate. This is particularly useful when working with stretchy fabrics and for creating different effects such as crinkling or gathering.
Different Types Of Overlocker Stitches
- Narrow Hem
- Rolled Hem
Top 5 Overlocker Recommendations
Now that you know all you pretty much need to know about buying an overlocker, its time to take a look at my top 5 recommendations. In my top 5 choices i have included the best overlockers at different budgets so there should be something in there for everyone.
Brother M343D Overlocker
When it comes to overlockers Brother are one of the most popular brands in the UK. The brother M343D is one of their best-selling models and is a great affordable option for those on a budget.
In terms of stitches it has 3- and 4- thread overlock stitches and can do narrow overlock and rolled hem stitches. In addition there is the option to buy additional presser feet which will allow for blind hemming and pin tucking.
One very positive feature is the Brother F.A.S.T lower looper threading system which makes the M343D one of the easiest overlockers to thread. For beginners it comes with an instructional DVD which will show you how to use the machine and inform you about the different stitches and their uses.
For a very good price the M343D has all the features necessary to do the job to a very good standard. The only drawback is that it is quite loud when in use.
Brother 3034D Overlocker
Another very popular overlocker from the Brother brand and this time its the Brother 3034D. With excellent customer feedback on Amazon as well as been their choice model it comes with some good credentials.
When compared against the Brother M343D there isn’t much that seperates the two to be honest. In terms of stitches and sewing features they are exactly the same. The main differences are that this model is slightly better in terms of quality and it comes with a scrap catcher.
There is another version of the 3034D which is called the 3034DWT, this model features a fairly large extension table.
Singer 14HD854 Pro Speed Overlock Machine
The Singer 14HD854 has a reputation for producing perfect seams on all types of fabric. Due to its adjustability an even feed is guaranteed with no puckering at all. From blind hems and rolled hems to flatlocking and finishing raw edges, it can do them all to a very high standard.
Featuring a powerful motor it makes lightwork of sewing heavier fabrics and is perfect for stretch fabrics. The free arm makes sewing them hard to reach areas such as cuffs and armholes a breeze.
Weighing in at 7.4Kg it is one of the heaviest models in our overlocker reviews. This is a good sign, as an heavy overlocker is a good indicator of model made with top quality metal components rather than plastic.
Janome 9300DX Overlocker
The Janome 9300DX is a very sturdy yet compact overlocker with some very good features to it. Consequently like all of the best models it has very good feedback from previous customers which is always a good sign.
Offering 3 or 4 thread capabilituies the stitch performance of the 9300DX is of very high-quality ensuring a professional finish. It features an adjustable cutting width of between 2.0 to 5.7 mm and uses standard ball point needles.
The extra-high presser foot it comes with is a welcome addition and makes working with thicker fabrics far more manageable.
Out of the box it comes already threaded which is a bonus due to the fact that overlockers are notorious for been hard to thread. Consequently it also comes with colour coded paths to make threading easier.
With a weight of 8 Kg the Janome 9300DX is a very sturdy and robust machine. With everything needed to start and finish any dressmaking or home decor project it comes highly recommended.
Elna 660 Pro Overlocker
The Elna 660 Pro is the most expensive overlocker in my recommendations and it comes with some excellent features and specifications.
With a choice of 2, 3 or 4 threads it is a versatile model with a wide range of sewing applications. In terms of stitches there are a lot of them making this the only overlocker you may ever need to buy.
For ease of use it comes with a built-in referance panel making using it a bit simpler. Again for ease of use it features a self-threading lower looper, which in my opinion is a God send, as is the tilting needle clamp, which means you can change needles in a jiffy.
This is a great little machine and it would be hard to do it justice in a few short sentences. For a full run down of its features check out my review of the Elna 660 Pro.
When it comes to achieving the best results possible an overlocker is an essential piece of sewing equipment. There are many brands and models to choose from when buying with some typically been better and offering more value for money than others. Hopefully, with the help of my best overlocker buying guide i have clarified a lot of the mystery surrounding overlockers for those that are not familiar with them and their features.
If you think I have missed any information out or maybe you know of a model that is worthy of a place in my top 5 list, then please comment below.
Do you have an overlocker? What model is it? If you have anything to share then please comment below. I love hearing like minded peoples thoughts about everything associated with sewing!