,Here at Jane White Tuition we love our overlockers! Read our ten top tips for buying an overlocker – helping you to make the right choice for you.
We know our machines inside out. You will get great advice about features, the difference between models and, importantly, after care support.
The price of machines is controlled by the manufacturer. They should be the same price wherever you look. The old adage – if it looks too good to be true it most probably is.
The internet is convenient but, if you can, book a face to face demonstration
Be ready with your questions. What to do sew? How often do you sew? What do you want to sew to extend your skills and garment types? What fabrics do you use the most?
We have the sewing experience and machine knowledge to match you to a machine. And no, we are not in the business of trying to sell you the most expensive machine!
2. What’s your budget?
From the entry level Janome to the top of the range Baby lock Gloria, there’s a model out there for you!
A knowledgable official retailer will help you find the best machine for you within your budget.
Sometimes you will find you don’t need to spend what you thought. But, perhaps by spending a little bit more will you get a machine that meets your current needs but you can grow into.
3. Think about what do you want from your overlocker when you buy?
If you are an enthusiastic or professional seamstress or you use a lot of jersey fabric, something like the Janome 6234XL or a baby lock air-threading, auto tension might be a good choice.
Don’t just think about what you make at the moment, the world is your overlocking oyster so look for a machine you can grow your skills with.
The baby lock range has additional accessories from binding to beading and beyond and is a powerhouse of professional sewing. Our sister site www.babylockshop.co.uk has lots more information.
4. Are you scared?
If you are new to overlocking we agree – they look scary! We promise they are not as bad as they look and we are here to help you buy and use an overlocker with confidence with our complimentary induction session and after-sales support.
If the thought of threading the loopers and needles, balancing the tension control and choosing the correct settings is putting you off nip down and read my top tip number 10 – get some tuition!
Also consider the baby lock range which all come with air threading loopers.
The baby lock overlockers have needle threaders. The Acclaim even air-threads the needles as well!
5. Overlocker Features
Modern overlockers have come a long way in the past few years. Overlockers can use up to 4 threads so if you see a three thread overlocker it’s old!
Some will do 2 thread flat locking, most will do 3 thread flat locking (often used in sportswear).
All will do 3 and 4 thread overlocking.
Narrow and rolled hemming in now standard.
Narrow and rolled hemming is now more automated than on earlier machines. Different models have different mechanisms but they all do the same thing – remove a stitch finger to decrease the width of the stitch and roll the fabric round encasing it in thread. The baby lock Enlighten, Acclaim, Ovation and Gloria will even do a decorative wave rolled hem!
The lower looper can be a fiddle to thread but with the invention of Janome’s easy lower looper threading mechanism, lower looper tantrums are a thing of the past.
The baby lock’s air threading looper systems make it even easier. A puff of air and the threads are through!
6. Overlocker brand?
There are a lot of brands to choose from. We only supply the brands we believe in!
You do, to some extent, get what you pay for but it is a very personal choice. It’s worth doing your research from other overlocker users.
Baby lock is the ‘Rolls Royce’ of the overlocker world. They are a higher price point but their build quality and ease of use are why www.babylockshop.co.uk for lots more information.
Those machines from the well known supermarkets – we’re going to be controversial here ….. but if that’s your budget that’s your budget. They will get you going even if some models are tricky to thread and use. However, they may not have a long life. That’s not just us dissing the supermarkets – it’s our experience from running lots of workshops with their frustrated owners.
7. New -v- second hand
I get asked this one a lot. I know a new machine comes with a price tag. Unfortunately, I have seen some nightmare second hand machines purchased (but not necessarily sold) in good faith.
You don’t know who has been using it, you don’t know how old it is and you don’t know what it has been used for. Have they loved and looked after it? Has it been thrashed?
Using a domestic overlocker for inappropriate fabrics and projects eg heavy upholstery (you need an industrial for this) won’t have done it any good.
One lady’s purchase from an internet selling site cost her so much to have it repaired that she could have bought a new one.
Some retailers offer reconditioned or ex-demonstration machines. They may come with a six or twelve month warranty from the seller (not the manufacturer) but a new Janome comes with a two year warranty and the baby lock brand a whopping four years!
8 If you can, try various models out first
Whichever brand you decide to buy, you are spending your hard earned cash. You deserve machine you want to love and enjoy using. Most people don’t buy a car without a test drive – it’s the same principle.
I have Janome and baby lock models at the studio for you to try. There is no pressure, take your time, consider your options and then make an informed decision
Take along the fabrics us use and ask lots of questions.
If the dealer won’t let you try them out – walk away.
9 Should I buy an overlocker, coverstitch or combination overlocker/coverstitch machine?
I frequently get asked about hemming as seen on jersey garments – the two or three parallel lines of stitching with a weave of thread on the other side. This is done by a coverstitch machine and is not achievable on an overlocker.
It is, however, what a coverstitch machine does.
A cover stitch machine is not just for hems though. It can be used to sew with a chain stitch. Use decorative threads for details. The baby lock cover stitch machines will take a range of professional accessories. From binding, hemming to belt loops and much more.
A whole new world of possibilities will open up if you have a combination overlocker/coverstitch machine. I think of it of three machines in one – an overlocker, a coverstitch machine and the more ‘industrial’ combination of chain safety stitch and overlocking as seen inside commercial garments.
Stitching the seam and neatening it in one one go is not just amazing but time saving too!
Having used a variety of makes of combination machine over the years, we can honestly say, baby lock is by far the easiest to convert between overlocking and cover stitch
10 Get some tuition!
“You would say that” we hear you exclaim!
I’ll tell you about the lovely Cheryl who came to a recent How to use an overlock workshop
Cheryl purchased her machine twenty years ago and it was still in the box. She was too scared to use it.
Thirty minutes in, Cheryl had her machine up and running and had changed the threads.
After a few short weeks Cheryl is hooked and is using it nearly every day. This is not an unusual story.
Jane take’s you gently through how an overlocker works, how to re-thread without tear, balancing the tension dials, three and four thread overlocking, needles and how to change them, threads, stroppy fabrics, jersey, building up to narrow and rolled hemming.
If you fancy a full day of skills book our Making clothes using the overlocker workshop.
Jersey Day is always popular. Learn how to match fabric to pattern and make something amazing in jersey.
For baby lock come along to the our baby lock workshops
You don’t need a machine for any of the workshops – you are welcome to use one of the studio machines
You don’t know where an overlocker workshop will lead you. Read Nicky’s inspiring story of how coming along to a session led her to running a successful business designing and making pole wear!
To arrange a free demonstration or book a workshop, please just get in touch.