What Does An Overlocker Do?

  • By: joleenllorence
  • Date: May 29, 2023
  • Time to read: 11 min.

A serger is also referred to as a serger, is a special machine for sewing that creates an attractive edge that prevents fabric from fraying or unraveling. If you’re just beginning to learn about sewing, you may be thinking about what an overlocker is and what it does differently from a standard sewing machine. We’ll go over the functions of an overlocker, and how it functions. What is an overlocker? 

What Is An Overlocker?

What Do you think what is a overlocker? An overlocker is a kind of machine that cuts and completes edges of fabrics with a single step. It uses anywhere between two and eight threads in order to make stitches, based on the type of machine. Overlockers can stitch seams, trim edges and even overcast raw edges at once, which make it an ideal machine to sew.

Contrary to traditional lock stitching that utilizes the bobbin; overlock machines make use of loopers to create thread loops that the needle to travel through in a way similar to crocheting. Merrow’s first three-thread overedge machine was the precursor to modern over locking machines. 

Merrow Machine Company across time The two-four-thread machines, the one-thread butted seam, and the cutter-less sign edger were all invented by Merrow Machine Company, who also invented the first range of new.

History of an Overlock

Overlock stitching was developed in 1881 by the Merrow Machine Company in 1881. J. They came up with a variety of technological innovations that were employed in the operation of the mill. The first patent that Merrow filed was a machine to the crochet stitching. 

Today, the Merrow Machine Company still produces crochet machines that are based on the initial design. This technique was the basis for the development of the overlock device, which was invented through Joseph Merrow in 1889. 

The first mechanical innovation that featured overlocking was the subject of a substantial legal dispute between Willcox & Gibbs as well as the Merrow Machine Company in 1905, which confirmed the invention’s rights of ownership. The Merrow Machinery Company was the source.

How Does an Overlocker Work?

What does an overlocker do? The overlocker utilizes multiple threads to stitch over the border of the fabric, while cutting away the excess fabric. The machine’s cutting blade trims into the material to ensure it is cut to the length you want and the needles form an edge stitch of the fabric to stop fraying.

In 1964, a group of managers and engineers from a Japanese manufacturer redesign the industrial serger that they were making into a smaller and lighter model designed to be used at home. 

They pitched their idea to their employer and after being rejected; they resigned and created The Juki Corporation. This enabled the sewing community to create clothing with seams that were finished, similar to the ones used by industrial garment makers. 

What can you do using an Overlocker?

Overlockers are often employed in garment making, specifically to sew knit fabrics. They are employed to make edges, make seams and even to gather fabrics. Overlockers can also be used to sew hems on clothing or create attractive edges for napkins or tablecloths. It’s also a great tool to sew stretchy fabrics such as spandex and Lycra. What does overlocker do? 

The other factor that can make stitches is the different feed feature, which permits feed to be adjusted. The extra-fast feed can create the ruffled “lettuce-leaf” result. Additionally, some merrowing equipment includes components that roll the edge of the fabric into the stitch to provide durability.

Do You Need or Want an Overlocker?

Do you require an overlocker? Perhaps not. Are you sure that need one? Yes! After you’ve tried one, you’ll never ever want to return to stitching your edges with an ordinary sewing machine!

Beginning and experienced sewers are benefited by tools that make sewing and help make professional outcomes easier. A majority of sewing machines feature an overlock or an overcast stitch within their stitch library so why should you have an overlocker? 

Benefits of Using An Overlocker 

One of the major benefits of an overlocker is that it gives an attractive and professional edge. In contrast to a traditional sewing machine, an overlocker is able to cut and finish edges of fabric simultaneously, cutting down time and resulting in the final product that looks as if it was designed by a skilled designer. 

Overlockers also allow you to sew stretchy fabrics faster and are a great option for those who prefer to sew dancewear or active wear. In the beginning of the 20th Century in the early 20th Century, the regions in Connecticut, USA and New York, USA were the areas of textile manufacturing as well as machine production. 

This is why a lot of overlock machine manufacturers established themselves within New York, USA and in the Northeastern United States. Consider how often you’ll use an overlocker. Get familiar with the different stitches, and then make time to visit at least two dealers. 

Let the dealer show you the equipment and explain the stitching capabilities. Try threading different models prior to purchasing. If you can, buy an overlocker from an agent so that you are able to attend classes, ask questions, and use the easy repair and maintenance service.

Check the basics of a serger, When and how do you use a serger, A very handy video by Katelynn Hegedus


Overlock stitches are classified several ways. The most fundamental classification is based on how many threads are used for the stitches. Overlock machines for industrial use are usually constructed in one, two 3, 4 or five thread configurations. Each of these configurations offers its own advantages and uses:

  • 1-thread: End to end sewing also known as “butt-seaming” of pieces for finishing of textiles.
  • 2-thread Two-thread: Finishing seams edges and sewing flatlock seams, especially on knit and woven fabrics, attaching elastics or lace to clothing, and hemming. It is the overlock stitch that is most commonly used.
  • 3-thread: sew pintucks making narrow rolled hems, finishing edges on fabric edge, decorative edgings and sewing fabric that is knit or woven.
  • 4-thread: decorative edging or finishing. Sewing high stress areas as well as mock safety stitches, which provide extra strength, while maintaining the flexibility.
  • 5-threads: In the manufacturing of apparel Safety stitches made with two needles produce a solid seam.

Other variables that affect the kinds of overlock stitches include the stitch eccentric and the width of the stitch. The stitch eccentric is a measure of the number of stitches per inch that is variable and may vary within a single machine. 

Different stitch eccentrics can create more or less solid and dense edges. The stitch width is the distance the stitch is in relation to the border of fabric. Fabrics that are lightweight usually require a larger stitch to avoid pulling.

There’s no need for one however they are useful to have. Also even though a sew-on machine will certainly be able to execute the overcast stitch it’s not able to cut fabric while it does not sew, nor it doesn’t make use of the heavier decorative threads that have become so sought-after. The majority of sewing machines can’t sew as fast as over lockers.

Ask Yourself:

  • Are you going to seam knit and jersey fabric? What about woven fabric?
  • Are you planning to make use of the machine for anything other than just edge finishing?
  • Do you want to try out decorative threads?
  • Do you want to embellish or decorate fabric using this flatlock stitch?
  • Do you plan to sew curtains, drapes or other large pieces that need neat seams?

What Is The Best Time To Not Be Able To Use My Overlocker?

There are some scenarios where you should not make use of your overlocker. It’s best to avoid using it immediately. In the beginning, make sure you haven’t examined the pattern for suitability. 

Instead, you can machine-take the pieces of fabric using the long stitch of your machine. After you’ve tested it and noted any changes that you’re not happy with, then remove the pieces and build using your overlocker. It will be easier to stitch when you stitch darts in a conventional manner. They can then be moved, if needed and are lighter.

For trousers and skirts made of heavier fabrics, you’ll need to keep a larger seam allowance to close the seams. You can stitch them using an ordinary machine and then neaten the edges of the raw fabric with an overlocker. 

You can also start by over locking the edges before you stitch on your sewing equipment. Make sure you don’t trim any edges for the sake of keeping your seam allowance to the fullest, or you think you might need to open the seams in the future. In addition, for inserting sleeves with set-ins using a standard machine, it will provide more control in case you’re unfamiliar with using an overlocker. You can however stitch raglan sleeves quickly using an overlocker.

How Can I Tell Which Seam Allowance I Should Make Use Of?

If you simply stitch one edge of your garment against the blade, you’ll get an extremely narrow seam allowance 4-7 millimeters. However, if you align the stitching line with the left needle, it will stitch precisely to the 1.5mm line, and the excess fabric will be cut off. 

The majority of machines have markings on the cover of the looper to guide you to where to position the edge of the fabric. If there aren’t any seam guide lines, apply the masking tape.

A standard sewing machine can only be used for areas with points that turn, seam allowances that are graded, and also to sew on buttons as well as creating buttonholes. The instruction manual for your machine will outline the types of stitches that are suitable for what fabrics. You can also invest in an excellent book on how to make clothes using an overlocker.

Lightweight or sheer fabrics like eveningwear can be sewn with only two threads. This is a wonderful light seam that is suitable for the purpose of the clothing. 

For garments that are designed for sportswear, or that will be subject to the most stress could be stitched with a four-thread safety seam, or stitched over again using sewing machines. Some machines do not have two threads, so be sure to be sure to verify before purchasing when you plan to work with ultra light fabric.

What Is The Best Quality Overlocker?

What does an overlocker sewing machine do? One of the most popular ‘makes of all time is Juki. They’ve been making some of the most reliable machineries for industrial use and also over lockers over the last 70 years. They are back on the market in the US, and employing their industrial technologies in the most durable and user-friendly machines on the market. 

Baby lock also has a stellar name for air-threading models, however they’re quite expensive. A side note: there are just four factories around the globe that manufacture lockers. Juki as well as Baby lock each has a manufacturing facility. 

Other lockers are produced by the two other factories. The other models I’d suggest include the Janome 6234XL that is the cheapest Janome which is of decent (i.e. durable) quality. Their entry-level model is called the 8002, and it is difficult to use and seems fragile in comparison. 

The most robust model for budget includes that of the Britannia 4DR, and at just PS300 offers an excellent value. Other than that, I’ve used the Elna 664 professional and am very impressed (but I went with the Juki 644D over it).

It isn’t possible to sew fabric with the help of an overlocker. This is among the most commonly-cited misconceptions and misunderstood functions. This is also a reason for the fact that many owners aren’t making use of their machines to their maximum potential. 

Can You Stitch Fabrics Made Of Woven Fabric Using An Overlocker?

Yes, you can stitch fabrics made of woven fabric using an overlocker. In fact, you can create an extremely strong and durable seam. You can achieve this feat with just one needle (if you choose to use the three-thread setup). 

If the seam gaps are wide in the middle, it’s because your needle thread(s) are loose. I’ve made clothes using over lockers for more than 30 years, and I usually make use of an overlocker just for seams on woven clothes like dresses and blouses. 

Be aware that woven clothes are designed to have more ease to them than knit ones. If the seam splits it means that the garment isn’t big enough. For instance, an overlocker is a great option to construct the majority of a traditional shirt with a reverent collar and cuffed sleeves that is set in. 

Frequently Asked Question

Should You Invest In An Overlocker?

The long answer is: No, you do not require an overlocker however, it can provide more professional look to many garments. If you design clothes you intend to sell then that’s a must! An overlocker makes stitches that are trim and wraps around the edges of your garment and also sews a seam at the same time.

Do You Have The Ability To Sew With An Overlocker?

They differ from the sewing machine in the sense that they’re not able to be used alone in stitching up an item. They’re best when used together with sewing machines in order to help with the more flexible tasks that sewing machines do.

Do I Need To Overlock Prior To And After I Sew?

A serged seam of overlock is the most efficient and practical method to finish the seam. You can choose to serge the edges prior to sewing it, serge it when you make the seam, or sew each edge in the middle when you sew the seam. Serged seams are suitable for seams of all kinds and fabrics.

Do Overlockers Require Special Needles?

Your overlocker is equipped with needles that are suitable for the machine and the manual will show you which to do. It is likely to be clearly marked in the device. The majority of modern over lockers utilize the same universal 130/705H needles which are utilized in normal sewing machines. They should be able to work on all kinds of fabrics.


An overlocker is a sewing machine that helps you get a professional appearance in your sewing projects. When you’re sewing clothing or for home decor the use of an overlocker will speed up the process and make it simpler while giving a professional look. You should consider buying an overlocker when you’re looking to elevate making your work more professional.

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