Jenny sitting next to Janome 234XL overlocker
16 May

Written by Jenny Drew

Choosing the best overlocker for your sewing style and your budget!

Domestic overlockers have come A LONG WAY in recent years which is great if you know what you’re looking for but maybe not so great if you’re looking for your first one and drowning in options! I am going to give you my current best buys and who they are suitable for with something for every budget!

Investing in an overlocker (also known as a serger) is a fantastic step towards professional-quality sewing. It honestly makes your sewing life much easier, particularly if you are a dressmaker! Overlockers can seem daunting at first, but with the right advice, you’ll find one that suits your needs and budget.

Here army top tips to finding the perfect overlocker match ❤️

1. Understand Your Needs

Before purchasing an overlocker, assess what you need it for. Are you looking to finish seams, sew knits, or create decorative edges? Do you need it to be able to handle heavier weight fabrics and knits? Do you need something super easy to thread because your eyesight/dexterity isn’t what it used to be? These are all things to consider. I would also ask you to look into the future to what your dream sewing journey is. You might be sewing very simple things now but what is the vision for your hobby? Overlockers are an investment so buying something that won’t hold you back is important.

2. What’s Your Budget?

Overlockers range from affordable to high-end prices. Establish your budget beforehand. While it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, there are some entry level overlockers from good brans that we just will not sell because in our opinion they cause more hassle (for us and for you) than it’s worth. It’s also worth saving up for the machine you really want rather than panic buying something cheap from the supermarket – I’m telling you those super market overlockers will make you want to chuck them out the window!

The minimum you’re likely to need to spend is around £350 to get something entry level but still decent, with the mid range ones sitting at around £550 and the top of the range setting you back around £2000 (but my goodness they are dreams machines!)

3. Ease of Use

As a first-time buyer, look for an overlocker that is user-friendly. Features like needle threaders, colour codes thread guides, and even air threading models can make your life so much easier

4. Stitch Options

Basic overlockers typically offer 3 or 4-thread stitching, which is suitable for most projects. If you plan to work with a variety of fabrics and techniques you might want to consider a machine that offers a range of stitches, including rolled hems, flatlock, and differential feed. All of these features ensure you’re unlikely to grow out of the machine and need to upgrade again a year down the line!

5. Brand and Support

Obviously I am biased, but buy from a company who have first hand experience of sewing whole garments using these machines. It’s easy to run scraps of fabric through machines all day long, and thread and rethread without ever actually spending any time using the machine. If you buy from dressmakers they have put these machines to the test, they have sewn whole garments on them, sewn fiddly cuffs that were awkward as arse, they have sewn light weight and heavy weight fabric and had to adjust differentiate feed with each new fabric, they’ve hit pins and replaced blades and been through the mill with these machines. So they are the best people to advise. You also want to buy from a company who you can go back to for advice. 

This is one of the reasons we have taken some models off the website because we want to hear how you’re getting on 6 months down the line and know you’ll be progressing with a great machine rather than hindered by a crap one!

So what machine should you be looking at? Here are my top 4 picks!

Entry level and Budget Friendly : The Janome 9300DX,  £329

Coming in at £329 the Janome 9300DX is a little work horse. Yes, it’s entry level but you won’t be struggling for hours to thread this or fiddling about with tension endlessly to try to get it right. It does a solid 3 and 4 thread overlocking stitch (which is your basic construction stitches) so will have you sewing up a stretchy storm in no time!

If you’re a more advanced sew-er you might find you outgrow this model quickly as, although it does have some other stitch options, they’re not as good as they are on the mid range and higher range models

Mid Ranger 1: The Janome 6234XL,  £549

This is the machine I personally had before I upgraded to the Babylock of dreams (the Acclaim). If air threading overlockers didn’t exist I would still have my trusty 6234XL as it did everything I needed it to do.

This machine is good for beginners with a big vision for the future (reach for the stars and you might hit the ceiling eh!) as you won’t outgrow it. It does a beautiful rolled hem (like a tiny cute overlocker stitch you might see on the edges of scarves), does 2, 3 and 4 thread overlocking, is sturdy enough to deal with heavier fabrics. You do need tweezers to thread it but once you’ve done it a few times it easy peasy(plus we can add you into our no go to overlocker pro course for free to help with the threading just ask!)

Mid Ranger 2 – The Babylock Enspire, £885

Babylock is the MUTHA of all the overlocker brands as they invented the domestic overlocker. They are the pioneer of the industry and have loads of patents and features that no other brand can use yet. The air thread technology was their invention (but the patent ran out allowing other brands to use it) but they have some other bits and bobs up their sleeve. 

Air threaders thread the upper and lower loopers without the need for tweezers and reading glasses. Upper and lower loopers are the super fiddly wee bits in the machine and the reason some people fear overlockers so much. No only does air thread technology make it easier to thread it also makes it much quicker as after threading the machine sew’s straight away without having to create a chain by cranking the handwheel. It’s the cheapest air threader on the market and an absolute work horse. It does everything you need it to and you most certainly won’t outgrow this wee beauty. 

Great for those of you who might struggle to thread an overlocker due to eyesight or dexterity, or for those who are impatient as heck and want to change your overlocker thread quickly and easily with no down time with tweezers and swear words!

High End – The Babylock Acclaim , £1895

This is the Ferrari of the overlocker world. Not only does it have air threading loopers like the Enspire, but it also has AIR THREADING NEEDLES and completely automatic tension! The air threading needles and the auto tension are completely unique to Babylock so you can’t get this with any other brand and BOY is it worth it.

The auto tension judges how thick your fabric is underneath the presser foot and adjusts the tension accordingly. This means you can go from sewing chiffon to sewing 2 layer of denim in th same breath without twiddling a single dial its amazing.

And the air threading needles I can’t even tell you how cool this feature is. It’s like two tiny little hoovers behind the eye of the needle pulling your thread through for you. Not only do you not need you glasses to thread this machine you can do it with your eyes shut standing on your head (???? ok maybe not).

Yes this machine is an investment but if you sew often let’s think about the cost per use, lets think about the time saved from not being frustrated at threading or change your thread colours, lets think about the time saved because you don’t have to trouble shoot every time you change to a different thickness of fabric. If you can afford this machine you will not regret it. It’s the one I use in all my online classes and personally and after my husband and my dog it’s my favourite thing in the house! ❤️

Until the end of May 2024 you’re also getting a free set of feet with the Babylock Enspire and Acclaim worth £145!