Sewing Homes

Do You Need An Overlocker And A Sewing Machine?

In the world of sewing, having the right tools is essential for achieving professional results. Two key tools that often come up in discussions are the overlocker and the sewing machine. But do you really need both? Let’s explore the role of these machines and how they can enhance your sewing experience.

The overlocker and sewing machine each serve a unique purpose in the sewing process. The sewing machine, with its versatile stitching options, allows for precise construction of garments, quilts, and other sewn items. It has been a staple in the sewing world for centuries, offering unmatched control and precision.

Do you need an overlocker and a sewing machine

The Versatility of Overlockers and Sewing Machines:

When it comes to sewing, having the right tools can make all the difference. Two essential machines that every sewing enthusiast considers are overlockers and sewing machines. While both machines serve different purposes, they complement each other in many ways. In this article, we will explore the question: Do you need an overlocker and a sewing machine? Let’s dive in and discover the versatility of these two machines!

An overlocker, also known as a serger, is primarily used for finishing raw edges and creating professional-looking seams. It trims the fabric edges, encloses them with thread, and creates a neat and secure finish. On the other hand, a sewing machine is a versatile machine that can perform a wide range of stitches and sewing techniques, such as garment construction, quilting, and decorative stitching.

While an overlocker and a sewing machine can perform some similar tasks, they have distinct roles in the sewing process. Understanding the functions and capabilities of each machine will help you determine if you need both or if one will suffice for your sewing projects.

The Functions of an Overlocker

An overlocker is designed to create finished edges and professional-looking seams. Here are some of the key functions and features of an overlocker:

  • Trimming and neatening fabric edges
  • Overcasting to prevent fraying
  • Sewing stretch fabrics with specialized stretch stitches
  • Creating flatlock and rolled hem seams for decorative finishes
  • Quick and efficient seam sewing

An overlocker is particularly useful when working with knit fabrics, as it provides stretch and durability to the seams. It can also handle thick fabric layers, making it ideal for sewing heavy-duty projects like upholstery or denim. The speed and precision of an overlocker make it a valuable addition to any sewing room.

The Functions of a Sewing Machine

A sewing machine is a versatile tool that offers various stitching options and techniques. Here are some of the key functions and features of a sewing machine:

  • Straight stitching for garment construction and basic seams
  • Zigzag stitching for finishing edges and seam reinforcement
  • Buttonhole sewing for creating buttonholes
  • Blind hemming for invisible hems
  • Decorative stitches for unique embellishments

A sewing machine is essential for constructing garments, creating intricate designs, and adding decorative elements to your projects. It offers more control and precision when compared to an overlocker, making it suitable for detailed sewing tasks and techniques like quilting and embroidery.

Do You Need Both?

Now that we have explored the functions and capabilities of both the overlocker and sewing machine, the question remains: Do you need both machines? The answer depends on your sewing needs and preferences. Here are a few factors to consider:

1. Type of Projects

If you primarily work with knit fabrics or need to finish edges and seams quickly and efficiently, an overlocker is a must-have. It will save you time and produce professional results. However, if you enjoy various sewing projects, including garment construction, quilting, and decorative stitching, a sewing machine is essential. It offers more versatility and stitch options.

2. Budget

Consider your budget when deciding whether to invest in both machines. Overlockers tend to be more expensive than sewing machines due to their specialized functions. If budget is a constraint, prioritize based on your sewing needs. You can always start with a sewing machine and add an overlocker later as your skills and projects evolve.

3. Space and Storage

Another factor to consider is the available space in your sewing area and storage options. Overlockers are typically larger and bulkier than sewing machines. Ensure that you have adequate space to accommodate both machines if you decide to invest in both.

4. Skill Level

Your skill level in sewing also plays a role in determining whether you need both machines. If you are a beginner, it might be more manageable to start with a sewing machine and master its functionalities before adding an overlocker to your toolkit. However, if you are already comfortable with sewing and want to elevate your projects, an overlocker can enhance your skills and the quality of your finished garments.


Do You Need An Overlocker And A Sewing Machine?

Whether you need both an overlocker and a sewing machine depends on your sewing goals and priorities. Here’s a breakdown to help you decide:

Just Starting? Sewing Machine First

  • Versatility: A sewing machine handles a wider range of tasks, from basic stitching to buttonholes and zippers. It’s your “do-it-all” sewing buddy.
  • Cost-Effective: Sewing machines are generally more affordable than overlockers, making them perfect for beginners exploring their sewing interests.
  • Learning Curve: Mastering one machine first simplifies your initial learning journey.

Ready to Level Up? Consider an Overlocker

  • Professional Finish: Overlockers trim raw edges while simultaneously stitching, creating a clean and polished look ideal for knits and woven fabrics.
  • Speed & Efficiency: They excel at sewing long seams quickly and consistently, saving you time and effort.
  • Specialized Tasks: If you primarily work with knits or plan to make lots of garments, an overlocker becomes valuable for its speed and specialized functions.

But Remember

  • Overlockers can’t do everything: They rely on the sewing machine for tasks like buttonholes, zippers, and general construction.
  • Think big picture: If you envision complex projects requiring both finishes, investing in both machines eventually might be wise.


  • Start with the essentials: A sewing machine will equip you for most sewing projects.
  • Add an overlocker as your skills and passion grow: It elevates your finishing level and efficiency for specific projects.
  • Do your research: Compare functionalities and prices of different machines to find the best fit for your budget and needs.


Difference between Overlocker vs sewing machine

While both overlockers and sewing machines are essential tools for sewing enthusiasts, they serve different purposes and have distinct features. Here’s a breakdown of their key differences:


  • Sewing Machine: A jack-of-all-trades, designed for various sewing tasks like creating seams, attaching zippers, sewing buttonholes, and embellishing with decorative stitches.
  • Overlocker: A specialist, focused on finishing fabric edges professionally. It trims the raw edge as it sews, preventing fraying and creating a neat, polished look. While some advanced models offer additional decorative stitches, their primary function remains edge finishing.


  • Sewing Machine: Offers a wide variety of stitches, from straight and zigzag to decorative patterns and specific stitches for tasks like buttonholes and elastic casings.
  • Overlocker: Primarily utilizes overlock stitches, which interlock threads to create a strong, closed seam while trimming the fabric edge. Some high-end models might offer additional decorative overlock stitch variations.


  • Sewing Machine: Generally operates at a slower speed, allowing for precise control and intricate work.
  • Overlocker: Often runs significantly faster, making it ideal for sewing long seams efficiently, particularly on stretchy fabrics like knits.

Fabric Types

  • Sewing Machine: Capable of handling various fabrics, from lightweight silks to upholstery-weight canvas.
  • Overlocker: Primarily designed for knit fabrics and lightweight wovens due to its edge-trimming functionality. Using it on heavyweight fabrics can be challenging.

Learning Curve

  • Sewing Machine: Has a wider range of functions and techniques to learn, potentially requiring a steeper learning curve for beginners.
  • Overlocker: Has a more focused function, making it easier to master its specific operation. However, it still requires understanding fabric types, tension adjustments, and threading techniques.


  • Sewing Machine: Generally more affordable than overlockers, especially basic models.
  • Overlocker: Typically more expensive due to its specialized purpose and additional features.

In essence

  • Choose a sewing machine if you’re starting out, need versatility for different projects, or favor personalized touches with decorative stitches.
  • Consider an overlocker if you frequently work with knits, prioritize professional-looking finished edges, and value speed for large projects.
  • Ideally, own both for maximum sewing prowess and tackle any project with confidence!

The best choice depends on your individual needs and sewing goals. Research different models, consider your budget, and don’t hesitate to seek guidance from experienced sawists for personalized recommendations.



Ultimately, whether you need an overlocker, a sewing machine, or both depends on your sewing preferences, projects, and space constraints. If you work primarily with knit fabrics or need professional finishes, an overlocker is highly recommended.

A sewing machine, on the other hand, offers versatility and a wide range of stitching options for various sewing techniques.


Key Takeaways

  • An overlocker and a sewing machine are both useful tools for anyone interested in sewing.
  • While a sewing machine is versatile and can handle a wide range of sewing tasks, an overlocker excels at finishing edges and creating professional-looking seams.
  • Both machines have different functions and can complement each other in a sewing project.
  • If you’re a beginner or on a budget, a sewing machine is a great starting point, but as you gain more experience and undertake more complex projects, adding an overlocker to your arsenal can significantly enhance your sewing abilities.
  • Ultimately, the need for an overlocker and a sewing machine depends on your sewing goals and the type of projects you plan to undertake.

Read also related topics: How To Shorten Coat Sleeves Without Sewing?

To Quilt A Large Quilt On The Regular Sewing Machine?

How To Use Quick Stitch Sewing AWL?

How To Dispose Of A Sewing Machine?

And How To Organize A Sewing Room On A Budget?


Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some common questions and answers about using an overlocker and a sewing machine:

Can I use an overlocker instead of a sewing machine?

While an overlocker can be a valuable tool in your sewing arsenal, it is not a substitute for a sewing machine. Overlockers are designed for finishing edges, creating professional-looking seams, and working with stretchy fabrics.

A sewing machine is essential for various other sewing tasks, including constructing garments, inserting zippers, attaching buttons, and making precise stitching on non-stretch fabrics. The two machines complement each other and are often used in combination to achieve the best results.

What are the advantages of using an overlocker and a sewing machine together?

By using an overlocker and a sewing machine together, you can harness the unique strengths of each machine. The overlocker excels at creating durable and professional-looking seams, preventing fabric fraying, and handling stretchy fabrics. On the other hand, a sewing machine allows you to perform a wide range of stitching techniques, create decorative stitches, and work with non-stretch fabrics.

With both machines at your disposal, you have the versatility to tackle different sewing projects and achieve high-quality results. You can use the overlocker to finish edges and seams before using the sewing machine to construct the garment and add intricate details.

Can I use a sewing machine for overlocking?

While a sewing machine can be used for overlocking in some cases, it is not a true substitute for an overlocker. Overlockers have specialized features, such as multiple thread cones, differential feed, and cutting blades, that enable them to professional-grade overlock stitches.

While a sewing machine can create a similar stitch, it may not have the same strength, neatness, or efficiency as an overlocker. If you frequently work with knit fabrics or need the specific benefits of an overlocker, it is recommended to invest in a dedicated overlocker machine.

Can I sew stretchy fabrics with just a sewing machine?

Yes, you can sew stretchy fabrics with just a sewing machine. While a sewing machine is not specifically designed for stretchy fabrics like an overlocker, it has stitch settings and techniques that can accommodate different types of stretch fabrics.

You can use different types of stitches, such as a stretch stitch or a zigzag stitch, which allow the fabric to stretch without breaking the stitches. It is essential to use a ballpoint needle, which is designed for knit fabrics, to prevent snagging and skipped stitches.

Do beginners need both an overlocker and a sewing machine?

For beginners, it is not necessary to have both an overlocker and a sewing machine right away. A sewing machine alone can serve as an excellent starting point for learning fundamental sewing techniques, constructing garments, and practicing various stitches.

As you advance in your sewing skills and start working with different types of fabrics and projects, the addition of an overlocker can enhance the quality and durability of your finished garments. It is recommended to gradually introduce an overlocker into your sewing toolkit as you gain more experience and understand the specific benefits it offers.

Do you REALLY need a serger???


Final Note

To sum up, an overlocker and a sewing machine are both useful tools for different purposes in sewing. While a sewing machine is essential for basic sewing tasks, such as creating seams and hemming, an overlocker serves to finish edges and sew stretchy fabrics more effectively. Although having both machines can enhance your sewing experience, it ultimately depends on your specific needs and the type of projects you plan to undertake.

Consider your sewing goals, budget, and available space before deciding whether to invest in both machines or prioritize one over the other. If you’re a beginner or have limited resources, starting with a sewing machine is a practical choice. Remember to practice proper safety precautions and always choose the right tool for the job. 

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