Fun with A Five Thread Serger

Updated: Sep 20, 2018

Take your sewing to the next level.

Add A Professional Touch with a Five Thread Serger

Why Buy a 5 Thread Serger Overlock Machine?

Look Inside your clothes for the answer.

Originally POSTED ON JUNE 13, 2013 BY NATALIE REINERS

Updated September 19, 2018 By Natalie Reiners


Using a traditional 3-4 thread serger on knit fabrics certainly adds a professional touch to every garment you sew. The 4-thread safety stitch stretches with the garment allowing it to move with you. Comparatively, the 5-thread safety stitch, which is so often found on woven garments, seems to lack the advantages that a 4-thread offers. After all, using a combination of the 3-thread overlock stitch and a basic straight stitch on your sewing machine it is simple to create a Mock Safety Stitch, so why bother to buy a five thread? Making such a purchase is a luxury for the sewing room that allows sewists to recreate the exact stitch used in the Fashion Industry. The chain stitch, which uses 2 of the 5 threads, is stronger than a lock stitch (provided that it is properly secured at both ends) and can be used in quilting, home decor as well as garment construction. Furthermore, the beautiful coverstitch, the true hallmark of luxe athletic apparel can be made on many of these machines.


When I originally wrote this article, in 2013 I opted for the Singer Pro 5. It was a good choice for the money but I ultimately chose to switch to a coverhem only machine and a pair of sergers which saves me time. Even then I had a Juki MO-51 that remained set up as a 4 thread because I found that the time it took to reconfigure the machine was frustrating. Still, 5-threads remain a staple for the sewing room especially for those looking to get that perfect touch. Here is my take on shopping for one.


The Best Five Thread Serger/Overlock Machines for the Money

Picking a new serger/overlock machine can be an intimidating process. These machines start at $500 so it’s no small investment in your sewing room. With that much (and up to $2000) on the line it is no wonder that so many people seek out the advice of those who already own these machines. There is a great website: http://sewing.patternreview.com/ that has thousands of reviews for sewing machines, sergers and patterns and it was my one top places to read about machines. To narrow that down, here are the results of my research when looking to purchase a machine of my own.When making a decision, one needs to bear in mind that there are several manufacturers to choose from and they all have at least one machine that has great reviews. However, there are names that seem to stand out from the crowd for consistently delivering a solid machine so here is my take on it.


Under $600:



  • Singer Pro 5 14T968DC

Affordability: This machine comes with 6 feet and goes for $499 from Amazon.com.When it comes to price, it can’t be beat. Score: 5/5


Built-in Stitches: Double Chain Stitch, 2-Thread Wrapped Edge Overlock, 2-Thread Overlock, 3-Thread Overlock, 3-Thread Ultra-Stretch Mock Safety Stitch, 4-Thread Ultra-Stretch Mock Safety Stitch, 4-Thread Safety Stitch, 5-Thread Safety Stitch (Wide & Narrow), Cover Hem Stitch (Wide & Narrow), Triple Cover Hem Stitch, 3-Thread Rolled Hem. I’m docking 1.5 points because it it a bit of work to change from serger mode to coverstitch. Score: 3.5/5

Flexibility: With 6 feet out of the box the Singer Pro 5  14T968DC is all set to do a multitude of cool tasks. Add on the fact that you can use the clear view feet from your local Viking dealer at a JoAnn store (they are generic Inspira feet that go with Huskylock S21, S25 and Pfaff 3.0 and 4.0 but fit the Singer perfectly) and the possibilities are fantastic. I also called the good folks at CuTex in NYC and found a collarette binder and a hem folder for under $40 for the pair. I am waiting for my shipment so I’ll update when I know more. For affordable attachments (the same attachments are over $300 for the Janome 900 and 1000 CX machines) and flexibility, this machine really rocks. Score: 5/5

Threading: Manual. This is the biggest complaint by far when reading the reviews. I actually found the machine to have relatively easy threading compared to some of the old sergers or industrial machines I am used to but I can definitely see the frustration from other owners. Score: 3/5


Tension: Automatic tension. I haven’t sewn anything that caused me to need to adjust this but other owners have struggled with heavy fabrics. Score: 4/5

Speed and Power: 1300 stitches per minute and great piercing power – not top end but good enough to most everyday serging. Score: 4/5

Strength: I made this separate from power because although the machine is very powerful, the presser foot does not lift up very high so you can’t get the full strength out of the machine. Score: 3/5


Juki MO-655



Affordability: This machine goes for $529 from HSN.com. If you want to really get the best bang for the buck then Allbrands.com has it for $599 with all 8 feet, a carry case, 100 organ needles for the machine, the electronic workbook and a 10 year warrantee from the dealer which is a lot better than 30 days from Amazon.com. When it comes to price, this is a great value. Score: 5/5

Built-in Stitches:

2-Thread Chain Stitch 5-Thread Safety Stitch4-Thread Overlock 3-Thread Flatlock 3-Thread Narrow Overlock 3-Thread Overlock 3-Thread Rolled Hem 2-Thread Rolled Hem 2-Thread Overcast

Flexibility: With 8 feet included, this machine has all the expansion capabilities most sewers will use on a overlock machine. The big negative here is that is does not do a cover stitch so many of the stitches that can be done on other machines in this category are inaccessible. Score: 3.5/5

Threading: Manual. The Juki has a looper release mechanism making it slightly easier to thread than the Singer Score: 3.5/5

Tension: Manual. This and the threading were the two issues in the reviews I read.   Score: 3.5/5

Speed and Power: 1500 stitches per minute and great piercing power.It’s a Juki. It’s a beast.  Score: 5/5

Strength: The extra high lift on the foot gives you full access to all the machine can do. Score: 5/5


The other machine in this category is the BabyLock Diana. When looking online I had to ask for owners to provide input since I could not find many reviews. Also, when I called the local dealer they said they do not carry that machine. I asked why and was told that BabyLock is known for their “better” machines and the Diana did not fit into that category. The dealer would know I guess.



Under $1000

I am going to put the Huskylock S21 and the Pfaff 3.0 in the same category since they are essentially the same machine but rebranded. They are also nearly the same as the Singer Pro 5 but are a little easier to thread and are backed by dealer service. The price range on these is $899-$999 based on online reviews. When I went to demo one at the Viking store I was quoted $1099. Perhaps a little negotiating can help. The big benefit here is that they have auto tension release. It really does save time and annoyance not to have to crank the fly wheel backwards just to release the thread.


I also love the additional space to the right of the needle and the Pfaff has an extension table that can add stability.





  • Juki MO-755




This was Juki’s top of the line domestic serger before the air threading line emerged. And it has gotten some of the best reviews online – for very good reasons. Top of the list? It is a Juki and is extremely powerful. Reviews consistently recorded the ability to handle pretty much anything you can throw at it as a huge plus.

Flexibility: The 8 feet for the MO-655 also fit this machine and a smart negotiator will either get them thrown in or try to get a discount to purchase them for under $100. The really cool thing is that some of the accessories for Juki’s industrial cover stitch machines fit this model so you can save big bucks when it comes time to stock up on all the little extras. Score: 5/5

Threading: Manual – lay in. The 7 series Juki also has a looper release mechanism making it fairly easy to thread once you get the hang of it. The big deal is – again – switching from cover stitch to serger. Score: 4/5

Tension: Manual.  Score: 3.5/5

Speed and Power: 1500 stitches per minute and great piercing power.It’s a Juki. It’s a beast.  Score: 5/5

Strength: The extra high lift on the foot gives you full access to all the machine can do. Score: 5/5

Stitches:

4-thread coverstitch, wide (5.0 mm) 3-thread coverstitch, wide (5.0 mm)/narrow (2.5mm) 2-thread chainstitch seam, top and bottom 5-thread safety seam, wide 4-thread overlock seam 3-thread overlock seam, wide/narrow 3-thread super-stretch 3-thread flatlock seam 3-thread Blank Stitch, wide/narrow 3-thread rolled seam 3-thread rolled hem 2-thread overlock seaM, wide/narrow 2-thread flatlock seam, wide/narrow 2-thread rolled hem


Over $1000



At this price point you are pretty much looking at a Janome or a BabyLock for the best value to this writer. The BabyLock top of the line Evolution with up to 8 threads features the auto threading system which basically threads the machine for you. A cool perk if you don’t mind spending the extra cash. BabyLock machines consistently get high praise from their owners and with a failure rate of less than 1%, according to the BabyLock website, it’s money well spent for a machine that will last for many years.


Affordability: At $1499 MSRP to over $2000 these machines are well out of the reach of many sewers. Score 3.5/5

Built-in Stitches: 87 stitch functions including the wave stitch. It’s cute but not something that I can see myself using. Machines in the lower price ranges have specialty feet that deliver a wavy stitch for dance costumes etc. Still, with 87 stitches BabyLock wins this category hands down. Score 5/5

Flexibility: It can cover stitch and overlock at the same time. Need I say more? The accessories are really pricey though. Well worth it if you have made the investment and may reviews share the joy of using one of the 24 attachments available. You can also chain stitch off the fabric and it has auto tension release for the threads. Score: 5/5

Threading: ExtraordinAir.  Owners rave about it. I don’t blame them. Score: 5/5

Tension: Automatic tension. I haven’t sewn anything that caused me to need to adjust this but other owners have struggled with heavy fabrics. Score: 4/5

Speed and Power: 1500 stitches per minute and great piercing power. Score: 5/5

Strength: No problems reported by owners in reviews that I read.  Score: 5/5


If you are in the market for a new five thread the best advice is to take your time. Shop around and try as many machines as you can. Five thread overlock machines are finicky and need to be a good fit to their owners. Bonding with them can take time so try to be patient once you get yours home. Look for good YouTube videos that are made by the manufacturer to help you get started. I am sure that once you experience having a 5-thread, you will be happy that you made your purchase!



Happy Serging!


Natalie

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