To make these Halloween bags, I used all three machines:
1) embroidered the orange canvas fabric
2) serged the raw edges
3) sewed in handles and the black and white lining
Sergers, also called overcast machines, finish raw edges. They are particularly useful for finishing the raw edges of knits. Look inside any t-shirt and you will see a serged raw edge on the sides as well as a bottom hem that has then been turned back and sewn down - probably with what's called a cover stitch. A cover stitch looks like two rows of parallel stitching from one side, and a zig-zag of several threads on the back. On an overcast seam, the machine cuts the fabric with a little blade and then does a sort of zig-zag-like stitch using 3 or 4 threads around the cut edge. Both seam finishes are designed to protect the seam from fraying or raveling. It's especially useful for knit fabrics of all kinds and woven fabrics that fray, shred, or ravel.
|Babylock makes sergers with auto-threading capabilities.|
|This pillow was made entirely with my serger.|
As an example of what a serger is really capable of, I recently made a pillow entirely with my serger. I used the cover stitch function to decorate a central satin panel. I used overlocking to insert lace to some dupioni silk, then attached them to the satin. I also added pre-made piping using a piping foot. On the back, there's a zipper (again, added with my Babylock serger). If I had wanted to, I could have easily ruffled the lace with my machine as well.
Sometimes I have trouble deciding whether I love my serger or my embroidery machine best.