Serger or coverstitch? This burning question pops up all the time among sewers trying to figure out if they should snag one machine over the other, or if they should go all out and grab both. To make the best choice you need to know what these machines are all about, what are their differences and what is the right machine for a certain task.

Let’s explore the ins and outs of sergers and coverstitch machines, compare their unique features and capabilities, and help you choose the perfect sewing partner (or two) to add to your creative corner.

What is a serger machine?

serger machine

A serger, also known as an overlocker, is the multitasking star of the sewing world. It’s a type of sewing machine that sews, trims, and finishes raw edges simultaneously. It is perfect for giving your seams a neat and tidy finish. The result is a strong, stretchy seam that’s perfect for knits, activewear, and a whole bunch of other fabrics.

What is a coverstitch machine?

coverstitch machine

A coverstitch machine helps you make your projects look sleek and professional. It specializes in creating professional-looking hems on garments, especially on stretchy fabrics like knits. It sews two (or more) parallel rows of stitches on the top side of the fabric while creating a looped stitch on the underside. This results in a flat, stretchy hem that’s perfect for T-shirts, leggings, and more.

Coverstitch vs. Serger: What are the differences?


The serger is designed to sew and finish seams in one step, providing a polished, professional appearance to your projects. It’s excellent for working with knits, activewear, and other fabrics that require a clean, strong, and stretchy seam. In addition to sewing seams, sergers can also create decorative edges, like rolled hems, adding a touch of flair to your creations.

The primary purpose of a coverstitch machine is to create professional-looking hems and topstitching on stretchy fabrics, such as knits. It ensures that your hems lie flat and have enough stretch, making it perfect for garments like T-shirts, leggings, and other knitwear. While it doesn’t sew seams like a serger, it adds a refined touch to your finished pieces.


overlock and coverstitch

Sergers create overlock stitches, which are a combination of a straight stitch and a looped stitch that encases the raw edges of the fabric. This type of stitch is both strong and stretchy, making it ideal for a variety of projects. As the serger sews, it trims excess fabric, leaving you with a clean and finished edge. Sergers usually have the option to sew with 3, 4, or 5 threads, depending on the machine model and desired stitch strength.

Coverstitch machines produce parallel rows of straight stitches on the top side of the fabric and a looped stitch on the underside. This stitching style creates a flat and stretchy hem, ensuring that your hems not only look professional but also maintain their stretch for a comfortable fit. Coverstitch machines typically use 2 or 3 needles and can sew with 2, 3, or 4 threads, depending on the machine and desired stitch appearance.

Trimming feature

The serger has a built-in knife (or sometimes two) that runs alongside the stitching area, slicing off the excess fabric as you sew. This leaves you with a beautifully finished edge without having to grab your scissors and trim the fabric yourself.

Coverstitch machines don’t have this trimming feature. They focus on creating professional-looking hems and topstitching, which don’t usually require the fabric to be trimmed.

What do they have in common?

As you can see, these machines are very different, but they are also similarly different form a regular sewing machine. If you have no idea what that means, here is a little run-through:

They are specialized machines

Both sergers and coverstitch machines are specialized sewing machines designed to handle specific tasks, like finishing seams or sewing hems, which are not easily achieved with a standard sewing machine.

serger and coverstitch

They are great for working with stretchy fabric

Both machines excel at working with stretchy fabrics, such as knits, making them great choices for sewing garments like T-shirts, activewear, and leggings.

They use multiple threads

Sergers and coverstitch machines use multiple threads to create their stitches, which contributes to the strength, stretch, and professional finish of their respective tasks.

They feature loopers

Both machines have loopers that work with the needles to form the stitches. The loopers help create the looped stitch on the underside of the fabric in both overlock (serger) and coverstitch stitches.

They have faster sewing speed

Sergers and coverstitch machines generally operate at a faster sewing speed than standard sewing machines, making it quicker and more efficient to finish seams and hems.

The learning curve is steep

Both machines have a steeper learning curve compared to a standard sewing machine, as they require threading multiple threads, adjusting tension settings, and getting familiar with their specific functions.

Do I need both?

Having both a serger and a coverstitch machine can be awesome, as they provide a professional finish, increased versatility, and improved efficiency for your sewing projects. They’re especially helpful when working with stretchy fabrics and allow for expanded creative possibilities. But whether you absolutely NEED them depends on the type of sewing projects you typically work on and your personal preferences. Here are a few points to consider:

  1. If you mainly sew garments, especially with stretchy fabrics like knits, having both machines can be beneficial. A serger will give you clean, finished seams, while a coverstitch machine will provide professional-looking hems and topstitching.
  2. If you’re a casual sewer or mainly work on projects that don’t require a lot of finishing, such as quilting or home decor, you might not need both machines. A standard sewing machine could handle most of your needs.
  3. If your budget or space is limited, you may need to prioritize which machine to invest in first. A serger is more versatile, as it can handle seam finishing, trimming, and decorative edges. A coverstitch machine is more specialized, focusing on hems and topstitching.
  4. Some sewing enthusiasts prefer to use a standard sewing machine for seam finishing and hemming, using techniques like zigzag stitches or twin needle stitching. If you’re comfortable with these methods and satisfied with the results, you might not need both a serger and a coverstitch machine.
  5. Some serger models include a coverstitch function, although these combo machines can be a bit more complex to use and may require additional time to switch between functions. If you’re interested in having both capabilities in one machine, this could be an option to consider.

Ultimately, it’s a personal decision based on your sewing needs, preferences, and budget. While having both machines can enhance your sewing projects, it’s not a requirement for every sewing enthusiast. Assess your projects, sewing goals, and available resources to make the best choice for you. Here is a list of that each of these types of machines can do, it might make the decision easier. Please note that these lists are not exhaustive, and there might be additional tasks that each machine can perform with specific attachments or settings.

Serger Coverstitch
  • Overlocking (clean seam finishing)
  • Seam construction (for knits and stretchy fabrics)
  • Rolled hems
  • Decorative edging
  • Flatlock seams
  • Gathering (with a special attachment)
  • Lettuce-edge hemming (on stretchy fabrics)
  • Piping insertion (with a piping foot)
  • Sewing elastic (with an elasticator foot)
  • Hemming knits and stretchy fabrics
  • Topstitching (on stretchy fabrics)
  • Chain stitching
  • Binding (with a binding attachment)
  • Decorative stitching
  • Attaching elastic (with an elastic attachment)
  • Securing seams on activewear or swimwear

If I had to choose one, I’d go for a serger, because it’s a true multitasker in the sewing world, handling all sorts of tasks like a champ. While a coverstitch machine is excellent for creating professional-looking hems and topstitching, its capabilities are more specialized and may not be as essential for every sewer.

Serger and Coverstitch pairs that will elevate your sewing game

On the budget: SINGER 14CG754 ProFinish Serger and Brother 2340CV

brother coverstitch machine

The SINGER 14CG754 ProFinish is an affordable serger with a solid performance and user-friendly features. It offers 2-3-4 thread capability and a variety of stitch options, making it a great choice for those on a budget, and it is also a great serger machine for beginners.

Brother 2340CV Coverstitch is an excellent choice for those looking to elevate their sewing projects with a reliable and economic coverstitch machine. While it may have a few quirks, its user-friendly features and consistent performance make it a popular choice among sewing enthusiasts.

Solid choice: Janome 8002D Serger and Janome CoverPro 1000CPX

janome 8002d serger machine

The Janome 8002D is a user-friendly and reliable serger that offers a solid performance for both beginners and experienced sewers. It features a 3-4 thread capability and can create a variety of stitch types, including overlock, rolled hem, and flatlock stitches. The machine’s differential feed allows for smooth sewing on different fabrics, preventing puckering and stretching. The Janome 8002D also has a color-coded threading guide, making it easier to thread and set up.

The Janome CoverPro 1000CPX is a versatile coverstitch machine that provides a professional finish to your sewing projects. It features a 2-3 needle configuration, allowing you to create wide and narrow coverstitches, as well as a chain stitch. The machine’s Seam Tightening System (STS) ensures consistent stitch quality on various fabric types. The Janome CoverPro 1000CPX also has adjustable settings for stitch length, differential feed, and presser foot pressure, providing customization options to suit your sewing needs.

Industrial performance: Juki MO-6704 4-Thread Overlock and Juki MF-7923 Coverstitch

juki mo-6704
Juki MF-7923

The Juki MO-6704 is an industrial-grade serger designed for high-speed, high-quality sewing. It offers excellent stitch quality, durability, and performance, making it perfect for professional and heavy-duty sewing projects.

The Juki MF-7923 is an industrial coverstitch machine known for its top-notch performance, durability, and speed. It’s well-suited for professional sewers and those looking for a high-quality coverstitch machine that can handle heavy use.

Why are coverstitch machines more expensive that sergers?

Coverstitch machines are like specialized experts in the sewing world, focusing on creating perfect hems and topstitching, especially on stretchy fabrics. This unique talent is one of the reasons they can cost more than sergers, which are more general-purpose machines.

Another factor is that the inner workings of coverstitch machines are more complex, with extra needles and a more intricate threading system. This added complexity can make them more expensive to produce, which raises their price.

Additionally, sergers are more popular among home sewers, while coverstitch machines are often seen as a luxury item for more advanced sewers. With fewer people looking to buy coverstitch machines, their prices might be higher due to lower demand.

As we wrap up our exploration of sergers and coverstitch machines, it’s clear that both of these machines offer unique benefits and capabilities to enhance your sewing projects. Choosing between them, or deciding to invest in both, ultimately depends on your sewing needs and aspirations.

Consider the types of projects you frequently work on and the techniques you’d like to master when making your decision. Whether you opt for a serger, a coverstitch machine, or both, adding these tools to your sewing arsenal can greatly improve the quality and versatility of your work. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to reach out, I love hashing out all things sewing.