If you’re getting serious about needlework, a serger is going to be an essential part of your toolkit. A good serger will save you time and give you professional results on hems and seams. However, there are a lot of crappy sergers on the market that are frustrating to work with and which offer lackluster performance at best. Don’t worry, though–we’ve created this in-depth buying guide to help you out!
For this guide, we’ve rounded up all our favorite serger models to recommend to you. You’ll find all our recommendations below, along with in-depth reviews explaining why we’ve chosen these specific models to recommend. Read on to learn everything you need to know to shop for a high-quality serger like a pro, and to find your new dream machine!
|Picture||Product Name||Top Sewing Speed||Warranty Length||Cost|
|Brother 1034DX||1,300 Stitches Per Minute||25-year limited warranty||$|
|Brother Designio Series DZ1234 Serger||1,300 Stitches Per Minute||- 1 year for Parts, Labor and|
accompanying Accessory Items
- 5 years for Electronic
Components and Printed Circuit Boards
(replacement labor excluded)
- 25 Years for the Chassis Casting
|Juki MO654DE Portable Thread Serger Sewing Machine||1,500 Stitches Per Minute||- 2 years for Motors, Light|
Assembly, Wiring, Switches,
and Speed Control
-5 years for all other
Best Serger Reviews (2018)
This Brother model is the updated version of the company’s 1034D, which we used to recommend as our budget pick. The DX keeps nearly as low a price point while adding some key upgrades and features to give you even better efficiency and reliability without breaking the bank.
We think it’s an excellent choice if you’re shopping for your first serger. It’s also a perfectly suitable budget buy if you’re an experienced needleworker who can’t afford to spend more. For a low price, it offers speedy performance, a sturdy build and a full set of features.
With a top speed of 1300 stitches per minute, this is no slouch. Most budget-priced sergers are painfully slow. Not the Brother! It’s as fast as anything in the budget or midrange. We think it’s more than fast enough for the average needleworker, not to mention beginners.
The foot controller gives you adaptive speed control on a budget. Most budget sergers, like inexpensive standard sewing machines, have next to no grey area between a standstill and full speed ahead. This one isn’t as refined as a premium model, but it’s quite easy to keep under control.
While it’s very inexpensive, it’s still versatile! The Brother works with either 3 or 4 threads, which gives you plenty of options for most projects. You’ll be able to use 2 threads on nicer models like the Juki, but that’s not essential for beginners or even most intermediate/advanced needleworkers.
It’s versatile. The differential feed ratio can be set anywhere from 0.7 to 2.0, which gives you lots of flexibility. Adjusting the feed dogs is essential when you want to prevent puckers on lightweight materials, or create gathers and decorative edges. If you’re a beginner, suffice it to say that the Brother gives you more than enough room to maneuver! Stitch width is adjustable between 5.0 and 7.0mm. You can always achieve a flat finish, even on lightweight fabrics.
The Brother includes a range of feet in the box, so you don’t need to buy any extra components or accessories to get right to work:
There’s a standard foot for general purpose use, which is what most beginners will probably stick to when they’re learning. You also get a blind hem stitch foot for creating blind hems, edge stitching, attaching lace, and joining edges. The third attachment, the gathering foot, has a channel built in, which eliminates the need for pins when you gather single or double layers of fabric.
Threading this one is relatively easy, thanks to color-coded guides. Threading is the trickiest part of using a serger, so it’s hard to overstate how nice this is. It’s especially good for beginners. Plus, the machine comes threaded, so you’ll have a visual example to follow when you have to rethread later on.
Both the feed ratio and the stitch width are easy and intuitive to adjust, too, thanks to clearly labelled dials. Whether you’re new to serging or coming from an older machine, it’s simple and straightforward to navigate this one.
It has a removable trim trap to catch all the scrap pieces that are cut from your workpieces. You can detach it to conveniently empty scraps into the bin. The trim trap is also a nifty place to store your foot controller when the machine isn’t in use.
This is something you might think would be standard on any machine, but it’s not! For instance, our top quality pick doesn’t have a trim trap. Having one on the budget-priced Brother is definitely a major plus.
It comes with everything you need to get to work, including thread. You’ll definitely want to buy some high-quality thread for when you start working on real projects, but the thread that comes on the machine is decent enough for your first experiments and it provides a nice blueprint for learning to thread your serger.
This new version is more reliable than the previous one. Of course, no budget machine is going to be as rugged and reliable as a premium workhorse model. Still, the new DX model is as reliable as anything else under $300!
It’s a great machine to learn on. Brother includes a very helpful instructional DVD and with a machine this popular it’s no surprised that there are tons of tutorials on Youtube as well.
It’s not as reliable as our more expensive recommendations. This is very good for the price, but still a budget machine. It’s built more lightly than the Brother Designio Series or the Juki below.
While this provides a heck of a lot of versatility for a low price, it does have some limitations. You can’t serge with just 2 threads on this one.
Brother Designio Series DZ1234 Serger
This Brother model is our midrange recommendation. We suggest it to the average buyer who wants plenty of versatility and reliability without spending a premium for a top-notch Juki. The Designio Series offers smoother performance and slightly better stitch quality than the cheaper DX series above. It’s also likely to last longer. It’s a great first serger for those who can afford it. We think it makes a nice value for experienced folks who aren’t set on having the absolute best thing, too.
The biggest differences between the Designio Series and the cheaper Brother DX model above are in the overall experience, rather than specific features:
The Designio Series has a significantly better track record where reliability is concerned. While the new DX version of Brother’s budget-priced serger is certainly more dependable than the older model, the Designio Series is still a better workhorse for regular, intensive use.
It’s also a qualitatively better serger, right out of the box. It stitches more smoothly and has a sturdier build that makes for straighter stitches and tighter seams. While we’d have a hard time explaining exactly why it does a better job, we know that it does. Clearly, Brother have made some minor internal tweaks that add up to big improvements when you actually get down to using it.
The one minor difference in the feature department: the Designio Series offers a wider range of options for stitch width adjustment. That’s not going to make a world of difference for most needleworkers, but it does make the increase in price a bit more palatable.
The Designio Series is very easy to learn, like the model above. Regardless of your experience level, you’ll find that everything is clearly laid out and intuitive to work with.
Despite costing a decent chunk of change more than the DX model, the Designio Series doesn’t include all that many upgrades. It has pretty much identical features and specs. It has the same differential feed ratio and the same top speed.
The differences are more general. It’s smoother, more reliable, and has some extra accessories. In terms of what the actual serger does, though, we’re hard-pressed to see what additional features you get for your extra dollar.
It’s not quite the best thing on the market. The Juki model we’ve recommended below is faster, for one thing. It has a even better reliability record, too. If you so a lot of serging and are a skilled needleworker with very high standards, we think it’s worth the extra investment. For the vast majority of users, the Designio Series is more than enough.
Juki MO654DE Portable Thread Serger Sewing Machine
Our top recommendation in the serger category is this Juki machine. It’s pricey for non-professionals, but we think the cost is very reasonable considering what you get for the money. The Juki is powerful, reliable, and produces impeccable results.
It’s certainly an investment, but suitable for those who spend a lot of time working with fabric and will appreciate the extra speed and reliability. We also think it’s a good choice for professionals who can’t afford a big, pricey commercial model.
It’s the fastest of the bunch. At 1500 stitches per minute, the Juki simply flies through your projects. Most casual users don’t need or want to work that fast. However, if you’re an ambitious crafter and crank through lots of fabric on a regular basis, you’ll definitely appreciate the speed bump.
It never feels out of control at the top end, either. A lot of sergers start to get pretty shaky and jittery when you run them at top speed. That’s thankfully not the case with the Juki. Even when you use it at full bore, it’s neat, tidy, and easy to control.
It has an excellent track record for reliability. While the Brother models above are miles better than anything else in their price brackets, the Juki is in its own category. While you’ll always find one or two lemons coming from warehouse distributors, there are no quality control issues or design flaws that we know of. Everything’s well-made and tuned to a T right out of the box.
Its phenomenal durability is one of the key reasons we recommend passionate needleworkers spend a bit more to get one of these. Sure, you’ll pay more up front, but you’ll save yourself the cost of replacement components, the fuel cost to get to a repair shop, and the time wasted on dealing with problems.
It’s as rugged as many commercial models, with a nice, heavy build. Not only does that mean the Juki is more reliable over the long haul, but it makes for a better machine right from the get-go.
Having a heavier build means the Juki always sews straight and plows through pretty much all materials. It doesn’t wiggle or jostle, even on double denim. That’s something that can give you grief on cheaper models and even some high-end options we’ve reviewed.
There’s noticeably better stitch quality than you’d see on the Brother models above, too–even when you speed through projects using trickier materials.
It’s also refreshingly quiet. Cheaper models tend to make quite a racket, especially when you run them fast and use them with thicker materials. This isn’t quieter than your average sewing machine, but nor is it any louder. You don’t buy a serger for its low noise level. However, you’ll have a much better experience using something as quiet as this compared to the average machine.
So far, we’ve only discussed general upgrades, like overall build quality and performance. There are some specific features the Juki has over the Brother models, though:
The knife system has its own dedicated drive motor, for a start. Why’s that important? It means you can stitch and cut at high speeds without any bogging down. Most sergers share a drive system between the cutting components and the stitching mechanism.
Running the two at once can put a lot of strain on the motor, especially on cheaper models. This one distributes the load in a clever way, which makes for better longevity from the whole machine.
You also get an extra stitch option. Most sergers, including both the Brother models above, give you the option to work with either 3 or 4 threads. This Juki serger works with 2/3/4 threads. Is that absolutely essential? Not for casual users. However, if you’re a passionate needleworker who wants the ultimate in versatility, it’s a significant upgrade.
Unlike most premium models, the Juki doesn’t sacrifice user-friendliness for power or versatility. It has color-coded threading, just like the cheaper Brother models we’ve recommended above. It comes pre-threaded out of the box, so you have a visual blueprint to follow.
Despite the fact that there are more options, all the adjustments are clearly marked and laid out in a way that’s accessible for anyone to work with. We don’t suggest this as a first serger, since it’s so expensive, but it’s quick for anyone to use–even if you’ve never used a Juki before.
Juki is where it’s at for a high-end serger. There are certainly the old standby models from Babylock and Bernina, but they’re ridiculously expensive. When you consider the fact that the same company makes both Juki and Bernina machines, going this route makes a heck of a lot more sense for most needleworkers. This Juki is the next best thing to a Bernina or Babylock, and it won’t even come close to breaking the bank.
We don’t recommend anything fancier because we’ve found that for the vast majority of folks, there’s not going to be any discernable difference. The Juki is easier for most people to work with than a Bernina, and the savings are considerable.
It’s not perfect. Of course, it’s not an ultra high-end model. This is the most expensive serger we recommend, but it’s still something we’d consider quite affordable. So, it makes sense that there are one or two design misses, even if there aren’t any significant flaws to be aware of.
First off, it doesn’t have an LED worklight. Juki machines can be a bit old-fashioned, and this model is no exception! The upshot is that they’re built as sturdily as older machines. The downside is that incandescent work lights just aren’t as good as modern LEDs. Just make sure you use it on a brightly-lit work table.
Some people find it difficult to get set up. It’s not quite as simple or straightforward as the Brother options. Juki also don’t provide instructional DVDs or a very good manual. Thankfully, there are any number of helpful instructional videos that are easy to access on Youtube.
Another slight miss: the presser foot lever is around the back, instead of on the front. That’s one spot where the Brother models are definitely more convenient to work with. We’re assuming the logic here is that having the lever around the back keeps it out of the way. Still, we definitely prefer having it in a more accessible place.
As with any sewing machine or serger you buy online, it’s important to make sure you’re smart about where you buy the Juki. Quality control and setup is excellent out of the factory, but lemons are still possible depending on the distributor/retailer you buy from.
Make sure to buy directly from the company through Amazon or from another authorized dealer. Discount warehouses aren’t usually a good way to go with something as finicky as a sewing machine, and that’s particularly true when it comes to shopping for a serger.
It only includes a multi-purpose foot out of the box. You’ll need to buy the rest of Juki’s serger feet separately. A complete set of 8 will add at least $100 to the cost of the serger, and you’ll definitely need the set to be able to tackle more than basic projects.
You can find Juki’s serger feet set here:
Is it the absolute best serger on the market? That’s debatable. It’s certainly the nicest model we recommend and the nicest we think anyone needs to buy. There are much pricier options from Babylock and Bernina, but they aren’t all that much faster and they can be pretty difficult to work with. Even for experienced needleworkers, those companies’ machines aren’t especially intuitive.
Which of these sergers should you buy?
The Brother DX is our recommendation to anyone on a budget. It’s the least expensive model we recommend by a long shot. We think this is the least you can pay for a capable serger that can handle a range of projects and will last a reasonable lifespan. It has just as long a warranty as the Designio Series or the Juki. It also has pretty much the same set of features as the pricier Designio Series. However, if you can afford to buy either the Designio Series or the Juki, they’re definitely more reliable over the long term. More experienced needleworkers will also appreciate the noticeably better stitch quality on those models.
The Brother Designio Series is our recommendation to most buyers. It’s a nice, upgraded option for a first machine. It’s also an ideal machine for experienced needleworkers who want versatility and reliability without spending significantly more for the Juki. The most passionate, demanding needleworkers will want to invest in the Juki, though. Even though the Designio Series is particularly smooth and reliable, the Juki beats it in every department (aside from amenities). It’s faster, smoother, and sturdier.
The Juki is the best choice for the avid home needleworker who places a premium on speed and reliability. This is more than most folks need to spend, but if you spend a significant amount of time working with fabric, it’s worth the extra investment. It’s more reliable, efficient, and rugged. However, it’s not a perfect machine. It doesn’t have all the little conveniences you find on the cheaper Brother models, like a tray for collecting scraps. Still, for a workhorse, we don’t think you can do better!
Here are some pointers to help you choose your ideal new serger:
Decide On Your Budget
The first thing you should do, before you start making any decisions about which model to buy, is to decide on your budget. That’ll help you narrow down your options. Figure out how much you can afford to spend. Think about how much you can justify spending, too. These may be two different numbers!
Remember that just because you can afford to spend $500, that may not always be justifiable. Don’t spend more than $300 if you’re only going to use a serger occasionally, for simple projects. There’s no need to be wasteful and splurge on something you’ll never get your money’s worth from! All our recommendations can get the job done. Just think about how demanding you’ll be with your machine and whether you need something premium with all the options.
Sergers can cost anywhere from $100 to $1000+. Our recommendations start around $200 and run as high as $500. We don’t think there’s any reason to spend more than $500. Beginners can do very well for under $250, while experienced needleworkers should plan to spend closer to the $500 mark.
You’ll notice that the cheapest model we recommend is far from the cheapest on the market. However, we’ve chosen it because we think it’s the most affordable machine that can really pull its weight and give you your money’s worth. Don’t be tempted by anything cheaper. You’ll sacrifice far too much in both the construction and stitch quality departments. As far as we’re concerned, if it’s under $200, it’s not worth your money!
Know Your Needs
It’s important to have some idea of what you’re actually expecting your serger to do before you start making any purchasing decisions. Do some research if you’re not an experienced needleworker and figure out which kinds of stitches you want to be able to achieve. Think about what kinds of feet you’ll need, the adjustments your projects will require, and so on. Hashing out all these details will help you make a more informed decision at the checkout.
Stick With Reputable Brands
Sergers are pretty pricey, so we understand that the ultra-cheap, generic models made by Chinese exporters can be tempting. Don’t fall for them! We know they claim to have all the same features and specs as the $300+ models, but they don’t. They’re crappy plastic toys. Stick to sergers made by reputable brands such as Janome, Brother, Singer, or Juki. All these companies have proven track records making dependable, high-quality sergers that work well and last a long time.
We hope this guide has answered all your questions about sergers, serging, and the process of shopping for a high-quality machine. You can learn more about any of the sergers we’ve recommended above by clicking on the links in each review. That’s your easiest way to check current prices, see full lists of features and specs, and have a peep at how our picks compare to the competition!
To find more in-depth reviews, current recommendations, and helpful advice covering all your needleworking needs, visit our homepage at sosewreviews.com.