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The Best Affordable 5 Thread Serger Machine

By Edited Feb 21, 2016 3 7

Singer 14T968DC

If you’ve ever used or owned a serger sewing machine or if you’ve just been thinking about buying one, here’s information on what you can expect with the Singer 5 thread serger model.  If you haven’t explored sergers in a while, prepare yourself.  This is not your mother’s serger machine.  

The Singer Company has had a long history of manufacturing machines for straight stitch, quilting, embroidery, and sergers.  This newest model is sometimes referred to as “Industrial Grade” or “Professional”.  I like to refer to it as the “Dream Machine”.  It takes all those tedious tasks needed to complete a project and accomplishes them in one step.  The time you can save with this machine is one of the most notable conveniences.

5 thread serger machine(60091)

The first thing you’ll notice is its weight.  With all the features it offers, you would naturally expect it to be heavy.  Unless you travel daily with your machine, the weight factor is a good thing.  This Singer doesn’t budge on the work surface and skip across the counter during operation like some lighter machines do.  Another thing you’ll notice is how quiet it is.  It’s certainly not silent but emits a low, solid and strong rumbling like an expensive sports car.  Almost makes you want to reach for the gear shift!

Cover Stitch

One of the coolest features of this machine is the cover stitch.  When I first learned about it my only question was, “Seriously?”  Could there really be a way to do this so simply?  If you’ve ever tried to make a professional looking hem on a loose knit tee shirt, you know that a lot of finessing is required because the cut edge may tend to curl.  Typically you would need to overlock the edge of the hem and then stitch it down with your straight stitch machine, a method that is far from perfect.  Sometimes the overlock on the hem isn’t smooth or doesn’t lay perfectly flat to produce a nice clean look.  The cover stitch is a one step process that, and as it’s name indicates, covers the raw edge while sewing the hem in place with two or three rows of stitching.  It saves a lot of time and requires none of the finessing.  It’s great for creating shirt, sleeve, or skirt hems without a bulky look.  It's also the stitch to use on tee shirt necklines. 

cover stitch right side
cover stitch wrong side

cover stitch right side and wrong side

To produce the cover stitch, the serger becomes a flat surface looking much like any straight stitch machine.  Just replace the knife cover plate with the seam guide plate and the surface goes from a narrow working area to a broad flat one. 

 

knife cover plate
seam guide plate

knife cover plate and seam guide plate

With the seam guide plate in place, the cutting blade is disengaged and out of the way.  This allows you to place the cover stitch wherever you like, as far from the edge of the fabric as you need.  Cover stitch on this machine is available in narrow and wide and is achieved by spacing the needles close together or farther apart.

4 & 5 Thread Safety Stitch

Did you ever think you could make a garment without a straight stitch sewing machine?  The Singer serger 5 thread model makes it possible to create a complete garment with both knit and non-woven fabrics.  To secure two fabrics together you would normally sew the seam, then, if you own a 4/3/2 thread serger, finish the edge with an overlock stitch.  If you don’t own a serger, you would have to trim the seam with scissors then finish it with a zigzag or other edge treatment to prevent raveling.  On the 5 thread serger, three settings are available to create a secure chain stitch and overlock in one step. One setting is ideal for knits because it is super stretchy.  Two others are available for non-woven fabrics.

Foot Attachments

foot attachments

Check out other serger machines and compare what they offer in the way of features and extras.

 

This model Singer serger machine packs 6 wonderful attachments right in the box, attachments that easily take on any of the chores you might not normally attempt with a machine.  If purchased separately, the cost of these feet would be substantial.  All the samples in the following photos are created with fabric scraps and are not meant to be fashion statements. : )

Blind Hem Foot

The Blind Hem foot allows you to create a hem by placing tiny tacks of stitching in the fabric.  You can adjust the spacing between these tacks.  If you select your thread color carefully the tacks are nearly invisible and it saves you the chore of hand hemming to get the same look.  This is handy for when you don’t want an obvious line of solid stitching securing the hem. 

blind hem right side
blind hem wrong side

blind hem right side and wrong side

Elastic Foot

If you’ve ever tried to control fabric going into the machine while manually attaching and evenly stretching elastic at the same time, you know how complicated this can be.  The elastic foot makes this a simple operation plus it finishes the edge.  You simply place the fabric under the foot and insert elastic.  The elastic is held in place for you and the foot stretches it as you sew.  You’re given the choice of a little bit of stretch or a lot with a turn of a pressure screw.  This is great for lingerie, waistbands, swimsuits, and children’s clothes where elastic is used quite often.  Experiment on scraps before using the foot on your finished project to determine if you have set the screw pressure appropriately for the type of fabric and elastic you’re using.

elastic foot

elastic foot slight pressure on the left, and increased pressure on the right

Cording Foot

You can attach purchased piping to a garment or create your own piping.  The cording moves under a groove in the bottom of the foot and keeps the cord under control.  The stitching is positioned directly beside the cord creating a fabric casing that’s well fitted to the cord. 

This foot also can also be used to attach an invisible zipper.  The teeth of the zipper pass under the foot allowing the machine to stitch close to the zipper edge creating a perfectly installed invisible zipper.  Plastic zippers can be installed too if the zipper will have a fabric overlap, otherwise the teeth of the zipper will be exposed. 

cording foot
invisible zipper

attach cording, create cording, or install an invisible zipper

Bead/Sequin Foot

The beads or sequins pass through a holder which guides them in place as you sew.  By adjusting the stitch length and width you can create a fine stitch that attaches the beads to the edge of the fabric. This is an excellent tool for any decorative finish using beads, sequins or other trims by the yard.

beading foot

beads attached to sheer fabric with beading foot

Taping Foot

This foot helps you to attach decorative or structural tape to a fabric.  The tape feeds into the foot and is automatically carried and stitched onto the fabric.  This is very helpful any time you need to attach stay tape for structure in a garment to keep it from stretching out of shape.  The shoulder seams of a loose knit shirt are a good example.  The tape can be attached and the raw edge finished in one operation.  Use this foot to also attach decorative bias tape or ribbon trim.

Shirring Foot

The beauty of this machine is the one step operation, especially when it entails shirring.  Gathering, sometimes called ruffling or shirring, can be done efficiently on this serger.  Whether you’re making little girls clothes or curtains, tiered skirts or anything that needs to be gathered, this is an extreme time saver.  The shirring foot can be used to gather fabrics while overlocking the edge and can be adjusted for anything from a light pucker to a full gather.  Want to create a ruffle attached to another piece of fabric?  Feed both pieces into the shirring foot, and watch as the machine does it for you.

shirring 1
shirring 2

fabric can be shirred, overlocked and attached to another layer of fabric in one step

Singer Support

Singer is really generous when it comes to explaining the threading procedure for the serger with multiple, helpful explanations and charts.  It’s logical they would make this a priority because if you can’t thread the machine, you’ll never get to see all the wonderful things it can do. A small chart of stitches is displayed boldly on the front of the machine. 

stitch chart

It clearly indicates which threads are necessary to achieve each type of stitch.  Color-coding on the inside and outside of the machine is also enormously helpful when it’s time to thread the machine. All of this is fully covered in the owner’s manual. 

threading

color coding aids in threading

Although Singer seems to have addressed just about everything, there is some information where they fall short.  After searching ALL the information and pdfs offered online at Singer I couldn’t find a couple of explanations I was looking for.  I emailed Singer customer service explaining what I needed in excruciating detail and letting them know I had already been through all the pdfs and other information they offer online.  I received a prompt response that directed me to check out the many pdf files available!  This was obviously an automated and unsatisfactory response and Singer would do well to improve on their communications with customers.  I ultimately found the information I needed in another way, which I’ll explain later.

Here are just a few things omitted in the sewing manual that comes with the machine. 

• When you move the stitch width dial you can actually see the cutting blade move left and right at the front of the machine which helps you to better understand the cutting width function.  

• When using the shirring foot, differential feed must be engaged.  The shirring foot alone doesn’t gather fabric.  It’s the combination of the shirring foot AND the differential feed that does the job.

• When using the shirring foot the needles will be in the back row position.

 • Adjusting the stitch length will produce different results when shirring.  Another adjustment you can make is to increase the tension on the needle thread.

Classes

Since I’ve owned a serger before and recognize the basics of how it operates, I could pretty much figure out the instructions in the owners manual.  Because the new 5 thread machine has features older sergers don’t, there were two answers I was looking for that couldn’t be found in the manual or the pdf files Singer offers on their website.   I also tried a Google search with no luck, probably because this is a newer machine and there’s not a lot of information available online yet.  Fortunately, one inexpensive class was everything I needed to get the answers I was looking for.  The class at my local JoAnn’s Fabrics was intended for a group but no one showed up but me!  So I had an incredible two-hour, one-on-one session with Linda, the guru of sergers.  She’s familiar with many different models and brands and sews almost exclusively with a serger.  Besides her serger knowledge, she shared some of her beautiful projects and ideas, which helped me to see more possibilities for my machine.  If you have any serger questions Linda is more than willing to help.  Just email her at Sew Dang Cute!

Several companies like Janome, Juki and others make a 5 thread serger.  Some of them are quite costly.  In stores, don't be surprised to see prices as high as $1200.  While you will see the Singer listed at around $799 in stores and even on eBay, you can get it for much less.  The Singer 14T968DC model machine is available online for under $485 with all the attachments, warranty, and free shipping.  I found mine at J&R Music and Computer World.  It was a good experience and my machine arrived quickly.  If you buy a serger online check out the seller.  Buy only from reputable, established companies.

See Other Craft And Sewing Ideas

Which Sewing Machine To Buy

What Sewing Patterns Don't Tell You

Plan A Sewing Room On A Budget

 

SINGER 14T968DC Professional 5 5-4-3-2 Thread Capability Serger Overlock with Auto Tension
Amazon Price: $1,299.99 $435.99 Buy Now
(price as of Feb 21, 2016)
Once you've experienced the cover stitch feature of this machine you'll wonder how you ever got along without it!
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Comments

Aug 29, 2011 6:06pm
Deborah-Diane
I can easily see why you would called the Singer Serger Machine a dream machine. It creates stitches that I did not know you could do with a home sewing machine. The examples you show in your photographs are beautiful. What a wonderful tool for the home seamstress!
Aug 29, 2011 7:21pm
divaonline
Thanks Debbie. It is a great machine. I don't know what a more expensive machine could offer that this one doesn't!
Aug 30, 2011 8:14am
rayuhler
An incredibly versatile machine.
Aug 30, 2011 12:57pm
divaonline
Interesting that you chose the word versatile because that describes it perfectly.
Aug 30, 2011 8:31am
Lynsuz
Had often thought of a serger, but never really looked into it. Thanks for the push. Looks like a great machine for home sewing indeed.
Aug 30, 2011 12:59pm
divaonline
Appreciate your comment Lynsuz. These machines are improving to meet the end user's needs almost as quickly as computers!
Sep 16, 2011 5:18am
eileen
This looks like the must have machine for all those home sewing enthusiasts. I want one too. But I dont think I do enough wsewing these days to buy one. Because I am spending too much time traveling. Great pictures and very informative instructions on using this serger
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