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When I bought my first serger, I was suffocated by school loan debt and quite simply couldn’t afford anything snazzy.
I researched all the affordable serger options, penny-pinched for what felt like forever, and ultimately saved enough to purchase an entry-level Brother serger.
And, I have loved that thing to pieces and serged to my heart’s content.
I don’t care what people say, but there’s nothing wrong with purchasing a low-cost serger overlock machine for your craft room if you don’t have the budget for a top-of-the-line serger.
So, if you, too, are looking to stay within a strict budget, here are the best cheap sergers that aren’t complete garbage!
Things to Consider When Budgeting
Before jumping to an immediate purchase, here are some factors to consider.
1. Parts and Supplies Costs
If you’re on a very strict budget, serger supplies can add up quickly, so consider this added cost when deciding what you can spend on the machine.
While supplies like thread cones and needles are things every serger will require, some specific serger models require more upfront investment than others.
For example, additional presser feet can cost way more than they should, especially if you buy branded supplies rather than generic, universal options.
I recently purchased a genuine Brother elastic presser foot for my serger, which cost over $30!
2. More Money Buys More Features and Ease of Use
If you have a larger budget, purchasing a more expensive serger will make life easier.
Threading serger loopers can be incredibly frustrating, so an air-threading serger is an excellent solution to the hassle of manually threading.
Overlock machines with automatic tension also decrease the time you spend fine-tuning stitch quality. You still have to adjust the differential feed, stitch length, and stitch width, but not worrying about tension is one less thing to troubleshoot.
Also, premium sergers have levers or buttons that make switching from overlocking to stitching rolled hems significantly faster, and some even have automatic thread cutters.
3. Combo Machines Cost More
If you plan to purchase a serger with a coverstitch (above) or chainstitch function, expect to spend at least a couple hundred dollars more.
For example, one of the most inexpensive combination serger and coverstitch machines–the Singer Professional 14T968DC–runs several hundred dollars more than the Singer S0100 or S0230, the base Singer serger-only models.
4. Used Overlock Machines Costs Less
New sergers cost more than their preowned counterparts.
But, since sergers can last ages if cared for properly, purchasing preowned is a great option if you can find a machine that’s been taken care of.
If purchasing preowned, just make sure to try out the machine in person if using a marketplace. Otherwise, look for a return period or warranty if purchasing online.
The Best Cheap Sergers
Sergers are workhorses, and as mentioned, many can (and will) last for decades with proper care.
The cheapest serger machines are usually the entry-level sergers for most brands. As such, most have similar features, uses, and even looks.
The decision might just be about which brand you prefer that fits your price range.
Now, here are some inexpensive serger sewing machines to consider!
It’s no secret that I’m a Brother machine lover because of their low cost vs. feature and reliability ratio.
I’ve owned my Brother 1034D serger for YEARS, and it’s still functioning as great as it did on the day I bought it after deciding I desperately needed a serger.
It has its quirks (such as difficult threading, like almost every serger you have to manually thread), and it doesn’t love super thick layers like sewing pre-hemmed fleece (four layers) together.
However, I have no reservations about recommending it to beginners or more advanced sewists looking for an affordable serger machine.
The stitch quality is perfect after settings are adjusted for fabric, thread, and needles, and it runs, and runs, and runs.
It also uses regular sewing machine needles and requires no special care.
For example, I’ve never had it serviced or professionally cleaned, and it’s still never given me a problem.
I do oil it occasionally and vacuum out the dust bunnies after each project, and I’ve had to change the knife blade as it dulls over time. (Thankfully, it’s not too expensive or challenging to do yourself.)
One last thing to recommend this machine is its popularity, which means every tutorial under the sun is available in video or text format if you’re a beginner who needs help learning your machine.
Of the two Brother sergers I own, I like the Brother 1034DX more.
However, it’s much harder to find than the Brother 1034D, so that’s why I’ve listed it second.
While the machines are similar in use and function, I’ve detailed the 12 slight differences between the two machines in detail in my Brother 1034DX vs. 1034D comparison post.
In quick summary, I think the 1034DX is superior for a few reasons:
- Threading order is more intuitive
- Improved lighting
- Larger trim trap that’s easier to attach
- Free arm easier to use
- Ever-so-slightly easier to thread the lower looper
From the TV show Making the Cut, the Singer S0230 is one of the most popular and least expensive Singer sergers available.
It debuted at the beginning of 2020 and is well-reviewed by users.
It’s a fun blue color and can do everything the Brother 1034D and 1034DX can do: 2, 3, and 4-thread stitch combinations. It even has the same max speed of 1,300 spm.
If you need something for thicker fabrics, check out the Singer X5004-HD heavy duty serger.
While nowhere near the strength of an industrial serger with a Servo motor, heavy-duty sergers do have increased abilities to serge thick fabrics and bulky seams.
One thing I love about many Juki sergers is their sides easily open so you can clean the fuzzies out of the machine–they accumulate fast when serging!
However, an easy open side means these Juki sergers don’t have free arms.
I love my free arm on my Brother 1034D serger as I primarily serge children’s clothes.
But, I’ve slowly gotten used to not having the free arm on my new Juki MO-3000QVP serger, and I only miss it a little.
One other perk of the Juki MO644D serger is its max serging speed is 1,500 stitches per minute, which is faster than the 1,300 spm limit of the Brother and Singer sergers.
The threading of the Juki MO644D serger is also arguably a little less complicated in the looper area than the Brother 1034D; both machines still have color-coded lay-in threading systems, though.
However, the Juki MO644D serger is more expensive than the Brother serger sewing machines, so you have to weigh the cost vs. the few added features.
If you have a slightly higher budget, you can also consider the Juki MO654DE portable serger.
One big difference is the location of the differential feed and stitch control knobs. (You can see the few differences between the Juki MO644D and MO654DE in Juki’s brochure.)
Lastly, if looking for a combination machine, the Juki MO-655 has a fifth thread to sew a chainstitch, but it’s much pricier.
The Janome 8002D serger has been a popular and affordable choice amongst sewists since its release in the early 2000s.
Like all other low-cost overlock machines mentioned here, it has four threads, allowing you to sew the traditional 3- and 4-thread overlock stitches and a rolled hem stitch.
The rolled hem feature here does have Janome’s quick rolled hem conversion device to make changing to a rolled hem slightly less time-consuming.
Threading is made simpler with the color-coded thread guides, and tension dials are displayed on the front of the serger.
The differential feed, stitch length, and stitch width parameters are all comparable to the serger sewing machines of other brands.
A newer Janome serger model (within the last decade), the Janome MOD-8933 has a higher MSRP price than the older Janome 8002D model.
However, MRSP doesn’t mean much if you find a deal on the MOD-8933!
It’s part of Janome’s MOD line, which aims to “Modify Your Style.”
As such, the MOD-8933 has a newer look. The tension dials, and thus threading paths, are all a bit different.
Baby Lock serger users are usually super fans.
Once they purchase one, they don’t get rid of it unless they plan to upgrade to…another Baby Lock.
If you have a slightly larger budget and want to join the Baby Lock crowd, the Baby Lock Vibrant is their current entry-level 4/3/2 thread serger.
Besides the Baby Lock name, one thing that differentiates the Vibrant from these other low-cost overlockers is their retractable thread cutter.
Press the lever on the right-hand side of the workspace, watch the thread cutter lever pop up, and simply pull the thread chain around that to trim threads without having to serge over them or use scissors.
(I actually added a thread cutter to my serger’s side so I didn’t have to keep serging over my chains. It’s not as fun as this cutter, though.)
And, Baby Lock’s lay-in tensions are color-coded and have names for the upper and lower looper tension written on the machine front.
One last thing to note is the Vibrant only has a max speed of 1,200 spm, which os faster than the Brother 1034D and 1034DX but slower than the Juki and Janome models.
Which cheap serger overlock machines do you recommend?
As I’ve admitted, I love Brother and have recently expanded to become a Juki lover. I’d love to hear recommendations from loyalists to other brands, though.