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I invested in my very own serger right before the pandemic hit.
I’d spent several years prior trekking to and from our local library to use their serger when needed, as I couldn’t rationalize the cost of my own immediately.
However, when the library’s serger broke, I panicked and bought a Brother 1034D serger.
Until then, I only knew basic serger skills: putting my fabric under the serger, pressing the foot pedal, and watching it go. The library maintained the machine, and I never ventured much farther than serging a simple 3- or 4-thread overlock stitch.
However, once I had my own machine to maintain, I needed to brush up on my serger skills, so I turned to print resources.
I read a TON of books, and put together this list of the best serger books for beginners and more experienced users!
My Process for Picking the Best Serger Books
Luckily, I live in a big metroplex with probably 50 libraries.
I checked out a heap of books for beginner serging and read a few digitally from Amazon. (Kindle Unlimited has several you can read for free, and the digital copies are also fairly inexpensive for the ones I couldn’t find free.)
I now feel confident to take on all sorts of new techniques when sewing clothes and even household crafts now that I’ve read through these books.
And here’s how I broke things down.
First, I like books with color pictures that start with the basics but also appeal to more knowledgeable users with additional information.
It’s nice to have several fun practice projects, too. I want something that will be a reference that I can keep going back to repeatedly as I learn and need to brush up on certain skills.
Books that were over 15 years old, I wasn’t too impressed with, mainly because their projects were dated, and the picture quality wasn’t as good.
A glossary at the end of the book is also a must-have if I’m going to use this as a reference.
And lastly, I don’t recommend any of these books in digital format if you can’t view them in color. So much depends on learning which thread goes where, and you won’t be able to tell on a black-and-white e-reader. I had to read the digital ones on my computer rather than my Kindle to get much of anything out of them.
The Best Serger Sewing Basics Books
Now, let’s get to the books themselves!
Hands down, I LOVE this handy reference book.
It has so many color pictures, the formatting is clean and not overwhelming, and it is clearly broken into sections.
At right under 130 pages, it’s an in-depth look at how to learn to use a serger.
There are 3 main chapters. It starts with very detailed and helpful information for complete beginners to serging. For instance, the parts of a serger, the tools you’ll need, and how to set up your machine and your sewing corner. You’ll learn how to adjust each setting on your serger and use each dial to produce a perfect stitch.
You’ll then learn the different stitches available on your serger, including the chain stitch or cover stitch if your machine has one. Different techniques when using the serger are also discussed in Chapter 2.
There are several short practice projects at the end of the book in Chapter 3. Learn to make a drawstring bag, a child’s dress, and a shirt, among other projects.
This one I ended up purchasing after reading it from the library so I could keep it close by in the future!
(Also, for the non-US-based audience, it looks like this book is titled “The Overlocker Technique Manual.”)
While this is the beginner serger book on Amazon with the most ratings, there are two reasons I don’t rate it as the best serger book for beginners. (I still think it’s a great reference, though, and I’ll also tell you why.)
First, it was written in 1998.
While basic sergers have remained similar over the ages, the book needs an update to terms and technology.
The pictures are 90’s quality, and there’s no Kindle edition available (right now, at least) if you prefer your books digitally. There also isn’t as much information about specialty serger feet.
Secondly, because it is so old, it only has one page about the cover stitch and nothing about the chain stitch. So, if you have a 5-thread (or more) serger capable of doing a cover stitch or chain stitch, you will learn nothing about these options. Books written in the mid-2000s or later include sections that help users learn to use that 5th thread.
That being said, The Complete Serger Handbook is written conversationally (not like a textbook!) and contains A LOT of information. It’s broken up into sections and is very easy to follow.
For instance, if you want to learn about flatlocking, turn to Chapter 10. There are then over 15 pages to teach you everything you could ever want to know about this stitch and its uses. It’s a very thorough reference book for owners of basic sergers and will teach even more experienced users new information.
It also gets points for being one of the cheapest serger books on Amazon for a print book, and that goes a long way, in my opinion!
With many color photographs, this beginner serger book is full of information presented in a manner that’s easy for beginners to understand.
It starts by teaching you the parts of your serger and how to set it up and use it. Then, it transitions to teaching you the types of stitches and techniques available. You’ll also learn some tips for serging on knits and how to use different serger feet. Each technique has several devoted pages of information.
Several serger projects are spaced here and there, but this is more of a reference-type book rather than a project-based one.
For sergers with the cover stitch and chain stitch function, an entire portion of the book is devoted to this.
This is a GREAT serger sewing book, but my one complaint is that there is no Table of Contents at the front of the book. While it has an index at the very end where you search for terms, I prefer to see the overview of what’s included in the book on one page at the beginning.
As the name of this book implies, this beginner serger book is for absolute beginners.
As such, it takes a bit more simplistic approach to teach serging, especially for new users who aren’t familiar with sewing terms.
For this reason, it is one of the best serger books for true beginners who know very little about sewing machines or sergers.
You’ll first learn about how a serger works and its different parts. Then, you’ll learn to set up and use your serger along with some troubleshooting advice.
There is also a thorough overview of the different types of serger stitches, including the chain stitch and cover stitch.
For beginners unfamiliar with even sewing, there’s an entire section about how to choose sewing supplies such as threads, cutting tools, and marking tools.
As a “learn by doing” book, there are close to 10 projects at the end of the book, including a blanket, table runner, and even a fringed wrap.
This serger book doesn’t go into the depth that some other serger sewing basics books do because it’s busy covering the basics. That’s why it’s perfect for true beginners but why I don’t necessarily recommend it for sewists who are familiar with basic sewing terms and want to use their serger to the very peak of its abilities.
(As an aside, The First Time Sewing series book about sewing machines is one of my best sewing books for beginners. This series of books is very well-regarded in the sewing community!)
This book is perfect for someone who already knows a little about sergers and wants to learn to serge to their full potential.
It contains mostly diagrams rather than photos, which to me doesn’t make the book as “friendly,” if you will. It has a bit of a textbook vibe to it.
There is a LOT of information in this book that will teach you the technical aspects of using your serger.
It starts easy for beginners but quickly spends time teaching you the nuances of more complicated serging projects.
Unlike most books that use pages to include practice projects, this book is entirely informational. It’s a bit heavy if your main goal is to learn only to serge seams.
That being said, for beginners wanting to learn everything about the ins and outs, this is one of the best books for learning to serge the right way.
Nancy Zieman, a well-known contributor to the sewing community, writes this one.
The book’s projects are outdated, but if that’s not a huge deterrent for you, the material is VERY good. The outdated projects and product names are the only reason I haven’t ranked it higher on my list.
As the book boasts, it is indeed filled with “tips” from Nancy, which I found very helpful.
I read a ton of these serger books to make my list of best serger books, and I can tell you there are a lot of tips in this book that appear nowhere else!
The organization of the book is very practical, and it’s easy to navigate.
She teaches you how to pick a serger, use a serger, and take care of your serger.
There’s also information on different stitch types, serger feet, and serger adjustments to achieve perfect results.
If you have a Baby Lock or other air-threading serger, several pages are dedicated especially to some unique features like self-threading methods!
This basic serger book is thin at 80 pages but is surprisingly full of information.
It features 13 projects, including serging a decorative pillow, table runner, fleece throw, baby gear, kitchen towel, and oven mitts, to name a few.
Overall, Serger Sewing Basics features, like it says, the basics.
It’s not a complicated book and isn’t jam-packed with technical information.
I love real pictures in books, though, and that’s a big perk here.
It’s one of the smallest of all these serger books, so its compact size and basic nature may appeal to someone interested in learning the basics of serging.
I’d recommend First Time Sewing With a Serger (above), though, if you are looking for a book on the absolute basics.
If you enjoy learning by doing, this is the best overlocker book.
The beginning of the book contains cursory information about serger setup and other basics, but then there are then 25 fun projects to help you learn the nuances. (These projects are less outdated, of course!)
It’s simple and covers the basics without overwhelming you with too much information. It has pretty, color photos, and the print is big enough you won’t strain your eyes.
The projects include fabric flowers, baby gear, aprons, sewing gear, and even pajama pants. Each project will detail the materials and the best serger settings to create the seam or edge.
I’m not a huge fan of project-based learning, and I prefer a healthy mix of information and projects. However, if you like to learn only by doing, this is a great book!
This is another project-based book that teaches you the basics and inspires you to create serged projects.
Compared to Simply Serging, it’s slightly less detail-oriented and has fewer quantitative details. I’m an engineer by training, so quantitative and detailed solutions to problems are preferable to a qualitative discussion about the solution.
This is a good book if you are looking to skim the surface of serging and want minimal details to confuse you with information overload. You could read it as a starting point and then purchase one of the more advanced serger books after you’ve learned serging basics.
Within this book, there are 16 projects with a basic, easy version for beginners and then a “stepped-up” version if you’re already feeling comfortable with the basic version.
Unlike the rest of the book, which doesn’t include too many numerical details, each project gives details for the serger settings. The “stepped-up” versions increase the difficulty from the basic versions and will get you learning more techniques.
Projects include baby gear, pillows, cardholders, and more.
This book is not great about teaching you the basics of the serger.
For instance, you will receive no guidance on choosing threads and needles, setting up a serger, etc.
You will find answers to troubleshooting questions, though, in great detail.
For instance, if your fabric has excessive stretching, there are two entire pages dedicated to how to fix that issue.
This is a nice resource to have around if you have issues with your serging time and time again.
But, it’s not a book to buy to teach you how to take full advantage of the functions of your serger and how to use it.
At the end of each page of solutions, there’s a small blank area titled “My Solutions.” Here, you write what you did to fix the problem.
It’s an older book, but it teaches you to think methodically when it comes to fixing problems with your serging. As such, it’s nice to have around to reach for when problems arise!
Conclusion: Best Serger Books
There are so many good-quality serger basics books on the market right now. Picking the best serger book depends largely on you!
For instance, are you a true beginner with no experience even sewing? Do you have an advanced serger machine with so many options you want to learn to use?
Let me know if there’s any way I can help guide you in finding the perfect resource as you learn your new hobby.