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I recently purchased a side cutter overlock presser foot to try out on my Brother sewing machines. Since my Brother SE625 combo machine came with side cutter stitches, I figured this would be a fun presser foot to toy around with!
I also have a Brother 1034D serger, but sometimes I just don’t want to rethread that sucker. It’s easier to just pop on the side cutter foot and have a sewing machine that cuts the fabric for me, overlocking in the coordinating thread color.
Intrigued? Read on for my side cutter overlock presser foot review and tutorial. I’ll teach you how to use a side cutter foot, compare the side cutter foot vs my serger, and let you know some of its limitations. I do have a Brother side cutter foot and also a generic one, and I’ll be comparing those as well.
What a Side Cutter Foot Looks Like & What it Does
A side cutter overlock presser foot allows you to sew a seam, finish fabric edges, and then trim the excess fabric. All in one step!
Basically, this “serger foot” for your sewing machine allows your sewing machine to cut fabric as it sews. The resulting seam mimics the look of a serger overlock seam.
Above is a quick visual of what my Brother side cutter foot looks like. It has an operating lever on the top, and on the bottom is the guide plate and the upper knife that cuts the fabric. Compared to a regular zigzag foot, it has more bulk and weight.
The lever goes over the needle clamp screw and will move with the needle. As the needle goes up and down, so does the knife, slicing your fabric.
Brother Side Cutter Foot vs Generic Side Cutter Overlock Foot
I first purchased a universal side cutter overlock foot for my sewing machine. It was 1/4 the price of the Brother side cutter presser foot and looked similar to the Singer side cutter foot, which resembles a walking foot.
I was so excited at first to use it, but I soon realized why the knock-off was so cheap. It stunk.
I’m a pretty decent problem solver, but I could not get the generic side cutter foot to align properly after the first few stitches. The parts on the bottom of the foot moved around. When I went to overlock stitch at max speed (850 spm) on my Brother CS6000i, the poor thing couldn’t handle the vibrations and broke needles.
I ended up then ordering the Brother side cutter foot (SA177), and I like it much better.
The Brother side cutter foot is much more sturdy, and it is also wider at the bottom. This holds fabric more stable as it passes under the foot.
Also, the Brother side cutter is attached by using the presser foot lever. The generic side cutter foot with the large plastic casing is unfortunately attached like a walking foot. Meaning, you have to get out a screwdriver to remove the presser foot holder to then finagle the side cutter overlock foot on. If I’m wanting to switch between my zigzag foot and the side cutter foot, this is extra time wasted in set up and in trying to locate my screwdriver.
How to Use a Side Cutter Presser Foot – Tutorial
This is SUPER easy to learn to use IF you set it up correctly. Here’s a quick tutorial using my Brother sewing machine.
First, detach the presser foot on your sewing machine using the lever on the back of your presser foot holder. The foot should snap off.
Then, attach the Brother side cutter presser foot like you would any other presser foot. Make sure the little fork on the operating lever goes around the needle clamp screw as shown below.
You then want to cut a 1-2 cm slit in the fabric you want to sew on. This is necessary to help the presser foot know where to start cutting.
NOW, THE TRICKY PART. (And if your side cutter presser foot is not cutting, this is likely what’s wrong.)
You can’t just put the 2 cm slit of fabric under the presser foot and start stitching. You have to instead pass the right part of the fabric on top of the guide plate. The left side goes under the presser foot itself. See how the slit is spread in the picture below? You need your fabric to look like that.
Once the foot is attached, select a stitch. You can use a straight, zigzag, overcasting, or a side cutter stitch. Below are the dedicated side cutter stitches on my Brother SE625 combo machine. They are denoted by the S.
Next, learn from my mistakes. Make sure your needle isn’t going to hit the foot by doing a few test stitches with the handwheel. And, don’t start sewing at max speed immediately. I really don’t recommend going much above medium speed, to be honest.
Once you’re all set up, slowly begin sewing, and watch the magic happen!
Below are some of the stitches that I sewed for this tutorial. There are overcasting, straight, zigzag, and then more overcasting stitches.
What fabric does the side cutter presser foot work on?
I’ve tried the foot on cotton fabric, stretchy knit fabric, and on denim so far.
Cotton fabric was PERFECT with a straight stitch, zigzag stitch, overlocking stitch, and the side cutter stitch.
Denim was impressive for one to two layers only.
Knits, not so awesome. I can get sewing machines to sew knits pretty well with some special TLC, but no matter what I did with the foot, the cutter part of it just wouldn’t leave a clean edge where it cut. Especially jersey knits that roll at the edges.
Side Cutter Foot vs Serger
If you’re choosing between side cutter foot vs serger and have the budget and space, I recommend a serger.
While the Brother side cutter foot can make your sewing machine act like a serger in several ways, it won’t completely replace a serger. A serger stitches significantly faster, works better on knits, and makes a more secure seam. It also can make a narrow hem, do a 4-thread overlock stitch and flatlock stitch, and much more.
The side cutter foot is still a great option for some, though! It works great on cotton, and I’d recommend it for sewers who don’t need to extensively sew knits and wouldn’t frequently need a serged seam.
Honestly, it’s much faster to plop the side cutter foot on my sewing machine than it is to rethread my serger if I need a specific thread color.
(Read more: Do I need a serger?)
Side Cutter Overlock Presser Foot Review – Conclusion
If given the choice, I’d still buy the Brother side cutter presser foot again. It’s shaved a ton of time off many of my sewing projects due to its convenience and neat features. I’m also a hoarder of all things sewing-related. (See all my sewing supplies named and pictured here!)
As such, I also recommend the Brother side cutter foot to you as well. My three main takeaways, though, are:
1. Make sure you know how to use it and where to place the fabric when you start sewing. This will save you a ton of setup time and decrease user error!
2. Don’t expect miracles with knits. If you’re deciding side cutter vs serger and want it for knits primarily, go for the serger.
3. This is not a replacement for an actual serger, but it has some pretty neat serger-like features!