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Side Cutter Overlock Presser Foot Review – Sewing Machine vs Serger?

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I recently purchased a side cutter overlock presser foot to try out on my sewing machines.  (I have a Brother CS6000i sewing machine as well as a Brother SE625 sewing and embroidery machine.)  So far, I’ve been mostly impressed with this foot!  As such, I wanted to share my experiences with you.  This Brother side cutter overlock presser foot review and tutorial will teach you how to use your side cutter foot and know which fabrics it will cut with ease and which ones to avoid.  It will also show you how to “serge” with a sewing machine rather than having to purchase a serger.

(And because seeing is sometimes better than reading, I also made a YouTube video.  I prefer writing and blogging to video, so don’t pay too much attention to my inadequacies in taping videos!  Also, the pictures in my tutorial later in this post are much more centered and in focus.)

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Can you turn your sewing machine into a serger?

side cutter overlock presser foot review

This was the question I’d been wondering for a long time!  Our local library has a serger that I can use free of charge, but that involves going during library hours and packing all my supplies.  And since I don’t physically have any more space in my craft corner for more equipment, an actual serger is out of the question.  (I also have a Cricut Maker taking up space. Things are getting cramped!)  Thus, it would have been SO nice to have the ability to use my regular sewing machine as a serger at home.

Enter the side cutter overlock presser foot.  Honestly, I had absolutely NO idea that turning a regular sewing machine into a “faux serger” was possible until I started reading the manual on my Brother SE625 and saw there were side cutter stitches.  I was so intrigued!

Now, the side cutter foot does not perform all the tasks of a serger, of course.  Because, well, it’s just a presser foot.  And my sewing machine still is just a sewing machine.  However, the side cutter foot allows you to sew a seam, finish fabric edges, and then trim the excess fabric.  All in one step!  There just aren’t as many options as on a serger.  Sergers have feed variations and larger stitch selections, they sew at a faster speed, and they provide a more professional look.

So 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.  But it’s still awesome for a couple reasons, which I’ll show you soon.

Anatomy of a Side Cutter Foot

Here’s a quick visual of what the 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 will cut the fabric.  Compared to a regular zigzag foot, it has a lot more bulk and weight.

Brother Side Cutter Foot vs Generic Side Cutter Foot

I’m a budget-loving gal with 2 young kiddos, so I first purchased a generic side cutter foot knockoff from Amazon for my Brother sewing machine.  After all, it was 1/4th the price of the Brother side cutter overlock presser foot.  It also looked almost identical to the Singer side cutter foot.  On the right is my generic knockoff which came from an overseas company and took forever to arrive.

I was so excited at first to use it, but I soon realized why it was so cheap.  It stunk.  I’m a pretty decent problem solver (I mean, I have a bachelor’s degree in engineering and am a doctor.)  That being said, I could not get the cheap 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 with my max speed (850 spm) on my Brother CS6000i, the poor thing couldn’t handle the vibrations.  At that point, I broke my first needle with it.  When I switched to a zigzag stitch and attempted to sew, I broke my second needle. Then I made a dumb mistake in my frustration and used needle right on the foot.  My bad.  By then, though, I was throwing away too much money on the cheap side cutter foot.  So, I chunked it and ordered the Brother side cutter overlock foot off Amazon and had it delivered the next day!

One other reason I didn’t particularly like the generic side cutter foot with the large plastic casing is you have to attach it 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.

The generic foot also has less width at the bottom, so it doesn’t hold the fabric as stable as the Brother side cutter presser foot.

So learn from my mistakes.  Just skip the cheap knockoff.  It may end up costing you the difference in broken needles!

Does the Brother Side Cutter Foot Work on Other Brands of Sewing Machines?

The cool thing about most popular sewing machines is that they’re low-shank sewing machines.  As such, this means that there are many universal presser feet that will all work on Brother, Singer, Eversewn sewing machines, etc.  As long as your sewing machine is a low-shank sewing machine with snap-on presser feet, you should be able to use the Brother side cutter foot.

How to Use the Side Cutter Overlock Presser Foot – Tutorial

This is SUPER easy to learn to use IF you set it up correctly.  Let me give you a quick tutorial.  I’m using a Brother sewing machine here, and things might vary a little on other sewing machines.

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, though.

You then want to cut a 1-2 cm slit in the fabric you want to sew on.  This essentially shows the presser foot where to start cutting.

NOW HERE’S THE TRICKY PART:

You can’t just put the 2 cm slit of fabric under the presser foot and start moving. You have to pass the right part of the fabric on top of the guide plate and the left side goes under the presser foot itself.

Once the foot is attached, select a stitch.  You can use a straight, zigzag, overcasting, or even side cutter stitch.  These pictures are of 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.

Slowly begin sewing, and watch the magic happen!  Here are some of the stitches that I sewed. There are overcasting, straight, zigzag, and then more overcasting stitches.  My tension’s a little out of whack, so don’t mind that on the bottom!

What fabrics 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 much.  I can get both my 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.  This was a bummer because sewing knits is one of the main reasons I trek to the library to use their serger.

Conclusion of My Brother Side Cutter Presser Foot Review

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 heartily 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 sewing machine 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!

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how to use the side cutter overlock presser foot

3 Comments

  1. I love that there are people in the world out their like me. Lol. I googled exactly what the name of this article was… and there it was. I have brother machines and totally plan to give this a try. Thank you and happy Mother’s Day 🙂

  2. So wanted to try this type of foot over the “universal” models. Amazon says it’s not available, even though your article is less than a month old. Looks like Janome may have something like it, so I’m going to give that a try.

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