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Recently, I got fed up with my manual threading serger and splurged on a self-threading serger to decrease my frustration with failing hand joints.
As I was weighing options, I decided if I was going to spend a ton of money on a self-threader, I might as well pony up a few more bucks for a serger with automatic tension.
While adjusting tension isn’t too difficult, learning the tension preferences and whims of a new serger just wasn’t something I wanted to deal with.
So, I researched the available options, put together my pros and cons list, and purchased a serger with automatic tension for my craft room–the Juki MO-3000QVP.
However, that machine might not be the best choice for everyone!
So, I consolidated my research into this list so those also looking for sergers with automatic tension settings will have a starting point.
Read on to learn more about these machines!
What Automatic Serger Tension Means (And What It Doesn’t)
Sergers with auto-thread tension don’t have tension knobs and don’t require user input for tension settings.
Instead, these sergers have built-in goodness that allows them to assess the best tension values for every stitch and fabric you throw at them.
Whether you feed a thin jersey knit or a thick, stable denim fabric through the serger, the threads will automatically meet where they should each time to create a professional-appearing stitch.
However, these sergers still aren’t all-knowing, and you must adjust the differential feed, stitch length, and stitch width for most machines.
(Although some advanced sergers have arrived recently that are almost robot-like and adjust these stitching parameters, too, they’re scarce and costly!)
And, if you desire a different appearance for your overlock stitches, many machines have an interior knob that lets you adjust the looper tension to achieve desired results.
Best Sergers With Automatic Tension Settings
Now, these auto tension overlockers aren’t in any particular order of preference. Instead, I’ve arranged them by brand so you can compare the different offerings from manufacturers.
I’m also only including serger models currently being made, and I use the USA model numbers or names.
1. Baby Lock Sergers
Baby Lock is the “queen” of tension-adjusting sergers, as they’ve been producing these machines for over a decade.
Currently, they have four overlockers with automatic tension controls. (Yes, there are older models, but they’ve largely been discontinued and replaced by these four.)
While Baby Lock machines used to be available only from dealers, many retailers have expanded to selling Baby Lock sergers online, which is a massive win for the consumer, in my opinion.
For example, Sewing Machines Plus, AllBrands, and Ken’s Sewing Center sell many Baby Lock serger models online, so you can shop from your couch.
In order of increasing features (and prices), here they are.
The Baby Lock Victory is the most affordable automatic tension serger from Baby Lock, although it’s not a cheap serger by any stretch of the imagination.
The Victory is the new replacement for the well-loved Baby Lock Imagine and uses Baby Lock’s patented JetAir Threading technology for the lower loopers. It also has a needle threader for threading its two needles.
The Baby Lock Acclaim, with similar auto tension as the Victory, improves upon the Victory with the addition of RevolutionAir Threading.
This fancy term simply means that the lower loopers and the two needles are threaded with air, thus limiting user input.
The Wave Stitch is also a fun feature of the Acclaim, and the larger workspace area to the right of the needle may appeal to users who need to stuff projects in that small harp space.
The Baby Lock Accolade is basically the Victory serger with an added coverstitch function.
And, this 8-thread combination machine makes both serging and cover stitching easy, thanks to its automatic tension settings.
One thing I didn’t love about the Accolade when testing it was there is no built-in needle threader for the two needles. The lower loopers do thread with air-thread technology, though.
The Baby Lock Triumph is a humongous 8-thread combination machine with automatic tension for both serging and cover stitching.
It’s pretty pricey, but I’ve never heard anyone have anything bad to say about it!
This serger is my new baby, and I love it! (I bought it on the day it first arrived at my local sewing shop–I was really excited to get it!)
Now, according to the shop where I bought my Juki 3000QVP, Juki has actually been making Baby Lock’s sergers in Juki factories for years.
What this means, if true, is that not only does Juki intimately know how Baby Lock sergers are made, but they also know how to replicate (and beat) Baby Lock’s serger tech.
This serger is similar in price to the Baby Lock Victory (both have air-threading and auto tension adjustment), but the Juki MCS-3000QVP does a ton more.
For example, my Juki has a knee lifter, automatic chain thread trimming, a curve foot to make serging curves easier, a programmable foot pedal, and an LCD screen allowing you to customize many machine parameters.
I really think for the price point that this is an AMAZING serger. And, it’s the only Juki serger with a fully automatic thread supply system at time of writing.
(You can read my Juki MO-3000QVP review for more information!)
This serger machine costs more than my old car is worth, so let’s just say, it’s pretty spiffy.
It has fancy air-threading loopers, a knee lifter, a free arm, automatic tension adjustments, and a big touchscreen.
Drool-worthy tech on the screen includes Bernina’s Sewing Consultant and Stitch Optimizer. You can set the overlocker to Expert Mode or Guided Mode where tension, differential feed, and other stitch parameters are automatically set.
This machine takes the guesswork out of serging and makes a nice dent in your pocketbook.
The Amber Air S|600 is closest in technology to Bernina’s top-of-the-line Bernina L 860.
However, the S|600 has five threads and is a coverstitch machine and a serger!
The S|600 is an expensive machine with an awesome color touchscreen featuring Husqvarna’s SEWING ADVISOR feature, which sets or recommends optimal parameters for every aspect of the perfect stitch–down to the right needle to use!
I couldn’t find this machine to play with when selecting my new serger, but I’ll venture to say this one might have the most advanced features of all these sergers right now.
(Let me know your thoughts if you own one!)
If you don’t want to spend your life savings on a serger, the Pfaff Hobbylock 2.5 Overlock is much more affordable than the other options mentioned here.
It doesn’t self-thread, but its selling point is its automatic thread tension system that jump-starts your creation of perfect stitches.
Simply select your stitch, and the tension is optimized and set for you!
Availability and stock are a little spotty, but keep an eye out, and you might be able to grab one at its current low price!
I could not find this gem anywhere in my metroplex to try out, but it looks like a great machine.
First, it’s a 5-thread machine that can do a coverstitch and typical serger stitches, and it has a rocking touchscreen that makes it super easy to use.
And, do you know how many of these overlockers with automatic tension and air threading don’t have free arms?
Unfortunately, a lot of them!
However, that’s not the case with the Pfaff 7000, which has a beautiful free arm for small projects AND an extension table for larger ones.
It also has a decently large workspace, which will come in handy when cover hemming.
7. Elna 745
Elna’s eXtend 864air is Elna’s self-threading overlocker, but the elna 745 is their overlocker with automatic tension.
They don’t yet have an overlocker with both automatic tension and air threading. Go figure.
There’s not much information about the 745 available, but it looks like it can create a cover hem stitch and the standard overlock stitches.
Brands That Still Haven’t Added Auto Tension Yet To Overlockers
At the time of writing, Janome does not have a serger with automatic tension, although the Janome 2000D is more advanced than most of their machines, featuring air threading.
Brother just released their AIRFLOW 3000, which is their first self-threading serger. There are no sergers without manual tension adjustment needs.
Singer also just debuted its first air-threading serger, the Singer S0700, and like the Brother 3000, tension controls require manual input.
Hopefully, as Baby Lock patents expire and new tech progress accelerates after the pandemic, we’ll see even more competition to the few sergers that already have easy tension settings.
Any sergers with auto tension settings that I’ve missed?
I try to keep this list updated, but manufacturers are constantly retiring and upgrading their models, so let me know!