Go With the Flow: Choosing the Best Swing Sewing Machine
Sewing knits and stretchy fabrics presents unique challenges. They twist and distort under the presser foot, making it tricky to stitch straight seams. And the raw edges unravel rapidly. Forget prayer – a swing machine is the stretch sewist’s savior!
Swing machines (also called sergers) create professional, finished seams and hems in silky smooth knits, Lycra, spandex, and elastic fabrics. Their unique looped stitches prevent fraying and add forgiving flexibility.
This guide explores the top swing machines worth considering and provides tips on optimizing your swing machine to glide through stretch and knit projects. Let’s get swinging!
Top Contenders: Swing Machines for Stretch Sewing
From entry-level to high-speed industrial, here are excellent swing machine options across needs and budgets:
Juki MO-2000QVP Air Thread Serger
Serious sewists who work with knits daily should check out Juki’s MO-2000QVP. Notable features include:
- Blazing fast 1,500 SPM– Saves time hemming stretch pieces or finishing seams.
- Air jet thread delivery– Uses air flow for smooth, even thread tensioning. Prevents bird nests.
- Safety blade system– Retractable upper knife blade for convenient cutting.
- Stitch length/width adjustment– Fine tune overlock stitch finishing.
- Presser foot pressure adjustment– Optimizes pressure for fabric thickness.
- 21 Stitch functions– Includes overlock, rolled hemming, coverstitch and more.
With air jet reliability and stitch versatility, this Juki allows efficiently achieving flawless knit finishes.
Brother 1034D Serger
Brother’s budget-friendly 1034D provides beginner-friendly basics for finishing stretch fabrics:
- 3/4 Thread overlock– Professional serged stitch prevents seam unraveling.
- Lower 1,300 SPM– Manages swift sewing without overwhelming new users.
- Built-in fabric cutter– Trim and neaten seams in one pass.
- Bright LED lighting– Illuminates work area to see stitches.
- User-friendly– Easy threading, dial adjustments, and presser foot pressure settings.
- Affordable price– Lower cost suits hobbyist budgets.
The 1034D offers quality serging fundamentals without intimidating or overspending.
Janome 8002D Serger
Another reasonably priced starter model, Janome’s 8002D provides core capabilities:
- 3/4 Thread overlock stitch– Prevents fraying edges.
- Manual tension adjustment– Set each thread’s tension precisely.
- Upper knife– Cleanly trim fabric edges for serging.
- Snap-on presser feet– Easily change feet for specific tasks.
- Built-in cloth guide– Keeps hems and seams tracking straight.
- Budget-conscious pricing– Families and hobbyists appreciate reasonable cost.
The 8002D satisfies basic serging needs reliably while remaining very wallet-friendly.
Singer Professional 14T968DC Serger
Singer’s 14T968DC offers advanced functionality for passionate sewists:
- 1,300 SPM speed– Powers through knit projects.
- Self-adjusting tension– No manual dialing or guesswork.
- Adjustable stitch length and width– Serged seams customized to your liking.
- Specialty presser feet included– Like beading, piping, elastic-taping feet.
- Built-in rolled hem– Create narrow, professional hems.
- 5-4-3-2 thread serging– Use multiple threads for various techniques.
This feature-packed Singer helps adept sewists explore their serging creativity.
Now that you know top options, let’s dive into key selection criteria.
Choosing the Best Swing Machine for Your Needs
With many models available, focus on specifics like:
Serging Stitch Types
Consider which stitches you require:
- Basic overlock– 3 or 4 threads interlock to prevent fraying.
- Rolled hem– Narrow hems on silky knits and satins.
- Flatlock– Connect seams with ladder-like visible stitching.
- Coverstitch– Reinforces and decorates like twin needles.
Don’t overspend on fancy stitches you may rarely use as a hobbyist. Start with essential overlock capabilities.
Are fast hems and seam finishing crucial for efficiency? Industrial sergers exceed 1,500 stitches per minute. Entry models max out around 1,300 SPM. Moderate speed suits most.
Automatic tension adjustment suits beginners. With manual, you can micro-adjust each thread’s tension. Handy for trickier fabrics.
Built-in blades trim fabric edges as you serge. Retractable or detachable for safety. Much easier than separate shears!
Multiple snap-on feet like beading, piping, cording enable special techniques. Check availability.
Larger throat space helps serge bulky sections without bunching fabric. Not essential for personal use.
Stitch Size Adjustments
Models allowing stitch length and width changes provide more finishing versatility. Helpful for beginners exploring possibilities.
Entry around $200. Advanced home models reach $400-$800. Commercial machines start at $1,500. Set realistic expectations.
Carefully weighing features against needs and budget prevents buyer’s remorse. Next, let’s optimize your swing machine.
Getting the Most From Your Swing Machine
Follow these tips to achieve flawless knit seams and hems:
Choose Quality Thread
Polyester or monofilament thread resists breakage and delivers balanced tension. Don’t skimp on thread!
Use Recommended Needles
Follow manual guidance on needle sizes and types to prevent skipped stitches or breakage on your fabrics.
Set Proper Foot Pressure
Adjust presser foot pressure so foot is firm on fabric without smashing delicate knits.
Change Blades Frequently
Immediately replace a dull blade to keep cutting fabric edges cleanly.
Lint and bits of thread build up internally over time. Clean them out to prevent clogging.
Be Patient With Tension
When first using a swing machine, slowly adjust each thread’s tension dial until balanced stitches form.
Provide Fabric Clearance
Don’t force fabric under the presser foot. Allow adequate clearance for trouble-free feeding.
Let the machine feed fabric. Just gently guide direction. Excess handling distorts knits.
Use longer stitch length for tricot. Reduce length on lightweight fabrics to prevent puckering.
Insert tags when serging tightly packed areas to prevent needle from striking adjacent fabric layers.
With care and practice, your swing machine will help even troublesome knits obey. Next let’s address common questions.
Answering Key Swing Machine Questions
Here are answers to frequently asked serger questions:
What types of thread work best in swing machines?
Quality polyester or monofilament thread provides the right amount of glide and strength for trouble-free serging. Avoid cheap thread that breaks frequently.
How do I know when my cutter blade needs replacement?
Inspect blades regularly for nicks, dull spots, or asymmetry. Replace immediately if you notice fabric pulling or fraying after cutting. A clean cut is crucial.
What needle types should I use?
Follow your manual’s guidance on using sharp pointed ballpoint needles matched to fabric weight. Stretch needles also work well to avoid skipped stitches.
How do I adjust the thread tensions properly?
Set all threads to the recommended baseline tension. Sew test pieces while incrementally adjusting one thread at a time until evenly balanced stitches form.
What causes skipped or irregular stitches?
This can be caused by incorrect needle type or size, poor quality thread, hitting a pin, dull blade, incorrect tensions, or buildup of lint inside the serger.
How do I clean lint and debris from my swing machine?
Refer to manufacturer cleaning directions. Typically you brush lint from moving parts and carefully vacuum interior spaces around the lower looper.
Can I sew heavyweight fabrics like denim with a swing machine?
Most home swing machines can’t handle heavy non-stretch fabrics well. The needle may break or damage may occur. Use a regular sewing machine for those projects.
What presser feet are recommended for a swing machine?
For most serging, the standard overlock foot is fine. Optional specialty feet allow techniques like beading, piping insertion, elastic taping, shaped hemming, etc.
How thick of fabric can my swing machine handle?
Usually around 3mm is the maximum, however follow your manual’s guidelines. Thicker fabrics strain machines risking skipped stitches, needle breakage or motor burnout.
How should I oil my serger machine?
Use light sewing machine oil and follow oiling points specified in manual. A drop in each oiling spot every 3 months ensures smooth operation.
I hope these swing sewing machine tips help you achieve fantastic knit and stretch fabric results!
Serging Up Success
Swing machines empower sewists to effortlessly achieve clean, professional finishes on knits and delicates that fray and curl.
By understanding key features, optimizing your machine’s use, and following recommendations, you can become a stretch fabric pro! Find a quality swing machine that suits your budget and needs, then let it guide your fabrics to obedience.
Have any other serger questions? Just ask! I’m always happy to help troubleshoot. Go create beautiful garments and crafts thanks to your new swing sewing sidekick!