There are many opinions out there in the home sewing community about cover stitch machines. The number one question is: Do I need one? The answer to that, of course, is NO. Just like you don't need a serger/overlock machine to sew knits. But they are really nice to have. And what about a combo machine? a combination serger and coverstitch machine. Well, that is what I want to discuss today. I have a Juki MO-735. It is a 2/3/4/5-Thread Overlock (serger) + Cover Stitch Sewing Machine. It is a workhorse and offers 24 different stitch patterns, everything you need to help you create more professional results with your home sewing. Here is a photo of mine set up for a narrow cover stitch:
The number one complaint about combo machines is that you have to convert them from one use to another. Yes, it does take time. Yes, there is a learning curve. But, honestly, it isn't rocket science. And like anything, practice makes perfect. The more you actually convert it, the easier it becomes. To convert from serger to cover stitch, you have to deactivate the upper looper, raise the knife arm, remove the knife guard/replace it with the cover stitch extension plate, replace the multi-use presser foot with the cover stitch presser foot (optional, but I find it gives better control), change out the needles, and re-thread. The first few times it probably took me about 10 minutes. Now I can do it in less than 5. I found the Instruction Manual adequately explained the steps, but Juki has videos on YouTube for visual learners. JUKI MO-735 - Chapter 10: Coverstitch and Chainstitch - YouTube
MY number one complaint about the MO-735? The lack of throat space. I knew this before I bought it. Most (though not all) stand-alone cover stitch machines have more throat space, as they do not have a knife taking up space. However, I don't usually need a lot of space. Honestly, the ONLY time it has been a problem was when I was trying to topstitch a rather wide elastic waistband. Even then, I just worked slowly and adjusted carefully as I sewed.
The main advantage of a combo machine? SPACE. If you have limited space, a combo machine is a smart choice. I actually had a nice Juki serger before I purchased my MO-735. However, I decided to go with the combo machine instead of a stand-alone cover stitch machine. Though I have a rather large studio space currently, that may not be the case in the future, as we hope to downsize soon-ish. My serger was passed on to my son, who apparently needed another hobby. 😃 Plus, did I mention 24 different stitch patterns? Everything from rolled hems to numerous overlock stitches to flatlock to chainstitch (hem your jeans with professional results) to cover stitch. And with the 5-thread capability, you can stitch and finish your seams in one step. This is especially useful when making jeans and other pants.
Here are some photos of the hem of my latest make, a knit shirt.
So, if you sew clothing, especially knits and jeans, and you are interested in having more professional-looking finishes, consider adding a serger and cover stitch or a combo machine to your sewing arsenal.
Until next time,