What an Overlock Machine is Used for?

Most people who are into the world of sewing don’t know the features, advantages, disadvantages properly of an overlock machine, and a typical sewing machine. This may cause them to end up buying the wrong equipment. It is advised that you educate about these to know about it accurately and so you can make the right decision. The overlock machines are also called Sergers. A typical sewing machine is used for sewing, embroidering, zipping, and many more.

On the other hand, an overlock machine will do serging, seaming, hemming, etc. It is mostly used for its blade that comes built-in the machine, helps to remove the extra fabric automatically while serging. Overlock stitch patterns are quite different than the typical sewing machines.

Difference between overlock machine and sewing machine

  • The overlock machine is pretty faster than an ordinary sewing machine. The capacity of an overlock machine is 5000 SPM (Stitches per minute), whereas the capacity of a typical sewing machine ranges from 250 – 1000 SPM.
  • The neck of the overlock machine is quite longer than the neck of the ordinary sewing machine.
  • An ordinary sewing machine has the capacity of using up to 2 cones of thread at a time. The overlock machine can take 3 – 8 cones of thread at once.
  • In the ordinary sewing machines, you have to sew your clothes after cutting it. An overlock machine will allow you to work simultaneously, saving you a ton of time.
  • Typical sewing machines trump the overlock machines in flexibility, as they are more flexible.
  • Decorative stitching can be done on both of the machines, but an overlock machine makes it user-friendly and easier to do.

These are the main difference between an overlock machine and a typical sewing machine. Both of the machines almost does the same thing. Usually, ordinary sewing machines are the ones we use at our homes, and overlock machines are used in industries to design loads of garments in lesser time.

Overlock machine v/s sewing machine

We will discuss the features of both the machines down below using a table.


Overlock machine

Sewing machine

Built-in pressure foot21
Needle capacity21
Stitches per minute (SPM)5000250 – 1000
Built-in bladeYesNo
Thread pool capacity3 -82
BudgetVery expensiveInexpensive
Heavy-duty machineYesNo
Household usageNoYes
Industrial usageYesNo

Types of stitches pattern by overlock machine

Stitch type 501 – Single thread overlock:

Stich type 501 is a single thread pattern of an overlock machine. It needs only one needle to function. It is suitable for lightweight fabric and commonly used for home purposes. An overlock machine is meant for serging, but this type of stitch is not ideal for that. Make sure not to break any thread loop because that can spoil the entire stitch you have done so far.

Stitch type 502 – Two thread overlock:

Stich type 502 is a double thread pattern of an overlock machine. To function properly, it needs one needle and one looper. The lightweight fabric is the most suitable for this stitch type. The finishing touch that the stitch gives to the material is decent. The only con of this stitch type is that it does not hold the loop safely/securely.

Stitch type 504 – Three thread overlock:

Stich type 504 is a three thread pattern of an overlock machine. The grip of this stitch is steadfast compared to the stitches mentioned above (501 & 502 stitch type). It is the true overlocking stitch type that will provide you with a professional finishing touch. A single needle thread and two looper thread makes it a three thread overlock stitch. This stitch has an excellent extension and does not unravel quickly. They are capable of running at higher speeds, which can aid in increased productivity.

Stitch type 514 – Four thread overlock:

Stitch type 514 is also known as a safety stitch. It is a secure stitch containing two-needle thread and two looper threads. This stitch type is used where there is a need for a secure seam that needs a perfect extension, such as – sportswear, lingerie. Also, the loop is extended up to both needles.

Stitch type 516 – Five thread overlock:

Stitch type 516 is a five thread overlock machine that is more durable, secure, and faster than the four threaded overlocks or any other. It is known as five thread overedge full safety stitch. It consists of two-needle thread and three looper threads. It has two stitch types in one, 504 and 401, respectively. The extension of these five threaded overlocks is excellent and robust. It is designed in a way that if one fails, then the other will hold the strain.

Advantages and Disadvantages of an overlock machine

Advantages –

  • An overlock machine is pretty fast, and it can stitch a double row of straight stitch, and a neat raw edge finishes all in one go. The 5000 stitches per minute are designed for industrial purposes.
  • Professionals use it for a better finishing touch.
  • It trims the fabric to match the overlocked edge, so there are no raw edges visible at all.
  • The rolled-hem function gives a beautiful narrow edge finish.
  • There are various types of stitches available to design.
  • It reduces the labor hugely and saves a lot of time.

Disadvantages –

  • It is an expensive appliance.
  • It sews with 3-8 threads (number of threads an overlock machine can have) – that means lots of threading is needed.
  • More threading means more tension of the machine, which needs to be adjusted accordingly.
  • You need to learn another set of skills to operate an overlock machine.
  • It consumes a lot of electricity, resulting in a huge electricity bill.
  • This machine cannot sew; you need to have an ordinary sewing machine along with it.
  • Compared to an ordinary sewing machine, threading is a little bit more difficult on an overlock machine.


These were not a disadvantage but more like the maintenance of an overlock machine. Make sure to go through this article from top to bottom to help yourself make an informed decision.

Megha Kothari

Megha leads the content strategy and oversees an amazing team of writers, editors, and designers, all having one goal in mind – to create brilliant content that helps people make the right purchase investment. When she is not working, you can find her enjoying making delicious food and planning her next travel.

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