An Overlock Sewing Machine and Its Usage in Apparel Manufacturing

In mass garment manufacturing, after lock stitch machines, overlock machines are mostly used one among many sewing machine types. Overlock machine also known as serger, over edge sewing machine and interlock sewing machine. An industrial overlocker is primarily used to sew edges of a cloth piece with clean finish.

By using an overlock machine you can make various types of stitches like, stitch class 503, stitch class 504 and stitch class 512. This machine is used in both woven and knits apparel sewing and the majority used in knit garment manufacturing.
Overlock machine sunken bed
Handling and running an overlock machine easier compared to other sewing machines like lock stitch machine and coverstitch machine.

Features of overlock machines

  • Cutting device: Overlock machines are equipped with a cutting device (knife) that cuts fabric edges (excess margin) while stitching.
  • Adjustable seam width: Width of a seam can be set based on seam width needed in a design.
  • Stitch density (SPI): Stitch density can be changed in these machines 
  • Safety stitch can be sewn by overlock sewing machines.
  • Thread consumption by overlocker - thread consumption in overlock machines is higher than single needle lock stitch machines.
  • Machine bed - Normally machines come with a raised bed – machine bed is raised than the tabletop. But in need, you can use sunken bed where the tabletop is kept in the same height of the overlock machine bed.

Usage of overlock machines:

Overlock machines are available in 3 threads, 4 threads and 5 threads overedge sewing.

This machine is used for serging garment panels (e.g. trouser panels) and for overedge stitches (e.g. side seam of T-shirts). Overlock machines give a clean finish to seam edges.

For example, in a T-shirt making overlock machine is used for operations like
  • Attaching sleeve, 
  • Joining side seam and underarm, and 
  • Attaching neck rib to the neck. 
This machine is used to create ruffles, decorative edges and gathers; join laces; serge narrow sleeves, spaghetti straps, and more.

Images of overlock stitches

Here are a few examples of overlock stitching
Overlock stitch @ leggings inseam
Overlock stitch
Overlock stitch @ T-shirt side seam and armhole

Prasanta Sarkar

Prasanta Sarkar is a textile engineer and a postgraduate in fashion technology from NIFT, New Delhi, India. He has authored 6 books in the field of garment manufacturing technology, garment business setup, and industrial engineering. He loves writing how-to guide articles in the fashion industry niche. He has been working in the apparel manufacturing industry since 2006. He has visited garment factories in many countries and implemented process improvement projects in numerous garment units in different continents including Asia, Europe, and South Africa. He is the founder and editor of the Online Clothing Study Blog.

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