An overlock stitch sews over the edge of one or two pieces of cloth for edging, hemming or seaming. Usually an overlock sewing machine will cut the edges of the cloth as they are fed through (such machines are called ‘sergers’), though some are made without cutters. The inclusion of automated cutters allows overlock machines to create finished seams easily and quickly. An overlock sewing machine differs from a lockstitch sewing machine in that it utilizes loopers fed by multiple thread cones rather than a bobbin. Loopers serve to create thread loops that pass from the needle thread to the edges of the fabric so that the edges of the fabric are contained within the seam. Overlock sewing machines usually run at high speeds, from 1000 to 9000 rpm, and most are used in industrial setting for edging, hemming and seaming a variety of fabrics and products. Overlock stitches are extremely versatile, as they can be used for decoration, reinforcement, or construction.
Overlocking is also referred to as “overedging”, “merrowing” or “serging”. Though “serging” technically refers to overlocking with cutters, in practice the four terms are used interchangeably.
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