How to choose an overlocker (+ elna eXtend 864air review)


One of the most common questions I get about sewing equipment is "How to choose an overlocker?". And I do understand why - overlockers are our handy assistants, that not only help us achieve professional, clean seam finishes, but also allow us to work with those stretchy fabrics that are super comfortable to wear; this is why finding an overlock that fits your needs is so important.


Today I want to share a few insights on how to choose an overlocker that I hope will come in handy. We will also review elna eXtend 864air overlock machine and see what features set it aside from others. Special thanks to elna for sponsoring this post and providing the machine for a review!


Click below to watch full video of the review, or scroll down to read the post!

elna eXtend 864air overlock machine

First - and most important - thing you have to decide on when choosing an overlock machine is whether to choose a 3-thread or 4-thread one. The main difference between these two options:

3-thread overlockers are considered for seam finishes only;

4-thread overlockers can also be used for seam finished, but the also allow to create elastic main seams (meaning, you can use such overlock to sew garments from stretch fabrics).

If you have a possibility, I do recommend going for a 4-thread overlock machine - this option is far more versatile and gives so much more possibilities! Plus, you can easily use any 4-thread overlocker for a 3-thread overlock stitch, by simply removing one needle and one thread.

elna eXtend 864air, threaded with 4-threads

While working with an overlock is relatively easy, threading one may not be so - if you ever had to thread an overlock, you know how much of a hassle it can be! Luckily, there are some innovative solutions for this problem and the elna eXtend 864air makes it easier to thread both loopers and needles.

elna eXtend 864air Air threading system

One of the best features of elna eXtend 864air model is the air threading system, which helps to thread loopers in literally seconds - you just place one thread into a hole, pull the lever up and down and that's it - the thread is in the position, ready to sew! Compared to traditional manual threading, this feature saves lots of time and helps re-threading in between different color threads look far less scary.


elna eXtend 864air built-in needle threader

Second way how elna eXtend 864air makes threading easier is with the help of a built-in needle threader - while this little feature is very common in standard sewing machines, overlocks frequently don't have it (and I think they should!). With help of this threader, you can easily and quickly thread either right or left needle (one needle at the time).


When choosing an overlock, it is important to look for one that will handle different fabrics well (ideally, I always recommend testing a machine with different fabrics, before making a decision to buy it). Elna eXtend 864air model has an 8-piece feed dog system - the high number of pieces in the feed dog ensures perfect and smooth feeding of all sorts of fabric, from lightweight to thick, as well as jersey and other stretch knit fabrics. Additionally, this machine also has a 5-level presser foot pressure dial, so that you can adjust the pressure of the presser foot to the type of fabric that you are sewing. And lastly, this machine has an adjustable differential feed - depending on the type of fabric you are sewing, you can adjust the differential feed ratio to prevent the fabric from stretching or puckering. Everything to make the sewing process smooth and efficient!

elna eXtend 864air standard accessories kit

When choosing an overlock machine, make sure to check the list of accessories it comes with, along with the foot controller - while these are smaller nuances, they still matter (especially the controller - ideally I would recommend testing it before buying, as finding a good, comfortable controller is a must!). Having a wide accessories range included in the overlock package will ensure that you have all proper materials to maintain and work with your machine.

elna eXtend 864air seam samples

Once you checked all the hardware of the machine, it's time to take a look at all the seams you can create with it. Generally speaking, while you probably will be using mostly either a 3-thread or 4-thread overlock stitch program, having more options to choose from will expand the range of possibilities of your overlocker. With the elna eXtend 864air overlock machine you can sew with 2, 3 or 4 threads and create 13 different stitches, such as:

3-thread overlock;

4-thread overlock;

rolled hemming;

picot edging;

narrow hemming;

pintucking;

flatlock;

decorative overedging;

gathering.

Quite a lot to choose from, right? Most importantly, it is possible to cut, neaten edges and stitch seams together all in one step (and to prove it, I made a dress using solely this overlock - below you will see how it looks!).

elna eXtend 864air optional accessories

Last but not least - take a look at additional accessories that can be used with your overlock. Again, we are talking about expanding overlock possibilities, so more is more! For example, for elna eXtend 864air you can also get:

blind stitch foot;

cording foot;

beading attachment;

gathering attachment;

elastic gathering attachment;

cloth guide;

piping foot.

With the help of additional accessories, you can make your overlock an even bigger helper in your sewing tasks!

Now that we talked about overlocks and how to choose one, I want to show you a dress I made using solely this elna eXtend 864air machine! Can you believe it's made with only an overlock?! Plus, perfect for fall - nothing better than an oversized sweater dress to keep us warm during those breezy autumn days!

To summarize, when it comes to overlock machines, I do recommend choosing a 4-thread one, as it's a more versatile tool than a 3-thread one. You also want to make sure that the machine will be able to handle different fabrics, so check out for features that will ensure this. If you want a speedy threading process, a machine with innovative solutions, such as air threading or built-in needle threader, will definitely come in handy. Lastly, check out the range of seams and additional available accessories - these will help you squeeze out the most of your new machine!


As for elna eXtend 864air - it's a great option for both beginners and more advanced users and I do recommend checking it out! The sewing process using this machine is efficient, smooth and well controlled, and allows to achieve high-quality results.


Thank you for reading and wishing you a creative week ahead!


Best wishes,

Julie