Heads up: This post includes affiliate links like Amazon ones, so I earn from qualifying purchases (at no cost to you). Thanks for using them 🙂
I’ve had an overlocker-coverstitch machine for almost 3 years now (the Bernette 48). I’ve made a bit of everything on it, including t-shirts, lingerie, swimwear, and activewear.
An overlocker-coverstitch combo machine is a single sewing machine that can perform overlock and coverstitch stitches. These machines offer a powerful suite of options and save more space than having 2 machines. (Note: in the US and Canada, overlockers are known as “sergers”. They’re the same machine).
My first recommendation for the best overlocker-coverstitch machine is the Bernina L890. It’s a powerful machine with an intuitive user interface to help you choose the best stitch for your project. And it has air threading technology, so switching between coverstitch and overlocker modes is a breeze.
In second place is the Janome 1200D. It lacks the air threading and digital user interface that the Bernina has, but it does offer a top-coverstitch option which is quite rare in combo machines. This stitch is very desirable for sewists who love making activewear or swimwear.
Next, my budget recommendation is the Bernette 48 Funlock. It has all the stitch functions you need to create professional-looking finishes at a fraction of the cost. However, it’s a manual conversion machine, so expect to spend 5 – 7 minutes switching between coverstitch and overlocker modes in the middle of your sewing projects.
When shopping for a combo machine, the biggest thing to consider is the type of conversion you’d like – manual, hybrid, or air threading – and whether you’ll be able to perform that conversion confidently while sewing. This is the key difference between the machines I’ve included in my roundup today, and it will make the biggest difference to you as you’re sewing.
If you find threading an overlocker tricky, you may want to consider the air threading options. Threading the loopers is required when swapping between modes on a manually converting machine.
I’ve had the Bernette 48 Funlock for almost 3 years now, and I personally don’t mind the manual conversion. However, I know several people that can’t think of anything worse when they’re in the middle of a project, so it really is a personal choice.
If you’re considering a dedicated coverstitch machine, you can check out my article on the best coverstitch machines in the UK or USA. And if you’re not sure what exactly a coverstitch machine is and what stitches it can make, learn more about what a coverstitch machine does in this article.
- The best overlocker-coverstitch machine
- Next best
- Best budget machine
- The competition (what other machines are available?)
- What to look for when buying an overlocker-coverstitch machine
- Should you get an overlocker-coverstitch combo machine, or a coverstitch-only machine?
PS. I’m a member of the Bernina ambassador program, which means my Bernina/Bernette machines were provided to me in exchange for projects that I share on my personal blog and Instagram. I’m not asked to talk about them elsewhere, so this does not impact my recommendations on Threads Monthly.
This article covers combo machines available in the UK. Many, but not all, are available worldwide.
The best overlocker-coverstitch machine: Bernina L890
Best for: the serious home-sewist looking for a powerful and user-friendly machine.
- Digital: save up to 100 pre-set stitch tension settings
- Air threading
- 1350 stitches per minute
- Time-saving features like air threading, stitch memory, and easy conversion
- Combo stitches, including the 5 thread safety stitch
- Large working area
- Free arm
- “Guided” and “Expert” control modes
- No top-cover stitch
The Bernina L890 easily takes first prize in the overlocker-coverstitch combo machine category. With the longest list of features, the most adjustability, and the most advanced user interface of any combo machine currently on the market, she’ll be the star of your sewing room – and the price tag reflects this. If this machine isn’t in your budget, don’t be discouraged. The more budget-friendly machines may not have a digital interface or air threading, but they’ll still bring a beautiful, professional finish to your sewing projects.
Next best overlocker-coverstitch machine: Janome 1200D
Best for: sewists who work with activewear or swimwear. The Janome 1200D is one of the very few combo machines with the top-cover stitch option. This lets you finish sportswear with a decorative industrial-type topstitch.
Price: Typically £1,159 across the web. Check Amazon’s price.
- Auto tension with 10 stitch presets
- Combo stitches, including 5-thread safety stitch
- 1300 stitches per minute
- Top-cover stitch
- Large working area
- Great accessory range
- Extra-high presser foot lift
- Manual conversion
- No free arm
While this machine lacks the digital interface and air threading of the Bernina L890, the top-cover stitch option makes it a worthy candidate regardless. The machine features auto-tension settings for various stitches, but the conversion between coverstitch and overlock functions is still manual. Of all the machines compared here, this one has the highest variety of stitch options, so your opportunities are endless.
Best budget overlocker-coverstitch machine: Bernette 48 Funlock
Best for: people who want a cheaper combo machine and are happy to manually switch between overlocking and coverstitching.
Price: Typically £700-ish across the web. Check Amazon’s price.
- Five-thread overlock and four-thread coverstitch
- 1300 stitches per minute
- Good accessory range
- Extra-high presser foot lift
- Combo-stitches, including five-thread overlock
- Manual conversion
- No top-cover stitch
The reason for the comparatively low price of this machine is the manual conversion between coverstitch mode and overlock mode. While some sewists may feel this is too much work (I suggest trying it out in store if you can), the cost savings make this option well worth it. And the machine doesn’t make any sacrifices where stitch quality is concerned. The B48 does lack the top-cover stitch, so activewear enthusiasts may not find it a good option. This is a better option for everyday sewists who want to add that professional finish to their garments, especially if they lack the tabletop space for separate overlocker and coverstitch machines.
Read my more detailed review of the Bernette B48 here. I’ve had it for almost 3 years now.
Pfaff Coverlock 4.0: This is a hybrid combo machine – it offers a digital interface but still requires a manual conversion, much like the Huskylock S25 below. This machine includes combo stitches like the 5-thread safety stitch, and it allows you to save these stitch settings to the machine’s memory for automatic tension adjustments. There’s no free arm though.
Pfaff Coverlock 3.0: This is a manual machine with no digital interface and a manual conversion. It’s best compared to the Bernette 48 and Huskylock S21, but it’s the highest-priced of the three. It does have a few additional features like an auto-tension dial and an extension table (a feature usually reserved for the higher-end models) which makes it worth considering if you’re working with a mid-range budget.
Pfaff Admire Air 7000: Its list of features is quite similar to the Bernina L890 (my top pick). However, its user interface is not as intuitive, and the Bernina has a larger working area and several “comfort features” that provide a more enjoyable sewing experience. If you’re comparing the two, this Pfaff machine is worth a test drive! Check Amazon’s price here.
Husqvarna Amber Air S600 (release date March 2022): This is Husqvarna’s high-end, fully-featured, air threading combo machine. Out of the three air threading machines included in this lineup, it comes in third place (after the Bernina and Pfaff options). It offers a digital interface and “comfort features” like the others, but the interface seems very geared towards beginners and those seeking automatic settings. I’ve been unable to find out whether you can manually override the settings. This machine is set to be released in the month this article comes out, so we have no reviews to consult at the moment.
Husqvarna Huskylock S25: This machine is an interesting mid-range option. It has a manual conversion, but it does have a digital interface that allows you to save stitches in its memory, and the tension dials and differential feed both adjust digitally, using buttons instead of dials. This hybrid option uses older technology (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!) but for the extra cost, other models offer more features with more advanced technology.
Husqvarna Huskylock S21: This is another good budget option. Although it has a solid range of features and seems to be a reliable machine, there are other options available with more features at a lower price point. For example, it’s a higher price than the Bernette 48 reviewed above, yet it lacks the combo stitch options (eg. 5-thread safety stitch). Check Amazon’s price here.
What to look for when buying an overlocker-coverstitch combo machine:
The biggest thing to consider when selecting a combo machine is how easy it is for you to change between overlocker and coverstitch modes.
Think about it this way. Some sewists who don’t have a dedicated sewing space have to unpack their sewing machine and set it up every time they want to sew. Even though you can probably do this in under 5 minutes, you’re less likely to pull out your machine for one small project. Instead, you might wait until you have enough time, or enough projects, before you get your machine out. Some people feel this same hesitation when they have to swap between coverstitch and overlocker modes. It puts them off from using the machine at all.
Air threading models remove this hurdle almost entirely, but if this isn’t in your budget it’s worth considering how comfortable you are swapping between settings to complete a project. For context, imagine you removed all the threads from your overlocker and had to re-thread it from scratch. That, plus 2 or 3 other switches and levers, is basically what it takes to switch between modes.
As an example, when I sew t-shirts on my combo machine, I use the overlocker mode to sew the shoulders, sleeves, side seams, and neck band. Then I convert my machine from overlocker mode to coverstitch mode. This involves removing the overlocking threads, flipping a lever, threading the lower looper, moving the needles from the back position to the front position, re-threading them, and then snapping the cutting blade out of the way and popping its cover on. This becomes muscle memory after a few times, but it can sound intimidating at first. Then I can finish my t-shirt using the coverstitch mode. I topstitch the neckband and hem the sleeves and body.
Swapping between modes on my Bernette 48 takes about 5 to 7 minutes, but this can feel like a hurdle to some sewists, especially when you’re in the middle of your project! Every sewist is different, so it helps to try out different machines in store if possible.b
Here are other features to look for:
Five-Thread Safety Stitch: This is the standard overlock stitch with the addition of a chain stitch running parallel. This stitch is unique to combo machines (and some very high-end overlockers). While it can be recreated in two separate steps using an overlocker followed by a standalone coverstitch, a combo machine’s ability to handle this in one step is beneficial. It’s a highly secure seam that’s useful on knitwear like t-shirts and activewear.
Differential Feed: This is an incredibly useful feature on overlockers, coverstitch machines, and combos. It allows you to independently control the top and bottom fabric feeds. This is used to prevent wavy seam lines, but it’s also a critical feature for gathering a fabric onto another fabric, and when adding elastic to a project. All of the machines considered here have this feature. Look for one that has an adjustment dial with multiple differential feed settings, rather than two or three set options as this is limiting.
Adjustable Blade: This is a feature of the overlocker mode, but still worth mentioning for its usefulness. The ability to adjust the cutting width to suit individual fabric thicknesses will help you achieve a perfectly balanced seam.
Adjustable presser foot pressure: Adjusting the pressure that the foot uses to hold the fabric you’re stitching will improve the stitch quality on different types of fabric. For example, bulky fabrics require a different pressure than thin fabrics, and this adjustability reduces the risk of wobbly, loose, or wavy stitches. Again, look for a machine that allows you to adjust incrementally, rather than a few set options.
Should you get an overlocker-coverstitch combo machine, or a coverstitch-only machine?
Every sewist, budget, and sewing room is different. Here are some questions to help you choose between a combo machine and a pair of standalone machines.
Do you currently have an overlocker? What’s your budget like?
One might argue that depending on which machines you get, you’d be saving money by choosing a combo option. This isn’t always the case, especially if you already have an overlocker that you’d like to keep. Personally, I made the switch to a combo machine when my previous overlocker broke. This turned out to be the perfect opportunity!
Do you have space on your table (or in your sewing room) for three machines?
If you only have space for two machines (your regular sewing machine plus one more), a combo machine will give you access to coverstitch and overlock stitches without taking any extra space.
Do you have the patience for manual conversion?
If the thought of un-threading your overlocker and re-threading it in coverstitch configuration sends a shiver up your spine, then a manual conversion machine may not be a great option for you.
If there’s room in your budget, an air-thread machine can solve this problem. If not, choosing a separate overlocker and coverstitch machine means you can switch from overlocking to coverstitching just by scooting your chair over a bit.
Keep in mind that you’ll need to buy twice as much thread if you’d like to take advantage of speed here! If you’re tempted to just un-thread your overlocker so you can bring the cones to your coverstitch – well, that’s the same amount of work as switching modes on a combo machine… but that’s up to you!
What to read next:
- The Best Coverstitch Machines UK (an Owners Review) – read this if you’re considering a coverstitch-only machine.
- The Best Coverstitch Machines USA
- Coverstitch Machine 101 (including stitch photos).
- The Best Overlocker Machines UK – read this if you’re considering an overlocker-only machine.
- Overlocker Stitches Explained Simply (with photos).
This article was written by Kat Waters and edited by Sara Maker. It was originally published on 7 March 2022 and has since been updated.
Kat Waters (author)
Kat has been sewing since her feet could reach the pedals, starting with quilts she made with her mom and eventually graduating to garments. She now makes everything she wears, occasionally teaches classes, and shares her projects on social media. Highlights include her wedding dress, shoemaking, and a love for almost any fabric that comes in hot pink! Read more…
These sources were referenced in March 2022: