Categories
Sergers & Overlockers

2 Best Overlockers with Automatic Air Threading (2020)

Heads up: This post includes affiliate links like Amazon ones, so I earn from qualifying purchases (at no extra cost to you). Thanks for using them 🙂

This is part 2 of my ‘best overlockers’ series. Today we’re looking at the best overlock machines with automatic air threading.

With these machines, you press a button and they thread the loopers for you with a whoosh of air. 

I analysed 12 UK overlockers with air threading. Narrowing it down to my favourite was tough. You can expect an excellent machine from all brands at this price point.

To help me decide, I received advice from 12 industry experts. This included 3 overlocker technicians and 9 overlocker sellers. Here’s what I learned.

Best overlockers with air threading:

Best air threaded
overlocker
Best air threaded
& automatic tension
overlocker
Juki MO-2000 QVP
(£1095)
Babylock Victory
(typically £1149. Check Amazon price)

If unavailable, my next best picks:

I’ve listed them in order of preference.

Good air threaded
overlockers
Good air threaded
& automatic tension
overlockers
1. Husqvarna Amber Air S 400
(£949)
1. Babylock Enlighten
(typically £1399. Check Amazon price)
2. Pfaff Admire Air 5000
(£949)
2. Babylock Acclaim
(typically £1649. Check Amazon price)
3. Janome AirThread 2000D Pro
(typically £979. Check Amazon price)
4. Juki MO-1000
(typically £995. Check Amazon price)
5. Babylock Enspire
(typically £849. Check Amazon price)

Pin this image to bookmark the post for later 🙂

best overlockers with air threading

**I Find the Best Free Sewing Patterns and Share Them Every Thursday. Don’t miss out. Join the Email List :)**


Contents list:

  1. Summary of my best picks. (Skip to this)
  2. In-depth review: best overlocker with air threading. (Skip to this)
  3. Alternatives. (Skip to this)
  4. In-depth review: best overlocker with air threading and automatic tension. (Skip to this)
  5. Alternatives. (Skip to this)

Juki m0-2000 overlocker with air threading

Best overlocker with air threading: Juki MO-2000 QVP

Typically £1095.

The Juki MO-2000 QVP is one of the best overlockers with air threading and a needle threader. This means it will thread everything for you, so you can start sewing much faster.

An overlocker seller praised Juki’s quality. He said the brand has a long history of making industrial machines.

It also has an information screen that suggests settings for different stitches. This is very unique. It will save you from memorising settings or looking through your manual.

Accessories you’ll need:

  • 130/705H needles. These are standard needles that will work in your sewing machine too. Get a stash of size 80/12 for lighter fabrics, and size 90/14 for thicker fabrics.
  • Overlocker thread. Remember that overlockers take 4 threads. Get a set of 4 in black, white, and/or grey and beige (to blend better with coloured fabric). A size 2500m fits nicely on the machine and will last for ages. I would pick one that doesn’t lint too much. I use and recommend the Toldi-lock 100% polyester threads by Gutermann.

Babylock Victory overlocker with air threading and automatic tension

Best overlocker with air threading and 
automatic tension: Babylock Victory

Typically £1149. Check Amazon price.

If you want air threading, a needle threader, and automatic tension, the Babylock Victory is for you. It threads everything for you, and it chooses the right stitch settings automatically. What a dream.

For a premium overlocker, it’s a decent price too. You could easily pay more for this combination of features.

Babylock has an excellent reputation among industry specialists. 2 overlocker sellers described them as the “rolls royce” of overlockers. You can expect excellent build quality from this machine.

Buy now on Amazon.

Accessories you’ll need:

  • HAx1SP needles. Get sizes 75/11 for light fabrics and 90/14 for thick fabrics. These are standard ballpoint needles that will also work in your sewing machine.
  • Overlocker thread. Remember that overlockers take 4 threads. Get a set of 4 in black, white, and/or grey and beige (to blend better with coloured fabric). A size 2500m fits nicely on the machine and will last for ages. I would pick one that doesn’t lint too much. I use and recommend the Toldi-lock 100% polyester threads by Gutermann.

In-depth review: Juki MO-2000 QVP

Juki m0-2000 overlocker with air threading

Typically £1095.

Ideal for: people who want an easy overlocker that threads itself.

It’s self-threading!

The biggest selling point is that it threads itself completely. 

An overlocker has 4 areas to thread: 2 needles and 2 loopers. The loopers are the trickiest part. In a manual machine, there’s a lot of “thread gymnastics” and tweezer action required.

With the Juki, you insert your threads into the looper holes and press a button. The machine uses air to do the rest. For the needles, use the built-in needle threader to shoot threads through the needle holes. 

It’s impressively fast! You can start sewing quicker, and with less frustration. 

You also won’t have to deal with a common issue seen in manual machines: the looper threads catching each other and breaking. It’s so frustrating having your threads snap in the middle of a seam. With air threaded models, each looper thread is protected in its own tube and can’t get tangled. 

You also don’t have to follow a specific threading order.

Now technically there are many overlockers that can do this. I found 12 different machines with air threading, so why did I pick this Juki model over those?

It tells you what settings to choose

I picked the Juki MO-2000 QVP as my favourite because of the unique “information screen”. You choose the stitch you want to do (eg. rolled hem), and it displays the settings you need. 

This is such a time saver. You won’t need to find your manual to look up the correct settings. You won’t need to memorise or google them. 

Most overlockers don’t have this, but I wish they did!

Excellent reputation for build quality

An overlocker seller I spoke to praised Juki’s quality. He said the brand has a long history of making industrial machines.

What stitches it can make

It can sew 2, 3 and 4 thread stitches. This includes the overlock, rolled hem, narrow hem, and mock flatlock stitches (photos here).

It can do a blind hem too, but you’ll need to buy the blind hem foot separately.

It stitches fast at 1500 stitches per minute. This is the top-end of speed for domestic overlockers.

Good for thick, lofty fabrics

The presser foot lift is very high at 5-8mm. Normally overlockers are 4.5mm-5.5mm. 

This extra height means you can fit loftier fabrics under your presser foot.

It’s relatively quiet (ish)

Juki has made efforts to reduce the noise and vibration this overlocker creates. They boast it has ”quiet operation” in their sales page. 

However, I wouldn’t expect miracles. It still makes a noise. All overlockers are pretty noisy unfortunately.

Accessories

It comes with a waste bin included, which is very handy. Overlocking is messy!

It works with normal sewing machine needles (130/705H). This is a nice cost-saver in the long run. Some overlockers (eg. Bernette and Pfaff) require special overlock needles.

The standard foot comes with a tape guide! Other brands make you buy this as a separate foot.

You can use it to overlock elastic or tape into the shoulder or side seams of stretchy clothes. This will stop them stretching out over time. You’ll normally see this technique used in store-bought t-shirts.

Built-in 2 thread converter

With cheaper machines, the 2 thread converter is a separate accessory that you fish out and attach to the upper looper. 

This is built-in to the Juki, so you just engage it when you want 2 thread stitches. 

It’s a nice time-saving convenience, and you don’t have to worry about losing this important gadget!

Manual settings

This is an overlocker with manual tension settings, so if you want full control over the settings, this is a plus. 

If you find choosing the tension settings a burden, look for an overlocker with automatic tension too. My recommendation is the Babylock Victory.

Limitations:

There’s no free arm, extra feet, or extension tables included. This is normal for all premium overlockers unfortunately. 

This also isn’t the cheapest air threaded model, so you are paying a little more. However, I think it’s worth it. 

The information screen that tells you what settings you need is very unique. You won’t need your manual to find the correct settings.

Juki’s presser foot pressure dial is also much better designed than the cheapest air threaded overlocker: the Babylock Enspire

The Babylock uses an unlabelled screw. Getting it back to normal pressure will be very annoying. You also need a coin to adjust it. 

The Juki has a simple dial that you turn by hand. It’s labelled with “low”, “medium” and “high” pressure, so you can return it to normal pressure easily. 

The Babylock is also missing a waste bin. You would have to find and buy it separately for £20-30. The Juki includes it.

This is why the Juki won for me, despite the Babylock being the cheapest option.


If the Juki MO-2000 QVP is unavailable:

All of the brands listed below were praised by industry experts I spoke to. You can expect excellent build quality from them all.

Here are the models I recommend, starting with my favourite:

  1. Husqvarna Amber Air S 400
  2. Pfaff Admire Air 5000
  3. Janome AirThread 2000D Professional
  4. Juki MO-1000
  5. Babylock Enspire 

Husqvarna Amber Air S 400

Husqvarna amber air s 400 overlocker with air threading

Typically £949.

It can sew 2, 3 and 4 thread stitches. It includes a built-in needle threader, a built-in 2 thread converter, and waste bin. The presser foot height is 5-7mm; great for sewing thick fabrics. It requires HAx1SP needles. These are standard ballpoint needles that work in sewing machines too. There’s no free arm or extra feet.

Pfaff admire air 5000 

pfaff admire air 5000 overlocker

Typically £949.

It’s extremely similar to the Husqvarna Amber Air S 400. The specifications are almost identical.

Janome AirThread 2000D Professional

janome air thread 2000d overlocker

Typically £979. Check Amazon price.

This is similar to the Husqvarna and Pfaff, except its presser foot height is lower at 5.5mm. 

It’s price has also been raised during the pandemic. It was £899 before August 2020.

Juki MO-1000

juki m0-1000 overlocker

Typically £995. Check Amazon price.

This is almost identical to the MO-2000 (my favourite air threaded machine), except it’s missing the information screen that suggests settings. 

It sews at 1500 stitches per minute, which is the top-end for domestic overlockers. For comparison, the Husqvarna, Janome, and Pfaff sew at 1300 stitches per minute (which is still fast). 

It’s presser foot height is 5-8mm, making it great for overlocking thick fabrics.

Babylock Enspire

babylock enspire overlocker

Typically £849. Check Amazon price.

I seriously considered making this my top choice. At the moment, it’s the best priced overlocker with air threading. 

Overlocker specialists have a lot of praise for this brand, so you can expect a well-made machine. 

It can do 2, 3 and 4 thread stitches. It has a built-in needle threader, built-in 2 thread converter, and sews fast at 1500 stitches per minute.

However, the badly designed adjustable pressure and lack of waste tray annoyed me. Other air threaded models don’t have these problems. 

To explain, the adjustable pressure is controlled by an unlabelled screw. Getting it back to normal pressure will be annoying. There are no markings that tell you what low, normal, or high pressure is! Most overlockers have a simple, labelled dial. You also need a coin to adjust the pressure on the Enspire.

To be fair, if you don’t sew with very thick or thin materials, you’ll never have to change the pressure, so the screw won’t be an issue. 

And you can get the waste tray separately for £20-30, solving my second complaint. 

Overall, it’s an excellent price for an air threaded machine.


In-depth review: Babylock Victory

Babylock Victory overlocker with air threading and automatic tension

Typically £1149. Check Amazon price.

Ideal for: people who want the easiest overlocker.

It threads everything and automatically chooses settings

If you want air threading, a needle threader, and automatic tension, the Babylock Victory is for you! This is basically the easiest-to-use overlocker.

Automatic tension means the overlocker will choose stitch settings for you, creating (near enough) perfect stitches immediately. You won’t need to experiment with the settings to get a good stitch. This removes a huge frustration.

To thread the machine, you insert your threads into the looper holes and press a button. The machine uses air to do the rest. For the needles, use the built-in needle threader to shoot thread through the needle holes. It’s impressively fast!

Good build quality

Babylock is well-loved by industry specialists. 2 overlocker sellers described the brand as the “rolls royce” of sewing machines. You can expect excellent build quality from them.

What stitches it can do

It can sew 2, 3 and 4 thread stitches. This includes the overlock, rolled hem, narrow hem, and mock flatlock (photos here).

It can do the blind hem too, but you’ll need to buy the blind hem foot separately. Expect to pay about £30. I wouldn’t say this stitch is necessary for most people. A sewing machine does a better job of creating neat blind hems than an overlocker does. 

This overlocker stitches fast at 1500 stitches per minute. This is the top end for domestic overlocker speeds.

A decent price when compared to other Babylock’s

You could easily pay more for the Victory’s combination of features.

The more expensive Babylocks (the Enlighten and Acclaim) can also do air threading and choose tension settings for you. They’re only marginally better, but cost hundreds more. 

For example, the Enlighten and Acclaim have 3 LEDs instead of 2. In my experience, 2 LEDs is good enough. 

They can do the exclusive wave stitch, which the Victory can’t. This is a decorative way to finish hems. Many people aren’t bothered about this, they just need the main overlock stitches. 

Their presser foot heights may or may not be 0-2mm higher than the Victory’s (I have seen conflicting stats). This isn’t a deal breaker.

The Acclaim threads the needles with air, but this only reduces your threading time by a few seconds. 

The Acclaim also has a small magnetic tray for holding needles. 

For hundreds of extra pounds, I think these improvements are marginal for most sewists. 

I’d go for the Victory. It offers the best bang for your buck.

It reduces overcutting and undercutting

Unlike many overlockers, the stitch width is actually changeable. 

Normally overlockers “change” the width by cutting closer or further away from the needles, but not Babylock. They change the actual stitch position.

The advantage of this is that it prevents overcutting or undercutting. You’re less likely to have stitch loops that are too wide, and hanging off the edge, or too narrow.

Good for lofty fabrics

It has a high presser foot lift of 6mm. This height makes overlocking thicker fabrics easier. You can fit more fabric under the presser foot.

I have seen higher maximum heights (7 and 8mm), but 6mm is still very good.

Built-in tape guide

It has a built-in ribbon/tape guide! Other brands make you buy this separately. 

You can use it to overlock elastic into the shoulder or side seams of stretchy clothes. This will stop them stretching out over time. You’ll normally see this technique used in store-bought t-shirts.

Warranty

Babylock machines come with a 2 year warranty

If you fill out this form within 3 months of purchase, they’ll give you a 4 year warranty instead.

Limitations:

It has no free arm or extra feet. For machines at this price point, this is normal.

It has no waste bin included. I highly recommend buying it separately. Overlocking is messy! Expect to pay £20-30.

I also don’t like its adjustable presser foot pressure design. It’s an unlabelled screw that you turn with a coin. There’s no label that says where normal, high or low pressure is, so adjusting it back to normal pressure will be annoying. 

You rarely have to change the pressure, but I do have a hack to help solve this.

When you first receive it, it will be set at normal pressure by the factory. Use a permanent marker to draw a line. This way, if you adjust it, you know the line is normal pressure.

Babylock finally solved this issue with the Acclaim. It has a user-friendly dial on the side. I’m not sure it’s worth the extra £500, however.

Buy the Victory now on Amazon.


If the Babylock Victory is unavailable:

I have only seen automatic tension and air threading on Babylock overlockers. They have 2 other machines like this in their current range:

Babylock Enlighten review

babylock enlighten overlocker

Typically £1399. Check Amazon price.

This model is similar to my top pick, the Babylock Victory, but it has a few extras. It has 1 extra LED light and it can do the exclusive wave stitch (a decorative way to hem fabric).

Like the Victory, I have the same complaint about the adjustable pressure screw.

Like the other Babylock’s, this is a very well made machine. A reviewer who owns the Enlighten said “…a sewing machine engineer with 30 years experience, told me that he was really impressed with the technology, having opened one and fiddled with the insides”

Babylock Acclaim review

babylock acclaim overlocker

Typically £1649. Check Amazon price.

This is similar to the other Babylock’s, but the main difference is the needles are air threaded. You place your threads in front of the needles, and it sucks the thread through the needle holes. It makes the process a little faster, but it is noisy. 

Like the Enlighten, the Acclaim has 3 LED lights and can do the exclusive wave stitch.

The Acclaim has a small magnetic tray for holding needles, which the other Babylock’s don’t have.

The adjustable pressure is now a user-friendly dial, not an unlabelled screw.

Babylock’s brochure says the differential feed system is now a “one-piece feed mechanism”. This creates “more consistent gathering”.

And the needles are no longer slanted, they’re vertical. They move in an up-and-down motion, which apparently puts less pressure on the fabric, stops the needles bending, and penetrates thicker fabrics better.

The sales pages on some dealer sites boast that it has 2” of space to the right of the needles. I’m not convinced how this would be useful. 

Like other overlockers, you can only sew up to the blade. Even if you retract the blade, the plastic cover is blocking you from using the extra 2” of space. Hypothetically, you could solve this by sewing with the covers open. But most overlockers won’t sew if the cover is open, for safety reasons.


Related posts:

Here’s how overlockers are different to normal sewing machines.

If you’re not sure what stitches an overlocker makes, or when you would actually use certain ones, check out my beginners guide to overlock stitches. There are lots of close-up photos.

If you’re not sure what features to look for in an overlocker, here are 21 things to consider. I also explain common overlocker terms (like “differential feed”) with lots of photos and videos for visual learners.

I also asked industry experts what makes an overlocker good or bad quality? This is a really eye-opening read. Learn what sacrifices manufacturers make for cheap overlockers.



Free Sewing Patterns Every Thursday

Free patterns. Your inbox. Beautiful.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.