• Abi

Overlocker Virgin

Overlocking, Serging, Merrowing

The background of where these terms came from

So here we are with "What is the difference between an overlockers and a serger?"


But let's get into the history of it to see why...

In 1881 a fabric mill owner, J. Makens Merrow, based in Connecticut, made fabric. He created fabric from wool. A course wool fabric, frayed like mad, and frustrating to the miller. Every time he cut off a portion of wool from the looms, the edges would fray, threads were everywhere, fabric was getting ruined and it all looked bad on the roll which would be sent out to the retailers. This fabric the Merrow family made, is still well known and used today, and goes by the name, 'serge' wool. You see it used in the home for clothes (mostly suits and mens wear) and furnishing and quite often worn by the patrons of Saville Row tailors.

The miller used to hand whip sew an edge to each portion of fabric that was cut, to stop the fraying. This time consuming and therefore very expensive to do every time he cut fabric off the looms and in 1889, his son, Joseph, came up with an idea of a machine that could crochet three threads around the edge of the serge, saving man hours and therefore, money for the family business.

Over a period of time, the crochet machine was developed into overlocking machines that could stop the fray with two and four thread, as well as the three from the original.

In 1905, the Merrow company won ownership and copy right of the machine in a court battle agains a sewing machine company, Wilcox and Gibbs, and were able to manufacture the machine. This invention was amazing, and over time not long after people were making copies, better versions, smaller versions, more efficient versions.

Now, let's skip a few decades, closer to now.

By 1964, a group of managers and staff working in a company making these small industrial overlocking machines, in Japan, developed a small, domestic version of the overlocking machine. Their bosses rejected the idea on the grounds that women did not want a clunky, expensive machine in their home which will only finish the edge of fabric. So the gentlemen boldly took their chance and formed a new brand 'Juki'.

Owener, Nick Tacony of the Tacony Corporation in the US, introduced the first domestic overlocking machine to the US market, calling it the 'Babylock' machine.

So, overlocking can also be referred to as Merrowing (which isn't so common nowadays) or serging.

Abi x

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