Merrow Stitch and Finish Guide (What Is a Merrow Machine?)

With 177 years of experience. That's what you have going for you when you use a Merrow sewing machine. Over those many years, this company has helped different companies improve their products through the creation of newer machines and stitch styles.

What is a Merrow machine? It seems that the Merrow sewing machine company is a leader in creating stitches. There is the shell, stitch, the crochet stitch, the scalloped edge, and the famous Merrow or the purl stitch. The Merrow machine is basically a serger which the company invented many years ago.

To learn more about this company and its contribution to the fashion industry just continue to read our article. It has the information you need to know about as this is a famous company that knows sewing. For over 170 years Merrow has been involved in the sewing world.

A Little Merrow History

If you are not familiar with this name brand it may be because its contributions have focused on the industrial side of sewing. Then the advances this company has made have been transitioned to the residential side of the sewing world via other companies.

The company started out as a gunpowder manufacturing firm. But when an explosion took out the mill, Joseph Merrow decided to build a knitting mill instead. It was the first American knitting business and since that historical decision, Merrow has been a leader in technological advances in sewing machines as well as inventing different stitches.

The 1849 California gold rush helped turn this company from a local one into a national one as its goods began to make their way to San Francisco. As sales began to increase, a machine shop was added as a complementary business.

The grandson of Joseph Merrow was instrumental in producing the first overlock sewing machine and when a fire in 1887 destroyed the knitting mill, the company changed directions and focused on building new sewing machines.

Designs were improved and Merrow took off and revolutionized the industrial sewing industry. The rest of the story is quite interesting and you can read about it on their website.

What is a Merrow Stitch?


The simple label would be the overlock stitch. This was invented by the Merrow company over 100 years ago and has proven to be one of the better stitch options when doing hems.

The company did not rest on its laurels after inventing this stitch. It is said that the company’s sewing machines have more decorative overlock stitches than any other brand. These stitch styles are used to help prevent fraying on those fabrics prone to that sewing ill.

You could also call the Merrow Stitch a purl stitch as the company invented that stitch option as well. The purl stitch is often found on napkins as well as nice evening gowns.

What is a Merrow Machine?


Joseph P. Merrow, the founder of the Merrow machine company built the first crochet machine after his gunpowder mill blew up. As the knitting side of the business was excelling, he established a machine shop to help their own products.

What was originally called a crochet sewing machine and was designed to sew the tops of men’s socks. This design was to replace hand sewing those tops. After a while, the machine became known as the Merrow machine.

This machine was first invented just before 1876 and it may be that once the Merrow company transitioned to the Merrow Machine Company that all of its sewing machines became known as the Merrow machine.

While there were legal issues that often distracted the founder, the company still grew large enough to send their machines to over 35 countries and had their owner’s manuals printed in 12 languages.

What Does a Merrow Machine do?

Wha- Does-a-Merrow-Machine-do

Basically, the Merrow machine is an overlocker sewing machine. Or it is also called by its other name a serger sewing machines. The machine itself was invented in 1881 and used a 3 thread system.

This invention led the way for the company to continue to be innovative as it worked on a two and four-thread version. They also invented the one thread butted seam and the cutterless emblem edger. The two and three thread styles are also known as merrowing.

With this inventive spirit, Merrow designed its machines to have a cam instead of a piston drive. This innovation allowed the company’s sewing machines to sew a very delicate edge that other companies cannot duplicate.

High speeds do not bother this machine either. The cam design helps maintain the critical tolerances needed between the needle, needle plate, and looper in order to create perfect edges all the time.

Merrow Stitch by Hand


It is possible to re-create the Merrow machine stitch by using your hands. It will take some practice to master and you should use scrap materials until you get the technique down.

The Merrow machine stitch is said to be a unique style related to the buttonhole or blanket stitch patterns. You just need to keep the stitches close together for the finished product to look good.

Also, the blanket stitch is known as a crochet stitch. If you know how to do the latter, you can easily duplicate the Merrow stitch by hand. There is a high count dense stitch that is probably the same as keeping the stitches close together when you work with your hands instead of your machine.

The Merrow stitch is said to not pucker and it will hold up to lots of wear and tear. This makes it an ideal pattern to copy when you don't want to work with your machine.

Merrow Stitch on Serger


This is very possible as the majority of other serger sewing machine brands do incorporate many of the Merrow techniques into their sewing machines. One way to use the Merrow stitch on a serger is to practice on scraps first.

You will find that your serger will have many Merrow stitch patterns in its list of built-in stitch patterns so all you have to do is identify the symbol and turn the dial to get that stitch. The tough part will be in adjusting the stitch width, length and tension.

That has to be done when you change the fabric type. Check your manual for help in those adjustment areas. When you want to make a patch using this stitch, use scrap pieces and stitch your design. Then cut the design out with sharp scissors.

Make sure to use 4 thread cones when using a 4 thread serger.

Merrow Machine vs Serger


This is like comparing red apples to red apples as basically a Merrow interlocker sewing machine is a serger sewing machine. Since the company invented this version of sewing machines all other brands will be mere copies with some tweaks.

Merrow did not rest when it invented the interlocker sewing machine. Over the years they continued to make design adjustments and used innovative and creative thinking to come up with unique machines that set them apart from the competition.

The company came up with the Delta Class serger but it was not very popular. The difference between these machines though would depend on what the competing brands did to theirs that was different from the Merrow machine.

All would be fine machines when built with top quality parts and since Merrow stitching patterns are included on the competitors’ machines you are getting Merrow influence when you buy those non-Merrow sergers.

Merrow Sewing Machine Price

You are not going to be happy with the news. Since these are mostly industrial machines, the cost of a new Merrow sewing machine is going to be quite high. One dealer says to call them for a quote and when you read those words, you know that the price is going to be quite high.

To give you an idea of the new price, used versions of the sewing machine start at around $500 with one model only $219. The price then goes up to almost $6000 depending on the model, the condition, the year it was made, and so on.

Those prices are found on eBay. We did find similar prices at another company so the eBay prices are not far from the real price of used machines. With over 360 different models to choose from, you may find an affordable one if you contact Merrow directly.

Their machines are supposed to be hand-built which helps boost the cost.

Some Final Words

When you go with a Merrow sewing machine for your sewing business, you are getting the Rolls Royce of sewing machines. This is one of the last companies to build sewing machines in America. They are the oldest ones to do so.

Still run by relatives of Joseph Merrow, the company strives to produce the best industrial sewing machines for you to use.

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