Project Runway

We Interrupt This Program – What The *#%& is Merrowing?

Hi Dear Readers,

Hey, did any of you catch this scene last week on the 10th season of Project Runway, the scene where Christopher is verklempt that his partner doesn’t know how to ‘Merrow’ and claims it is Sewing 101???DSCF2605

Did any of you see that?DSCF2603

“See, you just press the foot and the thread goes like this…”

Now, call me an idiot but I have been sewing for a very long time, even have 10 years of being in manufacturing, and I had not the slightest clue what they were talking about when they said Merrowing is Sewing 101!!!!  What was Merrowing?  Can you believe I have been thinking about this all week?

Then I figured out that they are talking about the brand name of the actual machine they were using.  The brand is Merrow Sewing Machines and they make industrial machines for specific tasks, such as sewing knits together, underwear, that funky stitch at the top of your socks and even a machine to put kevlar together.  These are machines that a home sewer would typically not purchase, and I’m not even so sure that a designer would even invest in, them being so industrialized specific.  A designer doesn’t necessarily need a 5800 stitch per minute machine.  But I could be wrong?

Is the term ‘Merrowing’ something you use in your own terminology of sewing or do you just say ‘Serge’ like me?

I’m off now to go cut up some nightgown fabric!


6 thoughts on “We Interrupt This Program – What The *#%& is Merrowing?”

  1. I, too, got whiplash with that little statement. “Wait a minute, what did he just say?” -Did some immediate googling (got a little waylayed by thinking he said “marrowing”) and learned that it is basically just the “industry” term for serging. Then I thought, “Ooh, what a great term to “throw around” in casual conversation!”
    Love the nightgown, by the way…


  2. I didn’t see the episode but am familiar with the term because I’ve been hanging out at Fashion-Incubator for years. You’re right that Merrow is a brand name, but “merrowing” is just a generic term for a certain type of stitch. “Overlock” is another that can refer to the machine or to the general type of stitch, though it’s not a brand name. Merrow and overlock are used in the industry, while serge is used by hobbyists. Which term I use depends on who’s part of the conversation.

    Whether or not designers own overlock machines depends on whether said designer is doing any of the sewing him/herself. Many designers do not know how to sew and leave that to those who do.

    Even though I’m just a hobbyist, I own an industrial overlock machine. Yes, it can sew at a crazy fast rate, but I can sew as slowly as I want, too.


  3. Okay, I guess I don’t hang out at Fashion-Incubator. You are probably right though but I think it must depend on where you are working because we never said ‘Merrowing’ but ‘Overlock’, yes. We also said ‘Serge’ too. We also never said this term in Fashion School either, it was Overlock or Serge as well. Anyway, you are also right, you can sew as slow as needed too and better to have a machine that is up to the task than one that is not! I totally agree with that.


  4. While sometimes it’s tough to read that ‘merrowing’ has become a generic term, we’d like to think that it still describes a process that had a great impact on all of us. The first Merrow overlock machine (which is in fact the first overlock machine, period 🙂 still resides at our facility in Fall River and helped shape the development of garment production for the last century.

    We continue to build remarkable sewing machines. One of our core customer groups are designers in the US, Europe and Asia, and we are the only sewing machine manufacturer that will develop clothing prototypes and sew patterns (creating new sewing machines along the way) at a nominal charge – and despite the machines running quite fast, they really are a great addition to the sample room or studio.

    Almost every day we’re developing interesting variations of overlock stitches on different materials and with a wide variety of threads – a case in point is our new ActiveSeam stitch, a new versatile flat overlock stitch. With ActiveSeam we’ve introduced new stitch, a new model for marketing stitching, and a development process where we assist the building of new products with ActiveSeam.

    In a world with more and more mass produced mediocre schlock, we hope that someday ‘Merrowing’ will be synonymous not with overlock sewing BUT the process of creating innovative and quality overlock seams. We work towards that, every single day.

    – Best,
    Charlie Merrow
    CEO Merrow Sewing Machine Co.


    1. Thank you Charlie Merrow!
      I don’t believe we used Merrow machines. We had a lot of Juki and large ABM quilting machines. I don’t even think we had the Merrow brand in College either (Purdue) so forgive my ignorance at not knowing!!!

      I love the fact that you are US made, or I hope they are still made in the US?

      I hope I will have the opportunity someday to explore first hand the uniqueness of your awesome machines! Maybe (I can hope) someday a sample room of my own may need a Merrow!

      Thanks so much! Please feel free to offer your expertise at any time. I know interested readers are always too happy to learn.



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