Elna Elnita ES4 Serger Review: A Good Overlock Sewing Machine?

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Sergers are complicated. If you’re not used to them, they can be intimidating. And if you’re looking for your first serger, intimidating is not what you want. The Elna Elnita ES4 is a simple, friendly 2-3-4 serger. But can it do everything you need it to? Well take a look as we go through our Elna Elnita ES4 review.

About Elna and the Elna Elnita ES4 Serger

The Elna name might not be as well known as that of Singer or Janome, but the brand has an interesting history nonetheless.

In 1933, Spanish engineer Dr. Ramon Casas Robert was asked to repair a relative’s sewing machine. The machine fascinated him, and he began to think about how to improve sewing machine design. Specifically, he wondered how he could make it easier for sewists to do small, circular work like cuffs and trouser legs. [1]

Thus, the free arm was born in 1934.

The outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 forced Robert to emigrate to Switzerland. The company Tavaro SA of Geneva acquired the rights to Robert’s design and, with his assistance, began production in 1940. 

War interrupted the development of Robert’s free arm machine, but production began again in 1948, with the Elna 1. Tavaro continued to manufacture machines under the brand name Elna until 1995, when the firm went bankrupt. Tavaro was sold off, but production of Elna machines continued in Asia.

In 2006, Janome purchased Elna’s worldwide operations, and they continue to manufacture machines under the Elna brand name to this day.

The Elna Elnita ES4 Serger

elna elnita es4 overlock machine

Since the company’s beginnings, Elna’s designs have focussed on ease and friendliness of use. The Elnita ES4 continues this tradition.

The Elna Elnita ES4 serger is a 2-3-4 serger, which means it sews with two, three, or four threads. Its design is straightforward.

Although it’s missing some basic features, such as a retractable blade, a built-in rolled hem, and, ironically, a free arm, this is a decent all-purpose serger.

  • 2-3-4 serger
  • Simplified threading
  • User-friendly design
  • High quality build
  • Decent accessories pack
  • No free arm
  • Limited built-in stitch selection
  • Limited options for stitch width adjustment
  • Fewer features than other machines at the same price point

Who is the Elna Elnita ES4 For?

The Elna Elnita ES4 is a solid serger that would do well in most sewing rooms. However, there are a few factors that make it a good choice for a first serger.

First, it’s a bit easier to thread than some other models.

Now, no manually threading serger is exactly easy to thread. But some are easier than others.

In addition to color-coded threading, the Elna Elnita ES4 has a switch that brings the lower looper into the ideal position for threading. 

At this point, I have to show you just how simple the interior of the ES4 is. Compare the internal setup of the ES4 to that of my own first serger, the Pfaff Hobbylock 2.0.

I love my Hobbylock, but it’s a chore to thread it. This is because the upper and lower loopers are so close together, and the place where they intersect is really close to the upper cutting blade.

pfaff hobbylock threading

By contrast, the Elna Elnita ES4 puts a bit more room between the loopers, and between the loopers and the blade. And then you get the positioning switch. This is not only a frustration saver, but also a finger saver.

how to thread elna elnita es4
Image courtesy of Elna Service & Support [2]

At the same time, the Elna Elnita ES4 has simplified its range of functions. 

While many 2-3-4 sergers have a dozen or so built-in stitches, the Elna Elnita ES4 has three:

  • Two-thread overlock
  • Three-thread overlock
  • Four-thread overlock

Granted, these are the three that many serger users use the most, but it is limited. You won’t find a built-in flatlock stitch, here, or a blind hem or a rolled hem. For a first serger, this may not make a difference. However, experienced serger users may feel constrained by the lack of overlock stitches available.

There’s also the matter of stitch width selection. Sergers, like regular sewing machines, have a stitch length selector knob. Some also have a stitch width selector. We’ll talk about this more in detail later. 

The Elna Elnita ES4 does not have a stitch width selector. Nor does it allow you to adjust the blade position, which is another way that some sergers determine stitch width. Rather, stitch width on the ES4 comes down to whether you’re using the left or right needle.

It works. But it’s a brute force way of doing things, and doesn’t allow the kind of fine control of stitch width that other width selection methods might.

Would these limitations hold you back? Or would they provide a friendly, structured introduction to serging? That depends on you.

What’s in the box? 

Accessories that come with the Elna Elnita ES4 serger, include:

  • Large and small screwdriver
  • Serger tweezers
  • Serger needles set
  • Lint brush
  • Thread nets
  • Cone spool holder
  • Sewing machine oil
  • Foot Controller
  • Soft dust cover
  • Accessories box
  • Elna Elnita ES4 manual

Technical Specifications

elnita es4 accessory pack

So, You’re Buying Your First Serger

Buying your first serger is a big step. The fact that there are so many models and combinations of features makes buying the best serger for your own individual needs even harder. But, if you know what to look for, you can find that first overlocker to make your dreams come true.

Here are a few things we’d look out for:

Ease of Use

Sergers are complicated, no doubt about it. So when you’re buying your first one, ease of use is paramount.

There are a number of things that manufacturers can do to make a serger easier to use. These include:

  • Simplified, or even automatic, looper threading 
  • Manual controls for different types of adjustments
  • Built-in needle threader
  • Automatic tension adjustment

Manual Controls

Let’s talk about manual controls. Almost every serger will come with a knob, dial, or lever that controls stitch length, and another that controls the differential feed. 

Stitch width is a bit trickier. There are a few ways your machine may allow you to adjust stitch width. These include:

  • Moving, removing, or switching out the stitch finger
  • Adjusting the cutting width
  • Using the left or right needle

Some machines, however, have a stitch width selector dial that adjusts one or more of these things for you. That’s a very convenient feature to have.

In addition to a stitch width selector, look at the differential feed knob. The differential feed controls the amount of stretch or compression your machine places on the fabric. 

Some differential feed controls are marked with pictures showing differing degrees of stretch and compression, while others may use letters. Most, however, will be numbered from 0.5 to 2.0, with 1.0 being the neutral setting. Which do you think will be easiest for you to remember?

Finally, most sergers control thread tension with a series of numbered dials. That being said, some machines, particularly at the higher end of the price spectrum, have automatic tension. 

Differential Feed

So, what is that differential feed thing we keep talking about?

A regular sewing machine has one set of feed dogs that sit under the fabric and move it through the machine. A serger has two. The differential feed mechanism allows you to adjust the speed of the feed dog sets relative to one another. This either stretches or compresses the fabric while you’re stitching.

This function can help you to sew different types of fabric better, for example knits. It can also help you do special effects like decorative edgings.

The vast majority of sergers have a differential feed mechanism, but some do not, so keep your eyes open.

Number of Threads

The most frequently used serging stitches are the three and four thread overlock. Just about every serger will have these stitches built in. 

However, if you’re thinking about doing decorative edging or working with ultralight fabrics, then you’ll also need a serger that sews with two threads.

Some higher-end machines can sew with as many as eight threads, but this is beyond the scope (and the budget) of most entry-level home serger users.

Stitch Selection

Almost every serger can do a three and four thread overlock. However, you might also want to do other stitches. Here are a few:

  • Rolled hem (two-thread, three-thread, narrow, and wide)
  • Flatlock (two-thread and three-thread, narrow and wide)
  • Mock safety stitch
  • True safety stitch
  • Chainstitch

Features and Benefits Review of the Elna Elnita ES4 Serger

elna elnita es4 serger

Although this model is a bit light on features, it still has plenty to recommend it.

User-Friendly Design

As we’ve already mentioned, Elna has gone the extra mile to make the Elna Elnita ES4 easy to thread. And when it comes to a first serger, threading is often the most difficult part.

This machine is also lightweight and portable.

Differential Feed

The Elna Elnita ES4 does indeed have a differential feed mechanism. Its knob is clearly numbered for your convenience.

The Most Commonly Used Stitches

Although the stitch selection is limited, Elna does provide three of the stitch designs that serger users most often use. Unless you’re buying a serger to do delicate decorative edging, three and four thread overlock stitches will get you through most projects.

Good Accessories Selection

The accessories packs that come with many sergers are pretty limited. But Elna has included a decent number of useful extras that will make setting up, using, and maintaining your serger easier.

Alternatives to the Elna Elnita ES4 Serger

The Elna Elnita ES4 is a good first serger, but there are a lot of entry-level sergers on the market. And, the fact is, you can often get more features for the same, or even less money.

Here are some examples:

Baby Lock Vibrant

The Baby Lock Vibrant is an entry-level 2-3-4 serger. 

Although this model, too, has a limited stitch selection, you do get a couple more designs, including a flatlock, a blind hem, and that all-important rolled hem. Also, this model has a built-in thread cutter, which, admittedly isn’t a dealbreaker, but it is pretty neat.

The Vibrant also has a stitch width dial and a slightly greater differential field range.

This is Baby Lock’s most affordable serger. Their higher-level machines are pretty impressive, albeit considerably more expensive. You won’t find Baby Lock’s patented air-threading technology on the Vibrant, but then again, you won’t find it on any model at this price point.

If you’ve always wanted a Baby Lock, this model is a good way to get in on the ground floor.

Brother ST4031 HD

brother st4031hd serger

One of Brother’s specialties is budget-priced equipment that is surprisingly feature rich. The Brother ST4031 HD serger certainly falls into this class.

This is a 3-4 serger, so if you’re looking for a machine to do delicate decorative edging on ultralight fabrics, this isn’t the one. Still, coming in at around two-thirds the price of the ES4, this machine has some pretty cool features, including:

  • Extended differential feed range
  • Stitch width knob
  • A heavy duty metal frame
  • A removable extension table

It’s also super-lightweight at just under eight pounds. 

Singer Pro Finish 14CG754

singer 14CG754 PROFINISH

Singer’s machines tend to be excellent value for money, and the Singer Pro Finish 14CG754 is no exception. This is a 2-3-4 serger that will run you about 25 percent less than the Elnita ES4. 

For your money, though, you’ll get:

  • Four built-in rolled hems
  • Five additional built-in stitches 
  • Free arm

If you’re looking for a well-made entry level machine that’s powerful and versatile, too, then this model could be a good choice.

Elna Elnita ES4 Review: Final Thoughts

elna elnita es4 serger motor

The Elna Elnita ES4 is a well-made simple serger. It’s easy to thread, easy to use, and makes light work of the most common serger tasks.

At the same time, for the price, the ES4 is a bit light on features. It has a small selection of built-in stitches, and allows limited control over stitch parameters. There’s no built-in rolled hem and no free arm.

The fact is, there are numerous models on the market that can provide more features for not just the same price, but for significantly less.

If you’re tech-shy and want a gentle introduction to the world of sergers, the Elna Elnita ES4 could definitely provide you with just that. However, if you suspect you’d soon find this machine’s limitations constrictive, then you might do better with a more feature-rich model like the excellent Brother ST4031 HD.

elna elnita es4 review


  1. Les Godfrey | History of Elna Sewing Machines | http://www.needlebar.org/main/elna/
  2. Elna Service & Support | Troubleshooting Sewing Machines | https://www.elna.com.au/faqs/

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