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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: HiSissa
Date: 06-21-2007, 08:44 PM (1 of 14)
I'm fairly new to sewing (made a few clothing items for my kids and simple tops for myself so far). I used a serger in my sewing class and LOVE how much more professional things look than when I just use my sewing machine.

My budget is limited and I saw that there's a Brother 1034D that goes for about $199 that I can order online - it has gotten very good reviews. As of right now, I'm not looking for fancy features (though who knows what the future will bring :smile: . However, my local dealer also has a Singer 4/3 Serger for $299. I know nothing about it and he just said "it does 3 thread overlock and 4 thread overlock" but it would come with a class and 1 year service (I think the Brother has some warranties but I would have to ship it back and forth I guess, unless i want to just pay my local dealer).

Anyway, sorry to go on. I'm not even sure what the appropriate questions to ask about a serger are ... any advice on which of these two would be a better choice?

I want ease of use, reliability and durability over cool features. I know sergers go for way more than the above, but I really don't have more $$ to invest right now, so I'm trying to get the best I can for cheap. Thanks!
User: HiSissa
Member since: 06-07-2007
Total posts: 5
From: bosco_ette
Date: 06-22-2007, 01:17 PM (2 of 14)
Find out the Local sewing machine store and How long have they been in business? do they do the repairs in the store or do they have to send it out? ask lots of questions..Bring some fabrics YOU will want to sew on when you are considering a particular model... then sew samples of fabrics on it..See how hard or easy it will to operate on your own. Changing it from 3 thread to 4 thread, doing a flat lock, rolled hem or gathering.

If you can talk with people here You can get some advice but for a new machine it was a great thing to have people to sew with when you are first learning.
TRY to connect with a Adult education community sewing class or American Sewing Guild for a small yearly fee you will make friends and have at your use free advice for a whole year.

Often classes at the sewing store are meant to convince you to BUY more of their products.. remember I used to work for them.. I remember the contests and promotions Singer had to convince people spend money. On contrast I would have bought any machine from my favorite dealer Elna ( but even Elna is no longer made in Switzerland I think Janome is the one they recommends ). He answered questions over the phone. offered classes every month, and offered to take the machine I bought as a trade in fully the amount I paid for it if I wanted to get a more expensive one as my skills improved and my desires for extra features increased.

CONTRAST I a few years ago I worked part time for Singer for 2 years...The owner had only been in business for 5 years and lived in another state. The men who worked in the stores are often sales men only. Traveling to conventions and craft fairs occasionally they were in the store. They don't sew -except to demonstrate the machines- and they don't own the store to care about their reputation. Salesmen were not even working for longer than a year and they would go sell something else to make more money.

I bought the Singer 14T948DS and got my discount before I left the store. (With all the fabric stores closing in our area not as many people wanted a machine.) I bought it as my machine for gathering only. With the differential feed adjustment it makes gathering easy! My work horse serger is an Elna 5 thread,which also works as a 4, 3,2 also and it cost $$$$ I think I got the singer for about $175.00.

As the singer woman who took in many machines for repair Caution: Even after the joy of buying them the first few weeks..the store took many of them back for problems even while they were under the 1 year warranty. We didn't tell the customers but they were driven to a singer repair place 2 hours away once a week. It took a month to get them back. Also for your info, Singer is no longer made in America..Taiwan I think (not China) Plus it only works with singer SERGER needles with a distinct needle number. If someone was NOT told that at purchase they often replaced a needle with the wrong one and it caused problems.

In conclusion---I think YOU can make whatever machine you buy.. sew and do the basics IF you have good teacher and good friends to come along side you and help but In my opinion, I think the best investment is to a local GREAT dealer who does the repairs in his own shop. (my Elna has not had repairs needed in over 10 years) Because of that shop I have been a good seamstress for 25 years. Back then I thought it was way to much money but over the years it has proved to be valuable maybe costing me 20 dollars a year. I will probably keep it for my lifetime. For one who just needs it to last for a year I would probably buy from Kenmore... they have 90 day money back guarantee and you can get up to 3 years if you pay a little more. They offer no classes no help but you can try it out and take it back if you don't like it. Ebay Home shopping network catalogs walmart CostCo and other bargain machines offer the same price but give no guarantee. Consider your needs and the gamble you will be making.
keep in touch, Joni in CA
15 mintues a day minimum.. get to your studio and make something!
User: bosco_ette
Member since: 06-14-2007
Total posts: 16
From: bosco_ette
Date: 06-22-2007, 01:22 PM (3 of 14)
Your local Sears sells Kenmore and last year they seemed to be made by Singer.
15 mintues a day minimum.. get to your studio and make something!
User: bosco_ette
Member since: 06-14-2007
Total posts: 16
From: darly1959
Date: 06-23-2007, 09:09 AM (4 of 14)
I personally have had an Elna L4 for over 20 yrs as well as a Bernette 2/4 for as long. I purchased the Pfaff coverlock yesterday after much consideration. You will need to decide what you are wanting your machine to do, before you can make your choice. I have been fine w/ the overlock and chain stitches up until now. The new machines do coverlock stitchs which are found in your ready to wear garments. A serger is close to a lifetime investment. If you cant find a dealer w/ loads of info. I would hold off till you do. Dont try and choose a cheaper model just to get started. You will become frustrated with the results. Hey just my opinion. Darlene
User: darly1959
Member since: 03-10-2006
Total posts: 3
From: chebber
Date: 06-23-2007, 05:12 PM (5 of 14)
I bought a White brand serger from a reputable company on eBay. I know everyone said to buy from a local store so that you could get repair and support, but I saved myself about $150 buying it this way. I've had it about a year and no problems so far. I've been able to search on the internet for tips on using it.
User: chebber
Member since: 03-22-2007
Total posts: 6
From: Mom of Six
Date: 06-23-2007, 08:57 PM (6 of 14)
I bought a cheap Brother serger for my first one. It worked great for about 2 years & then I missed taking a pin out. It bent the shaft & would have cost more to repair than to buy new. The shop I went to gave me more for a trade in than I paid for it & I bought a Janome Mylock 744D. I love it!! It is quieter than the old one & I think it is easier to operate. I used some of my inheritance when my Dad died to buy it.( I would gladly give it up to have Dad back). I don't know how I used to sew without a serger. I don't think I have made anything since I got it that I haven't used it at least once.
Happiness is having time to sew!!
User: Mom of Six
Member since: 11-03-2001
Total posts: 1115
From: Tom Land
Date: 07-06-2007, 10:29 AM (7 of 14)
"My budget is limited and I saw that there's a Brother 1034D that goes for about $199 that I can order online - it has gotten very good reviews."

I would try to qualify the reviews. I'm not speaking of just this machine but any. All the reviews I have ever found are either biased or written by people that have had the machine a few days to a few months. Look for someone that has had a machine for say 2 years and really uses it. The opinion often changes.
Have fun or don't do it, Tom
User: Tom Land
Member since: 09-21-2005
Total posts: 514
From: DorothyL
Date: 07-06-2007, 11:09 AM (8 of 14)
What is this thing with sergers?

I used a serger in my sewing class and LOVE how much more professional things look than when I just use my sewing machine.

Check this out

All that stuff is made by HAND and is a darn sight more "professional" than what most of us do with a serger!

A serger makes things look like ready to wear -- that is not always an improvement.

That said, it does make a good seam finish and works for some decorative work. I use mine on almost everything anymore.

I first bought a cheap -- $250 or so -- serger at the fabric shop. It was such a pain all the way around that I gave it the youth center and bought a good Pfaff.

I just think if you can't afford a good serger -- there is just so much more to go wrong with those things -- your time might be better spent learning some "professional" seam finishes.

And I'm not one to tell people to spend more money than they have. I'm the one that tells people to get a less expensive sewing machine until they have the experience to know what they want.

But a serger is different. It is just more complicated and less necessary.

Of course if you can afford to spend $200 and toss it out a couple months later go ahead.

Just my thoughts on the matter.
User: DorothyL
Member since: 12-09-2002
Total posts: 3883
From: LeapFrog Libby
Date: 07-07-2007, 01:53 PM (9 of 14)
I agree with you, in theory.. But... (you knew a but was coming) more than 17 years ago I bought a serger from Cloth World for $ 179.00 ($20.00 off regular price) and the name on it says Companion 2040. I have no idea who made it.. My Janome dealer says she thinks it is a Babylock product. I do not know who made it like I said, but I know one thing, they made a jewel..! ! ! I have never had to do anything but keep it clean and change needles and I cannot tell you how much sportswear, casual wear, and pj's that little machine has made and is still going strong.. Probably 350 to 500 bibs from fingertip towels, also.. I sent Babylock an e-mail asking if they could confirm this, and they sent me an e-mail ad for sergers and did not bother to say yes, no, or KMA to my question...I only wanted to know so that I could give them an unsolicited testimonial... Look what they are missing for their "too busy for a peon" attitude.. This serger is why I bought a coverstitch machine instead of a new serger.. Saved me a lot of money, and besides the lady showing me the Pfaffs had a really bad attitude also.. So, I'll just keep on serging with my trusty little "off brand" serger which I dearly love and I'm just as happy as if I had good sense.. LOL..
Sew With Love
User: LeapFrog Libby
Member since: 05-01-2002
Total posts: 2022
From: Tom Land
Date: 07-07-2007, 05:59 PM (10 of 14)
Libby, as I recall the Companion was distributed by Tacony. The same people that distribute Babylock. The Companion is identical to a Babylock model but not really a Babylock. Babylock doesn't make anything. They just contract with manufacturers to have machines made. Therefore unless there is a patent involved anyone else can have the same machine made with a different name on it. We also see this with Simplicity and Sergemate. As a former executive with House of Fabrics (So-Fro in your part of the county) I can tell you that many of the machines sold by the fabric chains are "special market" models. Not that they are always inferior models but are not the same as the mainstream or dealer models and the wholesale cost is much lower. In some cases it is how excess parts are used up when a model is being discontinued. Another way these models come into existance is if a major company places an order for say100,000 machines and when they get the first shipment in they decide it doesn't measure up to that companies standards but they are still obligated to take the rest of the machines. They then tell the manufacturer that they'll take them but put this other name on them. Bill can probably elaborate more as he was around long before I.
Have fun or don't do it, Tom
User: Tom Land
Member since: 09-21-2005
Total posts: 514
From: Kylnne2
Date: 07-08-2007, 03:13 AM (11 of 14)
The first serger I owned was a little 3 thread Happylock that had no differential feed. I remember it cost little because I sold them at this company and I also used my employee discount. Later when I worked for Singer, I purchased a 4 thread Babylock that did have the DF and wow I loved that serger. It was not an air threader but the the air threaders just came out and I have never been a fan of the woosh models.
The only problem my serger had was a broken dial. It broke in a long move to another state. I now prefer lay in tensions instead of the dial tensions. I have owned several brands that include Pfaff, Janome, and Simplicity and they are also good work horses. They are still working hard today but I have given them to my daughters since I purchased my Elna coverlock.
I have loved all of my sergers but the Elna is the easiest with the auto tensions and easy to thread and only takes seconds to convert to coverhem without having to change the foot or the plate.
Sears Kenmore sergers have been made by Janome the past few years and I did check out the newest model at Sears last week and I was not too impressed. I heard it is the same as the Janome Juno model sold at Hancocks which I have not yet seen. I did think the new Kenmore was not the quality of the discontinued models. The features were hard for me to use with my bad hands. I could use my older New Home Janome model just fine but this demo model at Sears might have been faulty even though it was designed the same as my older Janome. The Sears model is also less expensive than the older models..but I would prefer their older models over this new one.
User: Kylnne2
Member since: 07-10-2004
Total posts: 629
From: Upholsteress
Date: 07-08-2007, 10:04 AM (12 of 14)
Very interesting thread. I bought a Kenmore 4 thread serger YEARSSSSsssss ago... had my heart set on a 5 thread as I wanted a "locking" thread to be stitched at the same time as the serging, but was talked into the 4 thread. It has performed like a champ over the years... I have made wedding party attire for family weddings, but use it mainly to serge unruly upholstery fabrics when necessary, and to finish very heavy fabrics for uph accessories and skirt corners. Other than changing the knife far more often that probably most folks... it has done very well.

Its amazing the things you can find to use a serger for. :up:

User: Upholsteress
Member since: 01-21-2007
Total posts: 35
From: LeapFrog Libby
Date: 07-10-2007, 07:26 PM (13 of 14)
Tom, (and others also, but Specially for Tom)
I looked at my serger again yesterday, and surprise! ! I had the name wrong.. It says Companion Sergemate 5040... so that bears out what you said about its origins.. Now, for the MOST embarassing part.. I should not tell you this, but everybody knows me and my Big Mouth.. I was really looking at it, and I decided that it looked like it should convert to a free arm model.. I checked the manual, (re0read from cover to cover) The part that swings out to let you thread the lower looper is called free arm and ?? (I forgot that term) But the manual tells of no other use for it except threading the lower looper.. So, I looked at it very closely and it looks like it should come apart to form a free arm condition. I studied , pulled, tugged and looked some more.. I couldn't budge that small part, so I asked DS to come to the sewing room.. (He does not normally come in there) He has some engineering experience and is pretty good at home repair stuff.. Explained to him what the problem is, showed him free arm on the other 2 machines in there, and asked his opinion.. He got a couple of screwdrivers and tinkered around and finally figured it out.. VOILA ! ! ! I have a free arm on that sucker and just figured it out.. It is more than 15 years old..I sat down and completed 8 libs bibs in less that 30 minutes.. Those had been taking me about 15 minutes apiece because of the small circumference of the neckline and having to be careful of the pins.. Not to mention sticking my fingers with the pins and having to stop for that also.. I thought at first that I would keep this to myself, but as I said, I've got a big mouth.. I thought I might as well fess up and give everybody a big belly laugh.. So, my original $ 179.00 investment more than 15 years ago just gave me a great dividend.. and all I have to do is loosen 1 phillips head screw and push the lever down to loosen the free arm from the rest of that door.
Sew With Love
User: LeapFrog Libby
Member since: 05-01-2002
Total posts: 2022
From: Kerkyra
Date: 07-13-2007, 04:02 AM (14 of 14)
I have a Janome 204D 4-thread serger I'm really happy with it, it's pretty basic (although has differential feed) and it has more features than the Brother I found for around the same price. I also have a Janome domestic machine which I'm also very happy with. I got them over the internet from the UK (sewing machines are ridiculously expensive in Greece). The Janome dealer in town is also the Singer dealer and is also the only repair man. In his workshop he has only Singers for repair!! No one has needed to bring him a Janome for repair. I'm now looking to buy a coverstitch machine!!

I've also heard good things about Pfaff but they might be a bit out of your budget.
User: Kerkyra
Member since: 07-01-2007
Total posts: 15
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