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View Full Version : Serger/Overlocking Machine Information Please?


Jantra
11-18-2010, 08:45 AM
I'm looking into getting a serger after hearing many good things about them, but unfortunately I am having trouble finding decent real reviews on various ones and finding out what I should be looking for. I'm not looking for anything terribly expensive or complicated, but not a crappy cheap one that I am going to be cursing down the line to get my work done.

Anyone know a good machine? I'm partial to the Viking sewing machines (I adore mine) and they have sergers - anyone have one of these to give their opinion?

Also - cost would be a good thing for me to know.

Thanks!

Sarcasm-hime
11-18-2010, 10:00 AM
I have a Brother Lock 1034D and am happy with it. Don't have experience with other sergers. My regular machine is a Janome and I love it.

benihime
11-18-2010, 11:30 AM
I have a brother that I got at walmart. very basic one and works like a charm!

Clyde_2.0
11-18-2010, 11:32 AM
^ Me too! I also have a Brother Lock 1034D and it's pretty easy to use, it's got very clear and simple instructions. I love how easy it makes finishing seams.

Kelley
11-18-2010, 04:09 PM
What are you going to be using it for ?

Do you work with a lot of stretch fabrics ?

Jantra
11-18-2010, 05:20 PM
I'd like to be able to do more with stretch fabrics provided I have the ability.

The Brother ones you guys are talking about - how much did they run you?

Kelley
11-18-2010, 06:42 PM
Stretch fabric is really the only thing you need an overlocker for - knits, and it helps finishing the edges of, say, organza.

Otherwise, it's a pretty low-quality finish for other fabrics, the only advantage being that it's quick - which is good if you want to make a lot of costume but aren't concerned about quality (for, say, contests or such).

Just saying.

Take a look on eBay and local used stores. My sewing teacher a few years back got one for $60, used, that's lasted her years.

glitter bomb
11-18-2010, 07:30 PM
I always seem to work with a lot of knits and stretch fabrics, a serger/overlocker is pretty much essential for that. It's also quick and handy to finish the edges of fabrics that unravel if you even look at them funny, like suede cloth or chifon, so you can prevent unraveling while you're working with them. You can then do a traditional finishing if you'd like to be more professional.

I have a Husqvarna Viking 5-thread overlock. Not bad for a reasonably priced consumer machine. The topstitching sucks. It is only useful for a very few woven fabrics, and is totally useless for anything stretch (which is what it would be most needed for). But the overlocking is pretty good. I'm not crazy about the feed -- it has problems with distorting knits at the ends and I have to do all kinds of tricks to try to prevent that, it also has trouble handling thick fabrics (like where seams overlap). I don't think the 5-thread is worth it, I'd just get the 4-thead standard.

though after cursing with both my consumer serger and my consumer sewing machine, I'd strongly strongly suggest getting an industrial model serger if you plan to continue in cosplaying or some type of costuming. I've found that the kinds of things we create aren't standard, and consumer machines really can't keep up. Most consumer models are meant for things like mom sewing some cotton curtains every now and then. An industrial machine has a stronger motor, works faster, and can perform much better with things like leather, pleather, vinyl, PVC, faux fur, etc. You can push a consumer machine to go pretty far, but after you've been sewing a bit you'll realize it just can't do what costumers need.

a final suggestion: most sewing shops and JoAnns stores offer free or cheap classes to learn how to use a serger. Take one. The directions on my Viking were insufficient, skipping an important step in threading. And the video tutorial that came with the machine was on a VHS tape. Not a DVD, just VHS. I learn pretty well from books, but the class I took was pretty much necessary to learn the machine.

Kelley
11-18-2010, 09:31 PM
Maybe "industrial" for a serger, but there are plenty of domestic-class sewing machines that can handle heavier fabric.

My Singer 15-91 (made in 1933) is often mistakenly advertised as "industrial", but it's not and I've sewn leather with it easily and will be sewing real fur (so, decently thick leather with hair-on) with it in the soonish future.

I've worked with industrial machines, and you'd have to be very dedicated to pay the extreme cost AND to find a place to keep them - they're huge (one I've used would take up 2/3 of the space needed for a full size bed) and heavy (I would think you'd need more than two people to lift it) and built into their tables and are often built for a very specific and limited function.

I wouldn't recommend them for a first purchase. I'd get something cheap to find out and judge use and benefit and see what you're working with a year from now, first.

glitter bomb
11-18-2010, 11:52 PM
@Kelley:
well yes, of course it does, it was made in 1933. ;) the older models are made of metal, often iron, not plastic like modern machines. they had stronger motors as well, partly due to the different market at that time. and they had fewer functions, so the few stitches they offered they performed very well. Many vintage model sewing machines are pretty much on par with some modern industrials.

Unfortunately, vintage machines are not anywhere near as prevalent as modern machines, so they're harder to find. And finding one in working order is even more difficult. So when most people are talking about sewing machines they're referencing modern machines, common consumer machines. Which is why I said given the choice between a [modern] consumer machine and industrial, I'd choose industrial. I'm also suspecting that you may have a totally different idea of "industrial" from your description. All the ones I've seen are pretty much the same size as a regular machine, they're not bed size or room size by any means. Friends keep them in their homes like any other hobby stuff. So we might not be talking about the same machine. :)

FWIW, every single person I know that does frequent costuming of some type either has an industrial machine, or wants one. And everyone who has one says "I wish I hadn't wasted money and time with the consumer machine." Which may just be hindsight talking, but I figured I'd share that. Which is why I suggested to the OP that an industrial may be a better bet *if they feel they'll be doing a lot of costuming*. Your experience may be contrary, I'm just sharing the benefit of the experience of many veteran sewing folks that I know, as well as my own. :)

Tigress
11-19-2010, 03:57 AM
I find if you practice proper maintenance, even a cheap machine will go pretty far. My mom bought me my first sewing machine several years ago (ie she cut me a check for $120 and I bought a cheap Singer for $100 at WalMart) and it still sings along after sewing fur, leather and denim. After each major project, I take it apart, oil all the parts I can get to and brush and/or blow out all the lint in the machine.

I may move on to a more expensive machine in the future (because I want to do fancier stuff), but for now I have a really good machine.

Jantra
11-19-2010, 08:26 AM
I adore my Viking sewing machine, which has done fairly well on all but the thickest fabrics.

I'm not a greater sewer, but I am a costumer of several years. I'm a prop maker and those tend to far outshine the costume itself, but its the sewing I definitely have some problems with - specially having absolutely no training in it. (Not even say, my mother.)

Thanks for everyone's input! I think I am, for my purposes, going to pick up one of the Brothers and see how it goes - I can always move up to a better machine down the line if I find I really like it.

Kelley
11-20-2010, 07:48 AM
@glitter bomb, To me, "industrial" has always meant an actual industrial machine - used in an industrial setting typically for workshop or production work.

For instance, these are Brother's industrial machines : http://www.brother-usa.com/IndustSewEmb/AtAGlance.aspx?ProductType=Sewing

My main "problem" with them when it comes to home use is that they're built with a very different audience in mind. They're invariably built for speed - which may be unnecessary and frustrating, especially to a new user not yet familiar with the type of machine.

The teaching machines my college used were nearly $1,000 straight-stitch only machines, but they're listed in the "home sewing" category. They were very hardy and had a lot of "punch", similar to that of the 15-91.

The vintage industrials tend to be the HUGE ones - vintage Singer walking foot had an enormous table. The modern ones were about the same table-size as vintage domestic, but were still pretty heavy.

My personal recommendation, though, is to buy the cheapest machine you can find - buy one used, doesn't matter if it's the best machine or not. A really cheap machine will let you see how you use the machine - so if you realise you need something sturdier or more specialised, you know what direction to go. You'll learn what features are important to you and which you think your next machine should improve on. And if you take decent care of the machine, you can sell it to someone else and not lose much money. :)

Satine
11-20-2010, 06:27 PM
Yes industrial is supposed to mean made for the industry :) I have a Rimoldi that's old enough to have no information on the web ;) But it's a great four thread overlocker that zooms through. Industrial machines have built in tables and work very fast.

I have a babylock and adore it. I mainly bought it for the ability to do "rolled" hems in sheer fabrics as well as all the options between. It is also useful for quick ruffling. It was $NZ 899 but on sale at $NZ400 and it is very definitely worth the investment. It also has a very easy threading for the needles and loopers which is another factor to think about. My industrial overlocker is hard to rethread and to replace needles. t can be frustrating to adjust tension too. But once set up is extremely fast at overlocking. I can make a bodysuit in an hour with all the fittings included as it goes so fast.

Get a good quality machine with a warrenty of ten years if you are serious. You can also sew stretch fabrics by machine so long as you have good stretch stitches included. These start at a triple stitch (two forward one back).

R1KKu
11-21-2010, 03:41 PM
I have a Brother Lock 1034D and am happy with it. Don't have experience with other sergers. My regular machine is a Janome and I love it.

I have this same one and I absolutely love it. Have not had a problem with it yet (and I hope I dont)

benihime
11-21-2010, 04:56 PM
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Brother-Serger-Thread-Machine-1034D/1723621

that is the one I got. I had to take it back once to walmart because it jammed but I was able to get a new one quickly :)

Sword-Saint
11-22-2010, 09:00 AM
Boy. I've got an old, old table-set Kenmore (I think...might be something else) and it's served me just perfectly. Yeah I have to do more complicated stitches by hand, but I've never had any problem with it. On the other hand, twice I've had to use friends' machines, newer plastic ones and holy cow, seems like EVERY time I'd plug them in they'd freak out and have SOME problem I'd have to fix: thread catching, bobbin coming loose, etc...

So... all that to say I like mine, although i want to buy a new one for more stitch options, but...all this talk from you guys is fairly intimidating. i just want something cheap that works well. Yikes. Industrial? Nowhere on my list. But then, I'd also like to be able to do serging, at some point...

Sutie
03-08-2011, 03:18 PM
I have this same one and I absolutely love it. Have not had a problem with it yet (and I hope I dont)

I have the same Brother 1034D like most of everyone on here. It works great except ever since I've had it (brand new!) the under looper thread keeps breaking and I have to stop, rethread it, and start again. Sometime a few times before it goes smoothly.

Does anyone know what is causing this or how to fix it?

It still works great, just takes a lot of extra time to do a project.

Penlowe
02-02-2012, 12:59 PM
, vintage machines are not anywhere near as prevalent as modern machines, so they're harder to find. And finding one in working order is even more difficult.

Hmmm.. I think this varies a lot by where you live. I'm in a big city and if I put "sewing machine" into my Craig's List I get 50 or 60 listings, mostly older machines, better than half I'd be willing to test out & set up a beginning sewist with... The prices vary wildly (all those people who think their rust seized treadle is worth $1k :falls over laughing: ) but in general it's a matter of knowing where to look.

Shopping for vintage goods isn't like shopping for new things, if it's listed on-line somewhere, the person listing it either knows it's value is worth the cost of shipping, or (more commonly) they have an over inflated sense of it's value. It's when people don't think it's worth anything that they donate it to charity or list it on Craig's List for $50 in order to get someone else to remove that 40 pound dust collector. The Salvation Army nearest my home has at least two sewing machines for sale every time I go in, usually running & under $50.

Another advantage to thrift store machines is they will often let you test them in store, provided you bring your own fabric & thread.

tsukeru
02-05-2012, 10:54 PM
http://www.walmart.com/ip/Brother-Serger-Thread-Machine-1034D/1723621

that is the one I got. I had to take it back once to walmart because it jammed but I was able to get a new one quickly :)

I got this machine and I haven't had any issues with it. One of the best Christmas presents that I ever got. I simply love it. I just wish I knew how to use more of it's features, but I learn every day when I use it.

AmamiHaruka765
04-09-2012, 08:49 PM
I have the same Brother 1034D like most of everyone on here. It works great except ever since I've had it (brand new!) the under looper thread keeps breaking and I have to stop, rethread it, and start again. Sometime a few times before it goes smoothly.

Does anyone know what is causing this or how to fix it?

It still works great, just takes a lot of extra time to do a project.

Probably a tension problem. This happened to me a lot. Make sure your tension setting is appropriate for the thread you're using. 4 is best.

zandratirith
04-23-2012, 05:07 PM
I'd like to be able to do more with stretch fabrics provided I have the ability.

The Brother ones you guys are talking about - how much did they run you?

I spent $250 on my Brother 1034D from Amazon about 1.5 years ago. Overall, it's been a great serger to have and I wished I purchased a serger years sooner. It doesn't do everything a 5-thread serger does but it still does a lot. The best part is the color coding makes threading easy. The reviews that I read about it is its a great machine to learn on but if you serge a lot (like professional basis) a more rugged machine would be better.

The only experience with using knits with it was I serged was many, many microfiber diaper inserts. Serging them was really easy. The only issue I had was the layers would shift as a serged so I ended pinning them together but I was doing 3-4 layers at once. (Microfiber is similar in thickness to a towel.) About a year and too many washes to count later, the serging on the inserts has held up well.

Qu-ko
12-29-2012, 01:02 AM
The Brother 1034D was my first serger, and for anyone who's never tried it before, it's a good machine to learn on. Mine lasted a good four years before I had to replace it, and that was only because the timing was thrown off so badly that the lower looper wouldn't clear the upper looper anymore. I wound up investing in a more durable serger (an Elna, though I forget the specific model), but for the price, the Brother machine should serve well anyone just starting out.

Serging is a handy, handy thing, too. For finishing seams or even complicated things like stretchy finished edges or use with ruffles. If you plan on getting serious with cosplay and sewing in general, it's a great investment -- the initial frustration in learning to thread the damn thing is worth it, I swear.

(Protip: If you're changing thread color on a serger, don't take the old thread out and rethread it, just tie the end of the old thread to the new one and let the machine run until all threads have come through. If you do it right, it makes life a lot easier.)

kuntalsk
08-13-2014, 02:46 PM
Thanks for the useful and long discussion, I have written reviews on Brother sergers, please check this http://usemyreviews.com/serger-reviews-2014/