Q's for the serger owners here

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Hi all,
I'm entertaining purchasing a serger.  Not really sure why except that
I don't have one.  I'm pretty sure it will be of the used variety as I
don't want to spend a bunch of $$$ at this point for something I'm not
sure I'll use all that much.  I've been doing some looking on
craigslist and my local freecycle sites to no avail.  So I went to
ebay just for kicks & giggles.  Noticed there are many differences of
which I am clueless.  There were anywhere from 3-5 threads and, of
course, the prices were all over the map.  I'll probably end up and my
local machine shop (which is pretty good) to see what they have used
but I wanted to go in armed with some info.  What value, if any, does
the greater number of threads have and is that what drives the price?
To get started, and anticipating doing smallish, not overly
complicated projects, do I need the greater number of threads, etc?
Even though I'm not being really clear here - I don't think - you
folks know what I'm trying to ask.  Can anyone give me some hints or
clues?  Tricks?

TIA
Kim in NJ

Re: Q's for the serger owners here


Hi Kim,

It reads to me like what you want is a serger primer, which didn't
google well, so I tried the next best I could think of:
http://tinyurl.com/2g2n5q8

HTH

Doc

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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


wrote:
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Doc,
Great info.  Thanks for the link.  Gave me a nice overview.  At least
now I won't sound like a complete idiot when talking to the machine
folks!

Kim in NJ

Re: Q's for the serger owners here


On 29/07/2010 12:29, AuntK wrote:
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I have owned several in my time, and currently have two, a Brother 1034D
and a Bernins 1150MDA.  Both are superb at what they do, but different.
  The Bernina cost slightly more than twice what the Brother cost.

The Brother is a 3/4 thread serger.  It cuts as it sews, and wraps
thread round the cut edge, giving the ultimate neat edge.  It will sew
all sorts of fabrics and make a neat 3 thread rolled edge.  It will do
seams and edges with three or four threads.

The Bernina is a 2/3/4 thread serger, which means it will do very fine
seams, rolled edges and neatenings with 2 threads as well as 3 or 4
threads.  It will also cope with thicker and toughr fabrics and is a lot
quieter.  What it doesn't have is the free arm that the Brother has
(hence these two machines).

5 thread machines can do several different stitch options.  Typically,
they can take up to three needles, and do a chain stitched seam that is
separate from and in addition to the overlocked edge finish.  I've never
needed this facility, so never bothered with the extra expense.  The
same goes for those that do a cover stitch hem (as on T shirts).  I
don't do anything like enough to be bothered with a machine that does
this, and if I did, I'd buy a dedicated coverstitch machine as the
conversion from seams to coverstitch is usually a great pain...

The more threads, the more complex the machine and the greater the price
(and potential to go wrong!).

--
Kate  XXXXXX  R.C.T.Q Madame Chef des Trolls
Lady Catherine, Wardrobe Mistress of the Chocolate Buttons
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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


wrote:
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Kate,
Thank you - exactly the type info I was looking for from a definite
expert!

Kim in NJ

Re: Q's for the serger owners here


My Singer serger  is a 1986 3/4 thread with 2 needles.  I got it about the
time I saw the first home serger and I love it.    For about 8 years or more
I
took out the outside needle and have used it as a one needle, 3 thread
serger and it has suited my needs.  I sew baby/fleece  blankets,  and the
edges of other things I might sew.  I don't use it to construct garments
because I find it less expensive to buy my VERY casual clothes when they are
on sale.  My sewing is mostly mending, or using the serger to go around
ragged wash cloths or towels.  I make craft projects for home and use the
serger almost as much as the SM.  I would not want to be with out either a
SM or a serger.  I would suggest reading a good serger book, your own or at
the library, to find out the different things a serger will do.  I review
mine now and them to remind me.  I also enjoy watching the few sewing TV
programs to get new ideas on how to use my serger.
Barbara in HOT muggy SC



Re: Q's for the serger owners here


Lots of good advice already. My personal opinions follow....
I don't like the chain stitch option. Chain stitch is great for when
you are doing something temporary, but the bulk of the thread on the
underside is, relatively, considerable. It wears. And when it wears
through the chain un-chains. When I was doing alterations/repairs a
lot, perhaps the majority, of repairs were seams where the chain
stitch wore through and un-chained. <G>
Like Kate, I don't want to pay for coverstitch capability. It might be
nice if I were sewing a whole lot of knits that needed hemming, but I
can get the same effect/look with a twin needle at a lot less cost.
<G>

Basics I recommend for a beginner sergist:  2/3/4 thread capability.
Even though I, personally, generally use the 4 thread set up, it is
nice to be able to do some of the heirloom style 2 thread techniques.

You want differential feed. This means that the feeddogs are split
into 2 sections, a front and a rear. And the rate of feed can be
changed. When balanced both feed the same amount. But you can adjust
to have the front feed more or less than the back.  If more you get a
little easing. Or with stretch fabrics you won't stretch the seam as
you serge it. The front pushes a bit more fabric than the back is
pulling. You can adjust the feed so that if you are sewing quilting
weight cottons it will actually gather as you serge.
If you adjust the differential the opposite way the back pulls more
than the front which stretches it out. Great way to get a "lettuce"
edge on fabric. Or not get the puckers that can be a problem with
woven polyester, or microfiber, fabrics. (Depending on how much
difference you set in the speed of the feed. <G>)

One thing to check on..... the availability of replacement cutting
blades. And the cost of them. Also find out if there is someone around
who can sharpen the blades. (the blade on one of my sergers costs a
little over $40. Yes I have a second one. My dealer used to have
someone to sharpen them but he was somewhat less than honest with the
shop, so they had to quit using him. Need to find someone else.
Sharpening cost about $5-6. )

You also want to check the ease of threading the lower looper. Most of
the newer machines have made this a lot easier than the older ones.
<G>

Sergers are great machines. They do what they do extremely well, and
fast. But they don't do everything. I do like to use mine for
finishing and trimming the edges of my quilts before binding. I have
used the serger to piece strips that don't have to be matched later.
Or to piece some things that will be used as decoration and not
quilted.
And they are wonderful for doing a quick finish on cut edges before
washing fabric. (use a 3 thread with the tension of the needle
tightened. Easy to remove.)

This is probably a lot more than you wanted, but I can ramble on....
sigh
If you have specific questions please ask,

Pati, in Phx

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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


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Pati,
Not rambling at all, this was perfect info.  As the rest has been as
well.  I had a clue as to what the finished products could/would look
like from a serger but no clue as to how to use them and/or what the
various number of threads represented so all of these responses have
been wonderful.  I'm beginning to agree with the chainstitching
reviews and don't think this is a capability that I'd be interested
in, certainly at this point, so it's a feature I don't need to have/
pay for.  I'm thinking of very limited usage at this point but as
others have said, something that I would probably find many more uses
for as time and familiarization go by.

Kim in steamy NJ

Re: Q's for the serger owners here


Excellant advice Pati.  I have that same nasty model machine Polly has.  I
also have a newer Janome 644d.
The difference in the ease of use is amazing.  The threading in newer models
is a lot easier than the old ones.  I would like a coverstitch but get by
with the twin needles too.
Taria

Lots of good advice already. My personal opinions follow....
I don't like the chain stitch option. Chain stitch is great for when
you are doing something temporary, but the bulk of the thread on the
underside is, relatively, considerable. It wears. And when it wears
through the chain un-chains. When I was doing alterations/repairs a
lot, perhaps the majority, of repairs were seams where the chain
stitch wore through and un-chained. <G>
Like Kate, I don't want to pay for coverstitch capability. It might be
nice if I were sewing a whole lot of knits that needed hemming, but I
can get the same effect/look with a twin needle at a lot less cost.
<G>

Basics I recommend for a beginner sergist:  2/3/4 thread capability.
Even though I, personally, generally use the 4 thread set up, it is
nice to be able to do some of the heirloom style 2 thread techniques.

You want differential feed. This means that the feeddogs are split
into 2 sections, a front and a rear. And the rate of feed can be
changed. When balanced both feed the same amount. But you can adjust
to have the front feed more or less than the back.  If more you get a
little easing. Or with stretch fabrics you won't stretch the seam as
you serge it. The front pushes a bit more fabric than the back is
pulling. You can adjust the feed so that if you are sewing quilting
weight cottons it will actually gather as you serge.
If you adjust the differential the opposite way the back pulls more
than the front which stretches it out. Great way to get a "lettuce"
edge on fabric. Or not get the puckers that can be a problem with
woven polyester, or microfiber, fabrics. (Depending on how much
difference you set in the speed of the feed. <G>)

One thing to check on..... the availability of replacement cutting
blades. And the cost of them. Also find out if there is someone around
who can sharpen the blades. (the blade on one of my sergers costs a
little over $40. Yes I have a second one. My dealer used to have
someone to sharpen them but he was somewhat less than honest with the
shop, so they had to quit using him. Need to find someone else.
Sharpening cost about $5-6. )

You also want to check the ease of threading the lower looper. Most of
the newer machines have made this a lot easier than the older ones.
<G>

Sergers are great machines. They do what they do extremely well, and
fast. But they don't do everything. I do like to use mine for
finishing and trimming the edges of my quilts before binding. I have
used the serger to piece strips that don't have to be matched later.
Or to piece some things that will be used as decoration and not
quilted.
And they are wonderful for doing a quick finish on cut edges before
washing fabric. (use a 3 thread with the tension of the needle
tightened. Easy to remove.)

This is probably a lot more than you wanted, but I can ramble on....
sigh
If you have specific questions please ask,

Pati, in Phx

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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


I traded my old Elna serger in on a Babylock BLEIDX about a year and a
half ago. I love it. This model has the "automatic" threading which
works well, though threading wasn't the problem with the old Elna (which
was about 15 years old). The problem was that the timing was very touchy
and almost every time I used it, it ended up in the repair shop;
needless to say, I didn't use it very often. I don't use a serger a lot,
because I don't sew a lot of clothes anymore. My grandkids do like the
pajamas I make them, and I sew my own swimsuits -- one of the few things
I figure I can save a lot of money on. I enjoy water aerobics, and the
water in the pool is hard on suits.

Julia in MN

On 7/29/2010 6:29 AM, AuntK wrote:
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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


I have a 5 thread Huskylock 936.  I love it.  It sews at three speeds
which I have found useful (fast for straight, but I can slow it down
for corners and bulky fabrics).  I use the 5 thread for construction,
but have never used the cover stitch (too much hassle and you still
have to turn up the hem and measure it).  I mostly use the 4-thread
overlock.

I love to be able to whizz up the edges of a wholecloth to stop it
fraying.  I use it to sew on the bindings to my quilts, especially as
it does a lovely 1/4inch seam.  The bindings go on just so and it all
looks neat and filled.  I can also make furoshiki at no-time flat to
wrap presents with. Actually, it seems at the moment that I use the
serger more than my stright stitch.

Whatever you choose though, see if you can get a day's course in using
YOUR particular model.  It makes a great difference to be taught and
shown what your machine can do, and then for you to do it yourself.  A
good book is a necessity too, but a class makes all clear.

Oh, and two other things.  Always check your stitch and tension before
you start on the real thing (it can be a real bummer to get that wrong
half way down the first side) and practise doing inside and outside
curves and corners.  This last is quite difficult to do well (imo) and
is very frustrating when it goes awry.  VERY!

Go play...

Nel (GQ)

Re: Q's for the serger owners here


Do we really have to talk about sergers when my own is off to the serger
hospital?  I look like the family dog waiting down at the school bus stop.
Oh woe is me.  Polly


"Sartorresartus" <
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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


I love my 936, too.  The sewing advisor is the best.  Do you use the
bidner attachment to sew the binding on your quilts?

Recently I purchased a Coverpro 1000cpx cover stitch machine, mainly
so that I didn't have to switch setting up the 936 back and forth
between serging and coverstitch settings.  It sure makes garment
construction go faster to have a dedicated cover stitch machine in
addition to the serger.

The trick with using either machine on curves or corners is, both
machines are designed (by ver nature of the needles, feed, etc) to go
in a straight line only.  During the 936 class we were taught how to
serge curves and corners.  The main trick is to straighten the seam
right before it goes under the knife or needles, and keep
straightening it as it's being  fed.  It's important to go slow.
Practicing this on scraps helps!

-Irene



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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


I just bought the Babylock Evolution 8 thread serger.  Jet air threading.
Just set the dials to whatever function you want.  No more having to fiddle
with switching back and forth for anything.  Now to learn all its quirks.  I
loved my Elna 905DCX, but it no longer will hold a tension, even after being
sent back to the factory for repairs.  Guess it'll go to the thrift shop.
Gen




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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


Aha!   I've been very curious about those jet air threading sergers.  Does
that mean you don't have to deal with upper looper/under looper and assorted
stuff?   Polly

"Gen" <
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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


Yep.  Just put the end of the thread in the little hole for each looper and
push a button--whoosh, the loopers are threaded.  Pearl Crown and
Candlelight metallic, etc.  are too thick to feed this way, so they use the
old "tie on" to thread the loopers.  It'll be a few days before I really get
to play with it.  I'm on a cleaning kick-all my walls and shampooing all my
carpets.  I truly must be nuts!
Gen

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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


If you will pardon me for saying so:  Gen, you just must get your priorities
in order.  A new tool and you're cleaning walls?   Madness.  Polly
"Gen" <...
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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


I do like that feature on my new Babylock -- also the needle threader.
Although I must admit that the "tie on" threading worked well for me
most of the time.

Julia in MN

On 7/30/2010 7:47 PM, Gen wrote:
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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


wow that has to be a fancy machine.  what are you going to make first?  I
think you need to learn to like the dirty walls and carpets. (I bet they
aren't that dirty anyway)
Please report back on the machine when you get to it.
TAria
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Re: Q's for the serger owners here


I've had the same Babylock serger for over 15 years, only having it serviced
once last year when I tried to serge over a pin!!  I used to use it a lot
for clothing, but lately use it more for crafts, baby receiving blankets,
napkin edges, etc. I only use 3 thread and 4 thread.  Mine is very basic,
and the only thing I sometimes wish it had is differential feed, although I
do OK without it.  It doesn't replace a sewing machne, but it does come in
very handy at times.

--
Alice in PA
http://community.webshots.com/user/twosonsatpsu
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