Sergers (again)

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Hello all,

I know that this question has been posted so many times before that you  
probably don't count any more, and that even I posted it before. Still,  
since the market will keep changing, I dare to post it again, with a slight  
variation:

Which serger? At last the money from that inheritance is coming close and I  
now dare to look for a serger in earnest. After you last advice, I had  
thought I'd go for a Bernina but since then I've had a talk with a (German)  
friend of mine who has got herself a different brand, I think a Juki. For  
half of what I'd have to pay for a Bernina.
Remembering Beverly's lore about broken 'bubbles' of the threading  
automatic, I decided against that anyway.

So, which Juki (or serger in general) would you recommend? (Or did she have  
a Babylock? I can't get her at the moment since she's at work...)

U. - eager to go trying out sergers - with a plan. ;-)  


Re: Sergers (again)

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Three of my four serger/coverstitch machines were purchased used  
online.  I  read reviews by others who used the brands I decided  
upon, and went for it.   I have not regretted it.

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Not familiar with any brands other then the Bernette, Huskylock and  
Babylock I own, so cannot offer advice.  Price has to be part of the  
equation.  If at all possible take some of the types of fabric you  
intend to use and test drive.

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LOL, "bladders"   It's the part which puffs air through a tube to  
thread the looper in my coverstitch machine,  I loath it.  If/when  
it gives out, threading manually is almost impossible.

Good luck, Ursula.  When I bought my first serger 30+ years ago, I  
had no idea it would become such an essential tool.  One feature I  
think you should keep at the top of the list is differential feed. I  
think most newer sergers have that, though.

--  
Beverly
http://www.ickes.us


Re: Sergers (again)

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I don't think I'll go for that option, at least not without the test session  
in a rw store. And although I got my beloved Bernina online, and at a  
sensational price I must say, I regret that I didn't get a free schooling as  
is custom when buying rw.

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Ah, she replied: It's a Baby... lock. ;-) I was prepared to spend about  
800.- EUR on the thing, so you will have to subtract 19% tax, then figure  
out the exchange rate and you'll get about 730.- USD plus tax. I think I  
should get something decent for that amount of money.

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Yes, I remembered that, and had suspected as much. Bladders, yes, but I  
couldn't remember the correct term and was a bit shy to use the above word.  
;-)

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Yes, I think differential feed is with every machine today. I want something  
that needs just little service and has a minimum of gadgets that can break.  
Regular cleaning and oiling isn't exactly what I'd call service, replacing a  
burst bladder is. ;-)

I'll keep the basics in mind when I go out for testing & shopping. Thanks,  
Beverly!

U.  


Re: Sergers (again)
Ursula Schrader wrote:
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<snip>

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You're welcome, have fun shopping.

--  
Beverly
http://www.ickes.us

Re: Sergers (again)
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As far as I know, Bernina's sergers are still made by Juki.  I have a  
couple of Jukis, an old Bernina-branded 007D coverstitch. quite limited in what
it can do but it does enough for me, and the MO-655, a manually threaded 5 thread  
overlock with the option of adding a two thread chainstitch.  I sew garments, I rarely
do anything decorative with serging, and I'm a devout cheapatarian.  I use my sergers
hard, and the Jukis stand that test.  The 655 is my main serger, and other than cleaning
it and *finally* putting in a new soft blade (the blades for this machine are carbide),
it has had no repairs in 10 years.  The only complaint I have on it is that the 0 point
for the differential feed is a little bit towards the "stretch" side of the setting knob.
That hasn't changed in 10 years of use.  I use Organ brand needles, made in Japan.  
They're the needle brand that came with the machine, and are less than $0.20 each. Schmetz
needles are about $0.80-1.00 each.

More importantly:
1) How do *you* want to use your serger?  Mostly for construction?  Mostly for  
decoration?  Some of both?
2) Are you willing to put in the time to learn to thread and operate your machine?
(I'll include some URLs below showing the innards of the 655 and threading.)
3) What brands sold near you have the best classes?
4) What brands sold near you have the best repair places, and part availability?


My serger is very much "old technology" in a lot of ways... the 700 series of Jukis are
easier threading, but more money, and not *that* much easier to thread.  I don't care
for the adjustment issues I see with a lot of Babylocks and threading.

If you're interested in a coverstitch only machine, too, the current favorite seems to be the  
Janome standalone coverstitchers.  Juki does offer the 735, a combination coverstitch and
overlock machine which I have not played with.  It retails for about $900 here, but the  
655 (my machine) goes for about $575, and the next machine down, 654, same as mine,  
without the chainstitch, is only $350.

Here's why I think having a good dealer and a good repair part availability
pays off in the long run:  A couple of years ago, I ran into a British lady on the  
net who was having problems with her Bernina serger. It never did stitch correctly, the  
dealer gave it back to her with a "nothing wrong with the machine" a couple of times,  
and the insistence that she needed to use Bernina needles at 2 GBP each!  She was  
complaining of the cost and poor stitch quality.  My antennae went up at the "Bernina
only needles" and called one of the Bernina dealers here... no, they used and sold Organ
needles for their machines, and it sounded from my description that the stitch finger
was missing or bent.  

My British friend and I finally did determine that the stitch
finger on her machine was missing, and the machine was long out of the warranty period,
so the cost of repair wasn't covered.  She would have to buy a new plate, cost almost  
200 GBP.  I suggested that she consider asking if just the stitch finger was available
and she could glue it in herself. Oh no, replacing the plate was the only possibility.  
So she ordered one... waited almost another year... the part never came in (and we think  
the dealer never ordered one).  The US dealer I had talked to was so appalled she found
a stitch finger, gave it to me, I mailed it to Britain, and my friend glued it into
the old plate, and it's been working fine ever since.  It was almost 6 years after she
bought the machine that she finally got it to work easily and consistently.

Shop your dealer carefully, paying just as much attention to the pride they take  
in their business and their service as you do to the features of the machine.

If I were to have to replace my machines tomorrow, I would probably buy the Juki 654
and one of the Janome coverstitch only machines, as I dislike having to switch threading
between the two functions, and coverstitch machine can do chainstitch.  If I wanted
an all in one machine, I'd buy the 735.

Please do find and try out all the sergers you can while you're looking.  And pay attention
to the dealer!

Threading the 655 for 4 thread overlock in tedious detail:
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24103653
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24104540
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24104556
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24104568

Side view of foot, fingerguard off:  
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24105914

Stitch cycle:
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24107012
http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/24107038

Re: Sergers (again)
Sorry Kay, instead of Sunday, it has become Tuesday ere I could finish my  
reply to you. The Big Bad Summer Flu has gotten hold of me and my head still  
feels like stuffed with cotton but a good deal better than before. So, here  
goes, including what I had written before.

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Thank you, Kay, for your reply. Since mine was to take a bit longer, I
postponed it and did the shorter ones first. Also, I did some googling for
Juki MO-655 etc. The dealer I have in mind has them on display and ready for
trial, I guess, since they are 'in stock' on his web shop. I better ring
them and ask for an appointment anyway before my Big Serger Tryout. ;-)

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Well, I thought that I'd get something for construction mainly. You know,
serging the parts before sewing them together etc. Since I will have to
spend time for getting to know the machine in order to use and enjoy it
properly, that will very likely all I'll have time for (see my reply to
Beverly in the curtains-thread regarding embroidery machines ;-))

I haven't looked to the other dealer yet, but he was trying to push me into
a direction I didn't like when shopping for my Sewing Machine (;-)). I will,
though.

An afterthought on the needles - many in here quite swear by Schmetz  
needles, and for my ordinary sewing machine, I only use those. However,  
given the cost of serger needles, I might rethink my point of view in that  
case. Thank you for the hint.

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I don't care for a little difficulty in threading, as long as the machine  
works well. Once you get used to it, it's all the same, provided you have  
tweezers etc. at hand, I suppose. ;-)

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I don't mind going for the one without the chainstitch. Mind you, the MO-654
here costs about as much as yours with chainstitch over there. Taxes, need I
say more? Anyway, no Coverlock (as they are called here in Germany); too  
costly, and too little use, at least at the moment.

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I can easily see what you mean. You probably remember my story about the  
Aurora's foot control? Well, I had it checked twice for it didn't work but  
they didn't find the fault. Finally my brother was able to put his finger  
down on it: a broken cord in the line that connects the foot control with  
the machine. The original part was about 30+ Euro, he got a nearly identical  
one from an online electronic parts shop and repaired it for under 10.-. Did  
I mention that I love my brother dearly? ;-)

One would be tempted to avoid this dealer, but as it is, dealers are rather  
scarce, and I don't want to take a world tour just for having the machine  
checked, so it's either the one in Dortmund who doesn't like to sell  
Berninas even to those who expressly ask for them or the one in Iserlohn who  
can't seem to find a simple cable break/loose connection. Yes, I'm not too  
happy about it, but it can't be helped, I fear.

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I'll keep an eye out for the Juki 654.

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 Brilliant tutorial! A great help and makes me fear threading a lot less.

Thank you for all your good advice. I'll keep it all in mind before I spend  
my money. Right now, I have to take care of something different: I had put  
furniture from auntie in my old place in my parents' studwork house. Now the  
big remodelling is at hand (including a new roof and gutting the southern  
part of the building) and I have to remove the stuff to a self storage place  
by mid-September. Some of it I'll be able to include into our place but  
other parts will have to go on sale via E-bay. I hate it when people die and  
you have to do the household clearance. Especially with people you loved.  
You'd like to preserve everything, out of respect, and you can't, and you  
have to throw away so many things since not even the charity organizations  
want to have them. You know, round here, charity-dependent folks are rather  
picky; they'd rather go for new but ultra-cheap, ultra-flimsy furniture  
instead of good old solid stuff with a few signs of wear. What a world...

Anyway, I'll keep you all posted on my serging progress, and to you, Kay,  
thanks again.

U.  


Re: Sergers (again)

Did my post earlier this week not propagate correctly?

Kay

Re: Sergers (again)
Kay Lancaster wrote:
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I saw it.

Re: Sergers (again)
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OK, thanks.


Re: Sergers (again)




Did my post earlier this week not propagate correctly?

Kay

I saw your post!
Barbara in  SC close to Greenville.  We have dark clouds, misty rain with  
wind at 17 mph.  



Re: Sergers (again)

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SO sorry, Kay, I had started to reply but didn't finish since I lack the  
time for the complicated correspondence at the moment. I do the short ones  
and then I don't get on with the longer ones. I will finish yours tomorrow,  
I promise. Please don't get angry with me!

U.  


Re: Sergers (again)
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Not angry... just trying to troubleshoot an apparent issue with our configuration.

Kay


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Re: Sergers (again)

I thought I'd clarify my previous use of "construction"... you seem to be  
contemplating a serger solely as edge-finishing, with the actual seaming done  
on a sewing machine.  I use my serger to actually seam garments, not just to edge-
finish seam allowance, for both knits and wovens.  My sewing machine mainly gets  
used for basting muslins, for topstitching, for buttonholes, and a few other things  
that they're much better at than serging.  But 95%+ of my garment seams are simply sewn
on the serger.  

I do sew woven shirts primarily on the sewing machine, because much of the construction  
there is not suited to sergers... classic collar and band construction and attachment, front
plackets, sleeve plackets.  But everyday pants, knitwear, jackets, and the like are
mostly serger construction for me.

I did buy the 655 because I wanted the true safety stitch for my husband's pants, instead of adding a line of sewing machine straight stitch as I had done with my older serger, a
Pfaff 756, because the seams pulled open a bit when stressed.  However, the seams don't  
separate as badly when stressed with my Juki, so the two thread chainstitch additional  
capability hasn't been used much.

One of my personal tests for sergers is to thread them barehanded, no tweezers or other  
tools.  I have threaded the entire line of Juki 600 and 700 series sergers with no threading
aids, although I do appreciate a good needle threader now (my choice is the Perfect Sew
Threader, about $5).  

Re: Sergers (again)

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OK, I've done that, too, but thought I did it terribly wrong when I read  
your comment about the extra chain stitch. I guess, then I'll use it for  
that kind of construction, too. But definitely nothing fancy, since I just  
don't seem to have the time for fancy. (And why am I sitting here at my  
computer, chatting merrily instead of vacuuming my living room to drive the  
mouse out of the corners that one of our cats brought in last night without  
killing it?)

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That is an excellent test! I'll have to keep that in mind...

Thank you again, Kay!

U.  


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