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Sergers (again)

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. ;-)
Reply to
Ursula Schrader

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.
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.
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
Reply to
BEI Design
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:
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Side view of foot, fingerguard off:
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Stitch cycle:
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Reply to
Kay Lancaster
"BEI Design" schrieb im Newsbeitrag news:nq1u0j$pp5$ snipped-for-privacy@dont-email.me...
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.
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.
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. ;-)
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.
Reply to
Ursula Schrader

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.
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Reply to
Bobbie Sews More
"Kay Lancaster" schrieb im Newsbeitrag news: snipped-for-privacy@hub.fern.com...
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.
Reply to
Ursula Schrader
Not angry... just trying to troubleshoot an apparent issue with our configuration.
Kay
Reply to
Kay Lancaster
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.
"Kay Lancaster" schrieb im Newsbeitrag news: snipped-for-privacy@hub.fern.com...
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. ;-)
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.
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. ;-)
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.
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.
I'll keep an eye out for the Juki 654.
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.
Reply to
Ursula Schrader
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).
Reply to
Kay Lancaster
"Kay Lancaster" schrieb im Newsbeitrag news: snipped-for-privacy@hub.fern.com...
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?)
That is an excellent test! I'll have to keep that in mind...
Thank you again, Kay!
U.
Reply to
Ursula Schrader

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