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Message Board > Sergers, Coverstitch and Blindhemmers > Older model vs new serger for first serger? ( Moderated by CarolynGM, Deepika)

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Older model vs new serger for first serger?
cowgirlcreates
cowgirlcreates
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Date: 10/22/12 3:35 PM

I'm a mom of two with a fair amount of all kinds of sewing experience - sewing for myself and my children, making up my own patterns for simple things, mending and minor alterations for others etc. I am looking at getting a serger...its something I've wanted to do for a very long time, but now that I'm trying to use my sewing skills for more than myself, I'm hoping to add a serger to my collection (a new sewing machine too, but that's a completely other topic!). I'm torn between buying an older used machine or a new lower end model like the Brother 1034D. I'd say my budget is $200 max, as my priority is to have a decent sewing machine before spending too much on a serger. So - Experienced serger owners - would you recommend say an older pfaff hobbylock or something else older (model recommendations welcome!) or a brand new low end model? Thanks in advance for your responses!

hazelnut
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hazelnut  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/22/12 3:52 PM

Quote:
I'd say my budget is $200 max,
I'm not sure how much of the rule "bye a good quality used machine rather than new cheap one" applies here. Unlike a lot of low-end machines, the Brother 1034D is a great little serger and has good ratings. Sorry I can't offer a comparison to older quality sergers, but I'm sure that others can.
beauturbo
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Date: 10/22/12 4:29 PM

Which ever one comes with a human being that will actually be willing to sit with you, and thread up and sew with you and show you a few things, for maybe at least 45 min. or so, and just sew with you on it.Just to save a whole bunch of time and frustration later!

Just because I think it does not matter how long or how many days or decades you have sewed with a sewing machine, or how "good you are at that other thing" when you first get an overlocker at all, and never really had one before, as it's really just a "whole another kind of beast".

In fact, I think it might be even more easy to sew on one, if you had never used a sewing machine! Just because then no pre-concieved notions of threading or maybe of being able to pivot on a dime, or thinking that stitch width/cutting width would not affect those thread tensions.

So actually I don't think sewing experience on a sewing machine, actually helps just at first for an overlocker all that much, I think instead you would go in thinking you knew a lot from prior experience on a sewing machine and attempt to apply that there, and then get really surprised when things not exactly working the same on the overlocker at all. I know I did when I first got one. But I did have someone to show me and sit and sew with me too, so that was a very good thing!

So, I think it can be a pretty humbling experience, even more so the better you are with a sewing machine, to start out at square one again like that, but I think if someone shows you some of that stuff instead, even for an hour or so, you would save at least a few weeks of trail and error, and probably well worth it.

lisalu
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lisalu
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Date: 10/22/12 5:48 PM

My first - and so far only - serger is a used Babylock BL3-408 that I bought for $50 a couple of years ago. Until then I had sewn for over 30 years without one.

To this day, every time I use it, I think to myself that it was the best $50 I ever spent.

It is a very early model - circa 1980's - and is a solid, metal machine. There are no frills, it just has three threads and makes an absolutely perfect overlock stitch on almost any kind of fabric. It will plow through heavy fabrics and multiple layers with no hesitation whatsoever.

Keep in mind that it isn't that easy to thread, the manual is badly translated from Japanese, stitch length adjustments require a screwdriver and switching from 3-thread serging to 2-thread rolled hemming and vice versa is a multiple step process. Not to mention that it uses industrial type needles that must be special ordered. On the plus side, the operation of it is very straightforward and even having never sewn on a serger before and not having anyone to walk me through it, I figured it all out for myself. (It is a plus that I am accustomed to using vintage mechanical sewing machines.)

So far I haven't seen any need to "upgrade". Although the newer models have many more threads and features, this one does all I need which is to finish seams and edges and occasionally do a rolled hem. If that's all you need from a serger, then by all means scout out a good, solid, simple used one. Mine is 30+ years old and has never needed a repair (per the original owner and myself so far) so that say something about it right there.


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Jim (Singer 301), Margaret (Singer 201-2), Betty (Singer 15-91), Bud (Singer 503), Kathy (Singer 221), Liz (Singer 221 Centennial Edition)
http://runningstitches-mkb.blogspot.com/

sew2006
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sew2006
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Date: 10/22/12 6:44 PM

It all depends on ease of use and parts availability. I just purchased a Janome serger for a friends mom and the seller had been trying to sell it since early June. Her comment: once most people saw it they weren't sure how to get it going. This particular machine had been serviced last year but broken threads inside tensions prevented a good stitch formation. It took me an hour to strip covers off, clean out, lubricate and set tensions. I've used a similar serger before so knew what adjustments were needed.

Do you have a friend who has used sergers before that could go with you? Try your local dealers to see what they hace in used, if lessons are included. I use my serger for 75% of garment construction. My first serger was 3 times more expensive than my machine and has lasted 20 years. If you see a specific used serger you can check out the serger reviews or ask here for more specific input. For a newbie serger owner lessons or access to a dealer for help can make a huge difference in how long it takes to learn.

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Janome10001, Babylock ESG3, Brother ULT 2001, White 634D serger, Pfaff 1472, Singer featherweight, Singer 14T957Dc, Bernina FunLock 009DCC coverlock, Brother PQ1500S, Janome CP900.

cowgirlcreates
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Date: 10/22/12 9:11 PM

Thanks for the replies so far - I appreciate the input! I am not terribly worried about the learning curve as almost everything I have learned I have picked up by watching or reading - I was homeschooled and my mother died when I was 13 - so I taught myself (with help here and there and plenty of hard knocksand I enjoy figuring things out...not to say I don't beat on the table in frustration now and then - but it doesn't scare me to have to learn the hard way. Ideally I would buy from a dealer or somewhere that I can get hands on help/experience...I haven't been to a dealer to look at sergers yet, but I don't think there are too many choices in my area! I've been looking at on-line classifieds for used machines and just came across the brother listed on Amazon and the good reviews for it...I plan to see if there is a brother dealer anywhere nearby. I also can't think of anyone locally that uses a serger - although I might be able to dig someone up. I've seen some older hobbylocks on ebay - a 796 and 799, but have had a hard time finding reviews for those specific older models- anyone have input on those or other hobbylock models? I also found a local listing for a kenmore serger, but it doesn't list the model, so I need to ask some questions and do some research. Off to put the kids in bed and go get some sewing done!

Marie367
Marie367  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/22/12 9:27 PM

I am one of the happy owners of a Brother serger. I based my decision on money first (of course) and reviews from here. I have had it for a year and a half now and it is a great machine. It is sturdy and dependable. I was not sure I wanted a used one so I bought mine from Amazon. I had never used a serger before opening the box and I didn't have any trouble setting it up and getting it going. However, I am very comfortable being independent and learning on my own. If I were you, I would go to the dealers in my area and check craigslist etc to see what might be available because you never know what you might find. You will love a serger; I think it saves me so much time in finishing seams and sewing knits.

a7yrstitch
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Date: 10/22/12 10:08 PM

I'm not sure on the model of my old Hobbylock. I think it was the 794. Bought it used, but it was a really 'new' used. Used it and abused it for 25 years and then passed it along, still doing a nice job, to my niece.

Easy to use and never fussy. It was my first serger and I just sat down with it and started serging - no lessons. Tensions were no big deal. Start with all different color threads so you can study the stitch while you are adjusting. It really did not need to be adjusted often and you'll easily get the hang of a little more here and a little less there.

If you can get one of these super cheap, great!

But......I had two fiddly little plastic parts crack - over ten years ago! One was an important lift up lever. I patched it and then took it to a shop to have the parts replaced. Still irritates me that the creep charged to replace the parts and did not. The lever failed shortly after and when I pulled the machine apart I found that he had glued it. I hunted around in the garage and came up with a metal replacement piece.

Shouldn't really have put the grumble in as the real point is that the old plastics do degrade as time goes by. My machine was always kept covered and was in a nonsmoking environment.

I think it might be worth up to $100.00 for one of those if you can see it before you buy. I'd be very reluctant to spend more for 25 year old 'old' type plastic components. I am intrigued by some of the bare bones old sergers that look like they have more metal parts.

Now, I'm going to add another post.

------
I have no idea what Apple thought I was saying so be a Peach and credit anything bizarre to auto correct.

diane s
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diane s  Friend of PR
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Date: 10/22/12 10:38 PM

A used serger can be a good buy, but I wouldn't buy one without differential feed and a built in rolled hem.

------
My grandmother taught me to sew when I was 10, and I've been sewing ever since.

a7yrstitch
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In reply to cowgirlcreates <<
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Date: 10/22/12 10:56 PM

Post two.

I have posted elsewhere that I still love and sew on my 29 year old Pfaff 1229. I added a fantastic sewing/embroidery machine and then upgraded my serger. Had I known what a difference having one of the top of the line sergers would make in ease, speed, and pure awesome joy in constructing garments, I would have jumped to the top of the line serger before adding an upgraded sewing machine.

Way back, when the first little Izod shirts came out, garment sewers looked to their sewing machines to do more to work with that generation of knits. Then, we ventured into sergers.

Knits are very different now, and, we wear them differently. I could pull a few tricks out of the hat and apply some patience and sew the newer knits on my old 1229. And, my new sewing machine has wonderful stretch stitches including a lighting stitch that I think is better than anything imaginable.

Drum roll, bring on an excellent serger. I don't think anything can beat a very good serger for tackling the majority of the work, knits to wovens, in constructing most of your everyday garments.

Some tasks will still be easier with a sewing machine, but that machine only needs to produce reliable and well balanced stitches. It does not need to produce fancy or decorative stitches.

I'm years down the road from you; our two little ones are in their mid thirties. Consider the lifespan of the machines I mentioned in my previous post. Although our experience is separated by years, it is shared. Based on that shared experience, I'd like to suggest that you look at your machine dollars and consider going a little crazy with your serger purchase, if at all possible, even if it means continuing with your old sewing machine longer than you had originally planned.

I know your decision will be thoughtful and that, whatever you choose, you will be pleased. Best wishes.


------
I have no idea what Apple thought I was saying so be a Peach and credit anything bizarre to auto correct.

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