I have been thinking about getting a serger to expedite sewing projects. I own a very simple brother sewing machine that sews straight or zigzag, and it takes much more time to finish hems than the actual sewing process. So I went to look for sergers.
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My tailor friend has White 3 thread serger, and it looked like a reliable machine. So I went to a local craft store to check things out. The starting price for serger at a retail store is around $200, and they are 4 threads. I also had brought in my new project of making a dress from a wrong-sized wrong-colored dress I got from a store, so I showed it to her and she told me which parts were done by sergers. I like the idea of having 5 threads. The safety stitch and the overlock is done at the same time. I sew once with the serger and both trimming and cleaning the edges and binding the two fabric is done at the same time. What a time saver!!
So I went to look for 5 threads, even though it's a bit expensive. You have to decide whether you want 4 or 5 threads. The price for 4 threads starts at around $150
on internet while 5 thread is about $500. Epinon rates babylock as the best serger, but the price was too way up high, I had to come up with an alternative. The singer quantum is the cheapest 5 thread serger from a reliable and well-known company, in my opinion. I got it on ebay for $550 with sewing machine case (not necessary) and extra foot for different types of sewing.
It can do overlock (with two or three threads), triple stitch (folding the ends of t-shirt), and overlolck with safety chain stich. As a person who has never used a serger or had no idea how to thread the machine, it took me about two hours to understand what the manual meant. I had to be very patient. I don't think I'm dumb, I mean I'm a graduate student working on my PhD, so I have experienced obstacles nobody knew how to deal with. The manual is well written and the threading instruction is well marked, but it still is daunting for the first time. It took me almost half a day before I got my first overlook stitch. One thing you can do to avoid it is to buy serger with instructional video or DVD or buy serger at a retail sewing machine store and it includes some instruction (~1hr not enough) on site. If you plan to do that, make sure that the instructor is someone you feel comfortable working with.
After two days of use, I can use it pretty well. So far, I've done rolled hem, five thread stitch, and overlock. I've broken two needles (probablly because I did not set the position of buttons incorrectly), threads keeps on breaking and the thread tension controlled seems not well controlled. But I can't figure out what's wrong and put back the thread that broke and I push down the step again, and it works. I'm sure if you have used serger before, this is a really easy process, but I can do it too now after a few days. It's just that you need to be patient in the beginning and look for any clues why things aren't working. The serger process looks very good. Afterall, you are rewarded with overall short sewing time and great looking finish. One thing my tailor friend said about the serger is that threading seems more clumsy. There's alot of pushing this metal and that metal to get thread into the right path.
For tension control, it seems like a newer model came up with an automatic tension control. I think this is really really helpful that it's worth paying extra money to get this features. I wish I can do that. This will leave you one headache.
After about a month of use, I don't regret having 5-thread serger. I'm not missing anything. 5-thread serger with safety stich saves time and gives the best finish I can ever do. I wish I have more time to sew once I graduate.
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