Pros: great starter machine, comes with free lessons from JoAnn stores
Cons: doesn't do a cover stitch
Let me start off by saying that I have a very insane husband. As we were wandering through a JoAnn etc. store one day picking up things for a sewing project I was working on, my husband decided that I needed a serger as a Christmas present, snuck off to the Viking Center in the JoAnn store, and bought one. How he knew what he was doing, I'll never know, but he purchased the White Superlock 1934D Serger that I'd been looking at for quite some time.
A Bit About Sergers
For anyone who doesn't sew (or is new to serging) a serger is a specific kind of sewing machine that does those nice finished seams that you see in ready-to-wear clothing. Flip up your shirt and take a look at the seam and you'll see a nice finished edge, with the thread going over the edge of the fabric. For home sewers, the serger is the magic tool that makes your items look like they were professionally made. A serger takes your fabric, stitches it together, and trims the fabric, making it a simple task to create professional-looking clothing.
A serger is generally used in addition to a regular sewing machine, but doesn't replace a regular machine.
All the Fun Stuff
The White Superlock 1934D Serger comes with a whole host of features and accessories, including :
*easy color-coded threading
* recessed cutter
* swing-away cutter for easier threading, blade changing, and stitch changing
* adjustable cutting width
* automatic tension release
* labeled and numbered guides
* differential feed (a must for gathering and dealing with different fabrics)
* 3/4 thread serger
* snap-on presser feet, including gathering foot, elastic foot, and 1.0 blind hem foot
* built-in rolled edge
The White Superlock 1934D Serger also comes with it's own tool bag, including everything you'll need for maintaining your serger, including oil, screwdrivers, an extra cutter blade, two stitch fingers for changing your stitch width, thread socks and spool adjusters for using specialty threads, and extra needles. They have also included a video to walk you through using your serger, from threading to sewing.
Well, How Does It Work?
When I brought my serger home, like a lot of people new to serging, the machine terrified me. I got out the video, watched it twice, and left my serger in the box. Luckily, this serger was purchased at JoAnn's and came with free classes. I went to the introductory course, and the instructor walked us through all the tools, the basics of using and maintaining your serger, and how to sew with it, including how to fix common mistakes. I highly recommend that ANY serger be purchased at a dealer, as most will have a class of some sort, and it's worth paying a few dollars extra to have that help in the beginning.
The White Superlock 1934D Serger is VERY easy to thread. The entire threading process is color-coded, and as my instructor pointed out to me, the swing-away cutter makes it easier than most sergers to thread. I have never had a problem threading it, and in fact, usually thread it by hand because that's the fastest way to thread with this machine. (Some other machines are harder to thread and it's easier to thread it by tying new thread to the old thread and pulling it through.)
As far as sewing with the White Superlock 1934D Serger, for me it's like a dream come true. My biggest projects so far have been a fleece snowsuit for my infant son, Christmas outfits for both kids, and FOUR sets of patchwork tablecloths with matching napkins for Christmas gifts. The fleece snowsuit was the true test of the serger's abilities, as I used a thick Berber fleece, and it was four layers thick in some areas, with seams and tucks to make the booties. This serger cut through the fabric like butter, and had little problem getting through that much fabric.
I've also used it on fine muslin, microfleece, and cotton wovens with no problem (and the blade was still sharp even after dealing with the Berber fleece!). I've used decorative thread (metallic and Wooly Nylon) with no problems with thread jamming or breaking. The needles are very easy to change for different fabrics or different stitches, and with the swing-away cutter, the machine is a dream to clean. (I use a special vaccuum attachment designed for cleaning sewing machines, as sergers generate a LOT of lint because of the cutting blade).
I wish I could go into every feature of this serger, but this review would be a book unto itself. I've used the gathering foot, but so far haven't braved the blind hem foot (I hem on my regular machine), nor the elastic foot. I hope to take the second serger class soon and try them out.
Comparing It to Other Sergers
The White Superlock 1934D Serger is most similar to the more popular White 2000 ATS. The only features that I know are different between the two are that the 2000 ATS has a built-in thread cutter and a small bin to catch the scraps. In all honesty, I don't miss either one: it's not that hard to cut the thread with scissors, and I generally sew with a basket right next to me anyway to dump the scraps.
One of the nicest things I've found when talking to others about their sergers is that the White Superlock 1934D Serger is one of the simplest to change stitches. Some machines require you to change plates to do things like rolled edges (which, if you aren't familiar with serging, do those cute lettuce edges you see on a lot of little girl clothes) or different width stitches. The White Superlock 1934D Serger changes stitches with a simple needle change and/or stitch finger change, and since the rolled edge is built right in, there is no need to change out the plate.
The Only Thing I Miss
The only thing I miss in this serger is the ability to do a coverstich (the neat serged hems that you see on ready-to-wear garments). However, machines that do a coverstitch are a lot more expensive, and for the price of this machine, it does virtually everything the beginning serger needs to do. Overall, this is a fantastic starter machine that I can't say enough good things about.