how hard is it to learn to use a serger? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 20 Old 01-30-2010, 12:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I have been wanting one- for sewing diapers and wipes, especially, and also to finish seams better on my skirts and dresses so i could maybe sell them.
I am wondering how hard it is to learn. I remember being so frustrated learning to use the sewing machine and it took me a while just to know what i was doing. I am hoping that since i do now know how to sew, that using the serger will come easier, but I just wondered what you ladies would say....

Also, I have been VERY MUCH pleased with my Janome sewing machine, and saw a Janome serger today for a nice price....are there sergers as good as their regular machines or would you recommend something else? Also, will I be disappointed with a less expensive model? What are the important features to look for? Any advice and information in helping me decide about this will be most appreciated.

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#2 of 20 Old 01-30-2010, 06:03 PM
 
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It was very easy for me to learn my serger. I think you will be surprised! It's faster, but you can control speed just like the sm. The only challenge was threading. But, the manual and cdroms were very helpful and I got it down after just a few times. To get used to the speed and turning curves just do a stack of wipes at first!! That is advice I got and took.

I have the Brother 1034d, it is under $200 at Fabric.com, walmart.com etc. I got mine for $150 on special at fabric.com. It is a well-reviewed machine...you could always check out patternreview or sewingmamas for more reviews Janomes are generally considered good too! hth

`Lorissa
Mama to ds 5, and a brand new Christmas Day baby 2009!
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#3 of 20 Old 01-30-2010, 08:28 PM
 
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Learning to use a serger was easy for me, too. Threading it came easy after watching the video. However, I still have to read the manual or watch the video every single time I switch from 3 needle overlock to 4 needle overlock and I manage to break a needle every time. I mostly use the serger for turning under the edge of thin fabrics for various purposes (3-needle), but also use it for quick hemming and nicer seams (4-needle if regular fabric).

My serger was gifted to me more than five years ago and it was already 5+ years old at that point. I hear the threading is easier on newer ones. I am not in that room to check, but I believe it is a White brand. I have nothing to compare it to as far as sergers go, but it has served me well and I am grateful to have it.

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#4 of 20 Old 02-01-2010, 02:07 PM
 
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I have a 14CG754 Commercial Grade Singer serger. It had cost about $300. It was purchased at Walmart. I can use the 4 thread option, which is great for seams and other projects that require strong reinforcement, and i can use the three thread, which is wonderful for most edging and rolled hemming (which is a beautiful effect.) It also has the 2 thread option, which i have not used yet, but i read that it is also for decorative rolled hemming. I had some trouble learning to use it because the manual's threading guide was not as detailed as it needed to be. I did call the company and they said that there was a CD i could get that was better, but i would have to mail away for it. I never ended up doing that. I just kept on keeping on with it, and now i am very happy with it. i have never broken a needle, it is a great machine. It is a tad loud, but it is super solid and runs real smooth when it is threaded correctly. i now find the serger easier to sew with than the sewing machine. A sewing machine is more versatile in my opinion. It is great to have both. I seen the babylock used on "Sewing with Nancy" and i covet it because it has an air threader! Aparently it is supppper easy to use, tho i have not had my hands on one personally. Good luck with your choice!
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#5 of 20 Old 02-01-2010, 02:58 PM
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I just gor a serger from my mom for Christmas. It's a Yamata. It's pretty good, once it's threaded correctly. the diagram inside the machine is decent for threading, but leaves a bit to be desired. the manual isnt that detailed, but as I learn to use the machine, the instructions and terminology are making more sense. I think with most machines, practice definitely helps! I'm getting better at sewing anything other than a straight line, but the curves are NOT looking too pretty yet.

** I practiced on lots of scraps, using the 4 thread option, and used a different color thread for each spool. that helped me figure out what "weird" things were happening, and which thread was the culprit. It also helped me figure out how adjusting thread tensions independently of one another effected the results. Now I've graduated to using only one color, and it helps.

also, i'd recommend starting with 2-3 pieces of scrap fabric stacked, something that will not create lots of mess when cutting- so, not microfiber or terry. those made a HUGE mess for me, and the terry jammed my machine the first two times I used it. flannel wipes, as other PPs suggested, were a nice, satisfying first project. I've churned out about 2 dozen, and it's my go-to project when i'm feeling otherwise unproductive/unsuccessful!

The babymoon isn't over! Our long awaited A born 7/18/10, making us laugh and smile every day.
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#6 of 20 Old 02-01-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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Janome sergers are great! I love serging and have two machines. I learned to serge by myself on an industrial machine so when I got a home model it was a breeze. You will like it. Wipes are a perfect project to practice making corners on. IMO, outside curves are a little challenging at first but once you get the hang of it you can easily serge diapers.

Andi, wife of Seraphim
Mom to Elijah (6/05) and Moses (6/08) and baby Joshua, UBAC February 18, 2011!

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#7 of 20 Old 02-01-2010, 08:58 PM
 
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I have an old Janome serger too and I find it easy to use.

A good thing to do is try serging different fabrics and making a note of the tension that works best for each. I have a list of fabrics and tensions now which I refer to before sewing and it has soved my previous trial and error problems like broken needles and crazy looking seams. As LZP said, using a different colour thread for each spool is a good thing to do too.

There are lots of videos on youtube about serging (or overlocking as it is called in the UK) so you will find plenty of help if you get stuck.
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#8 of 20 Old 02-05-2010, 04:18 AM
 
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Question: Does your serger have one open space to fit both needles into or does it have two separate spots for each needle?

That is really my only challenge and complaint about my serger. I have one open space to fit both needles into and, invariably, I break a needle each time I switch from 3-thread overlock to 4-thread overlock. I can never get both needles in correctly and tighten them properly before one slips a fraction of a millimeter and SNAPS as soon as I start sewing....

Any tips?

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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#9 of 20 Old 02-06-2010, 12:18 AM
 
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I was looking at sergers the other day, and the shop owner was trying hard to convince me on one of the automatic threading/tensioning machines. Which are WAY expensive, but seem pretty convenient with exploring little one(s). How long does it actually take to thread a machine manually once you get the hang of it? And how hard is it to get the tension right?

allergy-nutrition mama, dh, 4yo dd, and March ds
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#10 of 20 Old 02-06-2010, 01:04 AM
 
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Mine came with a book and a video, whoMe. The video was perfect for first learning everything and I watched it a dozen or so times as I was first learning each new technique. It was great for threading, too. The book has a chart for tensions based on types of fabrics. It is a great reference tool that is fast and easy to look at. Threading takes as long as threading a sewing machine times 3 or 4, depending on how many threads you are using!

As for exploring little ones, I taught my DD that sewing machines (any kind) were for adults only when she was little. There is a cover on some of the parts on the serger, but it is basically just like a sewing machine. The needle is dangerous. The cutting blade is dangerous. Those are not solved by auto-threading.

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa

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#11 of 20 Old 02-06-2010, 02:01 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sunnysandiegan View Post
Mine came with a book and a video, whoMe. The video was perfect for first learning everything and I watched it a dozen or so times as I was first learning each new technique. It was great for threading, too. The book has a chart for tensions based on types of fabrics. It is a great reference tool that is fast and easy to look at. Threading takes as long as threading a sewing machine times 3 or 4, depending on how many threads you are using!

As for exploring little ones, I taught my DD that sewing machines (any kind) were for adults only when she was little. There is a cover on some of the parts on the serger, but it is basically just like a sewing machine. The needle is dangerous. The cutting blade is dangerous. Those are not solved by auto-threading.
Thanks!

That's kind of what I was thinking... The guy in the store was making it out to sound like it'd take 30 minutes every time.

Dd likes to help me sew, and she's really careful, so she's been pushing the pedal for me and playing with the thread since she was two. My biggest concern is her cutting the thread, or pulling it out, just for fun. That *would* be less of a hassle with auto-threading

allergy-nutrition mama, dh, 4yo dd, and March ds
Eating shouldn't be stressful!
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#12 of 20 Old 02-06-2010, 02:06 AM
 
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I was never able to get my serger to be right. It never ever sewed properly. Total waste of $700 for me. And it was me, the teacher got it working fine, until I took it home again.
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#13 of 20 Old 02-11-2010, 01:13 PM
 
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It was easy once I had a decent serger. My first one was that craptastic Brother they used to sell at Wal-Mart. That thing caused me nothing but trouble! I switched to the Janome 634d and had no more problem. I love that machine!

Jenny, proud maker of red things
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#14 of 20 Old 02-26-2010, 10:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for everyone's responses to this thread. Sorry to resurrect it but I am still trying to make up my mind. I will be buying a serger next week, but I am trying to decide between a Janome from Hancock- they have the Juno on sale for 179. and the Harmony 9102d for 279, i think. My regular machine is a Harmony, and I have loved it, so I am kinda thinking about going for the matched set. BUT. The one issue I have had with the Janome is that Sears wants me to send it away for repairs and I cant be without my machine for weeks (so i figured out the problem and repaired it myself). There is ONE local dealer who will fix what he sells (and offers free lessons with the purchase of the machine) but he only deals in Babylock. I got confused in there because the salesgirl I was talking to told me that all the babylocks are super easy to thread except for the A line which, as she put it, "is where you will run into trouble." She recommended the Imagine, which was more than I want to pay for a serger (i think it was about $700). So then I started looking at their used machines and she brought out the boss to talk prices. He steered me back to the new machines and told me that their A line machine (used to be called the pro i think, now is called the Lauren) would be the best thing i could buy and when i said his salesgirl told me it would be hard to thread, he said that is because she is used to using the jet threaders on the high end machines, but that this manual thread machine is easy to use. The Lauren normally retails for $6?? but is on sale at 329. I would like to buy from the local guy for the service and instruction, but not sure what to do. I called a dealer in canada who sells both these lines to see what they like (since the Janome Harmony and the Babylock Lauren are pretty close in price), and she confused me more. She said the babylock is a heavier machine which will make it run smoother and i think she said it will be easier to thread than the janome but that the babylock will be harder to change settings as the feet (do sergers have feet) or something need changing for every different function, whereas the Janome will be much easier to change functions....
And then also, from some reviews i have read online, it seemed like some folks were saying that the Janome Harmony ($279) and the Janome Juno (179) seem to be the same machine, although they look different. In which case it would be ridiculous to pay an extra hundred bucks just so both my machines would say harmony, lol.
Having never used a serger at all I am confused and really not sure which machine would be better for me. Just wondering if any of you have any insight or opinions regarding these particular Janome machines and/or the Babylock A line serger. Thanks!

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#15 of 20 Old 02-27-2010, 12:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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jeez; now i am more confused after more online research. How important is having capability to do "coverstitch?" From what i can tell, this is how you do hems on a serger? But ALL these models i am looking at apparently lack the coverstitch. So do i really want to be looking for a machine that will do a coverstitch or does a serger without this stitch have some other way to finish t shirts and stuff? sorry to be such an newb! and thanks for help with this decision!

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#16 of 20 Old 03-03-2010, 01:30 AM
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Subbing... I'm thinking about getting a serger down the line...
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#17 of 20 Old 03-21-2010, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thought i would update, for St. Margaret and anyone else interested, that it isnt hard at all! I was really nervous about learning a new machine and the threading and such, but i was wasting my time with that negative energy.
I researched and shopped and knew i wanted a Janome. For a while I thought I was about to sell a car and use the proceeds to buy a $700 Janome 1100d. And I might someday, but it wasnt time for that now. My regular sewing machine is a less expensive Janome, made for sears, and it has been plenty good enough for me thus far, so i decided i should get a lower end Janome for my entry serger, thinking it should be comparable. From a few different things i have read online, it seems the Juno 3434d, which Hancock sells for $199 (on sale April 8 for 179) and the 9102d, which they sell for $100 more, are basically the same machine. So i bought the $199 one, and have been incredibly pleased.
I wish it had a free arm, but NONE of the Janomes do, even the high ends, and i wouldnt want it so much that i would buy a brother. The serger book i bought has sewing orders to explain how to serge sleeves etc first before putting it together, so i guess i will learn habits that will make a free arm completely unnecessary.
Anyway, i was making stuff from the beginning and the learning is lots of fun.
I would say to whoever said threading is like threading a sewing machine times four, that you might like to look into the Janome sewing machines, lol. Because my sewing machine is a snap to thread, and i would say that threading each path on the serger is at least 5 times more complicated, or 10 if you are talking about the bottom looper. But it isnt hard or anything, just a little time consuming and it demands patience. i have it threaded with blue and rainbow thread right now and am going to have to change it today to white or something so i can take in some garments; this is MUCH more of a process than simply changing thread on the sewing machine and i guess i will need to learn to plan sewing of items together according to thread.
And also regarding thread, my aunt told me last night that you can wind bobbins and use on the serger for small projects instead of having to buy so many cones of thread....i plan to try this out today.

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#18 of 20 Old 03-22-2010, 06:11 PM
 
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Thanks for the update! Subbing for when I'm ready to make my purchase.

Mama to add 10/05; ds 3/09, and two angels
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#19 of 20 Old 03-30-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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I just recently got an older White Serger, and I really like it so far. We are still learning about each other, but I have the feeling this was $130 well spent! The lady I bought it from only used it a few hours. For first time serger buyer, you can often find great deals on craigslist. Lots of people seem to buy them and never get the hang of it, and rarely use them. I actually put a wanted ad on there.

I must agree that the serger runs MUCH faster than my sewing machine. That is what I am mostly trying to get used to, slowing it down.
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#20 of 20 Old 03-30-2010, 03:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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another cool thing i have discovered you can do with the serger, btw, is serge new fabric before you prewash it. this makes a huge difference, as you dont have to trim all the unravelled threads.

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