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Caught in a time warp

couturecounsellor | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I’m thoroughly confused!
I’ve just returned to sewing and I’m using my Singer Touch & Sew (state of the art circa 1970). I thought I’d treat myself to a serger for Christmas, but now I’ve noticed that I might have to replace my sewing machine. Do the new computerized sewing machines make it unnecessary to use a serger? Or does having a serger mean that all I need is a very basic sewing machine?


  1. ixs | | #1

    I don't think anybody can tell you EXACTLY what you need.  Take your time, look and read and sew.  Maybe a used machine right now might be something to think about.  Using a serger also depends on what you want; what your bottom line is.  I know some older sewers wouldn't invest in a serger, but I like mine, as it is my second one. 

    A computerized machine can be very EXPENSIVE to fix; I know, I had one of three computer boards replaced in my newer Bernina embroidery machine, but I knew that repairs might be expensive before I bought it; I saved by buying a demo sewing/embroidery machine, and I bought a discontinued serger new in the box. 

    But I'm not sure I would buy equipment of this type from ebay, as sometimes very tricky things can go wrong with them, and I think not all repair places are the same, especially with very intricate machines. 

  2. MaryinColorado | | #2

    I would start going to the sewing machine dealers in your area.  Test drive with fabric scraps you bring along.  They may have free owners classes and be supportive.  You might want to check with the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any complaints.  Everyone has thier reasons for preferring one machine over another. 

    Think about what you want to sew and maybe go to the websites for all the major brands and read about the machines.  Just google names like Bernina, Brother, Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff, Singer, etc. 

    I have owned Necchi, Singer, Janome, and Husqvarna/Viking.  I love the Vikings the best.  I love serging and using the coverstitch capability that some sergers have.  That is used for knits and the side seams of jeans.  Some sergers don't do this, but they finish seams nicely and do beautiful rolled hem edges like you see on napkins and such. The needles on a serger go up and down like on a sewing machine and the stitches show on top of the fabric.  The loopers go sideways like knitting looks and show underneath the fabric.

    You don't "need" a serger, they are wonderful to have. I'd be lost without mine but it took me awhile to get used to using it and really appreciating it.

    Some sewing machines have what they call overlock stitches but they are not the same as serged ones. 

    1. couturecounsellor | | #3

      Thank you, Mary. That is exactly the information I was looking for -- whether the stitching capabilities of a more advanced sewing machine give the same results you would get from a serger. The reason I became interested in sergers in the first place is because I never could get good results with knits and elastic, and I almost swore off sewing forever when I had to sew a bridesmaid's dress for my sister that had what seemed like a hundred miles of rolled hem on chiffon. I'll continue my research on the web and check out some sewing machine dealers (which are now really scarce here in Chicago and require a trip to the suburbs!)Thank you again.

      1. MaryinColorado | | #4

        Why not take those "tricky" fabrics with you to test drive machines?  That way you will be sure to get what you are looking for.  Have them show you how to do the rolled hems too!  If they are too busy with customers to do this, see if they will set up an appointment with you to spend more time. 

  3. diday | | #5

    Before you decide to give up on your Singer Touch and Sew you might be interested in reading the Singer machine reviews by people who own them. Also see the links on the left sidebar for other machines, including sergers. I have a Pfaff 1475 CD and there are times I wish I still had my Kenmore from the 1960s.


    Sewing Tip - chain stitch on Singer Touch and Sew

    1. couturecounsellor | | #6

      Thanks. I followed your link and I see what you mean. I think I'll take her in for service and stick with it for a while.

      1. Josefly | | #8

        I'm in something of the same quandary as you appear to be. My 1966 Touch and Sew is still going strong, and has been a wonderful tool for me. From what I've seen, the chain stitch capability I have is not available on most new sewing machines, and it adds a great deal to the price of the sergers which have it. The decorative stitch cams I have (20) don't compare to some of the great stitches on new machines, but I hardly ever use them, anyway.
        Then again, I see all the wonderful embroidery turned out by people with embroidery machines, especially on children's clothes. And the marvelous quilts! Because of all the wonderful knits and stretch fabrics available now, though, I'm wishing for a serger with a coverstitch - don't think a new sewing machine would give me as much flexibility as the serger would. So I begin to feel very limited with my old machine. Yet I already feel cramped for sewing/storage space, and where would I put a serger and all those large cones of thread? I'm almost afraid to try out the new equipment available; I might get a terrible case of "Have-to-have"! :))

        1. couturecounsellor | | #9

          I'm definitely with you there--the more I read, the more I discover I "have to have" things I never even knew existed! When I do make the trek to some sewing machine stores (it's a trip these days with them so few and far between), I just know I'm going to fall in love with something with all kinds of bells and whistles. I'm a city gal, so I have the same space problems you have. Based on the responses I've received, I think I'm going to stick to my original plan, which is to make a serger this year's holiday gift to myself, maybe get my old friend the Touch & Sew serviced, and revisit the new sewing machine question after using that combination for a year or so. I'm taking classes at what I like to refer to as "sewing boot camp" to bring my skills to a higher level, and the school uses new Singer machines that are pretty basic, so it's not as if I'm getting spoiled using machines with a lot of gee-whiz factor.

          1. Josefly | | #10

            Sounds like a good decision to me. Let us know what serger you decide to shop for.The class sounds like a good idea, too. I need a course on all the interfacings, stabilizers, etc. out there now. I know the basics, but a compilation of the things out there with their best applications would be a great thing to have. Hmmm, maybe I need to search the Threads archives.AND YES, there it is in Threads #103!

            Edited 11/9/2006 1:43 pm ET by Josefly

  4. mem | | #7

    I would hasten slowley with getting rid of your singer . My sewing machine mechanic loves my old Elna with cals . He says its like a Rolls Royce and will just keep going forever. Having said that I do have a new Janome and a serger . The newer machine are easier to use and sometimes do things like buttonholes better. Really it depends on what you want to do . The serger is still very useful and will speed up your sewing and make sewing knits and finishing your sewing a whole lot easier.

  5. Sunshine | | #11

    My "state-of-the-art" Singer Touch N Sew 750 from 1971 is my ONLY regular sewing machine -- and I won't give it up!  This year I bought a serger (B'day present from DH!) and have learned that it does things a traditional sewing machine can't do, such as easy rolled hems, seam finishing, etc. They compliment each other; one is not a replacement for the other.  I continually switch back and forth between them, depending on what technique is required.  My only problem is that my sewing table isn't large enough to have them adjacent to each other, so I'm constantly moving them into or out of position on my tabletop......Worse things could happen!  BTW, I bought a Juki MO-654DE with 2/3/4 thread capabilities and differential feed.  I learned the sewing basics 40+ years ago (no, it can't be!), and have been relearning them for the past 2 years. YES, it is possible to teach an old sewing dog new tricks!!! Don't Stress - GO FOR IT!!!

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