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ready to buy serger/help needed plz?

mellie | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I have some clothing sewing experience–not expert nor ever very skilled and haven’t had any ‘craft’ interest. I have dusted off my 2 sewing machines (a Singer 221-1 and Bernina 830) out of renewed interest, retired from my career, and living 1/2 year on a sailboat in Mexico. In the process I now know I need/want a serger. I’m trying to do the research, but I’ve missed an era in sewing technology, for sure. I’m relating this purchase to shopping for my first computer in the early 90’s. I was so naive I didn’t know the potential and underbought on price/performance, replacing soon after.

I live near a small town. There are no brand name dealers in the area, but within 30+miles;sewing machine dealer/repairs (not serger sales).

I talked to a person who wants to sell me her RICCAR 564DE (new) 4/3/2. It seems like an above average machine for my needs (as I know/don’t know what they are!). I am not as concerned about the price ($300-$350 asking) as I am about the brand and what kind of service/parts etc support. I mostly see RICCAR doing searches re: vacuums.

Being new at this, should I start over and go w/ a dealer brand that I can get to for learning, support/repairs?


  1. Coutureforme | | #1

    Hello Mellie,

    I do not have any definitive answer for you, but I also have been pondering and wishing for a serger, after sewing for many years. And like you, when coming back to sewing, I find I have missed a lot. But I know you can find a lot of information about sergers online. One way, is to simple go to the manufacturers site and read discriptions. Do a lot of online research and and soon you will find what your needs and desires are taking shape, so that when you do buy you can get what you want.

  2. Kiley | | #2

    You mentioned that you have no dealers close by but you do have repair techs near. I suggest you give the techs a call and ask them if they are familiar with the serger you are thinking of buying and see if they have good or bad to say about Riccar sergers along repair lines etc. I once had a Riccar Superstretch sewing machine many years back and I didn't keep it long. It was a horrid machine but then several years later an electronic Riccar machine came out and a dealer raved about it and I tried a test drive on it and it seemed like a nice machine. I know nothing about their sergers. I believe Tacony distributes Riccar along with Elna, Babylock, and Simplicity.

  3. Altoida | | #3

    I was in the same boat as you a few years ago.  I started by purchasing an older used Bernina serger for $150. The dealer included a class with the purchase. I quickly learned that the threading process for sergers is as dreaded as I had heard.  I could never quite get it without a 500 watt lamp and magnifying glass (for both the schematic and the machine). I then purchased a new Babylock Imagine on the internet for $500, and it is awesome! It threads itself and self-adjusts for tension. The stich is perfect every time. The MSR for this machine is $1200, but you can probably do better than that. My local Babylock dealer has classes for a nominal fee. I have no regrets buying this machine (although I wish it did a cover stitch). 

  4. Kiley | | #4

    Some sergers are much easier to thread than others.  Some have a built in looper threader that varies in style depending on brand. Also, the type of knives and location of knives vary in sergers which can make a difference in ease of use and the amount of stitch programs the serger has. I use many deco threads and prefer to thread my own serger without the air threading. I  sold Babylocks and I had an older Babylock that I probably had for about 15 yrs and it was still going strong when I traded it in for a serger with more stitch programs. It didn't have air threading but it had a very easy threading lower looper with a little slot that you put the thread through. The horrid threading sergers have that little hole at the end of the lower looper that could be a bear to thread sometimes. I have owned several sergers but love my present serger with 3 coverhems and automatic tensions and many stitch programs. I do suggest to test drive a serger before purchasing one.  

  5. SewTruTerry | | #5

    I agree with everyone else that responded and I have always said it doesn't matter what the price if you don't use it you will regret the purchase. That said make sure that you get a machine that you find easy to use and ask to test drive them in the store.  Also see if there is a Viking Sewing Gallery they are usually located inside JoAnn Fabric Stores.  Not only will you get to test drive the machine but also lifetime support with the machine.  This means that if you put it away after a few months and then get back to the machine 6 months after that and you can not remember how to thread or set up the machine for a particular stitch they will happily help you step by step either over the phone or in person.

    1. mellie | | #6

      I want to thank everyone for their advice. I now own a serger. I did go to the Tacony site and from there linked to many sites. I read some university coop. extention sites that had good general info and buying checklists. More help/questions and answers at http://www.sergerplace.com and http://www.lindaleeoriginals.com. Quite by accident I passed a small house in my area that is a small quilting cottage business. I went in to ask questions and walked out with a Pfaff Coverlock 4/3/2. I had no idea they sold machines. The real deciding factor was the owner is giving me lessons in house at my convenience not far from where I live. The family/owners also have a full service store in the region and give regular class lessons, in house Pfaff service tech/repair. No shipping out. I certainly spent more more than I had anticipated, but for my circumstances having service and personal help when I want it is important. I have been able to take my projects and serger in and they are helping me get started. I can stay as long as I like. Invaluable. I don't know if I bought the 'right' brand or not, but I was getting into information overload, and it was time to commit.

      1. roone | | #7

        Hi mellie, I don't think you've made a mistake. I've had a pfaff they are a great machine. When you get into the upper quality machines there really isn't that much difference. I now have Husquvarna and I'm happy with it too. I agree you get information overload. As a sewing teacher I think you did the right thing. A dealer close by, oportunity to test drive and lessons You can't go wrong. If you can remember one thing, they don't replace the conventional machine, they are an accessory to them , you'll have years of pleasure. Enjoy!

  6. coloradocooking | | #8

    I own a Riccar Vacuum cleaner and LOVE it---but really that doesn't mean anything, except that it is a great vacuum!

    I own a babylock and I LOVE it! I have the 8 armed monster ($1800!!!) which threads and tensions itself and has coverstich---I LOVE IT! (And I am hoping to recover some of the cost by selling kids clooothes too.) It might be overkill for you, but they have smaller ones although for for the self tension ones you still start around $1000...my suggestion is don't go near one if you are not going to buy it---you will just upset yourself. My mom has a great bernina,but once she saw mine she wanted a babylock! Also, only get one that you can get serviced within reasonable distance-you will be miserable having to 'ship' your sewing machine off everytime!


  7. alotofstitches | | #9

    When I was in the mood for a serger I bought a Palmer/Pletsch book on serging so I'd know what to look for while shopping.  You might want to look uo THREADS, Aug/Sep 2003 , "What Kind of Serger Is Right for You?", by Judith Neukam.

    My first serger was 5 thread Elna and I loved it, would have bought another if a dealer had been close by.  I sew professionally and needed to upgrade equipment at the time and bought the Bernina 1300.  I like it as well!

    I sew a big variety of stuff and I need the 5 threads.  If you can thread a sewing machine you can thread a serger--it is not a big deal, but you do have to follow the correct order.

    I did do a test drive on both.  Dealer allowed me to "play" using my fabrics and for more than 5 min.!

    1. Sashita | | #10

      Hello to all you sergers and wishers! 

      I have the Baby Lock Imagine and it is super.  I am losing my eyesight and with this machine you hardly have to look at it to thread it.  Kind of wish I had the cover stitch, but I got mine new at a dealer for $899 and the bigger machine was a LOT more.  I took it out of the box, followed the instructions and went ahead and serged.  A friend splurged on the big one--but hasn't taken it out of the box yet and has had it for months!  Whatever you get just dive in and make something! 

      Hugs to all, ####

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