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Conversational Threads

Serger Questions….Help Please!

ineedaserger329 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

The search for the perfect serger continues…. I figure maybe I am asking the wrong questions, though….. So maybe I’ll try these:

What is the difference between two needles and three? What are the advantages and disadvantages?
Is more thread capabilities really a good thing? I want to have enough that i won’t run into the problem that I have to go back over something because it isn’t strong enough….or not able to do the chainstitch.
I want a coverlock, what are some of the typical concerns for them?
How many times can I expect to change plates or needles or feet in a single project? (I make dresses mostly) Is this typical of all machines?
I am interested in the pfaff 4874. Typically, how well do pfaffs hold up to everyday use?
Can you use regular thread (the type you use in a sewing machine) in a serger?….stupid question, I guess….but the dealers don’t mention it, even to first time buyers….
Are there certain types of material you can’t use in a serger?
Are there any other questions I should be asking????

Any input will help!!!!! Thanks For your time and advice!

Edited 3/17/2007 5:26 pm ET by ineedaserger329


  1. fabricholic | | #1

    I have a Huskylock 936. Haven't had it long. I don't know about 3 needles. Mine uses 2 or 1. It pretty much will serge any material, I think. I mostly use 4 threads. Cover stitch takes 5. It can use thread that you use in the sewing machine, but the loopers take a lot of thread a it would be aggravating to have to stop and put on another spool of thread. That is why it's good to have cone thread. The loopers can use thicker threads like the wooly nylon and the other beautiful threads and yarns. That changes the look of your stitches and makes it decorative. You change the plates, if you want to do something different from the regular overlock, such as narrow hem, or cover stitch. See if the overlock comes with different attachments. I bought extras, like the elastic one and the gathering foot. There is one that can stitch over beading. I like the sturdiness of the Huskylock 936. If you have the tensions set correctly, I don't think you will ever have to go over something you have just serged. It will be strong. Maybe they will throw in some attachments or give you some at a big discount when you buy the serger. I don't know anything about the Pfaff.


  2. Ralphetta | | #2

    I'm not an expert on sergers, but I certainly do love mine.  As to thread...I often use regular thread if I don't have any cone thread that matches.  The cone thread tends to be finer, and there are times that 4-5 regular threads are too bulky.  Lingerie fabrics, thin knits, etc., are easier to sew on a serger, I think.  I've used mine on upholstery fabrics, but I haven't tried anything heavier so I don't know about that, but I believe they use them for sail making.  I only have 1-2 needle capability and often just use 1.  I've never had anything rip out.  I hope this answers some of your questions.

  3. MaryinColorado | | #3

    The serger cone thread is finer diameter and because of the way a serger works, kind of like crocheting, it has extremely sturdy stitches.  The beginning and ends of serger stitches are at risk to unravel.  For this issue most of us: 1. use FrayBlock which is a washable and drycleanable fabric glue in a tube.  There are other brands but some will get like a hard sticky ball after cleaning.   2. stitch over the ends with a sewing machine and 3.  Once you get used to the serger, you will learn to leave along tail at the beginning of stitching, tuck that threadtail into the rest of the row of stitching, and continue on.  4. If you are going to go across the seam with another stitch such as hemming across a seam, these stitches will reinforce the serged seam so it won't be a problem. 

    The looper threads don't show on most of serger stitches so you can use the "close enough" threads rather than perfect match.  Some people start out with a couple cones of grey, black, cream, etc. for the loopers depending on how sheer your fabric is.  (this won't work for rolled hems as the looper threads will wrap around).  Do not use serger thread on the regular sewing machine, it is not strong enough for that!

    I love to use decorative threads in my needles and often use very thick threads in my loopers that could never fit through the needles.  If I want the looper threads to show, I just put the right side of my fabric down toward the teeth.

    Rolled hems, some machines make nicer ones than others.  Fabrics that fray easily and more open weave fabrics will need something like wash away stablizer to prevent "pokies" and to help them roll.  Some machines will do either a two or a three thread rolled hem, one is finer looking than the other.  This is like the finish on fine hankies and I use it for heirloom work on the serger. 

    The flatlock stitch is something used for decorative work and very versatile.  There are two basic techniques for it depending on wether you want the looper or needle stitches to show.  You can do ribbon insertion with it and other decorative work.  You may have seen this on sweats.

    The coverstitch is also very versatile, the Huskylock 936 does either two needle or three needle depending on the look you want.  This is excellent for knit hems and jeans.  I didn't use the three needle the first three years I had the machine.  Then I discovered putting metallic threads like Galmour and other heavy threads into the loopers and serging onto dark velvet with the right side down!  Wow!  It is so beautiful and you can just meander around and make incredible deco work or trims.  You can also do this with the chainstitch. 

    The only time I have to switch my machine over is for coverstitch/chainstitch.  Then I put the needles in a farther front location and change the presserfoot also.  This takes me about one minute now that I have practiced it.

    I have lots of extra feet for overlocking and coverstitching but rarely use them.  Beading, elastic, piping, bias binding, bias tape, gathering, hem, etc.  They just snap on and off easily.  I love to gather with the serger, but never even bother to put on the gathering foot, just open the differential feed all the way out and go go go!

    I think it is important how much clearance you get on a serger between the presser foot and the plate if you want to make quilts, hem jeans, etc.  This varies with machines. 

    I really recommend getting a good book on serging from the library so you can learn all they can do and how machines differ in ease of use.  Some are very complicated, others very user friendly.  Also depends on your preferences so much.  "Serger Secrets" is my fav book if I haven't mentioned it enough.  Sorry this got so wordy.

    Happy hunting!  Mary


    1. ineedaserger329 | | #4

      Get wordy whenever you want! You may not know it, but you've been a big help! Everyone Has... My dad has agreed to buy me a serger and a couple of other things (accessories, some notions maybe a dress form, ect.) All with my education money my parents saved for college...I want to start a dressmaking business. I know I will have to work up to the skill level of seamstresses and dressmakers that have done this for years...but I am working on it. I know I will need a serger, but i didn't know what to look for in one....It sure isn't anything like looking for a sewing machine...and I am still finding out all of the other things I will need. At least now I can get on this site when I run into problems and ask all kinds of questions....and offer what little advice I can at this point....makes me feel helpful.
      Thank you for your help and if you want to offer any more, I'd always love to hear from you.Amanda

      1. ctirish | | #5

        Hi Amanda,

        I am late to this discussion and you have received some great advice. You may want to check out http://www.PatternReview.com  about serger reviews for different makes and models. I have not heard anything about Pfaff sergers but in general their machines are not user friendly.  There is a woman at a store I frequent who loves her pfaff sewing/embroidery machine and has won awards with her work.  

         You need to slow down and take deep breath; there is so much out there you could easily spend a lot of money and not have what you need to build a business.  Ask your father to help you with a small business plan and then you can build a list of machines and items you need to start your business.  Here are just some of the machines and things you may or may not want to use in your business and this can add up to thousands of dollars so make your choices wisely.

        You will need a sewing machine. you may need an embroidery machine, a blind hem machine, a cover stitch machine,  a iron pressing system, a dry iron, a dress form or two(one made just for you and an adjustable one for customers),  large ironing table, sleeve boards, leg boards, boards for ironing velvet, lace shaping boards.  I won't go on because I don't want to scare you.   I know you are going to be a great seamstress and designer, so just hang in there and take it one stitch at a time. Then you will have quality tools to create awesome garments.

        If you are doing this instead of college, you may want to consider a design school or some courses at a local university or art college.  If you are sick of school and boy do I understand that feeling; look into a sewing seminar.  Martha Pullen has "schools" running all the time and you can see her work and classes and what they involve at her site. http://www.marthapullen.com.  There are also schools run by many other people, Susan Khalje, Palmer, Guffey.  There are sewing Expos where you can get information a little at a time but if you can; go somewhere for a week at least.  If you are just starting out without kids and a family I would go to a couple of Martha's courses or look into a school for dressmaking.

        As I review this it may be in the wrong order, and I apologize if I sound like a parent.  I only wish someone had slowed me down at the beginning.  I own probably 60-70 books on all aspects of sewing, embroidery, applique, sergers, heirloom, fabric, knits, on and on. I probably need five and then I would get one or two on pattern drafting. I don't  have a business but I know I would have two sewing machines, and a couple other machines and a lot less of the little stuff and more room to work in my sewing room had I planned better. (which is sort of ironic, since in a past life I created project plans)

        This is an exciting time for sewing, there are so many new ideas and way to accomplish them.  Sewing isn't a sprint it is a marathon but the run is so much fun...

        And remember when you get stuck, frustrated and angry, just log in we  are here  24/7 because we have all had times when we wanted to throw in the towel.  

      2. MaryinColorado | | #6

        I saved alot of money by having my hubby make my tables, they are in a sort of L formation, the widest part of the shorter table for the serger is facing the wall, the longer table's short end is facing the same wall so they form an L and that makes both tables larger.  The big table has two sewing embroidery machines facing each other but a few feet apart.  It works out great.

        I recommend going to used office supply stores and used furniture stores, etc. to buy great office chairs, tables, etc.  I got a office chair that is tall like a bar stool for my cutting/planning/layout table.  It was $10.oo and like new.  An iron that steams well is important as you probably know.  Shelves and plastic bins hidden everywhere including under the beds...

        I think a large rotary cutting mat, variety of rotary cutters, and serge protectors are great investments bought on sale, the chain stores often have 40 to 50% off sales if you sign up for thier newsletterswhich are free. 

        I wish you great things with your business!  Mary

        1. ineedaserger329 | | #7

          Thank You....I guess I get over my head a little with this, but I am anxious to get out there with my ideas. I have made several dresses for myself and some for friends and even was commissioned to do a couple in my senior year of highschool....all of which I did on regular sewing machines....so for me a serger is a big step....I am nervous and would like to take some classes because i worry about just not having the skills to do the business thing....It seems like now is as good a time as any to get the ball rolling.....I want to get the best serger for the job, but i think i get a little hung up on the features....my dad is making me crazy because he wants me to talk to as many people as I can in the sewing world and get their opinions, but the more people I talk to, the more people tell me it's all a matter of preference...
          I hope to get things settled and would love to have a place dedicated to sewing. I have more than enough serge protectors, and my boyfriend offered to make me a table, but before I got on this site, I had never heard of a rotary cutter and a blind hemmer was only a myth....guess I learned the old-fashioned way, but I am coming around to the times....
          what I really would like to know is what stitches dressmakers use every day? and do three needles make that much difference? How many threads are practical and what is just overkill? Would it better benefit me to take a class on pattern making or use the money on other things because more people want patterns from pattern suppliers? I guess i need to know more than I thought.....but I think i am in the right place for that......

          1. Cherrypops | | #8

            Well done!

            You have most definitely come to the right place.

            You have asked the most appropriate questions and have received wonderful advice from the experts here. Some ladies have been sewing for many years and can share so much.

            My advice to you is keep all of the above information in a safe place. Return to ask for more input, you will be rewarded.

            This is the beginning of a wonderful career move for you, you are blessed with all the help you have received from family and your friends on Gatherings.

            I sense your determination and willingness to try and accept new ideas. Keep me (and all here) posted, I'd love to hear how things turn out for you.

            CherryPops (australia)

          2. pc3 | | #9

            Hi!I'm just getting into this discussion and am new to the site, but I can tell you some of the advantages of a three needle or two needle. I was ####seamstress for 4 years in a small design house in Florida called Liz and Jane cloths. They went out and bought two Viking serger's and I'm sorry I don't have the model number but it was a computerized machine with lots of capabilities. I loved using this machine and if I ever replace my serger it will be with one of these. But to be honest I hardly ever used the third needle cause there seams had to be 1/2 inch wide and this was 3/8 including the chain stitch. But this machine was great it had a cover stitch great rolled hem (Which all machines don't do well, mine does a lousy rolled hem) and it was very easy to use. But when I did use the chain stitch it was great. Very strong and held tight. I agree with your dad, talk to lots of people and make sure you find the one right for you. Good Luck.PC3

          3. ineedaserger329 | | #10

            Thank you for clarifying this, The Husky lock 936 was the first serger I looked at...I wasn't sure what stitches I would need, and the Pfaff 4874 had more than the others I found....but now I am finding that the Elna 945 has about the same number and is a little more popular. but I hear that the Babylock evolve is very user-friendly....They are all in about the same price-range...I'm not that sure I want to spend all of my money in the same place, though. I would like to look into blind hemmers, I think that would make my job a lot easier...but i know there are a lot of little things I would like to get......Any suggestions?

          4. Betakin | | #12

            You have some good model sergers in mind. I think if once you test some you will see there is a big difference between brands and models and you might feel much more comfortable with a certain model or brand over another. The more expensive models with coverhem vary also. Some models you do not have to change the needle plate or foot to convert to coverhem, chain stitch or rolled hem. Some models require a plate change for all, but that does not mean they are not good sergers.  Some models are not as heavy duty as others and some vibrate more than others and some are extremely noisy and require oiling and some do not require oiling at all or maybe need oil in just one place. Sergers with automatic tensions that take no adjustment when changing stitches are time saving.  By checking reviews on line by owners and also the different brand websites and checking out features of different models might give you a better idea as to what you like best before you do go shopping to buy one. Do you want mechanical or computerized?  By testing one yourself will let you know if this is the serger for you.

            Many people have used home sergers in their businesses but if a machine is not a commercial model and it is used for a business it can void the warranty. This is something you might wish to look into.  The most important thing is to have a serger that you are comfortable using and does the job required. You might check size and quality of loopers, some are of commercial grade where others brands are not. You might even wish to purchase a commercial grade machine.

            As for needles, most 4 thread sergers have 2 needles. Some have 3 if they also do a chainstitch but that does not mean they can also do a coverhem.  Sergers that have 8 or 10 threads and coverhem ability and deco stitches have different needle placement. For instance..I have a mechanical 4 thread serger..with 5 needle placements..the 2 in back are for regular serged stitches. The 3 in front are for the 3 different coverhems, (narrow and wide 2 seam and 3 seam) and chainstich. The needle bar on my serger tilts up for easy needle changes. I do not have to change the plate or the foot on my serger to do rolled hem or coverhem. I just dial one of the 17 stitches I prefer and the tensions are automatically set. I can serge off the fabric when doing coverhem and on many models you cannot. There is a feature to tuck in the chains into the sewed seam. This is the serger that I found best for me.

            A serger that does chain stitch and coverhem also has a chain looper besides the upper and lower looper. Not all sergers that have the extra chain looper however have the capability of doing a coverhem but they can do a chain stitch. Some 5 thread sergers are like this, they can chain but not do coverhem. Some 5 thread machines and some coverlock only machines can only do one coverhem. Some 4 thread and some 5 thread can do 3 coverhems and the 8 and 10 thread models of course can do much more. These are all things that vary between different models and brands. Many like to have a basic serger and a separate coverhem machine. The Coverlock only machines also vary in how many different types of coverhems they sew as do their prices.

            As for blindhemming..you can also do that very quickly on a serger. I wish you the best in search of a serger and in starting your business.


            Edited 3/19/2007 2:53 am ET by Betakin

            Edited 3/19/2007 2:54 am ET by Betakin

          5. MaryinColorado | | #13

            As you are wanting to start a dressmaking business, I started thinking about your knowledge base on fitting and construction techniques.  Have you taken classes or are you self taught? 

            You might have a local Sewing Guild nearby or in a city nearby that will likely have people who know how to go about this.  Perhaps a classs at a junior college nearby related to sewing and/or starting your first business. 

            There are small business loans often available to those starting a business.  

            I am thinking that when it comes to purchasing machines and high end items there may be tax benefits that you will miss out on if you don't research all this first. 

            You may be able to get a business tax number and you may be able to buy wholesale instead of retail. 

            What about liability insurance?  Insurance on your equipment, etc.

            Industrial machines may be needed.  Home machines my lose thier warranty if used for business purposes.

            I know it seems that this should be a simple plan that you can just gradually build but having the right startup plan will save you money time and headaches in the long run. 

            Don't want to squelch your enthusiasm, just trying to help.

          6. PegHead | | #28

            Hello there,  I'm throwing in my experiences only because I don't have a business and I don't know everything.

            First, I'ld advise a book on sergers.  I have and read Serger Secrets from Rodale press.  It covers every different kind of serger, and I have found it to be the better of the 2 that I've read.  I was only irritated at one article about serging a 90 degree corner.  They said it was advanced and didn't explain.  (incidently, the info for doing this is in Simplicity's Simply the best Sewing Book)

            I own an older 3-4 thread serger.  I say older because it has all the knobs to adjust tension on the front of the machine and nothing is automatic.

            I make costumes for theater and high end clothing for myself.  I most often use the overlock stitch to stop fraying, the flatlock on polar fleece, 3 thread rolled hem, and 4 thread "mock" safety stitch on stretchy knits as a seam.

            I find the chain stitch fails.  If the thread comes loose the entire seam comes out.  One of the early treadle machines in the 1800's was a chain stitch and a law was passed in Philadelphia during the civil war that outlawed using a sewing machine to make uniforms because they would literally come apart in the field. 

            I can duplicate the "decorative" aspect of the chain stitch by using heavy thread in the bobbin of a regular machine.

            The cover stitch is the nice double row stitching on the outside of your T-shirt hem.  I duplicate this on my sewing machine using double needles on top and an all purpose foot. (if you use a pintuck foot you get mock pintucks)

            So, that's it.  I have a basic 4 thread serger with differential feed, and a lever to pull for making rolled hems.  All the other fancy things on the other sergers I can duplicate on a sewing machine.  I should also mention that I have a whole gammet of feet to assist with all those wonderful things that sergers do.  I make ribbon out of small print fabric to trim costumes.  I insert elastic and sometimes zippers with the overlock.  I blind hem all knits with the 3 thread and a blind hem foot.  Ruffles are the easiest on a serger. 

            As far as which machine.  The best advise I got when shopping for a new a machine is to find the guy who will best take care of me when something goes wrong and buy whatever he has.  In Montgomery County PA. that is Steve at Steves Sewing and Vac in King of Prussia and the machine is Bernina or Babylock.  (Yes, I use Babylock feet on my Bernette serger, made by Juki in Japan)

            Incidently, to make a 90 degree corner.  Stop sewing 1 stitch from the corner, pull the needle threads till you have a about an inch of slack.  Gently pull the looper stitches off of the stitch fingers.  Turn fabric 90 degrees, pull up the needle threads until they're taught.  Lower the needles with the hand wheel into the fabric and GO!

  4. Cherrypops | | #11

    I hope this works: A brief article on Selecting A Serger.


  5. PrincessKatja | | #14

    I have the Pfaff 4874 you are considering.  I like it a lot; it is my second Pfaff serger.  Personally, I think the Babylock sergers are more user-friendly - the upper-end air thread models that are comparable to the Pfaff.   However, I don't know how they would hold up in comparison.  What I appreciate about my Pfaff machines (sewing and serging) is that they are workhorses.  I won a low-end Babylock in a contest and it was a terrible, cheap piece of unusable equipment.  Unless you were only planning to serge quilt-weight cottons.  I traded it in on my new Pfaff.   Of course, this was a low-end machine and I am sure the upper-end sergers are much better made.  As I said above, the air threading would be nice to have! 

    As everyone has said - it's a matter of taste to some extent.  If you don't choose to go with industrial equipment (faster than conventional "home use" equipment but with its own learning curve), then go with the best quality you can afford.  This doesn't necessarily mean new; an older top-of-the-line machine may give comparable performance with a significant savings.

    When you go to test-drive various machine models, make sure you take with you pieces of fabric comparable to what you think you might be likely to work with.  Make sure the machine  you're considering can handle it.  If you're going to work on evening wear fabrics, make sure the serger can do a uniform, attractive rolled hem.  It's also nice if it has a selection of specialty feet for particular functions.

    If you do go with "home use" machines, make sure you have a good dealer.  Dealer support is important and they should offer some free classes to get acquainted with your machine. 

    Best of luck in your endeavor!  Sorry I'm wordy, too!

    1. ineedaserger329 | | #15

      Nothing wrong with being wordy, I appreciate the help....The air-jet thing sounds good....even on patternreview, you are the first person I've spoken with that has the 4874....I was wondering how often you actually use all 10 threads? I'm still looking at others, the babylock has 8 and I think if I can do more with 8 then it might be worth it to go with that.....I'm still looking, though.

      1. Crazy K | | #16

        Hi......I have a Babylock Evolve 8 thread.  It's really easy to change stitches and it does a great cover hem.  It also does lots of dec. stuff with fancy threads but I haven't gotten into that yet.  I have another serger that I use for seams and leave the babylock set for coverhem.  It seems a bit more noisy that some others but it does a nice stitch and is easy to switch.  The threading is a dream........no more fighting with loopers that are hidden in the bowels of the machine.  I'm sure if I ever find more time to just play, I will use more of the stitches.  Dear daughter has been keeping me too busy since I got my new baby so I haven't played nearly as much as I would like.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #17

          Congratulations on your new baby!  God's most preciouse gift!

          I have a book with patterns from http://www.marthapullen.com.  You may find it useful.   It is called Serging For Babies 60 Minute Heirlooms by Kathy McMakin 

          1. Crazy K | | #18

            Oh my.......I am sorry to mislead.  My new 'baby' that I referred to was the Babylock serger!!  My face is red.......and it should be.  I do have 22 grands and yes, they are God's precious gifts.  The youngest will be 1 yr. in May already. 

            My daughter has me sewing for a baby line that she has recently started.  She is doing online sales as well as selling to retailers.  So I guess we could say that's a 'new baby' as well.  She's working hard and has me help out when she needs things quicker than the little factory she uses can get them done.

            As far as real babies......I think everyone is about finished......unless there should be a surprise!  Many of the children are either in or approaching (at warp speed!) their 40's. 

            Again, please forgive me.  I think I need to take a class on writing skills!  Now, however, its back to my dragon designs for the valance project.  I am determined to get it mostly completed today.  Wish me luck!

          2. MaryinColorado | | #19

            Now I am the one with a red face!  I got quite a chuckle when I realised my error!  I have "spoken" with you before and should have known better, my fellow grandmother!  Children's clothing is a great niche!  Hope she does well in her business!!!

          3. Crazy K | | #20

            Kids sewing is fun!  The valance I'm doing right as I write is pewter satin (I know, weird fabric for a boy!) on which I am doing dragon designs and bordering with charcoal...........or at least that's the plan.  My sewing often emerges quite differently than the original plan!  I hope it has that 'metal' look about it when finished.  PJ is going to be six and likes dragons.  They've lived in Korea during a stint with the Army.......so I had to get "Korean" dragons!! ha ha

          4. MaryinColorado | | #21

            I think that sounds perfect for the boy!  I like the idea of the "metallic" look!  I love to create things for the grandkids that recognise thier personalities and preferences.  They provide great memories and are true "heirlooms". 

            What a blessing that he was able to have his family with him!  My son was stationed in Korea, he and his wife were married long distance as she was here in the states!  With all thier friends stationed all over the world, they waited two years to include as many as possible in thier wedding ceremony and reception.  It was an extremely joyful occassion for all!  I think it is very romantic to have the two anniversaries too!

          5. Crazy K | | #22

            PJ's Daddy is Army and he has been overseas a few times in the past 20 years!  When he was in Korea, the family could go along.  That happened twice.  Paul was in Korea once without the family.........he spent 13 mos. as a crew chief flying the DMZ in a chopper.  They've been in Calif., Washington state, Alaska, Alabama, Kentucky and now Texas.  They're now counting the months until he can retire.

            Paul and Sue were married at Edwards Air Force base in a hangar!  Different but it was really nice.   Paul is Army but was stationed at Edwards at that time.

            The first dragon design is finally finished.  I had to take a break!  Whew!  That one took a while........and three more to go.  I surely hope it turns out.  The first dragon looks great so I'll keep my fingers crossed!

          6. MaryinColorado | | #24

            It is so fun to watch the designs stitch out and make color choices isn't it?  I think your project is going to be really appreciated!

             My 15 yr. old grandson machine embroidered VanGoh's Starry Starry Night making some really unique color choices.  It turned out neat.  He is going to make a toss pillowcover for his bed out of it. 

             I did an underwater ocean scene on a pillow for the living room.  We live in the midwest but I dream of the ocean.

              We get notices from emblib.com when they have sales and stock up on all thier favorites. 

      2. ctirish | | #23

        HI, I didn't want to influence your decision but someone hit a topic near and dear to me - air threading .........awesome.  I have the Baby Lock Evolve serger and I must say I love it almost as much as my car.

        I have a Bernina 800DL too. I spent the first three months I had it, trying to get it threaded and keep it threaded. I was determined to not have to rely on using the previous color thread to tie to when I switched thread and for threading it.

        After three months I put it away and one month after that I went to a BabyLock seminar that showed the brand new Evolve and bought it and brought it home that day.   I had not been using the Bernina at all (except in its' bag as a door stop,( literally)),  but recently I decided I would set it up for a three thread overlock with light gray thread.  This way I can fix a seam - if it came out for "some reason",  if I need to and go back to whatever I was working on -rolled hem, cover stitch etc. The Bernina does a nice 3 or 4 thread overlock and rolled hem.  When I did shawls for a wedding party, I used the Bernina - on the slinky material I was using they came out better for "some reason". 

         My Baby Lock  Evolve does anything I ask it too.  I have used it for 3 or 4 thread overlock, cover stitch, rolled hem, chain stitch and combination stitches. I have used it on fleece, cottons, interlocks, single knits, ponte knits, wovens, satins, chiffons, ribbons, lace.  I use it to sew elastic to anything all the time. It is so easy to thread and change the threading to do something different, it is amazing

         It also does a beautiful stitch where you get an overlock stitch on the edge with a 2 or 3 thread chain stitch about 1/2 to 3/4 inch inside of the overlock stitch.  This is a stitch used by commercial sewers a lot.  You probably have seen it on a RTW garment.  It looks like they sewed a chain stitch and then went back and did an overlock on the edge of the garment to keep it from fraying. On the Baby Lock it is one stitch and one pass of the fabric. It is a very sturdy seam.

        Sometimes I feel like using it is cheating and not good sewing technique because you can not open the seam and press it.  I use the serger to sew on wovens as well as knits, but really all you need to do is press the seam to the side.

        The only time it took me a couple of minutes to think about a way to do it was when I was sewing a loose boucle knit.  That was when I learned about starting on a different piece of fabric and then sewing into the boucle. That was only because it was a thicker seam and the angle of the foot was titled and for "some reason" (aka -operator error)  it caught on something

        All the stitching is even and solid and to change what stitch it is doing is so easy.  It is about noon here and I need to make a pair of no shape tie at the waist pants for a beach  theme B-day party tonight. I am not even worried because I know all I need is one hour to get them cut out and sewn.  I am going to use a RTW t-shirt for the top and put an embroidery flip-flop on the top to match the bottoms.  Then I will have my first summer outfit completed too. 

        Well, time for lunch and then I better find the pattern to cut out my pants to wear tonight. I should probably start the embroidery first.

        Have a great weekend.

        1. MaryinColorado | | #25

          Your outfit sounds cute and comfy!  You inspired me to get going on some summer projects, thanks.  Have fun at the party, you will be the "belle of the ball"  Are you going to wear a flower in your hair?  Mary

    2. ctirish | | #26

      Hi, I was just reading your post about having a BabyLock that was unusable.   I hope you took it to a reputable dealer to have it fixed.  If the dealer can't or won't help go to their website and send in a email. They have always responded to my questions quickly with complete answers and additional help if needed. They always stand by their products.


      1. PrincessKatja | | #27

        Well, the reason the Babylock I had was unusable was that it just couldn't handle heavy fabric.  I don't think any amount of servicing would have changed this.  But I am guessing it was a very low-end model and so I don't hold it against Babylock sergers in general.  I recommend the air thread models to people who might have difficulty threading.   I put a wide variety of weights and materials through my machines (sergers and sewing) and so I have a much tougher criteria.  Thankfully my Pfaff machines will punch through anything I can cram under the presser foot.

        I took advantage of a $1000 trade in offer (all brands, models) to trade in the cheap Babylock on the Pfaff 4874.   I was happy with that - besides, I had won the Babylock so I did not have any investment in it. 

        In answer to the question about how often I use the 10 thread option on the Pfaff 4874:  I haven't - yet.  I'm not a huge thread embellishment user; it's nice to have the additional stitch options but not a necessity in any way.  I'm happy to have the double (wide and narrow) and triple coverstitch which is something I will use quite a bit.  I love how fast, smooth and accurate the stitching is on the 4874.  That baby really moves.  I can't imagine any useful features it doesn't already have, and there is a broad range of specialty feet available which I appreciate.

        I don't think the Pfaff 4874 is difficult to thread if you are accustomed to sergers.  That being said, I recommended the Babylock air thread sergers for those who might find threading intimidating.  In my experience, a lot of people who sew are intimidated by their machines.  So they buy them and then they just sit there - a total waste of time and money. 

        1. ctirish | | #29

          It sounds like you made a good decision. Someone posted about the Evolve the area is small when you want to get into the fabric further. I was thinking about it when I was sewing and they are right.  I think every machine has limitations and being able to handle heavy fabric is a big problem for everyone I would think.  Well, you made out well with your trade in for the Pfaff.  Finding a machine you love to sew with makes all of the work of searching and researching worth it.  I mentioned a Pfaff to the owner of the shop where I bought my Babylock and she was almost indignant that I would consider one. It did not leave a good taste in my mouth if you know what I mean.  They sell Pfaffs so I did not get her attitude. Maybe they don't get as high a cut on them as others.

           I hope you post some of your creations when they are completed.  I enjoy seeing other people's work; it is inspirational and motivational. Once you see something finished by someone else, you realize you could probably make something and finish it.

          I have lots of serger books - I could never find what I needed all in one book. The ones I use the most are Serger Secrets, the Palmer/Pletsch books, the Singer Serger book. Each one has something different I use it for; if it wasn't almost midnight I might be able to tell you what I like in each one.

          I have to get up at 5am to take my car in - maybe I can get back to this tomorrow.



          Edited 3/29/2007 8:39 am ET by ctirish

          1. Betakin | | #30

            I think that the sergers that have the high upper knife near the needles like the Babylock models don't have as much room to the right of the needles as say the Pfaff or Elna colverlock models. The Pfaff and Elna's have more room to the right because they have a recessed knife that does not sit high up on the side of the needles. The Pfaff and Elna knives are dropped rather than pushed aside like on the Babylock to deactivate the upper knife.

            I think one has more sewing control with the high knife like the Babylocks but it seems that the recessed knife sergers do extremely well on heavier weight fabrics. Pfaff and Elna Coverlocks can also take many of the same feet. I have an Elna 744 that is only a 4 thread but does have 3 coverhems and I have the Pfaff Coverlock kit of 3 feet. I highly recommend these feet to anyone that has a Pfaff or Elna Coverlock model.

          2. Crazy K | | #31

            I was reading your post regarding sergers and had to write......I have 4 sergers.....my first was an Elna 704DEX which I still have and like very much.  I also have a small Janome MyLock 234 (a spare), a Janome Compulock and my latest a Babylock Evolve.  You mentioned that the babylock knife goes to the side but mine drops down just like the rest of my sergers.  Maybe you were referring to a different model but I wanted to clarify that.  I've had the Babylock for a relatively short time and have not done lots of different things with it yet.......mostly have done coverhems which it does nicely.  I've been doing the coverhem on some heavy things and once started it hums along nicely.  I agree that each brand has its good points and shortcomings.........guess its mostly personal preference and take into account the type of sewing you need them for.

            O.K.......that's my two-cents worth!

          3. Betakin | | #32

            I have owned several sergers and used to sell Babylocks and yes, models vary and all of the older Babylocks had the higher knife as some of the newer models. I have both types of sergers. My Elna has a recessed knife in front of the feed and needles and my Babylock has the higher knife that is to the right of the feed and needles that you push to the side then turn it to disengage it, but it stays at the same level. The Elna knife is low and swings down beneath the stitch level to the bottom of the serger. I prefer the high knife for serging in hard to get areas and on curves because it gives more control when serging IMO. The Elna does better on heavier fabrics including the coverhem. With the recessed knife there is a lot more space to the right that gives a larger sewing area. With the higher knife there is less space to the right but maybe that is why I have better control when serging with this type.

          4. Crazy K | | #33

            thanks for the info............I only thought it fair to mention that not all babylocks have the swing away knife.  I'm having much better luck with the coverhem with the Evolve than I did with the Elna.........not sure if it is due to the model of the Elna or operator error!  Although I have been sewing off and on since childhood I feel like a very inexperienced newbie when reading the different 'threads'.  Most of my sewing has been very simple apparel or home dec projects. 

            Someone mentioned getting the same results as the coverhem by using a double needle.  I did that until I got my Evolve and I have to say there is a huge difference in durability.  The coverhem is much more durable when doing childrens' clothing and especially with stretchy fabric.


          5. Betakin | | #34

            I bought my Elna 744 because I wanted the triple seam cover hem and rarely use the double seam narrow and wide cover hems.  I prefer mechanical sergers rather than computerized and I like that it converts easily too with no foot or plate to change. I also like the stretch wrap stitch on this serger.

            The newer Elna 745 that is a 5 thread has the built in blanket stitch in the dial a stitch program but the stretch wrap stitch suits me ok for the many fleece throws that I make. I don't use that stitch for the baby blankets I make for all the 26 DGK's and 6 are grt. grands. I use my other serger for the nicer rolled hem.

            Edited 3/31/2007 2:55 pm ET by Betakin

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