Decisions, decisions…

pfaff_serger

This lovely machine is currently sitting on my dining room table staring at me while I try to make a big decision.  For the last 15+ years, I’ve been sewing with a very basic and much loved Pfaff Select 1530 sewing machine, which I have no intention of ever getting rid of. However, I would like to buy a serger and broaden my sewing horizons a bit.  I’ve actually never even tried a serger before, so I started reading reviews online and thought I had a good idea of what I was looking for.  A slightly complicating factor is that the vast majority of reviews are written about machines purchased in the US – turns out the models sold in Canada are often slightly different, and at the very least have different numbers.  Like the ubiquitous Brother 1034D?  Doesn’t exist in Canada.  We have an 1134D, but I can only find it through Amazon and Costco, and I’d really like to buy a machine from a dealer in the event of warranty issues.  If I drive across the border to buy a machine in the US, then I will have to take it back there if problems do come up.

So, having decided to buy locally, I called our friendly neighbourhood sewing machine lady and she brought all of the machines she has in stock over to my house (she doesn’t have a storefront – as she says “my store to your door”).  She brought a Brother 3434D, a Bernette 610D (both mechanical machines), and a Pfaff Coverlock 4.0 (computerized).  She spent 2.5 hours with me this morning telling me all about the machines and teaching me how to use a serger.

My first big lesson in serger shopping – try them out!  I expected that I’d be happy with any of them, but honestly I don’t enjoy the feel of either the Brother or the Bernette.  They both feel a bit like sewing with a jackhammer: loud and table-shaking.  They both stitch nicely on chambray, linen, lightweight denim, and jersey knits, although the Brother in particular needed a fair amount of fiddling with the tension.  They both completely choked on bamboo jersey and some super soft pima cotton jersey – no amount of fiddling with the tension/differential/stitch length setting resolved the issue.  The Bernette has the advantage of being remarkably easy to thread, but I just don’t think it’s the machine for me.  The noise and vibration bother me more than I expected them to.

bernina_serger

The Pfaff on the other hand?  Quiet and solid as a rock – perfect automatic tension no matter what kind of fabric I throw at it. And it does coverstitch as well as overlocking, which I wasn’t looking for, but boy would it be nice!  The main drawbacks of the Pfaff are that it costs way more than I was planning to spend (even though it’s on sale for a really good price), the machine needs to be re-threaded to use the coverstitch so I’d need to become highly proficient at threading it, and it’s computerized, which makes me nervous that something will go wrong with it.  Plus it just seems out of place in my world to have such a fancy machine when what I really want is a basic machine that is quiet, solid, and has a good stitch quality.  The Bernette and Brother machines don’t really meet those needs for me.  The Pfaff meets all of those needs except for the basic, non-computerized part:)

The friendly sewing machine lady was kind enough to leave the machines with me for the night to play around with (another benefit of living in a small town – deposit-free serger loans) so I currently have three sergers sitting on my dining room table.  I’m pretty sure that none of these machines are quite what I’m looking for, so I’ll call tomorrow and see what else she could order in for me.  But in the meantime, I’m going to take the luxury Pfaff 4.0 out for another test drive:)

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2 thoughts on “Decisions, decisions…

  1. What a lovely conundrum to have!
    I can hardly imagine life pre serger now.
    For me, ease of threading is important as I change thread colours all the time and like to fiddle with tensions to get fake flatlock, or narrower three thread overlocking for seam finishes vs 4 thread for sewing knit clothes. The best machine will be the one you’re most comfortable with!
    I was talked out of a more expensive coverlock/overlock combination as the salesman, and anyone I knew with one, said they were “too complicated” to rethread. Since I do that ALL the time to my current machine, I rather wish I’d ignored that advice. I’m sure I would have found my way around the combination machine by now, and I don’t have the space for a separate coverstitch machine, as much as I want one.
    Good luck with your decision and what a great sewing machine saleslady you’ve found!

    • Yes, it is a good sort of decision to make! Interesting that you were talked out of the combo machine – from what I could see, the conversion isn’t that arduous. It takes a few minutes, but I’m assuming that it wouldn’t seem overly-complicated after doing it a few times. I was also a bit concerned about whether the machine would do a good job of both overlocking and coverstitching, but from what I’ve seen the stitch quality seems good. I think I’m leaning towards a combo machine – I think it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to buy/find space for a standalone coverstitch machine. I’m just going to assume that I’ll get used to it and that re-threading won’t be a major deterrent.

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