Friends, I love my little Brother 1034D serger, which I've owned for nearly a year and a half. It has performed flawlessly, cleanly finishing my seam allowances whether they be chiffon or denim. But I'll let you in on a secret: these machines scare me. I am a serger-phobe.
My introduction to serging was unfortunate. I purchased a second-hand Eighties-era Huskylock on eBay the summer before last and it was an absolute nightmare to thread (not to mention it came without presser foot, thread stand, or manual). When I was finally able to get it going -- it took days -- I tried to serge through multiple layers of denim flat-felled seams and jammed the thing. I must have knocked something out of whack yanking out the stuck fabric because it never worked right again. Finally, tired of investing hours upon hours on it, I gave up. I can't quite part with it yet (it sits on a high shelf in a closet) but it's a stinker.
Six months later I treated myself to the serger everyone on Pattern Review seems to love: the Brother 1034D, and boy am I glad I did. It cost less than $200 refurbished -- not a whole lot for a serger -- and it has more than earned its keep. It's (relatively) easy to thread and uses regular sewing machine needles. The hand wheel turns toward you just like a sewing machine's does (the Huskylock turned the opposite way, grrr....). And the instructional DVD is posted on YouTube if you ever need to watch it.
But here's the thing: I use my serger for just one task -- finishing seam allowances with a 3-thread stitch (the Brother has a 4-stitch capacity). I change the differential feed from time to time depending on the fabric, but that's it. I haven't tried anything more advanced. I'm scared to try.
The serged seams look great, though, as you can see, I'm not much of a stickler for matching thread to fabric.
Anyway, just yesterday I received an email from a NYC-based reader asking me if I knew someone who could help her learn how to use her late-model Singer serger (I don't -- do you?), and I realized that there are probably a lot of us serger-phobes out there. There's something about all those thread spools and tension dials, the rapid speed, and the fact that these little monsters will chomp your fabric to bits if given the chance, that makes people afraid of them.
Who hasn't mistakenly fed their serger a piece of a precious garment not meant for serger consumption? I have! (I try to serge only when I'm at my most alert, and never after a few glasses of wine. Consider a serger heavy machinery.)
In case you're wondering, I do have what looks to be a wonderful book on serging, Serger Secrets.
I like to look at all the pretty pictures in it but I've never really sat down and read it carefully, or thought about what I could potentially create with my serger.
I also sense there's some snobbery out there about using a serger to finish seams -- like they should all be enclosed through a more traditional method (esp. menswear). But I must admit I sometimes do serge seams instead of flat-felling them, as I did recently with my pajamas. I mean honestly: who cares?
I picked up some lightweight blue knit cotton fabric last week, the same day I bought my seersucker, with the intention of making a tee shirt. And I'm thinking maybe I'll try making most of the shirt on the serger -- it would probably take less than an hour to put together. But I'm not convinced I have the skills. Or do I?
Readers, I ask you:
Do you own a serger and, if so, what do you use it for primarily?
Do you mainly just finish seam allowances with it, or do you actually use it to construct your garment, using a 4-thread seam?
Are you secretly afraid of your serger and what you might make (destroy?) with it?
Serger-phobes and serger-philes, I want to hear from you!
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!