Thursday, July 29, 2010

Request for Feedback: Sergers / Coverstitch Machines

Hey Peeps:

I'm seriously considering investing in a serger or a coverstitch machine this fall. While my sewing machine is rather nouveau-cheap, I do feel that the place to spend is on a machine I'll use most often, to improve my knits sewing and to shave time off the process. Apparently I can cut my sewing time in half.

I've heard about 2 sergers: Baby Lock Imagine and Baby Lock Coverstitch, that get great reviews, but they ain't cheap ($1300 ish). They are Canadian-made, which I appreciate, and they make use of a jet-air threading. Please let me know what you think of them, or of your fave serger, so that I can make an informed decision.

(Note: Easy threading is a priority, as I hear this is the most unpleasant element about working with a serger or an overlocker. That's where, I understand, the Baby Lock excels.)

Also, as I'm new to the world of serging, can anyone confirm for me that the difference between a coverstitch machine and regular serger is that the coverstitch does an extra step i.e. After serging, on a coverstitch machine, one lifts the blades, folds over the hem, and completes the job with a double stitch, affixing the outer edge of the seam allowance, as well as the inner edge, to the right side of the fabric, preventing roll-up of the serged seam.

Thanks so much for any feedback!


  1. I have a Babylock Evolve. I bought it back in 2000. It's an 8-thread serger with coverstitch. I absolutely love it. The air-jet threading is amazing, and the tension is always perfect, whether sewing denim, sheers, or knits. I would recommend getting a model with both serger and coverstitch. If that's still an option! I'm kinda out of the loop! Mine was expensive ($2,500), but worth every penny. Good luck with your choice!

  2. Everyone I know who has an Imagine loves it. I believe however that the coverstitch machine only does the coverstitch, it does not make other serged seams, only the coverstitch, so you will not be able to use that machine for overlocking/finishing the edges.

  3. Oh, I forgot to say air-threading is fabulous. I don't know how I ever lived without it and I would recommend it to everyone.

  4. Sergers are no longer hard to thread. It's just like threading a machine four times.

    I've heard that the jet air threading has issues further down the road with lint plugging the passageway.

    I have a Janome 1110DX serger. I bought it a year ago to replace another and am very happy with it. It's fairly basic yet versatile and not outrageously expensive. I did that on purpose as I plan to buy a coverstitch machine as well.

    Good luck with your search. A serger is a must have in my opinion. It makes everything so much cleaner and neater.

    Good luck with your bra science as well. My pattern drafted from a favourite bra is working great.

  5. Ok I see I'm the first comment so let me set you straight on your terminology - a coverstitch machine JUST sews those two little lines of parallel stitches you see on the hems of teeshirts. That's it. It does not do the overlocked edges that a serger/overlocker does.

    What I think you're getting confused about is that it's possible to buy a serger which ALSO has coverstitch capabilities, but the consensus on sites like PatternReview is that these machines are a big PITA to convert over to coverstitching (no matter how easy the manual says it is) so you'll never be bothered to do that. The advice across the board is to buy separate serger and coverstitch machines.

    And you're going for the RollsRoyce of sergers with the jetair threading business, holy crap! I've got a Bernina 800DL and it's really easy to thread, keeps its tension, and I've sewn everything from teeshirts to lingerie to swimwear on it. Berninas are known for being sturdy workhorses and mine retails for something like $200-300. So for the price of a Babylock you could easily buy a seriously nice serger AND a coverstitch (the Janome CoverPro 1000 is *the* gold standard and the one everyone, including me owns, so it's worth getting it just for all the tutorials out there!).

    Really I think you need to research this a bit further before plonking your money down on such an expensive item. Have a good read through all the serger reviews of PatternReview and shop around a while for deals, and see if you can get demonstrations at a dealer before buying.

  6. Hey Everyone: I am SO appreciative of your feedback! You've all got slightly different perspectives but I can see value in them all.

    Melissa: I was confused about the terminology, thank you. Mardel and Kristin have the Babylock Evolve - which does both. And I see there are different views on flipping from one mode to the other on the dual machines.

    I also appreciate Myrna's and your comment about not needing to spend that much - and suggesting other models. That's a compelling argument that I'm going to do more research about on Pattern Review.

    You are all so helpful! Thanks again.

  7. I'm just adding more to the conversation. I've had the Babylock evolve since it first came out (although I spent well less than $2500 for it, and I've never had a problem with the air-threading. I also find it easy to switch to coverstitch mode, but I don't use that feature as much as other features and see how if you go back and forth two machines would be easier (although take more space and have other issues). I threaded a standard machine for years, and even though they were more complicated then, I could easily thread it.

    Play with machines and find one you like. I've sewn on a lot of sergers, even ones other people love, and I am always happy to get back to my babylock, even when I had my temperamental early model.

  8. I've wanted a serger for a while but I just can't cope with the price, especially since I'm not making any moolah off my crafting. Maybe you'll inspire me to just do it an stop spending quite so much on my clothes :)

  9. Mardel: Thanks for all of your info!

    E8: I'm in the same situation, but apparently it makes the world of difference. I think you should have one - to prove the case :-) I'll let you know which one I land on.

  10. Hi!
    Get the Baby Lock Evolve if you're even contemplating paying that much.
    You won't regret it. I'm still pating of mine, and although I haven't used it much I don't regret paying 2x as much for it than I could have for other good sergers. It's so easy to use. It's so quick and easy to thread, and so quick and easy to change to coverstitch. The Baby-lock-machines are also apparently the only ones where you can sew the cover-stich-seams without fabric int the machine without any problems, I do that all the time, and there are other patended little advataged too.
    I heard that they're made in Japan though. Not bad at all if you ask me, I've never met more quality conscious people than the japanese.
    I've also written about it in my blog if you want to check that out.
    Good luck deciding/buying one!