Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Life-altering news: I need your advice!

current serger ugliness
I would have written a post asking what is going on in the picture above...that results in this....
New Look 6071
and then asked how to fix it...but....

So when we were in New York, I announced to ATP over dinner that I had some big news to share with her.   Her eyes widened in that way that eyes widen when people think they are about to hear huge life-altering news, which is very much what this is:

I am getting a serger that threads itself and adjusts its own tension, as a combination birthday/Christmas gift from my dad.

This is a very sweet and expensive and life-altering gift.

I am thinking of going with the BabyLock Enlighten.  I have seen it demoed a few times, most recently at the ASE, and it is pretty awesome.

My questions to you:
1.  When is the right time to buy it for the best deal?  This weekend is Columbus Day weekend, will there be dealer sales?  Would it be better to wait until December in the weeks before Christmas?  Or doesn't it matter?

2.  Is there a different serger I should be considering instead of the BabyLock Enlighten?  Different brand?  Different model?  (I have read a few reviews on PR and I don't care that it doesn't come with the cutting catcher--my current serger has one and I've never used it).

3.  I thought these kinds of sergers did everything, including adjusting their own differential feed, but it appears that they do not.    Is that true that I still have to adjust the DF?  Part of my frustration with my current serger is figuring out the DF on every knit, in every direction I will be serging (crosswise, lengthwise AND diagonal) and taking into account if I'm serging one layer or two, if I'm cutting the edge or not cutting it.   It takes a lot of time and tweaking to get it to be where I want it to be for most scenarios (which is to say, completely flat).  Will I still have to tweak this with the Enlighten?

4.    Sometime in the future I would like to get a coverstitch.  If you have an all-in-one serger and coverstitch (like the BabyLock Ovation or Evolution), do you like it or would you prefer having separate machines?

Ok, let me know!!!!


  1. I have a Babylock Evolve (the predecessor to the Evolution) that I bought used about a year ago, and I love it. I do use and love the coverstitch functionality, although, if I had the space, it would be nice to have a separate CV machine. It's not that big of a pain to switch back and forth, though--it takes me about 5 minutes. I haven't had to mess with the DF feed on mine unless I was doing some sort of decorative stitching, like a lettuce edge hem. Congratulations on your impending new family member!

  2. I have a BL Imagine and a separate cover stitch machine. Nice to have both so you can go back and forth without without switchig settings. I am not sure I would like to give up my DF feature. Sometimes I am the only one who can determine what I am trying to accomplish and how the fabric is feeding. The DF feed on the Bablylocks is a very simple lever on the right lower front of the machine. Super easy to use.

  3. I'm looking forward to your newest addition. My overlocker is older than my nephew so I wish you well on your purchase.

  4. Here are my answers. =)

    1. Get some comparative prices and see if your dealer will match. There was a truck sale (*head scratch*) going on in New Hampshire on Janome Coverstitch machines. When I called my dealer to see if they would have something similar at their store, she sold me the machine at the truck sale price. I normally don't shop during the holiday season, so I don't know what sales are available.

    2. I hear lots of folks like the Juki something-or-other with jet air threading. It's new and is supposed to have the same technology as Babylock. I really like my Janome MyLock 204D. It's been a real workhorse even with my silly user mistakes. Though I'm not in the market for a serger right now, I considered getting a Juki or another Janome.

    3. What's differential feed? =) I never adjust it on my knits; perhaps I should.

    4. I like having a separate coverstitch machine. I don't want to have to change the thread or mechanism just to coverstitch something. I have the space for both, so that might be something you want to consider.

    It's nice that your dad is getting the machine for you. It's a great investment and you'll definitely get lots of use out of it.

  5. I have a Bernina 1150MDA serger. What sold me was I could adjust the DF. It has semi-auto needle threading, on board tool storage, easy to thread and a slightly bigger harp area. It also has micro tweeking ability - for those times when you are sewing the slightly more stretchy seam.
    I don't know anything about the Enlighten. A dealer told me the baby lock evolve and the other one were fine if you were sewing the same thing. It would 'automatically' adjust the df - sensing the fabric somehow. People buy them for the jet air threading. The older sergers were a bear to thread, my bernina is easy peasy.

    I got mine as a show special (NW Quilt expo in portland) and got them to throw in an extra foot plus a $50 gift cert for the store. Which came in handy for thread cones!
    Whatever you do, buy from someone you can take lessons from. Or, easily get to in order to have problems solved. FYI, I cannot read my serger manual. It was translated into chinese and then reverse translated into some mutant englese.

    I bought my Janome coverstitch on ebay. Lots easier to operate. If you're sewing clothing get the separate machines. And the coverstitch manual was way easier to read.

    The babylocks have small harps compared to the dedicated coverstitch machines. Not a lot of room on the right to cram bulky dresses through.

    My friends' mother bought the babylock evolve/imagine (?one without coverstitch) because of her older eyesight - so the jet air threading became very important.

    I might keel over if my dad ever bought me anything like this. . .you are lucky.

  6. I have separate machines, both by Babylock and I love them. I have the space to have all three in a row and I would definitely be annoyed if I had to change over. You don't have to touch the DF. Most of the time unless you are doing something special you leave it in neutral. If you fabric looks a little wonky you play with it for a minute. I agree with all the other posters when I say its not a big deal. (I had a Janome coverstitch and did not love it. The separate Babylock coverstitch was awesome). I can tell you that when I was shopping for my coverstitch they quoted me a ridiculous price. Luckily I had been to another dealer who had quoted me $200 less. So I told them that he had offered me a price of $250 less than they were saying. They said they would match that price and give me 2 extra feet if I went with them. So the prices they are quoting you may be nonsense unless you know how much its supposed to be. I'm not clear that "sales" matter. They seem to have a certain price point they will sell them for and that's that. But I have no actual knowledge, I just intuited this from my negotiations.

  7. As a local, like down the street local, I bought my Babylock at American Sew and Vac. He strikes a good deal when cash is involved and I bought mine around Presidents Day. I have no other advice besides dealer advice.

  8. I have had my Babylock Evolution for about 1.5 years and I have yet to find something to complain about. Having never owned a serger prior to the Babylock, I was a bit apprehensive about tension and threading, since I see many complaints with those issues with other machines. However, with the Evolution, threading is simple, and you never have to adjust the tension. I only adjust the differential feed if I am doing something special (lettuce hem), and then I just follow the instructions in the manual for the settings. I brought this machine home, threaded it up, and successfully sewed with all 8 threads on the first try. Last night, for the first time, I used the coverstitch feature, and it is very easy to convert from the regular overlocker mode. Once I got it threaded up correctly, I ran some knit fabric through, and had perfect stitches on the first try.
    When I bought my machine, there was a promotion where you could get the Inspiration Guide (retails at a ridiculous ~$80) and a set of 6 accessory feet (valued at ~$300) at no additional cost. I don't think dealers have much leeway with the machine price.
    As an engineer, I'm insistent on having good tools. The Evolution gets my approval.

  9. I have the baby lock imagine and then the baby lock coverstitch machine. I love them both. Have had zero problems after 4 years of pretty good use. A friend has the janome coverstitch, she is not that impressed. I like having the 2 separate machines.

  10. I highly recommend babylock sergers. I have a used imagine (super old) which I bought from PatternReview classifieds recently and it has changed my sewing drastically. Its so much fun and I never have to worry about tension. The jet air threading is awesome too. I can't answer your question about timing though but its worth calling your dealer to see if they have any floor models/trade ins. You can save a bunch on those.

  11. Skip the expensive self threading serger and buy a used 4 thread industrial serger. You will not believe you ever put up with your wonky domestic ever again. It does one thing and it does it aces.

    Then, use your old machine for three thread and roll hem and leave it forever set up that way.

  12. Lucky you! A serger that threads itself - heaven. I own a Bernina 1300 MDC serger/coverstitch machine. Due to lack of space, I can only have one serger so I have to change the settings to use the coverstitch feature but I have gotten used to it and it only takes me 5 minutes or less.

  13. I bought a Babylock Imagine in 1997. I felt terrible to spend that much money on a serger at the time. It has been a dream to own. I am still so happy with my purchase. I will say that the differential feed is not a deal at all 99% of the time I have it on the N setting. I've only really changed the differential feed when using specialty feet like the gathering foot. This machine just seems to stitch like a dream on any fabric that you throw at it. Stitches are perfect. If is is a garment that I've made before and don't need a lot of adjustments, I just serge the seams and call it done. Pajama pants are a breeze to sew. Years later I bought a coverstitch machine. I don't use it a ton, but I am not a big knit sewer either.


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