My (Imperfect) Quest for a Serger

The information I am about to share I am not proud of.  I strive to be a good-decision-maker-deal-seeker-bargain-hunter type. Often it works out great and I am excited and thankful for my purchase. This quest for a serger is not one of my shining moments.

My longing for a serger began when I decided to make a triple-layer ruffled crib skirt when I was pregnant with my daughter.  The tutorial suggested a rolled hem for the bottom of the ruffle layers. I was unfamiliar with this technique at the time, but it looked really nice.  After ending up having to hem all those layers, it did not take me long to be convinced.  My sister-in-law had purchased an old Pfaff serger for about $50 on Craigslist to use making cloth diaper inserts and baby wipes.  She kindly loaned it to me, but it did not have rolled hem capabilities.  This was the first time I had the opportunity to try out a serger and I fell in love.  The gorgeous finished seam and simplicity of it all had me hooked.  I used it to repair a broken seam on my favorite maternity pants and drooled a little.

So began the scouring of Craigslist, Amazon, garage sales, thrift stores and the like for an awesome low-priced serger.  These are not easy to come by.  I considered a few, missed a few, hemmed and hawwed about the Brother 1034d on  Finally, last spring I found a listing for a Singer serger for $35 in the city next to mine.  Corresponding with the owner, I learned she was a seamstress and costume maker who had bought the machine new less than a year ago in a crunch and wanted it to go to someone who would appreciate it (that would be me!).  Our family went to buy it on the way home from another trip.  My husband almost wouldn't let me go into the house when we got there.  The woman was super nice though, gave me a homemade lavender cupcake, and I took the serger home.  She made a comment that the tension needed adjusting.  "No problem, I can do that!"

Now I know that there is no good reason why I wouldn't test the machine while there.  Well, actually, there kinda is because my husband was nervously waiting outside, standing on the sidewalk halfway between the house where I was and our car of kids.  But still.  I brought it home and didn't have a project to use it for a few months.  When I did get it out to use, the tension needed more than adjusting.  After borrowing a few sergers, breaking a needle, and re-threading machines multiple times, I like to think of myself as a sort of serger whisperer.  I am sure this isn't accurate, but I do think I can handle one decently.  This machine was not working.  I took it to our local repair shop, put down the $20 to have it looked at, and found out the timing was off.  It would be about $140 to fix.  I can buy the same machine for $150-$200 brand new, and it's not that great of a machine.  So now (as of a few months ago) I am out $55, without a serger.  But it gets worse.

I continued my search somewhat, but focused more on my new sewing machine which I bought new at my local dealer (it wasn't a simple search process, but in the end I'm glad that's the route I went)  Then continued my hunt for a serger.  I recently found a great Baby Lock Pro with a ton of thread listed on Craigslist.  After reading about it online, so many people raved about their older BLPro, and I liked the features and price.  I corresponded a lot with the owner.  The wintery weather kept me from being able to go take a look for a couple weeks.  I think this intensified my desire to have it.  Finally, I had a small window between snow storms and other responsibilities to make the trip to check out the machine.  I won't say how far it was.  It wasn't ridiculous, but it was just on the edge of saneness for travel distance.

To shorten the story, I got there and it didn't work right.  She had set it out and set it up and had fabric ready for me to try it.  She had caged her dogs before I arrived.  She was super nice.  The machine had sat for years since her last project unused and under the table.  But I stitched about 1" and the needle broke.  I replaced the needle, rethreaded the machine (things I had done before with success) and it wouldn't chain.  I kept trying and trying.  (Her husband had always threaded it for her and he wasn't around).  Except another needle did break.  The owner apologized and apologized for not being more help and that I drove all the way out for nothing.  I really don't think it was her fault, but I began to wonder if she had tried it at all in the last decade before listing it.  That would have been a good question to ask.  She did say she would see if her husband could figure it out or take it to her local dealer repair and let me know what she found out.

Ugh.  I wasted an afternoon checking out the machine and am still empty handed.  It is better than buying the machine and then having it not work.  But driving home (Did I mention it was in a rural area of my state and there is snow everywhere?  It made the drive home seem lonely and sad) I am chastising myself for this whole serger process.  Everyone likes the Brother 1034d.  Why did I not just buy that in the first place?  Now I am out so much time and some money and still have no serger.  I know part of me wants to find a nicer serger for a lower price.  But instead I end up with no serger.

So back at square one, the question remains.  Maybe I should just give up?  Maybe I should sock away my pennies and just buy the Brother 1030d (which has gone up in price over all this time).  Maybe I could find some way to save lots of money to buy the serger at my dealer?  I think I've quit Craigslist.  Maybe.  Maybe not.

In my mind, purchases in general can be neat and tidy.  If I research it enough, I will find the BEST deal on the BEST item and I will buy it and love it and never regret it.  Perfect.  But this is not always (often?) the case.  How does it work for you?  Do you just go out and buy new whatever you want?  Does anyone else waste time, effort, and money like me?  Do you need parts for a Singer Serger?  I'll sell you some for $50.


  1. I'm so sorry about your trial and errors. Did you get the Brother and if so how do you life it.

    1. I am still serger-less, but for a basic serger EVERYONE loaves the Brother. I don't think I've ever read a negative comment about it, unless someone wanted something fancier. Even then, lots of people say they like the Brother better than their more advanced model. I just sold a bunch of stuff, so if I don't win the giveaway from Seamingly smitten mentioned in my next post, I think I will take the plunge and buy it.

  2. I own 3 Singer Sergers...I love mine.. the third one just got added last week! ! A chick posted it on our local yardsale site, (said it was brand new, that her inlaw bought It for her and she couldn't figure it out)I was kinda hum, hum, I went to look at it and sure enough its brand new..plastic still on it, original threads and not a speck of lint in It...gave her $75 & ran. . This one is one step up from my 2 $199 walmart ones.. its the $299 from Joanns (even has the paperwork from joanns on it.. ) keep searching..:-)


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