You may remember that I was on the hunt for a good serger this spring. My Brother 1034D was having timing issues and I didn’t want to spend the money to get it repaired again. It was an old machine and I was never very attached to it, primarily because it was louder than a dozen rusty wrenches thrown in a broken dryer. Thankfully I picked up the Juki MO654DE this spring, and I couldn’t be happier with it. I thought I’d share my thoughts in case you’re thinking about purchasing or upgrading a serger/overlocker yourself this year.
Sergers are one of those pieces of equipment that many of us put off buying, either because of the cost or because they seem a little scary. Even the cheapest ones are a small investment, but most sergers are surprisingly easy to use, and they really do transform your sewing practice. You get much stronger, more professional seams when sewing knits, and you can save time when sewing wovens by quickly finishing your seam allowances rather than using french seams, or other more time-intensive finishes. If you’re on the fence about making the serger leap, I’m here to whisper in your ear, “Just go for it“. You won’t regret it. My serger is an indispensable tool in my arsenal, and I’m so glad I upgraded.
Juki sergers always get rave reviews, and a few of you suggested I try one. Amy heard from her dealer that Juki sergers use a lot of the same components as industrial machines, and are basically among the best on the domestic market, higher priced brands included. I’ve never minded threading my serger so I didn’t need anything with fancy auto-threading capabilities – just something strong, reliable, affordable and easy to adjust, tension-wise. Buying machines on the internet without trying them out first can be a little stressful, so I tested the entry level MO644D model at the Juki dealer in Montreal. I loved how smooth and quiet it was, but I wanted something with a little more power.
The MO654DE is a step up from the 644D, although they look very similar. The machines are surprisingly small and compact; the 644D is recommended for light to medium weight fabrics, while the 654DE can handle multiple layers of thick fabric with ease. I was initially concerned about the lack of a free arm, but I haven’t had any issues at all, even when serging narrow, round openings.
When I first got my Juki in the mail, I was so excited to test it out I sewed a test seam without looking at the threading first. I had a mild panic attack when I realized I had sewn through the thread tails, but discovered quickly how much easier it is to thread than my old Brother. With the colour coded guide, it only takes a few minutes from start to finish, and if you’re tying on new colours of thread to your old tails, you shouldn’t have to fuss that much with threading anyway. I found the lower looper especially easy to thread; in the photo below, you can see how it slides to the right when you push on the white lever — no more squinting to see if you threaded it correctly or not.
So far I’ve found it really easy to adjust the tension. Unlike the Brother, which had dials on the top, the tension dials for the 654 are all on the face of the machine. Most fabrics do well on the 4 setting, but if you’re having issues with tension I suggest looking at tutorials online or checking out the serger chapter in Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, since the instructions included in the manual aren’t super thorough.
CLEANING THE MOVING PARTS
My favourite feature of this serger is how easy it is to clean. The front and side swing out so it’s super simple to get in there with a lint brush. Since the actual motor is concealed, you can even use a can of concealed air safely, since there is no way to blow lint into the actual guts of the machine. I hated cleaning the Brother since you had to basically dissemble the entire machine with a screwdriver and it was really easy to push lint into the sensitive bits.
PURRS LIKE A KITTEN
My favourite thing about this machine is probably how stinkin’ quiet it is. And the fact that it has suction cups on the bottom so it doesn’t rattle the whole room while you’re sewing (*cough* 1034D *cough*). I even made you a little video to see what I mean.
OTHER GOOD THINGS
- You can adjust the width of your seam with a little dial in front of the pressure foot.
- The included foot has a groove for twill tape or clear elastic, making it super easy to stabilize your seams.
- Built in roll hemmer, making it easy to create a fine, narrow edge. I haven’t tried this yet but it looks super cool.
- 2/3/4 thread gives you lots of option for seam finishes.
- Differential feed, which ensures you get a perfect, smooth seam no matter if you’re sewing with knits or wovens.
- Optional light, which is great for shooting tutorials!
- Clearly marked seam allowances on the case. I find it much easier to sew precise seam allowances than on my old machine.
So yes, I love this baby, a lot. I’ve been sewing so many knits (especially when making Sallie Jumpsuit pattern samples) and I was almost mad at myself for waiting so long to get a new machine. I paid around $370 on Amazon with free shipping to my friend’s place in New York. The entry level 644D is currently $288 if you’d like a Juki at a lower price.
Anyone else in love with this machine? Are there other nifty things this baby can do that I haven’t discovered yet?