Juki serger & Overlocker review // Juki MO-654DE // Closet Case Files
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SERGER REVIEW: THE JUKI MO654DE

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.

Serger & overlocker review // Juki MO - 654 // Closet Case Files

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.

THREADING

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.

Juki serger & overlocker review // Juki MO-654DE lower looper // Closet Case Files

TENSION

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.

Serger & overlocker review // Juki MO - 654 // Tension dials

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.

Serger & overlocker review // Juki MO - 654 // Inside the machine //Closet Case FilesSerger & overlocker review // Juki MO - 654 // Inside the machine //Closet Case Files

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?

  • Cool serger! Thanks for the review. If I ever need to replace my Janome, I think I’ll check out at Juki.

    • He’s a winner! Not sure why he’s masculine, but he is.

  • Becca A

    I bought this serger a couple of years ago when my old Pfaff Hobbylock stopped being able to handle knits neatly even after servicing. I love that the upper knife is attached from above so that it can handle any thickness of knit. It sews a beautiful stitch and always gives a neat edge. The only thing I miss is having a thorough manual to accompany it.

    • Yeah, the manual kinda blows. I keep meaning to get that Serger book just to have tension explained REALLY thoroughly but I didn’t really feel like I missed the manual with this guy….

  • Grace

    Thank you so much for the review! I have the same Brother and it’s about time for a 2nd tune up which yeah, not worth it. Time for an upgrade!

    • It costs $120 for a serger tune up at the local repairman. More than once? No thanks. I love how easy it is to service the Juki on my own – its easier to clean and oil which means less tune ups down the road I think.

      • Grace

        Yikes! My guy charged me $85 USD, but still.

  • Carol – lovessewing.com

    I have this very same machine and have had it for around 9 months. I love, love, love it! I had the Janome serger that Hancocks sells and sold that immediately upon this Juki coming home 🙂 Then I also have an old (20+year) Singer serger that is going on. So I keep the Singer threaded in white and do all the other colours on the Juki since it is so much easier to thread. I concur that this one is great value for money. My favorite part it that it doesn’t bounce around when I’m going along full blast 🙂

    • I was shocked by how stable it is! Why don’t they all have suction cups?! And I love having one machine for just white thread; so indulgent!

  • Thanks for this — I’ve been hemming and hawing over whether or not to invest in a serger. But after recently making a lovely dress with some not-so-lovely finishing, I think I’m ready to take the plunge.

    • You’ll never regret it. It speeds up your sewing and takes knits to a new level…

  • Ashley

    Is this really, and I mean really, easy to thread? My janome is an absolute pain to thread and I bought it because of people saying it’s easy to thread. They were lying!! haha. The Juki looks lovely.

    • I think it’s a snap! Its got little colour dots on all the steps. I mean, the loopers will always be a bit of a pain once you get in the machine itself but I’m pretty resigned to that at this point – also having tweezers nearby helps!

    • Carol – lovessewing.com

      There is even a youtube video. Take a look and see if you think you can do it: Serger 101 Threading the Juki MO 654de Machine by Create Kids Couture

  • I have this same serger and love it. Thanks for the review! Even though I’ve had it for a while now, you pointed out a few things I had no idea it could do 🙂

  • Cocos Loft

    I loooovvveee my Juki M0654DE!! Fantastic machine, all the reasons you noted. I also noticed that it doesn’t make as much lint with the cutter, as does my Janome 8002D serger. Yes, I love sergers so much that I have two! The Juki is definitely a ‘better’ machine, and has features and feet that I don’t have on the Janome. I will eventually replace the Janome with another Juki. BTW, the manual I got with my Juki serger is really good. I think there must be an earlier version still being included with the machine.

    • I need to start investing in feet. Any suggestions?

      • Cocos Loft

        Mine came with a ‘bonus package’ – 9 presser feet, 100 needles in 4 sizes, 6 spools of MaxiLock, a serger tote bag, and 2 CDs – projects and how-to’s! amazing…the foot that comes attached is great, because of the tape feature – but I also like the blind stitch feet (one is for right needle, the other is for either needle and for flatlocking), the elasticator (attaches elastic tape), the piping foot, and the gathering foot. BTW, it makes a beautiful rolled hem, super easy. My Janome makes them as well, but the Juki’s so really prettier.

        • That sounds like an amazing bonus!! I’m definitely going to pick up teh blind stitch foot at some point…. and the piping foot could be interesting for Carolyns!

  • vicky

    I know Amy from Cloth Habit said she wasn’t happy with the lack of space around the presser foot and knife, have you found that to be an issue at all?

    I have the 1034D and haven’t had any issues with it yet – knock on wood – except for how freaking crazy loud it is. Most of my opportunity to sew is at night and I pretty much can’t use it at night unless I want to wake everybody up in the tri-state area. I had looked at the Juki beforehand but, uh, the Brother won because it came with a free label maker. When I get my own place I’ll probably spring for the Juki because oh my god the ability to open it up to clean it out like that makes my heart flutter.

    • I read Amy’s review but I haven’t had that problem at all – maybe because I’m not sewing a lot of fussy lightweight lingerie fabrics? So far it does exactly what I need it to do!

  • Thanks for this! I just got this same serger and I love it but I’m still a bit baffled by it. It’s sort of like when you first encounter a Japanese toilet seat. I know there’s a lot it can do…but I’m also intimidated by it. I’d love it if there were more tutorials out there on serging knits instead of sewing knits without a serger. The biggest problem I’ve had is serging with clear elastic (or any elastics). Have you used the elastic-inserting foot yet?

    • At least this machine doesn’t squirt water at your hooha! I haven’t used it to insert elastic yet but I will…. I’ll work on a tutorial for that!

      • Oh wow, that would be great! The tutorial part, not the hooha part. Ha ha!

  • Lindsey Alexander

    Hi, and thanks for your review! Do you have a separate coverstitch machine or do you find with the Juki you don’t have much need for one? I read a review on Amazon that said this didn’t do coverstitch, then looked up the price of coverstitch machines and le sad.

    • I actually don’t have a coverstitch…. yet. I’d love one but I haven’t dropped the cash yet. Having said that, the universal consensus seems to be that having them separate is better because they are a pain in the butt to thread and unthread. You can get the Brother coverstitch for around $300, this Juki for a little more, which is still less than getting one machine from Babylock or something that does both…..

      • Lindsey Alexander

        Thank you!

  • Gina

    Hi, and thanks for this review! Was looking at this model and two other brands at the same price point, but the “purr” on this one won me over (that and the weight of the machine, there were a few other deciding factors as well).

    I think I won’t miss the free arm either. On my to do list first thing tomorrow! 🙂

  • Esther

    I’d like to try the MO644 out, can I ask you which Juki dealer you went to? I read there’s delisle sewing, but from their website it looks like they have only industrial machines. Thanks!

    • They are on St. Laurent just near Chabanal but I don’t know if they’re still carrying domestic machines.

  • Stella Niellyn

    I just ordered mine today. It won’t be here for at least a month unfortunately and it will be my first serger so I was really stressed out on what to choose. I am glad I didn’t pick the 1034D after reading your review 😛

  • Heather McKay

    Thank you so much for writing this review, I have been looking to upgrade for a while now and this was exactly the information I needed! I have owned a Brother 1034D for about 9 years now and while I have loved having a decent serger, I have NOT loved how temperamental, loud and finicky it is. I have a large family (10 children…yes, really) and I absolutely LOVE to sew for them so a really good serger is a must for me. I just went ahead and ordered the Juki MO654DE on Amazon and it should be here by Monday. I can hardly wait! Thank you again for sharing your experience, it was supremely helpful!

  • Teenazless

    I have this serger, too. Unfortunately, I am not as happy as you. This machine hesitates for no reason. Forget sewing through thick fabrics or thin fabrics-it chews it the fabric. I have an old baby lock from the 80’s that has beautiful even stitching. I got this as a back up. It is good enough to finish the edge of a single layer of fabric. Even then, the stitching is irregular. I am a pillow workroom that does all sorts of custom sewing and alterations. A nice feature on this machine, if it was consistant, would be the narrow rolled hem for veil edging. Again, it chews the netting and forget sewing around a curve. I compared the feeding system of my baby lock and the 654. The baby lock has a single feed dog and the 654 has the dual differential feed. The single feed dog of the baby lock handles netting much better giving a beautiful clean rolled hem, even around a curved edge. (Do to extended use, my baby lock can only do narrow hems at this point in time) So I am looking for a replacement for my replacement 654. I have had this machine about 6 years. I doubt that I will be loyal to Juki in the future

  • Teenazless

    Also, is this how you really thread your machine? The pictures do not look correct. Maybe this is the key to getiing it to sew properly :/

  • Patti

    I am replacing a 30plus old Pfaff Hobbylock, I like what I have seen and heard about the Juki MO-654DE. My question is , what is the difference between the Pearl line MO-654 and the MO-654? Amazon has them both right now.

  • gwyn

    I’ve had this serger for a few years and HATED threading the red looper…I had NO IDEA that that lever was there or that’s what it did. You just blew my mind and rocked my world.