It was my birthday! Eights months ago! And to celebrate me getting yet not another year older as I have stopped doing that, I bought myself a serger! Also, I bought it back in May of 2018, so that things could be even more confusing!
Note: If you speak British, that sentence reads: I bought myself an overlocker in May!
This is the Janome My Lock 634D.
I’ve been trying it out before releasing its birth announcement into the world and I think I am in love. I want to separate out two things here, though. There’s my review of the machine itself, and the review of the place I bought it from.
First, my shopping experience
I found this model in stock at Sew Vac Direct, a shop based in Texas, and I placed my order online. It arrived as promised in just a few days. And that is where our story takes a dark turn.
The machine they shipped me was not the brand-new factory fresh machine I purchased. It was clearly a used/returned machine and it had not even been re-threaded. It came with all the attachments, but no DVD and it was not NEW and was not THREADED. Arghhhhhhhhhhh.
Because what everyone wants, right, is to save up money for months and months for a scary exhilarating new machine and then when it arrives discover not only were they sent used merchandise but it’s a Saturday and the store is already closed and in Texas, so the only option is to try to figure out how to thread it or put it back in the box. Happy birthday?
Since there wasn’t much I could do to resolve it until the store re-opened on Monday morning, I emailed images of the machine as I received it to their customer support and then put the machine aside on Saturday. I needed time to decide if I would even attempt threading it.
Temptation was too strong. I did eventually work on threading it on Sunday, and when the store was open again on Monday I called to resolve the issue. It took a VERY LONG TIME on the phone, but they finally agreed to put $150 credit back on my card as a price adjustment for sending me a used machine.
I’m still not sure how I feel about this.
- They did the right thing by adjusting the price, but I had spend a long time on the phone l to get them to do it.
- It took them several days to actually credit me, and I had to call AGAIN to before I actually saw it on my credit card.
- I would never buy anything from them again, as I think it is super shady to sell used merch at full price.
- The machine doesn’t appear to have anything wrong with it, but one of the reasons I purchased this model is that it was supposed to come threaded. And while of course you have to learn how to thread your machine, having it pre-threaded helps you reverse engineer it a LOT faster.
- On the other hand, I’m pretty stoked I managed to thread this on my own having never even used an overlocker.
So that was my shopping experience. Buyer beware.
Threading the Serger
The pictures in the user’s manual might actually be diagrams for rebuilding a 1967 Mustang engine for as useful as they were. Instead, I looked on YouTube and found what appeared to be a Janome official video. I watched it a couple of times all the way through, as well as a few other videos online. Then I watched the video again on my ipad as I threaded each part step by step.
There was a weird internal setting that had been flipped on my machine, likely from its original owner (insert emoji of choice here), and it took me half an hour of failing to thread one of the guides before I realized the flipped setting was the issue. Eventually I managed to get the damn thing threaded, and I FELT TALLER. Emotionally taller. It was a journey, friends.
Good: I was forced to dive right in and learn to thread this thing
Bad: It took me almost two hours the first time to figure it out. Yikes.
… And We’re Off!
Once I got it threaded, I made a few test seams on some scrap fabric. And then I just started serging away! I decided to dive right in and sew up some leggings! They have long, mostly straight seams and I figured it would be a good test case. I was BLOWN AWAY by the speed and quality of serged seams. It was fast and simply amazing. And that is when I began to get attached to this machine. Keep in mind, I was doing this testing over a weekend still thinking that come Monday I would be returning the machine as it was not the brand-new factory machine I ordered.
Maybe that was a small blessing in disguise. I tend to be someone who treats nice or new or expensive things very gently. Sometimes I have treated things so gently I have barely used them, which makes no sense. Since this machine was already used, it didn’t have that air of preciousness I tend to imbue nice things with. So I just jumped right in and started using it (after two hours of threading it, of course.)
The TL;DR here is that I decided to keep this machine if the shop would price adjust it to reflect that it was not in fact a new machine. Once they made the price adjustment, I was free to let go of my bad feelings about this purchase and just plain old fall in love with it.
I have been using it weekly for about eight months now and I really REALLY love it. Along the way, I found a few things that helped tremendously with the learning curve:
- The Complete Serger Handbook by Chris James (by the way, the paperback version is just $5 but I splurged for the spiral-bound version and it has been so useful to have this book out on the table next to me without having to prop it open!)
- Craftsy class: Beginning Serging With Amy Alan
This was a big-ticket purchase and something I had wanted for a long time but had put off because of the price. There are cheaper overlockers out there, but I wanted a heavy-duty machine that I could use daily. I had no idea how much it would improve my sewing speed. This thing is FAST. And I love having finished seams and stretchy, professional-looking edges.
Was it worth it?
The shopping experience gave me doubts, but in the end yes, this purchase was worth it. I love my machine and use it all the time. It has totally changed up my his-n-hers pajama game, I’m able to zoom through making pajamas in about half the time. It’s also encouraged me to sew more with woven fabrics. In the past I avoided wovens because I hate pinking every. last. piece. of. fabric. Using the serger I can create professional looking garments out of even the fussiest cotton.
If you looked closely at some of the Instagram pics of my Wonder Woman jacket, you would have seen that I serged all the seams together and then mock-flat-felled them with topstitching. I don’t think I could have made that jacket without the overlocker. The fabric frayed a lot, and it would have taken me seventy-two years to overedge stitch every last seam.
There’s still a lot to learn on this thing, and that’s another good thing! I love the feeling of being on the upside of a learning curve. Just before Thanksgiving I figured out rolled hems and net up is flatlocking — I’m gonna try that on my homemade Buff scarf thingies we’re taking to Norway. Once you get it threaded and learn how to tie off new thread cones to do quick threading, it’s just a machine. Easy to use — press the pedal and go.
If you are in the market for one of these and don’t want to spend quite so much, there’s another Janome that’s about half the price that the Captain and I went in on for his mom for her birthday. And I have heard very good things about the Brother and Babylock sergers. I picked this one because it’s pretty powerful, was allegedly easier to thread (hah hah) and reviews online said it was a workhorse, which is what I need around this place.
So, there you have it. My new-to-me serger/overlocker gets two thumbs up.