The Sewing Place

Machine Talk => Overlockers & Coverstitchers => Topic started by: Bogwoppit on January 05, 2019, 20:54:30 PM

Title: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Bogwoppit on January 05, 2019, 20:54:30 PM
I'm going to buy an overlocker and coverstitch as my christmas/birthday present.  I have been researching for about a month and keep going round in circles, so I though I'd ask the collective mind to help (or add more confusion).

I will go and try machines, but am trying to narrow down what I want to try.  I'm pretty technically minded and don't mind a learning curve.  I sew t-shirts and jogging bottoms on my sewing machine for my boys, would like to manage delicate materials for myself and have a neighbour who runs a dance school so tempted to have a go at costumes for fun (this isn't strictly speaking necessary but would be interesting).

So if you had about £1k, what would you get?
I had thought maybe Pfaff coverlock 3.0 as I sew on the dining table and it would be only one machine to move.
Or 2/3/4 thread overlocker and separate coverlocker but there are so many I don't know where to start.

So if you had about £1k, what would you get?  Hoping to be under this limit so posh Babylocks are out.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Efemera on January 05, 2019, 21:10:31 PM
The Juki coverstitch seems to be the most popular after the Babylock..Just seen a Bernette overlocker on FBA market place for £150... ( they were made by Juki] I’ve had mine for over 25 years, it’s a real workhorse, copes with anything.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Lachica on January 05, 2019, 21:10:53 PM
I can see that a combination machine is an attractive idea spacewise. However, if you're sewing mostly knits, would you want to keep changing the machine configuration? On the knit top I just made I used my sewing machine for basting & gathering, the overlocker for assembly and the coverstitcher for hems and for the neck binding which was done in the middle of the overlocking. I'd have needed to change the settings 3 times. If this is quick & easy then fine, but make sure you try this before committing.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: BrendaP on January 05, 2019, 23:55:15 PM
If you have got the space go for two separate machines, it can be quite a faff to change them around.

I have a Bernina 1150 which isn't made any more, but I think the current Berninas are around £700.

My Elna 444 coverstitcher is the same as Janome 1000cp.  There was a bit of a learning curve on that but we've got used to each other - and it's easy to thread.  Current models about £500
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Ohsewsimple on January 06, 2019, 12:16:24 PM
Definitely two separate machines or you won’t use them properly.
The new Berninas are lovely.  Budget wise I’d think about a Janome cover stitch and then  Bernina or Juki overlocker.  Brother overlockers are easy to thread but having used several I can’t say I’m a fan. 
And on the cheaper end I have used a Jaguar which I really liked.  Very easy to thread, sounded nice and product nice stitch.  They used to make a cheaper machine for Babylock but not now. 
If you can get to try them out and see how they thread that would be best.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: So Chic on January 06, 2019, 15:59:09 PM
Definitely two machines as they are too much faff to change from overlock to coverstitch especially as most coverstitch machines use a special needle.  I have a Janome 1000CP and a Bernina 800DL and both are easy to use and thread.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Holly Berry on January 06, 2019, 17:44:37 PM
Another one here for 2 machines. I have a Juki 734DE overlocker and a Janome 1000cp coverstitch

I love the Juki but have reservations about the Janome. I find it’s a lot of trial and error to get the stitch right and after wear and washing the stitches break. I always have practice runs which work well, but find the longer runs ie round the hem results in poor stitch formation. It doesn’t seem to like going slowly and stopping! I’ve tried a variety of threads and stabilising/not stabilising.  I will more than likely get a Juki coverstitch in the future. They just feel so much more robust, the Janome feels a bit plasticky.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: BrendaP on January 07, 2019, 10:58:41 AM
I agree that the Janome 1000 (mine is it's identical twin Elna 444) feels a bit plasticy and can be tempramental.  With the settings right the stitching is usually OK now, but it doesn't like cheap thread, especially when it comes to pulling the threads through to lock them.  I find that if it won't co-operate opening the front flap and releasing the lever for the looper thread does the trick.  Just remember to push it back again because the machine won't automatically flip it back the way my Bernina overlocker does with the lower looper.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Bogwoppit on January 07, 2019, 11:41:31 AM
Thank you all so much for your replies.  Now I'm back at home and sorted I can type a proper reply using a proper keyboard. Wwe've been on the grand tour or relatives for the last 2 weeks. Now the boys are back at school and I can relax a bit.

The Juki looked very interesting - especially as I could read the manual online.  But I couldn't find anywhere to try them.  Lots more searching and reading similar quandaries on Fb and pattern review made me realise I was getting caught up in the fancy talk and as I've not actually used one before.  Taking a whole day to travel to Manchester or Blackburn to compare things I had no experience of was not going to be a very efficient use of time.  Just because I have the money doesn't mean I should spend it all at once and as my husband said I should buy more expensive material now  I can make things that we actually wear (he has two test shirts in cheap material).

Decided to get a F&R overlocker ( from SMD to play with and see how I get on.  Also buying a second bobbin case  ( my sewing machine as I had nearly cracked twin needle for hems by adjusting the bobbin tension but had to swtich back to normal.  Now I can set the new one up and eliminate the need for coverstitch until I have enough room in the house.  I have enough things to be getting on with (the Aldi fat quarter quilt for one) to not need two new toys!

Discovered the overlocker has twins under different names and there are youtube videos ( that I will be watching on Wed or Fri depending on when delivery is.

Hey - I think I've cracked hyperlinks.  They aren't new to me but I'm 13 years away from my last desk job and only muck about on these things now.

Thanks again everyone.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: jintie on January 07, 2019, 12:44:30 PM
ejvc on another site suggests using honeycomb stitch (if your sewing machine has this) instead of a coverstitch. I have tried it, and it works on a medium weight jersey ok, but is less successful on a lighter weight.
I have a Bernina combo overlocker/coverstitch and it is a PIG to alter. I think I did it once successfully. 

Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Bogwoppit on January 07, 2019, 13:09:59 PM
I used the honeycomb (or something like it) on the sweat pants I made for my eldest in November.  They have a contrast side panel and I went over the seams to make a feature like on his bought one.  It looks great but was very time consuming, noisy and there are a few places where the thread broke and I had to start again.  Only I know those bits and no-one else will get that close to a 10 year olds legs to notice even if he stayed still enough.

It was making those with the overlocking foot on my sewing machine that convinced me it was time for an overlocker. They took a very long time and his legs are only going to get longer.  I made them for him as he has a rounded bum, tiny waist and short legs and it's painful getting him anywhere near a shop. 

Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Holly Berry on January 07, 2019, 13:32:12 PM
I have a 40 year old Frister Rossmann overlocker that is still going strong. Very easy to thread and use, shame it’s only 3 thread. Hope yours will be as good.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: sewmuchmore on January 09, 2019, 14:28:55 PM
@Bogwoppit if you do decide to go down the coverstitch route I have a Janome 2000, never been used, for sale.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Bogwoppit on January 09, 2019, 21:19:32 PM
Thanks @sewmuchmore. I'd noticed but seeing as my new overlocker has joined my sewing machine under the end of the kitchen table, I think I need a house sort out first!

I had fun playing today, learning threading, tensions, positioning, speed.  Didn't make much apart from a huge mess when I knocked the scrap catcher off and a very smart looking dishcloth when practicing corners.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: toileandtrouble on January 09, 2019, 23:25:16 PM
Rolled edges are fun to do, they give such a neat finish.  I used different coloured threads in needles and loopers on a silky patterned dress, picking up the colours from the pattern and that looks really good ( all tawny shades)  Don't like the shape of the sleeves but that's another story
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Bogwoppit on January 09, 2019, 23:32:49 PM
My husband surprised me with some rainbow and variegated black/white/grey cones for Christmas. They will be played with next time I get chance. I have some paint splash patterned chiffon and black and white cat print that would make lovely scarfs. I've been using fairly substantial fabric today and left delicates and knits for learning later.

Rolled hems here we come
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: Marniesews on January 12, 2019, 18:36:53 PM
I entirely agree with the suggestion to avoid a combo machine and didn't want to be without both functions when it was in for service or repair. When needed I just shove the overlocker towards the back of the table for a quick burst of coverstitch (or chainstitch) which wouldn't be great for ongoing sewing but is fine for a short time.

As to machines and brands: I'm definitely in the Juki camp having both a TOL Brother and Juki. The Juki happens to have air-threading but it's the quality of machine in build and stitch along with quietness & more cutting widths that impressed me most. That said, the Brother was easy to thread and produced a good finish and was a good machine for me to start with so I've kept it as a backup but rarely use it. Whatever brand you favour I'd suggest choosing one with a 2-thread option as this will allow you to sew a very fine roll hem or lighter weight overlock and most especially if you sew lycra, you can sew the superstretch stitch. It's not detailed in many manuals but it's a 3-thread comprising of both needles and single looper which gives you a strong 2-needle stitch with lovely stretch with less bulk of thread but to do it you need a machine with a looper converter. Strangely enough, although no problem for my Brother, the superstretch stitch is one that the Babylock doesn't seem able to do because of the automation of some of their settings. I tried to talk a BL owner through it in a sewing group but she couldn't get any combinations to work and gave up in the end.

Many overlocker models and all the current Jukis have 2-thread capabilities but the MO0644D requires you to buy the looper converter arm which is included with the MO-645DE. The other differences between the two are the MO-654DE having the cutting width and stitch length knobs on the right of the machine rather than having to open the left side of the machine to access them. I'm sure you just get used to either but it's useful to be able to have a quick glimpse of the knobs if like me you use the same settings a fair bit and aren't always disciplined to check all your settings carefully before ploughing ahead. Lifting up your fabric to open up the side panel and peer underneath to see the dials might be a bit irritating if you want to make an adjustment in the process of sewing.

Until about 2 years ago Juki made the Bernina overlockers & coverstitchers but they parted ways (I believe about reducing specs and costs) and now the Berninas are made under contract by Jaguar. I've not seen enough reviews to get a good impression of the new machines but I'm a little sceptical merely on the basis of having tried one Jaguar branded overlocker which was far from anything you might describe as a refined machine. Certainly I've seen little mention in my sewing groups other than with regard to the overall Bernina reputation but I watch with interest and an eye to the future.

Janome has lots of fans, you won't be surprised to hear, and my only reservation with any of their machines would be for their coverstitchers. All the coverstitchers have a learning curve but theirs appear to have a much bigger one (judging from online groups) as they seem to require a greater range of setting adjustments for different fabrics & stitches in comparison to my Bernina L220 coverstitch (identical to Juki MCS-1500/1700). Owners of the Janome 2000 seem to have less trouble than the 900 & 1000 owners but if you're really taken by the larger harp space & more accessories it's definitely well worth taking a range of knits for any demonstrations (jersey, lycra, modal, dbp for example) to get a good idea of precisely how much adjustment is needed to get good results. The coverstitch and Janome groups do have long lists of recommended settings for different fabrics/stitches to help owners find their way through the complexities, however. There's only one detailed reference for the Juki/Bernina twin coverstitch that I know of and that focusses more broadly on techniques, threading, using generic attachments etc than lists of detailed settings but it's a great help for new owners too.

Brother coverstitchers are increasing in popularity, partly due the price but also because they have one that can do a reverse stitch on both sides of the fabric (the criss-cross looper pattern). This is often seen on rtw now and frequently considered desirable for that alone (I have conflicted feelings about that attitude in general, my age perhaps?). I'm inevitably influenced by the experience of my Brother v Juki overlockers in respect of their coverstitcher too.

Pfaff gets far fewer mentions in the groups I follow and although I have seen some complaints the apparent fewer number of owners makes it difficult to weigh up the significance of the occasional complaint. The changes made since they became part of the SVP group may have had an effect here too.

And budget...assuming you go for two standalone machines, it's your choice of coverstitch that limits your options. Janome and Brother give you several options so, as always, you're well advised to try them all out to make a choice. The cheaper new Bernette B42 coverstitch matches the Janome 2000cpx price at £200 cheaper than the  Juki MCS-1500 so that's feasible too but I can't but help wonder what impact the reduction of spec from their L200 model will have had on its performance and longevity in comparison to its Juki twin. Apparently it's noticeably louder but that's about all I've heard in comparison.

Another option is to look for a good quality used overlocker. Because they're still all mechanical (with the exception of the Juki MO-2000 which does have a computerised screen but not controls) they don't have the vulnerability of computerised sewing machines so can easily last for several decades if well maintained with any issues reliably repaired with replacement parts. Not sure looking for a used Baby lock Imagine coverstitch would be easy or perhaps a great option with their high starting cost but then having yet more options isn't always a kindness, is it?  ;)

As for trying out a Juki there are more and more dealers carrying them all the time as they seem to sweeping the whole globe in popularity. You can do a search for your local dealer here ( or go to any quilt or sewing show attended by Franklins and get a better show price. They are the UK importer of Jukis and take their overlockers and coverstitchers to all the shows for sewers to try out due to demand these days. That's where I bought my overlocker in the end.

Apologies for the huge screed but I hope some of it is helpful.  :|  I went through so many of these thought processes myself a couple of years ago that it sticks in the mind. Good luck with whichever machines you eventually go for.
Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: annieeg on January 24, 2019, 16:06:03 PM

Does anyone have a view on the Pfaff Hobbylock 2.0 ?
Its a free arm and quite compact to look at which makes it appealing to me.

Title: Re: Over locker and coverstitch shopping
Post by: So Chic on January 24, 2019, 16:32:33 PM
annieeg,  I had a Pfaff 788 which I hated as it never seemed able to keep a setting. I would sew a seam and then on sewing the next one I would have to re-set it.  I did a lot of unpicking.