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November 28th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

It’s official:  My 25 (or so)-year-old White Super Lock 523 serger is dead, in spite of a valiant attempt at resurrection by a diligent craftsman, and two decades of faithful service.  I may buy a Juki MO 654 DE in a few years, but right now I went for another model that’s just as basic as my White was:  A Baby Lock BL 450A  — which has been newly re-named “Lauren” by Baby Lock.

Here’s the printing on the box.  Is it really necessary to have so many names for one product?  It’s not just a Baby Lock, it’s a Baby Lock BL450A, and not just a Baby Lock BL450A, it’s a Baby Lock BL450A A-Line, and it’s not just a Baby Lock BL450A A-Line, it’s a Baby Lock BL450A A-Line named “Lauren”.  Are we confused enough yet?  This doesn’t making finding reviews, or identifying models, very easy for a poor woebegone consumer.

So far, I’ve only set it up and given it a very brief trial run.  Threading is almost identical to my White, and, although everyone seems to complain about threading sergers, it’s really never been much of a problem for me.  As is usually the case, this one shipped with threads in place, so I just grabbed each thread, attached the thread from my own spools, and patiently pulled the strands through.  (Always do the needle/s last!)  Tying the threads together works a treat, and I was ready to go instantly.

So far, the Baby Lock seems to function identically to the White, except that it’s a 2/3/4 thread instead of just a 2/3.  The 4-thread seam was a big surprise — it’s snug and perfect on knits, with just the right amount of elasticity.  It should be perfect for my turtlenecks now, and for knit tops and dresses in the spring.

It does have one feature my White didn’t have (and one that I’m thrilled about):  A slot on the presser foot through which to feed stabilizing tape, or ribbon.  Huzzah, huzzah, huzzah!  I’m going to like that; it should make stabilizing the shoulders on my favorite turtleneck a cinch.

The only thing I don’t like so far?  The lever used to lift the foot is the cheapest, flimsiest piece of plastic imaginable:

Worse, it isn’t even firmly anchored; it just flops in place.  (It appears to be intentionally designed that way.  Phew.)  I’m sure it will serve just fine, but that’s one place where a quality piece of metal would have enhanced my user experience — hundreds of times a month.  I’m a bit annoyed about that; it seems like an unnecessary bit of cheapness.

I think the accessory box is made of the same plastic, only much thinner and, incredibly, flimsier. At least this matters a lot less than the lever.  The box looks and feels as if it will bio-degrade on my sewing table within the week, which also means that it’s nearly impossible to close effectively, since it buckles when touched.  Wonder why it came with a rubber band around it?  I expect I’ll have to work out some other way to store the accessories, or risk having my aesthetics offended on a daily basis.  Not to mention regularly enduring the suspense of wondering if the box will evaporate one day before my very eyes.

But those are minor quibbles.  Will I regret not going for the Juki?  I made a similar gamble two decades ago, and won it handily when I bought my White, which, though a bare-bones model and inexpensive, gave me more than my money’s worth.  My serger needs are still very much the same, and are still so basic, that it’s quite possible that I’ll be as fortunate with this new machine.  The isn’t the kind of gamble I usually take with tools and equipment, and only time will tell, but so far, so good.

I miss my pretty little blue White, though.  And I hate the “Lauren” logo:  It’s half of a wench (waist to toes) in a skirt and high heels.  Right.  How completely characterless, banal and kind of retro-loathsome, not in a good way.  Not to mention that not all male sewers have an identical cousin like Peter’s Cathy.  Those who don’t are probably going to love this logo just as much as I do.  I’m so not impressed!

Note: A 35-minute DVD came with the machine.  It’s from 1997, and is described by the presenter as a “tape”.  It’s ever-so-fuzzy, but it is an excellent as an introduction to using the serger. Now that was impressive!

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  1. November 30th, 2010 at 16:46 | #1

    Luckily, the presser foot on a serger doesn’t have to be lifted that often. I just got a new (to me, actually quite old) serger and it’s always an adjustment to a new machine. Mine doesn’t have a free arm, which may end up being a fatal flaw.

    • November 30th, 2010 at 22:58 | #2

      I don’t know, Trena. I think it isn’t lifted as much, but I was thinking about this while I sewed today, and noticing that I actually DO life it a lot more than I thought. All those corners! I’m getting used to it, though — as you said, there’s always some ramp-up time getting used to a new one. I hope yours works out for you. I don’t think my old one had a free arm; I’m thinking that I sewed with the door open when space was tight? Doesn’t sound too safe, though, does it?

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