I have been getting lots of questions about what type of machines I use so I have decided to review my beloved Babylock machine!
The important thing to remember here is that if you are a hobby sewer and you only want to sew swimwear and other knits on occasion, you DO NOT NEED A SERGER! A quality serger is going to be expensive and it won’t be worth the investment if you only plan to use it here and there. You can substitute serged hems with a three-step zig zag stitch or an overcast stitch which most home sewing machines come equipped with. This is why reading your machine manual and researching how to get the most out of your investment is so important! Take advantage of all of the stitches and features your machine has to offer and test out all of the feet.
If you are planning on selling your swimwear or sew knits often, you should invest in a serger because of the professional finish that they produce and the time you will save. I used to serge on an economy serger from Costco that my mom got me for Christmas in high school but it was such a frustrating experience that I found myself using it less and less. Sergers have a reputation for being a pain in the ass (pardon my french) to thread and tension woes can be tricky to figure out, especially for a beginner. If your machine causes you headaches every time you sit down to work, its not worth having. When I decided to sell my hand made swimwear, I knew I needed to upgrade my machine and I am so glad that I chose the Babylock Imagine, here’s why:
*Jet Air Threading: Threading this machine is sooo easy, I could do it in my sleep. There are two ports for the loopers so you just place the end of the thread in each hole, press down on the lever and air shoots the thread all the way through! There’s also a built in needle threader!
*Automatic Tension: Gone are the days of struggling with tension, my machine adjusts to whatever fabric I’m working with automatically and produces a perfect finish every time!
* Convenient feet options: There are plenty of feet available for this machine to help make whatever task at hand easier. The optional elastic foot and ruffling foot aren’t included with this machine but they make life so much easier, I keep the elastic foot on most of the time because I’m usually making bikinis!
*Support: Because this is such a popular machine, there are a ton of blog posts and videos online to walk you through all of the features.
I haven’t had any mechanical issues with my Baby in the last three years, it gets far less verbal abuse than my previous serger and its a solid, tough machine!
Now for the not so fun part of this review: the cost. I bought my Imagine from my local dealer for about $1900. If that sounds like way too much money for you, see if your dealer has a used one or maybe check out used machines on Ebay or Craigslist. I do not recommend buying ANY machine without going into a dealer and sewing on one yourself. Find a model you like working on and search around to see if you can get a better deal. If you are starting a home based business, I think this machine is definitely worth the cost and I have not regretted buying it for one second.
Other brands I tested that were also great and I would recommend trying: Pfaff, Bernina, Juki.
P.S. I serge on a Babylock Imagine and I sew on a Pfaff Passport (which I also LOVE and will review soon!). I do not currently own a coverstitch machine but I have been lusting after a Babylock Coverstitch for quite some time, its certainly a handy and time-saving compliment to a serger, but not a requirement for sewing swimwear/activewear. Coverstitches finish stretch hems with two rows of stitching on the front and an overlock stitch on the back, you can also use it for biding/straps shown below.