A dream to use
I was very excited to purchase my first overlocker a few years ago, an Elna 654. It looked good in-store, was fabulous on paper, and I couldn't wait to get started, but I couldn't. No matter how hard I read that manual, and trust me I did... I got nowhere and Spotlight where I purchased it from was unable/unwilling to help me set it up. I thought it was stupidity preventing me from using it and enrolled in a community college weekend course, where the teacher realised it was faulty out of the box and suggested having it serviced. I now had a faulty $599 machine, plus a wasted weekend. The overlocker was now out of warranty at this point.
Fast forward to July last year and I purchased the Brother 4234D overlocker with the wide extension table. I'll admit I was scared to open it, but once I did I was SO pleased to see an easy to follow manual and had the machine threaded and in use within about 20 minutes. I wish I had spent more time reading online reviews and saved myself the money and hassle, but I'm happy with the outcome. I would definitely recommend this overlocker.
Sews really beautifully - but has many annoying design cons
After initially giving this machine 3 stars (OK) I have been using it extensively for a few days now and have upgraded my opinion to 5 stars, although the irritations remain more or less the same.
PROS - main thing is it sews really, really nicely
Very easy to thread compared to any overlocker I have owned/used - big plus
The stitching is altogether excellent
Tensioning etc. very easily and accurately adjustable
Sewing blind hems is easy and very good - accessory foot came with the machine
Optional table extension AWESOME for sewing (and storage)
CONS - some of the design is annoying
1) For some reason known only to some man, the presser foot lifter lever is on the right side of the machine body (near the needle wheel) and not behind the needles/presser foot where every other lifter I have ever used lives. Getting used to that took some time, but I got there and now quite like it.
2) The simplest task - replacing a needle really is a nightmare. After trying blind hemming, which uses only the left needle, I went to replace the right needle. The needle "hole" is very awkward to get at, and no matter what acrobatics I have tried to perform (so far) I can't get the needle to just slip in the way a needle should. Eventually I figured out that if I removed BOTH needles, then inserted the RIGHT needle first, it was easy enough to replace the left needle second.
On my first attempt I accidentally let go of the needle, which fell through the needle plate and I couldn't see it anywhere. Because the left plastic panel does not pull off or swivel out of the way (as it does on most overlockers I have used) getting at the needle that way was not an option. So I thought I'd look for it via the needle plate - nope. I removed the two screws holding it, and then still couldn't easily remove the plate so decided not to try further. Just put the screws back in - nope. The smaller screw hole had disappeared -- I had to pull on the entire assembly to be able to see it again. So, all of this is IMHO really, really bad design. (In the end I spotted the needle lying at the back on the inner floor of the moulding. I had to use a magnet to get it out.) A hint for anyone who might have this problem - I ended up putting a piece of fabric over the needle plate to stop the needle falling through again.
All this inaccessibility does not augur well for cleaning fluff and thread snarls from the needle plate area, moving parts etc.
3) I realise it needs to be a "snug" fit, but you need two hands and far too much pressure to open the lid of the optional table extension. This is really annoying if you want to just pop things in or out of the storage. Perhaps it will wear itself in over time - it should, I hope so.
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