Customer Reviews: Brother 1034D 3-4 Thread Serger Easy Lay In Threading with Differential Feed Home Sewing & Embroidery Machine
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on September 13, 2006
I think if you're looking at this machine, you're either a) new to serging or b) impressed by the price and interested in the quality. I'm completely new to sergers, but I did my homework before buying this one, and for the price and the performance, this serger has a perfect balance.

I was also concerned about being able to figure out how to use it on my own (so many people talk about taking a class) but within a day I felt like I knew it inside and out. It's setup is uncomplicated and I was able to get right to work. There's something to be said about passing over the machine that can "do it all" and buying one that just does what you need.

1) The "how-to" videos are wonderful for the visual learner. You can pick up the same knowledge from the thorough instruction book(s) included, but the videos reinforce the book. Watching the video on "threading" once, and following the line drawings on the machine itself, I was able to thread the machine in 5 minutes. (It's really not that hard - it's all color coded and the steps are numbered, but the videos help)

2) Included are two additional feet, one for a blind hem/flatlock and another for gathering ruffles as you sew. Together, they themselves are an $60 value. The feet are "snap-on" (when I read about that online I instantly thought of breakable plastic, but the feet are primarily metal with some plastic pieces on the blind hem foot) - the "snap-on" construction is very easy to use and solid (i.e. nothing is going to snap OFF over time)

3) It's very easy to set the tension and the manual has a very clear chart on troubleshooting uneven stitches (with 4 threads, there are multiple things that can be off with the tension).

4) The company description says that it does 22 stitch functions, which I think is a little misleading (it does the basic stuff and they show different applications for the basics).
1. 3/4-thread overlock (uses 4 threads; best for use with knits or upholstery fabric)
2. 3-thread overlock (general use) in two widths - 3mm (using only the right needle) and 5mm (using only the left)
3. Rolled hem (great for edges of napkins, pajama bottoms, frilly skirts, etc)
4. Flatlock stitch (decorative or flat seams)
5. Blind hem
1. Coverlock stitch (stretchy stitch with two straight lines on the front of the fabric). If you're sewing for yourself (i.e. not selling what you make), you can fake this stitch on your regular zigzag sewing machine with a twin needle. It's not quite the same, but close enough for me.
2. Chain stitch (a semi-straight stitch, similar to a regular sewing machine but easier to rip out (i.e. good for basting) and a good reinforcement for upholstery)
Other sergers I looked at that did the coverlock stitch in addition to overlock, etc. had complicated and time consuming adjustments to be made to switch to the coverlock. If you're going to use it a lot, consider getting a separate machine that does it (the Brother model is 2340CV).
The one feature the 1034D is missing for me is the ability to do a 3-thread overlock and a chain stitch at the same time - good for upholstery but something available only on a 5 thread machine.

5) Nice little things:
1. You have the option of using regular thread spools (cheaper and smaller if you don't need 1000 yards x 4 of whatever color you're buying)
2. You use regular needles - so you can use them in both your regular sewing machine and your serger
3. It's really easy to control speed with the foot pedal - very responsive
4. Disabling the knife (that trims your fabric as you sew) is done with just the flick of a switch
5. Differential feed allows you to sew any thickness of fabric, line up stripes evenly, etc.
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on February 11, 2006
I've been sewing since I was 6 years old. I make fashions for myself and others. However, I've secretly feared "the serger" for years. I've quietly been hiding my fear by avoiding wearing any of the knitwear I've made. My conventional machine is a top of the line Viking with many features yet I've never been happy with finished look of knits made on any conventional machine. They just can't match yet alone exceed the look of RTW knits. The purpose of my lengthy introduction is to support my high rating of this entry-level serger. I had no problem dropping $1500 for a conventional machine but was not prepared to make such a big investment for something I might hate. I'm an experienced seamstress who's obviously missed the boat on the necessity of a serger. Before choosing this serger I did my research. I've read reviews here on Amazon and several other sites about it taking into consideration everything users had to say. Many people wrote about the user's manual and software and were disappointed it them. I was so excited when it arrived that I didn't even look at the software. I read the manual, removed the sample thread, re-threaded it, and was serging in 30 minutes!! Everything on the machine is marked by color and number. Try to forget every frightening thing you've ever hear about it and jump in. I think the fear factor has made many seamstresses look for monsters in the loopers and needs. My ONLY problem has been that I'm used to the presser foot lifter being on the left not the right..big deal. Biggest thing to remember is to thread it in order no matter what. Few people want to change thread but if you take your time and literally follow the numbers, you'll be serging a sample in 5 minutes. I've tested scraps of every type of fabric I could think of and made the adjustments as the book describes and everything's been perfect. Yes, it's a bit loud but putting a rubber mat underneath it helps a lot. I was lucky enough to get a new one on Amazon for approximately $180 delivered. It's worth every penny and more. I'm only mad at myself for waiting so long to enter the world of serging. It's cut my construction time in half. I won't be buying any RTW knits anymore. I've had it for a week and I've completed 3 projects though I work full-time. I've gushed enough, gotta sew.
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on October 25, 2007
I first bought a used unheard of name brand serger to practice with before I bought a good one, not being sure I'd like serging, BIG mistake HUGE! I had the other serger less than a week before reselling it on eBay. I had nothing but problems with it and it almost scared me out of buying another one. After much research and reading every review I could find on every brand of serger ever made. The Brother 1034D had only 3 bad reviews (under 3 stars) on the 30 sites I checked. 2 were because they had a UK plug, which had nothing to do with the machine itself being bad. The other one was from a woman who was a self proclaimed "sewing goddess" who had a thousand dollar machine and this one didn't compare to it (DUH!).

This serger (Brother 1034D) is so much fun. I have been playing with it for days and still get excited with every stitch I make. The instruction manual is very detailed and easy to follow with illistrations, plus there is a seperate manual that shows you all the different stitches and how to set your machine to the exact tension for each stitch! 22 different ones! Plus gives you ideas on how to make your own unique stitches. It also came with some C.D's that I have not even watched yet.

The machine comes prethreaded with colored thread to match the threading guides. It is not as difficult as some people make it out to be nor as complicated as it looks to be. If you can follow directions and you can thread a conventional machine this is a piece of cake. There are color coded numbers for each thread, just follow the numbers. You also get 3 feet, foots whatever you'd like to call them :) One is all purpose which is great! A blind hem foot AWESOME! and a gathering foot that I have not tried yet.

Believe me when I say this machine is AWESOME! and worth it to spend a little extra money on qualtity. Believe me I know there are cheaper ones and I have already been there, done that, don't make that mistake. Amazon is the cheapest website to buy it, I also took advantage of the super saver shipping and it was here in 3 days! talk about fast! Amazon also has great customer service and return policy just in case!

I HOPE that this review scares you away from other machines and makes you pick this one. I am confident that you will be extremely happy with the purchase as I was, unless you are a self proclaimed "sewing goddess" with a thousand dollar serger already :P. This machine is great for the first time sewer to the sewer looking to upgrade. I have already done all the research for you! Now all you have to do is buy it and start SERGING!

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on February 23, 2011
Last night at 8pm, right at the start of Glee, I opened the huge square box that my Brother serger machine came in. It was nicely packed and the machine was much bigger than I had imagined. It came prethreaded with corresponding threads to the 4 color coded thread passages. It came with a CD to view on my PC. I paged thru the book for 10 minutes to familiarize myself with things and then popped the CD in my computer. I only watched the first 5 lessons as I didn't want to go into overload trying to process things I didn't need to get started. I will go back to watch those videos when I need those features. I watched the threading lesson 3 times. Then I set the machine up on my kitchen table. It was 9pm. It took me 15 minutes to thread the machine with my own new white large spools. I purchased 4 white and 4 black. Even though it takes regular spools of thread, I figured I would stock up on the 2 colors that I would use the most. And @ $2.99 each, they were a bargain and ensured I would not run out of thread for a while. I used the tie on method that is explained in part on the enclosed video. Finally satisfied and confident that I was ready to start, I gently pushed the accelerator to stitch on some scrap fabric. I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the machine ran and the speed and ease of mobility. The default tensions settings worked for me so I didn't touch them, but I did experiment a bit with the stitch length and width settings. So here's the good news. By 9:25, (one hour and 25 minutes total) I had begun to sew the bodice and belt ties of DGD's christening gown. I really like the machine and encourage those of you who have one, but like me were overwhelmed to get started, to do just that. Open it up and see what it can do. To those who have always thought of buying a serger, I say do it.

There are a couple things that I feel need improvement though.

1. The video and the manual contradict each other regarding the How To Thread process. This is the most important thing on a serger - getting it threaded correctly - and it's not 100% clear. The manual says to ALWAYS thread the Upper Looper, Lower Looper, Right Needle and Left Needle IN THAT ORDER. In the video, the instructor starts with the left needle. I think it would be helpful to remember the following sequence (using the color code) that occurred to me last night. GBPY - GaBippy! Green, Blue, Pink, Yellow is the threading order.

2. The seam allowance guide is not explained anywhere that I could see. Being an experienced sewer, I kinda figured it out, but I could see how it could be a problem for beginners. The raised bolded line to the right of the needle is the standard 5/8" seam allowance. The line to the left is either 3/8" or 1/2" and then the one closest to the needle is either 3/8" or 1/4". I will have to measure the stitching with the knife blade recessed in order to get a more accurate definition of the seam allowance guide.

3. The manual says to oil your machine, but then does not include the oil.

4. The machine gets filled with lint from the fabric very quickly. I recommend getting a can of compressed air (available @ office supply stores) and give it a good blow out after you're done sewing.
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on March 15, 2006
18 months ago I purchased a Brother 1034d serger for my business. I have been using this machine consistantly (2 - 3 hours each day) with no problems. I've been so impressed with its performance and reliability that I purchased a second Brother 1034d last week. Threading is easy, motor is quiet and adjusting tension is a breeze. I highly recommend this machine if you want an inexpensive and reliable "work horse".
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on January 19, 2014
Prior to purchasing this serger (as a gift), I tried to do some research to determine what was different between this and the 3034D (~$400, only available at Brother dealers), which I owned. After reading countless reviews and looking at the specs online, it seemed that this would be a very comparable serger at a less than half of what I had paid for mine, so we went ahead and bought it! Unfortunately, upon opening the serger and showing my sister how to thread it and use it, it became very apparent that there were several significant differences between these two models. Some are just aesthetics, but I will attempt to call out any and all differences I found for your consideration. I will also post several pictures [UPDATE: I can't seem to upload pictures - so have turned them into a video. Pause to view the comparison longer if needed!].

Here is what I initially found online
[Item: 1034D | 3034D]
Stitch length: 2-4mm | .8-4mm
Stitch width: 4.5-7mm | 3-7mm
Overlock width: 3-7 | 3-7

Threading tension:
[1034D] button that manually releases the tension discs to allow the thread to go through
[3034D] tension discs release automatically when pulling thread through
Needle Holder:
[1034D] one screw releases both needles
[3034D] each needle has it's own screw to release it
[1034D] Amazon and other big box stores
[3034D] Brother Authorized dealers only
[1034D] 15lbs
[3034D] 12 lbs

And here are the differences we found during our observation with the 1034D:

QUALITY: The 1034D seems slightly inferior in quality. Yes, these are little things that probably won't impact the stitch, but plays into the look, feel, and ease of use of the machine. For the 1034D, threading 'step 9' requires you to pull out a flimsy little metal thing to get the thread through. It feels as though you could almost pull a tiny bit too hard or crooked and bend or break it - and while we were playing w/ the 1034D, the thread kept coming unthreaded from this hold as it wasn't as secure as the 3034D. For this same 'spot' on the 3034D, there is a lever that pulls the piece out for you and the place where the thread goes is notched so the thread stays in place.

STORAGE: the 1034D has no additional storage. The 3034D has a place to store extra needles, a tweezer, the finger plate, and the screwdriver to remove the needles. This comes in very handy.

STITCH ADJUSTMENTS: to change the length, width, and differential of stitches, there are switches on the left side. In our experience, they didn't move/click easily and felt very mechanical. As compared to the 3034D, there are knobs you turn on the right hand side and in front that move/click very easily and don't feel as though you're going to break the machine (slight exaggeration).

KNIFE REMOVAL (rolled hem): The 1034D's knife is screwed in. Would require a screwdriver to remove. The 3034D knife has a small handle that you can grasp and very easily pull the knife out and swing it down and out of the way!

MARKINGS: Little detail, but the 1034D has no line on the baseplate for where the knife cuts. The 3034D has a line you can use to line up your material - especially if you're looking to minimally cut the fabric. I really missed this when playing on the 1034D.

NEEDLE CARRIAGE: As mentioned above, the 1034D comes with a 90° Allen wrench used to remove the 1 screw that holds/tightens BOTH needles. The 3034D has a screwdriver instead of the wrench (easier to use) and has a separate screw for each needle. This is much more convenient as you don't have to hold the right needle if you're removing the left needle to do a 3-thread stitch.

TRIM TRAP: this is the little 'bucket' that the cut fabric can fall into and then you can easily throw away. The 1034D has a small white trap that feel much flimsier than the blue trap of the 3034D.

STITCH FOOT PRESSURE: The dial for the 1034D is simply a bolt extended out with no markings. You can adjust the pressure, but it would be difficult to adjust back to where it was. The 3034D has a marked knob instead. (I don't know how big of a deal this would be as I have maybe only used this once on my own machine)

So, overall, this (the 1034D) is obviously a well rated serger and most likely will serge very well. If you are looking for a budget serger, this is probably a great choice (I didn't use extensively, so don't feel I can say for certain). However, if you are trying to decide if the dealer model is worth the extra $$, I would confidently say yes it is. We ended up returning this machine to Amazon and purchasing from a Brother dealer.
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on June 25, 2006
in the middle of a huge curtain making endeavour my old overlocker seized up...checked out the web reviews and found this one to rate best for my purposes...i'm actually making patchwork curtains so i'm doing alot of serging pieces together and this machine is working fine (once i got the hang of the different threading system)...the only complaint i have is that the tensions are a little strange but hey that's something you get the hang of as you go loving the blind hem feature, something i'd never ventured into using before and must say that after a few long curtain hems i've pretty much got it invisible...highly recommend this machine for beginner to intermediate sewers...i'm sure there's a better machine out there for sewing goddesses BUT FOR THE PRICE THIS MACHINE WORKS WELL AND IS GOOD VALUE
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on March 2, 2006
I bought my first serger eight years ago and it was a Brother. I liked it but went to have my Singer sewing machine tuned up a couple of months ago and got talked into buying a Singer serger. I traded in my Brother and that was a MISTAKE! I took the Singer back for a better one and that one is now sitting in the box in the basement. I then ordered the 1034D Brother serger from Amazon and I am happy again. It threads much easier, it is quieter and I don't have to keep re-adjusting the tension. I like the foot feed lever on the right. I also like that there are no obstructions near the loopers and the regular needles. With the Singer I could not get my fingers in there for threading. I would recommend this Serger to anyone who sews and wants a machine that is EASY to use.
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on March 21, 2006
I bought this machine to replace an older serger that broke. I found it EXTREMELY easy to thread and set the tension. With my old machine, I could count on spending one-two hours just to get the tension right to do rolled hems. With this machine, I was threaded and ready to go in less than 15 minutes and the finished product was vastly superior to my old machine. I don't regret this purchase at all. The price was right and delivery from Amazon was quick.
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on August 29, 2005
UPDATE August 2013: This little workhorse is still going strong for me! I still love it, and it has never let me down. I took it in for a servicing this past year, and it runs as smooth as any serger can! That makes it 8 years that it has been my sewing companion! WOW.

NOTE on September 14th, 2005: Mine has a US plug. If you get one with a foreign plug, as in one review after this one...please see that you get Customer Service at AMAZON, and I know they will help you out with that.

I was afraid of sergers, never having operated one, even though I have sewed for decades and own a sewing machine. The deal on this serger at AMAZON is so good though, that I purchased. I have never seen this excellent level of instructions in any other machine I have ever purchased. And I mean not just sewing machines, but anything. The box includes two CDs...minor critique here - why not do it on DVD?? Well, even though they say they are for Windows 95 and above, the CDs mount on a Mac and all you have to do is play the MPEGs and you have the instructions. The only thing the Windows PC will do is autorun the CD, and provide a menu which you then must click anyway. I made myself a guide to which order to play the videos in, and use it on my Mac! In addition to the basic CD, there is another one that has a refresher of the basics, plus illustrations of several other techniques. Both CDs are done by a woman with an excellent style of communication. In addition, there is a complete print manual, and you can download a pdf of this manual from the Brother site. All in all a great start. I watched the videos about ten times, then I began to serge. The machine runs fast and smooth, and I am looking forward to many hours of fun! I have already made a pair of slacks, and I can't wait to get back to sewing.
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