Monday, May 24, 2004

Review: Babylock Coverstitch Machine (BLCS)

Price: US $799
(I should clarify that the price I paid is because it was a demo machine. A very short life as a demo, but still a demo. The machine's suggested retail price is US $1300. Way too much, so negotiate, negotiate!!)


Triple Cover Stitch
Wide Cover Stitch
Narrow Cover Stitch (left and right narrow cover stitch)
Chain Stitch

Jet -Air Threading System for the chain looper
Color-coded threading
Cover Stitch width 3 mm or 6 mm
Stitch length 1 mm to 4 mm
Full featured differential feed
Snap on presser foot
Adjustable tension knobs
Auto tension release
Auto drop feed when presser foot is raised
Thread cutter (not automatic)
Sewing speed up to 1300 stitches per minute
Built-in accessory storage
Cabinet mounting bolt included
Warranty - 10 year parts, 5 year electrical

I love this machine! After some practice runs to learn what tensions settings are best, the stitch quality is great and it sews over anything. It is super easy to thread with the jet-air looper threading and easy needle paths, and I like that you can thread needles/looper in any order.

I also have the Viking 936 serger which has a coverstitch. I've had that for about 2 years. Since buying it, I've learned that buying a serger with a CS option was a total waste of my money. :) I wanted to buy a serger I would not grow out of. Live and learn!! :) It's such a pain to have to switch over and back during the same project that I just never did it. Well, I switched it once during my initial new owner class, and again at a serger techniques class. It was during this second class that I cemented my decision that I would never use the CS on the 936 and it was time to shop for a CS-only machine. It's not that it's so difficult to switch the 936, but that I knew I just wouldn't want to bother. Who wants to stop, find tools, change plates, move needles, rethread, etc. in the middle of a project and then reverse all the steps to overlock the same project?? What a hassle.

I sewed up a knit shirt the other day and it was so nice to move to the serger for overlocking, move to the sewing machine for stitching, and move to the coverstitcher for topstitching and hemming. And each machine was set up and ready to go. All I had to do was feed the fabric in and step on the pedal.

ETA: One of the best things about this and other standalone coverstitch machines is the great accessories available for binding, hemming, making belt loops, and more. They work and work very well! Click here for more information and examples.

If you're thinking of buying a serger with a coverstitch option, my advice is to stay with a regular serger and spend the extra $ for a dedicated coverstitch machine. You'll be much happier and more productive.

The only things I think could be improved are:

1. Sometimes there is not enough room to the right of the needle for when you might want to sew in the middle of the fabric and not just the edge. For lightweight fabrics, you can just "scrunch" the fabric, but this wouldn't work for heavier fabrics too well. ETA: I've now had this machine for years and, really, the harp space has not been a problem for me at all.

2. In the tension path there is a little hole you have to thread through. I wish it were a lay-in threading system instead, because my eyes aren't as young as they used to be. It's not hard to thread at all, but it could be perfect if Babylock redesigned that area.