Thursday 19 January 2012

Threading the Brother 1034d Overlocker

...Yes, I only got my new overlocker on Monday and already I’m professing to be an expert at threading it. No, the reality is that I sat myself down on Monday evening in front of the overlocker with a cup of tea, and read through the entire manual (almost) before even turning it on. I had heard such horror stories about threading overlockers that I was terrified of not understanding this machine and getting myself terribly confused. So I went through each nob, hook, switch and latch on the machine, making sure I knew what they did. I twisted a little here and pushed a little there until I thought I was ready to try the baby out. The beauty of this machine, is that it comes pre-threaded, so I was able to just turn it on, get some fabric out and start overlocking. Which I did. And it started out well…for about 2 inches, and then started making funny sounds and not stitching properly and then about 18inches later I realised there was actually no overlocking going on at all!! What?!!! How? Why? Looking inside the machine I saw to my horror that one of the threads had broken*. NOOoooooOOO! The one thing I was dreading doing with this machine was re-threading it and, after only being in my possession for less than half an hour, I was faced with having to tackle just that!
After watching the very dated and diabolical DVD that comes with the machine (has anyone watched that? It is helpful to a degree, but that woman is so stilted and it is just so dated, with such unclear images!!!), and referring to the manual a LOT, I managed to thread my machine and get it serging again. There were just a couple of things which I thought were a little confusing after both watching the DVD and reading the manual, so I thought I’d point these out on the blog in case they might help anyone else trying to thread this machine for the first time.
overlocker 005
The first thing I will say is – people, don’t sweat it! I actually wish I had never heard/read all the reviews and comments about how scared people were of threading overlockers. It is not hard! It just takes longer than a regular sewing machine – but still only takes a minute or so, if even. So stop stressing about it and just do it!
The second thing I will say is watch this Youtube video. It was really really helpful and pointed out the exact issues I had with the official DVD. So just to supplement that video, here are a few shots with further explanation:
overlocker 007-001
The image above is just to point out the components of the overlocker that are different from a regular sewing machine. The Upper Looper (which controls the thread from the second spool in on the right – spools obviously not shown in this photo!), the Lower Looper (controlling the thread from the spool on the very right) and the Lower Looper (LL) Threading Needle (A).
A – Make sure when you are threading the Lower Looper that the thread just sits in the notch on the LL Threading Needle. The DVD makes it looks like you have to get the thread into a little channel (which it can do…because I did it!), but that will cause your thread to break. It just hooks onto the notch that arrow A is pointing at, and then you thread it through the Lower Looper.
B – Make sure that you keep the thread from the Lower Looper underneath the Upper Looper (see where B is pointing).
overlocker 008-001
C - Once you are all threaded up, push the LL Threading Needle in and then turn the handwheel towards you until the UL and LL are back in the same position. You will now see that the thread from the LL is above the thread from the UL (C).
Then you are good to go with threading the needles (dead easy – easier than threading your needle on your sewing machine!) and starting to serge!
overlocker 009
This is what chaining off looks like (above). I couldn’t make it out in the video and was worried that mine was looking wrong. It actually does look like a mess, don’t worry!
overlocker 020
Two more helpful things:
1. Do play around with the tension of the threads. I was making a skirt from a curtain remnant (all finished now – I’ll post up photos next week. Sneak peak was on Twitter last night though!) and because it was slightly heavier fabric, I wasn’t happy with the serging until I increased the tension on the UL and LL both to 4.5. Very small change that made a big difference.
2. Here is a link to the Brother 1034d manual online. You can download the whole thing for free, or view specific pages online. May or may not be helpful.

And there you go, I’ve had an overlocker for a grand total of 3.5 days and I’ve already re-threaded it a million times! That’s what I get for deciding I was going to just use the accompanying thread on all my projects until it ran out (regardless if I was serging white onto a black outfit!). But, you know what, it was a blessing in disguise because now I’m more than happy to change the thread.
P.S. I still have a LOT to learn…

*By the way, I think the thread broke through me not pulling up the Thread Tree before starting. Nothing to do with the machine – just the operator! Doh!
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