The Brother 1034D is a popular, dirt-cheap serger ($200 or less on Amazon) which performs well. I’ve had mine for six months now and find it a pleasure to use.
Recently, I made a set of dinner napkins from cotton broadcloth. It was partly a chance to explore the serger’s capabilities, and also part of a larger project to produce new dinner table decorations including placemats and a table runner.
The napkins turned out very nice. The fabric is cotton broadcloth that I got from J0-Ann’s. (The placemats and the table runner in the upper-right corner were made from upholstery fabric samples I acquired at the local fabric store and from FabMo, a creative fabrics cooperative).
I spent a lot of time experimenting with the 1034D settings to get a nice rolled hem. Here’s what I came up with, after much experimentation. I present settings for two different types of thread. The first is for standard Maxi-Lock serger thread everywhere. The second uses Maxi-lock in the needles, and Wooly Nylon thread in the loopers.
Don’t forget to remove the stitch finger (instructions are in the manual) before you attempt to serge a rolled hem.
With Maxi-Lock Serger Thread
Settings for standard Maxi-Lock serger thread in needle and both loopers.
Left Needle: not used
Right Needle: 3.1-3.2
Upper Looper: 4.5
Lower Looper: 7
Stitch Width: 5.3
Stitch Length: R
Here’s photos of the settings on my 1034D serger:
Maxi-Lock in needle, Wooly Nylon in both loopers
Left Needle: not used
Right Needle: 3.5
Upper Looper: 2
Lower Looper: 5 (any higher, and thread will break)
Stitch Width: 5.5-5.6
Stitch Length: R (or go one click-step up to 2 to get some visible stitches on the hem)
Again, here’s the photos of this setup. I have the Stitch length set to 2 to get some visible variegation on the hem, but if you set it to R you’ll get a solid ribbon of hem.
I was really surprised at how much the tension settings changed when I switched from regular serger thread to Wooly Nylon in the loopers. I basically had to start all over again with the test stitches until I got something that worked.
The 1034D comes with two instruction manuals; one covers basic operation, the other is a “techniques” book illustrating how to accomplish different effects. The suggested settings in Brother’s Serger Techniques instruction book are different from the settings in the regular instruction book, and they were a much better starting point.
I found the book Complete Serger Handbook by Chris James useful, because it has a really good discussion of tension settings, and it also helped me troubleshoot problems with the rolled hem (like puckering and threads poking out from the hem).