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01 December 2009 @ 12:31 pm
Xmas shopping!  
I adore Christmas shopping. Especially now that I can do most of it online, and avoid the insane crowds. (I worked Xmas retail for years; I like to avoid the insanity when I can.)

Rhien!Sis's b-day is late November, so this year, I combined her Xmas and b-day gift, in order to get something I know she'll love, that I also know she would never buy for herself. A serger! Since getting mine a year ago, it has totally changed how I sew. I was able to whip out a chemise in one night, for instance, because it literally went together in a couple of hours, from cutting to inserting the drawstrings.

She's a little intimidated by them, but I made her use mine when she was down for her b-day this past week.

As with anything, you get what you pay for with sewing machines and sergers. Buying that cheap wal-mart or joann's "special price" model might seem like a good idea at the time, but I have found that the models carried by Sew & Vac dealers are far superior (and usually far more expensive.)

However, for some reason, online sources often have slightly older models of sergers those Sew & Vac stores no longer stock, for HUGE discounts over whatever the latest model that's almost exactly the same is. That's how I got my Janome 634D last year. The Sew & Vac store carries the latest version, 644D, 7-something? Not sure, but anyway, the very best deal they were able to offer at the time was still $500. I got mine for $300, and was very happy with that, especially considering it originally retailed for almost $1000!

Now, I knew a couple of things going into getting one of these for my sister:

a) as much as I love her, I don't have the $$ to spend the now price of $369 to get her one exactly like mine. Last year, I found one place going out of business that offered it for $70 cheaper. No such luck this year.

b) despite spending less money, I want to get her as comparable a machine as possible.

I originally looked at the Janome 204D - still slightly more than I wanted to spend at $249, but affordable, and only a rung lower than mine on the ladder of competence, meaning it lacks a couple of features, and the tension dials are not the same (which I didn't really like.)

Janome is a solid brand - I know this from personal experience and online reviews, which is why I was kind of sticking with it. I was all set to go ahead and take the plunge on the 204D, when I notcied that Sew Vac Direct had a factory serviced (aka factory reconditioned) Janome 9102D for $199. Now, this machine not factory serviced is as much or more than mine, so I took a closer look - it looks almost exactly the same, in fact!

So I call them. Tom answers the phone - a real person - and asks how he can help me today. I tell him my situation, the serger I have ("A great little mahcine," says Tom, and I agree 200%), and the fact that I want to get my sister something similar for Xmas, without spending the prohibitive $369 mine costs.

Before I can continue to ask about it, he immediately suggests the factory serviced 9102D.

"I saw that," I said. "What's the difference between it and my machine."

"Very little," he told me. "In fact, the only difference is the rolled hem. Instead of switching a button, she'll have to adjust her lower looper tension." (Which, for the uninitiated, is the turn of a dial.)

"So," I say, "it threads the same, the knife moves the same, it feeds the same, the tension adjusts the same, it sews the same - it just requires a single manual tension setting in order to do a rolled hem, vs. my slide of a button?"

"Yep. Exactly. If you sat down at her machine to use it, you'd thread it EXACTLY like you do yours."

(Excellent! This means I can help her if she gets stuck.)

All this, for $170 less than my machine cost. He only had two left in stock, so I ordered one on the spot.

He still has one left, if anyone out there has been heming and hawing about buying a serger, or knows a sewer who could really use one, trust me when I say this deal is WORTH IT, and so much more. The hours upon hours of time a serger saves over doing it all with a sewing machine are truly boggling. The ease of a finished seam or rolled hem. Words cannot express. I don't know how quilters function without one, honestly.

In any case. I would have spent anywhere from $60-100 on my sister for her b-day, and the same for X-mas any other year, so this thing with free shipping just slides in under my budget for her. And she will be so surprised, and (I hope) pleased. I can't wait for X-mas! :D

ETA: Just a note to say, the other serger for the price is GONE, snapped up by a reader of this journal. A few more of the exact model for the price can be found on ebay, but just remember, it's ebay. You're always taking your chances a bit there, and the seller does not have 100% feedback, although it is high at 99.7%
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