Brother 1034D Serger: We Review This 3/4 Thread Overlock Machine

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If garment making is your thing, you’ve probably thought about buying a serger. A serger is a special kind of sewing machine that simultaneously binds, seals off, and trims seam edges. You can also use it to create special effects like rolled hems.

This mid-priced serger from one of the giants of sewing comes with a lot of rave reviews. You might wonder, is it worth the plunge? Well, that’s what we aim to find out here in this Brother 1034D review.

Let’s get started, shall we?

brother overlock machine 1034d

A Word About Sergers

How is a serger different from a regular sewing machine? 

A serger, or overlocker, is a compact sewing machine with a couple of special features.

First, it does not do regular sewing. So if you’re choosing between a serger and a sewing machine, remember that many sewing machines have a serging stitch, but no serger does regular sewing.

Also, a serger uses between three and eight spools of thread at a time, and may use multiple needles. By contrast, a regular sewing machine generally uses one spool of thread and one needle, though you might also, in some circumstances, use two of each.

Sergers have loopers. Loopers “loop” the threads around the seam edge to seal it off. And if you think your standard sewing machine has a difficult threading diagram, then you’ve clearly never tried to thread a looper!

Many sergers also have a retractable knife. The knife trims the seam edges as you sew.

The purpose of a serger is to create professional-looking seams and edges. Its differential feed mechanism also makes it an excellent machine for making seams and edges on knits and stretch fabrics.

Still confused? Check out this side by side comparison of a serger and a regular sewing machine in the video below.

The Brother 1034D Serger

As you’ll already be aware if you’ve checked out our other best serger reviews, overlockers come at a variety of price points, and with varying degrees of complexity.

The Brother 1034D serger is a mid-priced serger in form and function. That said, there’s currently a very wide price range. If you do your research, you might be able to find it for the price of a bargain serger. You could also pay quite a bit more, depending on your retailer.

We’ll explain more about what to look for in a serger in a bit. But for now, let’s look at the features that distinguish the Brother 1034D from a bargain basement serger.

brother 1034d serger overlocker

Number of threads

A serger uses between three and eight threads at a time. The more threads, the more complexity. And the more complexity, generally the higher the price.

The Brother 1034D serger is a 3-4 serger. That is, it can sew with three or four threads.

Heavy-duty metal construction

The earliest sewing machines were all metal, inside and out. Over the years, manufacturers have replaced the metal parts, bit by bit, with plastic ones. This makes a machine lightweight and brings down the price. On the other hand, it also makes a machine less durable and less able to handle heavy work.

The Brother 1034D serger has a metal frame and components, which will no doubt please many of you out there.

F.A.S.T. lower looper threading system

If you think guiding one thread through your sewing machine’s thread guides is tricky, you’ll appreciate the art of threading multiple threads through a serger’s looper.

Brother’s F.A.S.T. lower looper threading system removes some (but not all!) of the complexity from threading your serger. You can see it in action below:

Free arm

A free arm makes it easier to sew smaller, circular pieces like shirt cuffs. Some sergers have one, while others do not. Thankfully, the Brother 1034D has a free arm.

  • F.A.S.T. lower looper threading system
  • Uses standard sewing machine needles
  • 1300 stitches per minute sewing speed
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Huge number of outstanding customer reviews
  • Easy setup
  • Good value for money
  • Numerous customer complaints about construction and durability
  • 3 and 4 thread stitching only

Who is the Brother 1034D Serger For?

The Brother 1034D is a well-made serger that’s on the simpler side. 

Its metal frame and free arm make it a good choice for an all-purpose user. Also, its simplicity and easier threading scheme would make this a good first serger, especially if you can find it priced toward the lower end of the range.

What’s in the box? 

Accessories that come with the Brother 1034D, include:

  • Four spools of serger thread
  • Four thread nets
  • Four thread spool caps
  • Standard presser foot
  • Blindstitch foot
  • Gathering foot
  • Needle set
  • Soft cover
  • Hexagonal driver
  • Cleaning brush
  • Trim trap
  • Foot pedal controller
  • Instructional DVD
  • Brother 1034D manual

Technical Specifications

brother 1034d accessories pack
The Brother 1034D comes with a number of accessories.

Buying Your First Serger

How do you go about buying your first serger? We’re glad you asked that!

First, Consider Your Needs

Are you an experienced sewist interested in adding a tool to your arsenal? Or do you want to give a new technology a try, but aren’t yet certain it’s for you? 

If you’re new to the world of overlockers, and unsure how often you’ll be using yours, I’d recommend a cheap model to start with. It won’t have the cutting-edge features of a top-of-the-line device, but it will have the functional features that you’re looking for. 

Remember, you can always buy a more advanced serger later. And if, in the end, you decide that an overlocker isn’t what you need at all, then at least you won’t have blown a paycheck finding that out.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced sewist, and you’ve decided to focus on garment making, then a higher end model might suit your needs better. Higher end models will definitely cost you more, though.

That being said, they’ll have features like automatic air-threading that will make sewing a lot easier…and if you’re using your serger a lot, that will be important.

Now, Think About Features

You may recognize some of these features from your sewing machine research. Some of them, however, will be different. 

Stitching Speed

Sergers go faster than your average regular sewing machine. Many of them go twice as fast. The average stitching speed of a domestic sewing machine is 850 stitches per minute. Sergers start at over 1,000 stitches per minute, and some can do almost twice that.

Differential Feed

Most modern sergers have a differential feed mechanism. Generally, this is a dial on the side or back of your serger.

On a regular sewing machine, the presser foot holds the fabric in place while the feed dogs move it through the machine. A serger’s differential feed mechanism means that you can set the front and back feed dogs to work at different speeds.

As a result, you can stretch the fabric as it goes through the machine. You can also gather it. Alternatively, you can send it through at normal speed.

This feature enables you to minimize puckering with stretch fabrics, gather fabric for ruffles, and more.

Number of Threads

Sergers use between two and eight threads. Different types of serger stitches require a different number of threads. 

For a safety stitch and an overlock stitch, two to three threads will suffice. Three to four threads work well for stitching stretch fabrics. Five or more threads increase the strength and variety of seams that you can create.

Threading Systems

The threading system is one of the places where mid-range and premium machines can really distinguish themselves.

All sergers are complicated when it comes to threading. Budget sergers rarely do anything to mitigate this complexity. However, more expensive machines often will.

Mid-range Brother machines, like our Brother 1034D, have the F.A.S.T. system, which makes it simpler and quicker to thread the lower looper. Even more expensive machines have self-threading loopers, and some will even thread both loopers with the press of a button.

Automatic Tension

Automatic thread tension is a standard feature in most computerized sewing machines. However, when it comes to sergers, this is often a feature of premium machines. Is it worth paying extra for? Well, if you want a simple and easy serging experience, many people would argue that it is.

Retractable Cutting Knife

Many (but not all!) sergers come with a retractable cutting knife. This allows you to trim your seam allowance as you sew.

Trim Trap

Push-button threading is a high-tech feature. A trim trap is about as low-tech as it gets. Still, it’s nice to have. A trim-trap is basically a removable waste receptacle that collects your trimmed seam edges while you sew.

Two-Thread Spreader

The two-thread spreader (also called the two-thread converter) is another low-tech accessory that can make a big difference. This small, often plastic piece bypasses your serger’s upper looper, allowing you to sew with two threads. 

This allows you to create two-thread stitches, like the two-thread flatlock in the video below:

Automatic Needle Threader

After you’ve gone to all the trouble of threading your loopers, do you really want to dicker about threading your serger needles? Of course you don’t! So look for a seger that has an automatic needle threader, just like on your sewing machine.

Presser Foot Pressure Adjustment

Your presser foot holds your fabric steady while the feed dogs move your work through your machine. With some machines, you can adjust the pressure of your presser foot, which can give you greater control and flexibility when working with different types and thicknesses of fabric. This is often a feature of higher-end machines, however.

Free Arm

brother 1034d free arm
The Brother 1034D comes with the garment-maker’s must-have, a free arm.

A free arm serves the same function on a serger that it does on a regular sewing machine: to make it easier to sew small, circular work like cuffs and trouser hems.

These are just a few of the main features you might encounter while searching for your ideal serger.

Features and Benefits Review of the Brother 1034D Serger

brother 1034d serger color coded
brother 1034d overlock machine

We’ve discussed a few of the features that you’ll find on the Brother 1034D serger above, including:

  • Free arm
  • Heavy duty metal frame
  • F.A.S.T. lower looper threading system

In addition, you’ll find a few other essentials:

Retractable Knife

The Brother 1034D’s retractable cutting knife gives you the option to trim your seam allowance as you sew.

Adjustable Presser Foot Pressure

You can adjust the pressure your presser foot exerts on your fabric to accommodate different types of sewing.

Extra-High Presser Foot Lift

If you’re working with thicker fabrics or multiple layers, it may come in handy to be able to lift that presser foot a wee bit higher.

Built-in Two-Thread Spreader

The two-thread spreader, as we mentioned, increases the number of stitch types you can make with this serger.

Standard Sewing Machine Needles

Some sergers require a special type of needle. The Brother 1034D, however, uses standard sewing machine needles. This can make using and maintaining your serger a lot easier.

134d brother serger
brother serger 1034d

The Brother 1034D serger isn’t a premium serger. However, as you can see, it does have a few features that put it over and above your average budget serger.

Alternatives to the Brother 1034D Serger

No review would be complete without a look at the competition. Here are a few models that we think are worthy competitors to the Brother 1034D serger.

Singer ProFinish 14CG754

singer 14CG754 PROFINISH

The ProFinish 14CG754 serger from Singer allows you to sew with your choice of two, three, or four threads. It’s very similar to the Brother 1034D, and comes at a similar price point. Some of this model’s features include:

  • A fast thread looper system
  • Four built-in rolled hem stitches
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • Free arm
  • 1300 stitches per minute stitching speed

This model has a large number of excellent customer reviews. Depending on your retailer, it may cost slightly more or slightly less than the Brother 1034D.

Janome 8002D

Janome 8002D Serger

Janome makes expensive sewing machines, we all know that. Interestingly, though, their sergers seem to have a wider range of prices. If you love Janome sewing machines, and are interested in a Janome serger that won’t cost the earth, then the 8002D could be a good option. 

Some features you’ll find include:

  • 1300 stitches per minute stitching speed
  • Quick-change mechanism for transitioning to rolled hems
  • Changeable thread guide
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure

The price is around the same as the average price for the Brother 1034D.

Juki MO-1000 Serger

juki mo-1000 serger

If you’re wondering how a top-of-the-line serger model might differ from budget and mid-range models, consider the Juki MO-1000. This actually isn’t the most expensive serger you can buy. Not even close. However, it will cost you significantly more than the machine we’re reviewing here today.

So, what do you get for your money? Push-button threading. It’s not necessary, by any means. But, for ease of use, it’s a cool thing to have. Check it out.

Brother 1034D Review: The Final Word

Buying a new piece of equipment can be a big decision. But knowing what to look for can certainly make your life a whole lot easier.

brother overlock machine 1034d

If you’ve decided that a serger is in your future, then the Brother 1034D could make a fine introductory model. It has all of the necessary features you need in a serger, plus a few extras. And, depending on your retailer, this model could also prove to be very good value for money.

We like it a lot.

brother 1034d serger overlock reviews

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