Hi Everyone! I hope you found the Singer VS Brother comparison spreadsheet from Part 1 of this series helpful. I’ve already received emails with great questions and many of the answers will be included in Parts 2 & 3 of my comparisons. Thanks for following along and keeping me on point!! In case you missed my first blog post, Part 1: Technical Specifications Comparison, you can catch up HERE.
Welcome to Part 2: Stitch Quality & Threading Comparison!!
Here’s how my comparison posts are broken down:
Part 2: Stitch Quality & Threading Comparison
Part 3: Mechanical Details Comparison
Several months ago, I finally tried out my new Brother 1034d serger for the first time. I was eager to see what the stitches would look like from this NEW Brother. It came with a small test sample attached to test spools under the presser foot. The stitches looked Perfect!! This sample should give every new machine owner a sense of confidence when setting up their new machine. Proof that the machine is in operational order when leaving the manufacturing facility. I later found out from a few members of my “Singer Serger Fans” Facebook Group, that their machines didn’t come with test samples. So that idea went right out the window…..lol. I have a good reason for believing that to be a fact though. All 5 of my brand new sergers came with test samples attached to my machines!!
I’m going to walk you through, step by step as I started out with the Brother 1034d serger for the first time. Sharing my first impressions. Things I liked right away and things that I needed to find a way to make work for me. I had to keep in mind that this is a brand new machine to me and that things would probably be different from what I’m used too. Different is always doable, especially since the Singer Pro Finish was very different from my beloved White Superlock 534. This was the reason why I shared my story about purchasing the Singer Pro Finish in Part 1: Technical Specifications Comparison post.
This comparison will walk you through the threading steps. This blog will not include actual threading of either machine, but show the threading differences. Right now I’m focusing on what the differences are and then later on stitch quality in this segment.
The first thing I did before I started the stitch quality & threading comparison portion was to insert new needles and oil both machines. Both machines were threaded with the same weight, cone serger threads in colors matching the dials on each machine. I also brushed out the Singer because this is not a brand new machine, but one I’ve owned for years. I thought that was the best way for me to have an accurate test. This is the area that I felt the Singer and the Brother would be most evenly matched. I felt both would produce wonderful looking secure stitches, however threading is really more of the meat of the matter. I’ve read over and over how user friendly the Brother is to thread, so naturally I was curious if I would find this machine easy to thread. After all, I’m not a beginner. I’ve owned a serger since 1986 and have used both industrial and home sewing models over the years.
So here are my first impressions when threading:
Replacing the needles in the Brother was a little different than I’m used to because both needles are held in with the same screw. Maneuvering both needles up all the way into the channel at the same time seem odd to me. I did find that inserting and threading the needles were more accessible than on the Singer. The Singer has independent screw sets and to me this makes more sense, however they are less accessible and require me to move the upper cutter out the the way for inserting and threading needles.
I didn’t find very much information in the manual about oiling the Brother or the Singer machines. I knew this was an important step to begin with before stitching because I’ve read that information in a few Facebook groups. Both manuals show a similar basic graphic for the oiling points on the upper looper mechanical arm. I also added one drop to the main shaft of the machine as well. Both manuals suggest oiling periodically depending on amount of use. Here are both pictures from each of the manuals.
I started off with threading the Brother machine with my color coded test cones. These cones are just plain serger threads purchased from Joann Fabrics. Setting the dials to -0- and lifting the presser foot, I found a feature I really liked about the Brother. The presser foot lever is on the right side of the machine!! It’s large and there’s no missing it. It also lifts to a second level for inserting heavier fabrics! Very Nice!! The Singer has the presser foot lever on the back of the machine and it’s much smaller. It also can be lifted to a second level to accommodate higher fabrics.
Guide #1 on the Brother telescopic thread stand is plastic and has closed holes which needs to be threaded. Guide #1 on the Singer is open at the top and is easy to just lay in the threads and tie on from there.
I tried using my usual tie on method for re-threading the Brother that came pre-threaded as per usual. I use this method almost exclusively when changing thread colors and rarely ever re-thread my machines from scratch. I’m fortunate to own several sergers and have the luxury of having different machines set up to sew specific stitches. I ended up having to re-thread the new Brother serger anyway because the knots got caught under thread guide #2 and snapped the threads. Not a deal breaker, but disappointing. Thread guide #2 was somewhat flimsy and without gentle care may bend or break easily. There didn’t appear to be enough clearance space for a knot to pass under without breaking. The Singer has a larger #2 thread guide and a knot passes through very easily. Just need to tie my knot in front of this guide #2 on the Brother in the future. Certainly not a deal breaker and and opportunity for a “Make it work moment!!”
Directly in front of guide #2 there was something I found very interesting from the moment I saw it. The Brother has tension release buttons. These buttons slide over to the right manually as you’re threading and release tension to each of the tensions disks. Brilliant! Brother did their homework when it came to troubleshooting a common cause of tension issues with the Singer Pro Finish. I just did a video called, Serger Tension Disk Help, showing how to make sure when threading that the threads pass through the tension disks properly. You can view the video HERE. I always tell users to lift the presser foot and turn dials to -0- when threading so that the tension to the machine is disengaged. This is a work around for that without having to reset your dials after threading.
At first I thought the threading graphic on the inside of the Brother machine was confusing to follow. Once I realized there was additional detail of the lower looper threading, I was more comfortable and understood more clearly. The graphic on the Singer is very clear and easier to follow. Threading the upper looper was very easy on both the Brother and the Singer. None of the thread guides are hidden or difficult to access at all on either machine. The upper looper should be threaded before the lower looper and needles.
I didn’t care for the threading of the lower looper threading lever with the flimsy slide in/out that thread is wrapped around and slid back into position. It just seemed like a recipe for a broken part if it’s not slid all the way back into position when starting to sew. There are 2 blue arrows that must match up when the lever is slid properly into position for stitching. I can’t say that I’ve ever read about this part breaking so it’s just part of learning a new machine and creating good habits. The lower looper can by tricky to thread on the Singer if you don’t know what your doing. I’ve found that if I slide the thread behind the the lower looper arm, it falls right into the hidden groove on the left side of that arm. Then it’s easy to thread the lower looper arm from the front.
Lastly, threading needles 1 & 2 are very simple on both machines. The Brother numbers each thread guide right on the unit, however the Singer doesn’t. Starting at the telescopic thread stand which is guide #1, moving to guide #2 which is just below thread guide #1 towards the back of the machine. Moving through the tension disks which is guide #3 then straight down to guide #4. At this point, needle threads 1 & 2 are joined together to pass through guide #5 and then down to the last thread guide just above the needles. The Singer’s guides are not marked on the unit, however threading is the same as the Brother except that the Singer has individual thread guides just above each of the needles.
Stitch Quality Comparison
I found that this was the area that these machines were the most evenly matched. I set both machines to what I found to be a default settings. I set both machines stitch length to 3 and the width on the Brother serger to 5. The Singer doesn’t have a stitch width numbered adjustment. It does have a dial to adjust the width of the stitch, however this dial does not have number designations and I don’t use this dial to adjust width. I use either the left needle or the right needle to achieve either a wide stitch or a narrow stitch respectively. The differential feed was set to 1.0 on both machines as well.
I find that the Singer has much better directions for suggested tension settings than the Brother. All of the Singer stitch samples to follow are stitched out using these suggested setting offered in the manual. In addition to the Handy Reference Chart below, Singer also offers more suggested settings for different fabrication weights throughout the manual for each individual stitch setup.
I only stitched out samples to compare the stitches that both machines perform. Since the Brother came with a Blind Hem Foot and a Gathering Foot but the Singer didn’t, I didn’t include this in my stitch comparisons. The Singer offers 2 types of 2 thread rolled hem stitches by using the included spreader to disengage the upper looper. The Brother serger doesn’t offer these optional stitches, so I only compared the 3 thread, right needle, narrow rolled hem stitches. They both stitch very well in my opinion, however the Brother stitched out a little loopy on the edge when set to default settings. I moved the stitch width dial to a 6 and increased a little bit on tension on both loopers and I was all set. Below are pictures of each of the stitches sewn by both machines, front and back for a side by side comparison.
4 thread 2 needle Ultra Mock Safety Stitch——————————-
3 thread left needle wide stitch————————————-
3 thread right needle narrow stitch——————————-
3 thread left needle flatlock—————————————–
3 thread right needle narrow rolled hem stitch——————
When stitching a rolled hem, it’s important to select (R) for the stitch length and width on the Brother serger. Also, the stitch finger must be removed from the machine. When stitching a rolled hem on the Singer, shorten the stitch length, and set the integrated stitch width finger to (R).
I hope you find this comparison helpful if you’re thinking about purchasing either of these machines. Both machines are very easy to use and both have things about them that make them challenging. I find that stitch tensions are easier to balance on the Singer because there are charts for each stitch with suggested settings for light, medium and heavy weight fabrications. The Brother manual isn’t as user friendly to help with suggested settings to start off with. They give more of a “range” of setting to start with.