I recently added the Juki MO-654DE Overlock/Serger Machine to my family of sewing machines. I have been sewing with it for a little over a month and today I would like to share my review of the machine.
The Juki MO-654DE has been in the Juki lineup for many years and being a favorite among sewers I don't think they will be retiring it any time soon.
This machine comes with the standard assortment of goodies you would expect with any machine. The tools are very basic. However, there are two items you may not find included with all serger models. Included is an extra lower knife and 2/3 thread converter. The 2/3 thread converter is a crucial piece for doing 2 or 3 thread decorative or utility stitches and is a great feature to have.
The machine manual is also pretty standard. I have heard some say the manual is frustrating and I can understand their frustration. However, considering the fact that manuals must accommodate many different languages I find this manual is comparable to most machine manuals. It will help you get started, but after 10 minutes you may find yourself searching the web for threading and stitch tutorials.
The overall ease of use will be highly variable depending on whether you have experience with sergers or not.
The Experienced User: If you have experience with sergers I think you will find this serger is standard and similar to most other sergers in its class. Threading the machine will be very familiar. It does not have any fancy air threading mechanism, but you should have threading down pat. You will be able to get started on projects immediately.
The New to Serging User: If you, like me, have little to no experience using a serger then you may have a some work ahead of you to get to the point of working on projects. It will help you to learn about how a serger works, what all the parts and knobs on the machine are, how to thread the machine, how to fearlessly adjust your tension, and how to make different stitches. Once you have a better understanding you will find this machine very easy to use. If you're new to using a serger than I would strongly suggest enrolling in the online Craftsy class Beginner Serging with Amy Alan. This class has been very helpful for me! Also another tip to help you: the serger comes already threaded in the box, take a few pictures of the thread path for all four threads before you remove those threads. This will give you something to refer to when threading your machine.
I have heard many people say they purchased their serger a long time ago and haven't even opened the box yet. I can understand their hesitance especially for the new serger user. Sergers are their own breed and much different than your regular sewing machine. But, I am here to say don't be afraid! When I purchased this machine I only planned on using it for a few things here and there. I am primarily a quilter so I just assumed I'd be using the serger for the occasional garment project. I was totally wrong, there are so many things you can use a serger for even as a quilter! Here are some of the projects I have used it for so far.
I made a Macaron Dress and Jasmine Blouse using the serger on all of the interior seams. This is the typical use for garment making.
I made a Sew Together Bag and used the serger to join the exterior to the interior pockets. If you have made a Sew Together Bag before you know this step can be a pain. The serger sewed through the thick layers like butter. Since the serger cleans up the edges of the bag it makes it a lot easier to add the bias binding after the edges are serged. I have a little video on Instagram of me using the serger for this. In the video it looks like I run into the clips, but I assure you the clips never touched the knife on the machine. I point this out because it is really important that you never sew over pins or hit anything against the knife on your machine. This is for the longevity of your machine and your safety.
After I finished quilting my king size Concerto quilt, I roughly squared up the edges and then serged them. This was awesome because the serger trimmed off any extra batting/backing and secured the edges all at once. I am procrastinating binding this massive quilt, but since the edges were serged and secure I already put the quilt on my bed. When I do bind the quilt, the binding will cover the serger stitches and come together beautifully. For the Skill Builder Block of the Month the blocks are quilted one by one and then sit around for an entire year before we assemble the quilt. I went back and serged the edges of all my blocks to keep them safe.
After playing I have to say this Juki serger can sew through multiple, thick layers beautifully. The machine doesn't even hesitate when sewing through the layers. However, I want to mention that from what I have read and heard most sergers are not designed to be used constantly on heavy materials. It won't hurt your machine, but it may dull your knife faster and require servicing for timing and tension more often. I personally will gladly pay for extra servicing because the benefit of serging on heavier materials is wonderful.
When I went shopping my only requirements for the serger were that it cost under $400, that it was a quality machine that would last many years, and that it was an overall simple machine. I didn't look for any specific features. I just wanted to find a good starter serger for a beginner serger user.
I already own a Juki sewing machine that I really love and I had heard some great things about Juki sergers. Honestly, I went straight the Juki section and didn't compare other brands. My biggest decision was which Juki serger model to choose within their line of sergers. I chose the Juki MO-654DE because it met all my requirements and had some nice added features I could grow into without complicating the machine to the point of scaring me. I feel this machine will work for all the projects I have in mind and as long as I continue to use it for home sewing I don't think I will ever really grow out of it.
Using the serger this last month has been so much fun and slightly addicting. I thought I would use it here and there, but every time I am working on something I think, "Hey, I could totally serge this!". I think part of my excitement might just be because I am new to serging and amazed at how incredibly useful it is to have a serger, but overall I am very happy with my purchase of the Juki MO-654DE.
When purchasing any sewing machine I always suggest purchasing a machine from a certified dealer. They will be there for you if you run into any issues with the machine and are experts in servicing the machine. In fact, a few days after I got my machine I was playing around with different stitches and all of a sudden my tension went bonkers. I asked my dealer and in a few seconds they knew exactly what was wrong. My right needle thread wasn't pulled tightly into the tension discs. That means there was absolutely no tension on that thread. I felt a little silly, but apparently this is a common user mistake that can happen when threading your serger. It was awesome having my dealer there to ask questions. I didn't have to waste time googling the issue.
I have heard from many long distance friends that Juki Dealers can be hard to find. So when looking for a Juki you may need to order your machine online. If you do I still strongly suggest purchasing the machine from a certified dealer. I purchased my serger (and other machines) from my local Juki dealer Mulqueen's Sewing Center, they are a family owned business and experts in sewing machines since 1977. I really love supporting their shop and appreciate their customer service. I know purchasing online you don't get to test drive a machine before you buy it, but I will vouch for the Juki MO-654DE and say you will love this machine. Mulqueen's Sewing Center offers free shipping and great support, so if you’re interested in purchasing a new Juki serger or other machine give them a call at (480) 545-0778, ask for Darren and tell him Alyssa at Pile O' Fabric sent you. He will get you set up with a machine you will love!
Review Disclosure: I was not paid or compensated for this review. I purchased this sewing machine and the opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own as a happy Juki user!
Creator of Pile O' Fabric
Alyssa Lichner is a graphic designer turned avid sewist. She writes modern quilting tutorials and shares techniques and inspiration on her blog, Pile O’ Fabric. Alyssa has a passion for exploring different techniques and applying them to modern designs. She is thankful to have the opportunity to share these techniques, through her tutorials, patterns, and classes with quilters around the world. She always encourages her readers and students to challenge themselves to try new things and to approach quilting with a fearless attitude.