There have been a lot of posts on Pattern Review lately about some of the newer high-end sergers, and I have to admit it's hard not to get the bug for a "bigger better" machine. Before plunking down $1,300 - $2,400, I thought I should at least see if I'm getting the most out of the 1034D that I curently have. Although I bought it at least 8 or 9 years ago (probably more - the video tutorial was on VHS lol) I have only really been using it for less than a year. I set it up to the recommended settings in the manual and left it at that. I've never even oiled it!
I spent the last weekend going through the manual and started reading The Complete Serger Handbook. I am using a more critical eye to look at my stitches and noticed that I have stitching beyond the edge of the fabric rather than the stitches hugging the fabric snugly. On the weekend, working with knit fabric, I adjusted my stitch width which improved things a bit. Then last night, working with a woven fabric, I tweaked my tension settings for my upper and lower loopers up a setting and couldn't believe the difference (pics to follow). My stitches now looks perfect! Next up is to start playing with the differential feed to get rid of the slight waviness I get when sewing knits. My Mom recently told me of a method for inside curves where you pull your fabric front and aft to make a tighter turning radius. As a tighter turning radius is the main feature I am looking for in an upgrade I need to try this on my 1034D.
The expensive fully-featured machines have a very strong fan base, I think at least in part because many people don't want to have to think about the settings and just want to sew - and that is a perfectly legitimate standpoint. But I have read of more than one sewist with a top level serger who is disappointed with the results of the automatic tension. These generally seem to be sewists who have learned to perfect their stitches with the manual adjustments rather than just taking what they get out of the machine (as I had been doing up until now). I think it benefits those of us who have manual settings such as on the 1034D to learn how to adjust those settings in order to to produce nicer work.