This post is about the Singer Overlocker 14SH754 which is sold by Lidl, in several European countries. In the UK, they have sold it as part of their deals every year for the past couple of years. I first wrote this post in 2013 when I purchased my machine but I have found that in the following two years when the overlocker was available again, it received a lot of traffic. The post has been updated at the end with my thoughts on the machine after a year of use, and also with some links to other information about the overlocker. I have tried to reply to comments as they appear.
Original Post from 2013
Buying a serger or an overlocker is often the next step for sewists who want to expand their dressmaking horizons. I'd seen a Singer overlocker advertised for sale for £149 in the week beginning 4th November (2012 - the price was subsequently lowered) while in Lidl last week, and after hearing the deal mentioned on social media I wanted to find out more. If you've looked into it online you might have seen that there is practically no information about the overlocker on the Lidl site, not even a model number. Mysterious! And not much help for someone wanting to research such a large purchase.
I have no idea if there will still be any machines available after the deal launch on Monday 4th November, but having snagged one for myself I thought it might be helpful to share a bit more about the overlocker in case anyone is thinking about buying one. As the same model has been on sale before it seems like a good chance it will be available again in the future so this might be helpful even if you missed out this time around.
On Twitter, the helpful Kelly of Make Sew Do had bought the overlocker last time it was on sale and knew that the model number was Singer 14SH754. Cheers Kelly! With this information I tried to find out more but there weren't too many reviews. I did find it for sale for over £200 on a number of sites so that seemed to be a good basis to me to say that it was a decent deal!
So what do you get for your money?
Here's a run down of the features taken from here:
Color-Coded lay-in Threading - With complete, easy-to-read diagrams, this feature makes threading your overlock a snap. Just follow the color-coded diagram on the machine for effortless threading
Differential Feed - Fully adjustable to ensure an even feed for perfect seams on every fabric-no breaking or puckering. It is also useful for keeping stretch fabrics and bias cut fabrics from becoming stretched out.
Adjustable Cutting Width- A moveable upper knife cuts fabric for 3.0-6.7 mm stitch width. It is easy to make precise adjustments for the desired seam width.
Stitch Length Dial - The Stitch Length dial is conveniently located on the side of the machine and can easily be changed to personalize the length of the stitch for all the sewing projects.
Free Arm Sewing - Remove the cloth plate to achieve access to hard to reach areas such as armholes and trouser cuffs.
Extra-High Presser Foot Lifter - There are 2 heights to the presser foot lifter. The second height offers extra clearance, which is needed when placing multiple layers of bulky fabric under the presser foot.
Presser Foot Pressure - The Presser Foot Pressure dial is conveniently located on the top of the machine and is pre-set for most sewing needs.
Tension Release - Raising the Presser Bar Lifter releases tension on the threads, allowing for threads to easily be pulled through the threading system.
Built-In Rolled Hem - Switching to the rolled hem sewing mode is effortless. An easy access lever moves the stitch finger in position for rolled hemming.
Portable - The Singer 14sh754 overlock has a built-in carrying handle, making it easy to transport the machine.
4-3-2 Stitch Configuration - 6 different stitch types ensure the perfect stitch, regardless of the project. Blind Hems, Rolled Hems, Pintucking, Flatlocking, finishing raw edges and joining seams
Four-Thread Stretch Mock Safety Stitch
This stitch is a favorite when sewing knit fabrics because the stitch stretches as the fabric stretches. This allows for neat and professional finishes that will not "pop" when the fabric is stretched.
Three-Thread Overlock Stitch
This Three-Thread overlock stitch provides a wonderful professional seam finish to woven fabrics. It is beneficial in preventing loosely woven fabrics from unraveling, and it offers decorative capabilities.
Three-Thread Wrapped Edge
An ideal finish for medium to lightweight fabrics. When using the Three-Thread Wrapped Edge stitch, the edges of the seams are wrapped to prevent unraveling without unnecessary bulkiness.
Three-Thread Rolled Hem
By simply moving the stitch finger dial, the overlock is converted to the rolled hem sewing mode. Beautiful Three-Thread rolled hems can be created to add an attractive finish to table linens, scarves and much more.
Three-Thread Flatlock Stitch
For true decorative flair on any project use the Flatlock stitch. Special decorative threads can be used to add texture and a dramatic embellishment effect.
Two-Thread Wrapped Edge
An elegant fine finish can be added to lightweight fabrics or knits. This delicate finish gives a couture effect and looks beautiful on finer fabrics. Two-Thread Rolled HemBy simply moving the stitch finger dial, the overlock is converted to the rolled hem sewing mode.
Built in carrying handle and storage area.
2, 3 or 4 thread overlocking.
Adjustable stitch length and width
Built-in rolled hem, at the touch of a button.
Flatlocking and decorative applications.
Movable knife, cut/trim off while stitching or not.
I couldn't find much in the way of reviews but there are a few here (though most are reviews of the company). I think customer reviews are always a mixed bag though, as ideally a product is evaluated by a specialist and compared with other products against a set list of features. Most reviews don't have much to say beyond whether it works well for them or not.
If you want a video introduction of the overlocker, you can watch this:
The machine seems to have been packaged especially for Lidl - the manual is labelled with a Lidl logo. It has a 3 year warranty (just keep your receipt), so the fact that it has been 'branded' by Lidl and has been sold by them before made me feel more secure about this warranty, rather than them having bought a job lot of overlockers they are selling off. However there do seem to be a couple of differences between this machine when purchased from Lidl and when bought elsewhere.
Reviews of the machine mention that it is pre-threaded. I'd assumed that this meant it came with 4 cones of white thread, as illustrated. This is not the case - there are 4 threads going through it but you will need to make sure you buy thread cones and learn to thread it if you want to get going straight away. The same machine bought from elsewhere seems to come with thread cones - this website mentions that it; "comes ready threaded with white cones to start stitching immediately"
No thread included
It also does not have a dust cover. this is a bit disappointing, although I know that my old cheapie Singer machine came with the crappiest thin plastic cover which got torn very easily, so it's not a huge loss. Again, this does seem to come with the machine when purchased from other sources - this website mentions that it has a 'soft cover'.
I imagine that the omission of these two things is a way for Lidl to make savings and deliver the product at this price. Do you know of any more differences between the Lidl machine and the machine when purchased elsewhere? As the retail price is at least £209 in other stores and online, I think a saving of around £60 is a good one and worth the loss of the thread cones and plastic cover.
Machine is threaded, and comes with a 'test strip' of stitching
If you have the Singer 14SH754 and have anything to add on your experience of it, please do comment below.
p.s Lidl also have a deal on overlocker thread, 2 cones for £2. I am usually a thread snob and only use Gutermanns as I think cheap thread is a false economy, however I bought some of the Lidl thread to try out.
**Update on 5th October 2014 After nearly a year of use**
I had always intended to do an update post on this machine but never got around to it. Below are some thoughts after a year of use:
- I had quite a faff with the tension but I am an overlocker beginner. There is a Craftsy class on Beginner Serging which I found helpful (but try and get it on sale, you'll probably be able to at some point)
- As for threading - just do it loads is the best way and you'll get better at it. Also anytime I had a tension issue or another problem and tried to rethread just one thread it was a waste of time and I was just as well to do the whole thing from scratch - easier in the long run! I think this probably applies to all overlockers, not just this one necessarily
- The pictures in the manual to show how to thread it are rubbish - black and white, grainy images which are not very helpful however if you follow the guides on the machine you should be fine. Otherwise the manual is decent and I found the troubleshooting guides helpful. Basically anywhere there are diagrams is fine but they've tried to be cheap in other places and use b/w photos which do not reproduce well.
- I developed a problem with the lower looper of my machine hitting a knife and had to get it serviced. I phoned the number in the manual and was impressed by how efficiently this was done - they arranged a courier to collect it and then return it a few days later. It has been fine ever since and for anyone concerned about what Lidl would do if you developed a problem with your machine, this should be reassuring.
- The manual insists on using particular Singer overlocker needles which are hard to find but says you can use normal Singer needles [and I quote] "in an emergency" - what does this mean? I don't know what constitutes an emergency, as either you can use them or you can't. Bit baffling. A sewing machine shop told me that I could use normal Singer needles in this overlocker but it's up to each individual, I'm sure Singer would tell me this was wrong
- For the free arm sewing function, where you remove the cloth plate (I think it's called, it contains the tweezers and screwdriver) it's a bit stiff to get off and I found the manual illustration of how to remove it a bit baffling as they show a 'button' you press, but actually it's just a shaped bit that's moulded into the bottom of that removable section.
**Update on 16th October 2015**
Some further helpful resources for this machine can be found at The Makery Blog which includes beginner posts using this machine with lots of photographs:
Part 3 - Tension Settings
**Update on 22nd March 2017**
This blog post has proven to be consistently popular, as Lidl are still selling this machine regularly throughout Europe. And it's got cheaper (in the UK) from when I first bought mine! Please do read through the helpful comments, and here are my 5 top tips:
1. Don't be scared of your machine. Put aside time to learn about how it works and test its features. You won't regret this as knowing how it is supposed to work means that you will be better equipped in case anything goes wrong.
2. The photos in the manual are useless - unclear and confusing. Try using the 3 part series (above) from The Makery blog. This has clear step by step images and uses this same machine.
3. LEARN HOW TO THREAD IT PROPERLY. FROM START TO FINISH. Yes, you can pull the thread through using the 'tie on' method. But you will at some point need to rethread it completely and it really helps if you can do it completely. Sometimes this seems to be the only way it will work and you just waste time faffing with rethreading part or with the tying on. Don't be intimidated by the thought that it is difficult to thread - there are colour guides inside the machine to help.
4. When thread, ensure that you place the thread firmly between the tension discs. This helps combat tension issues.
5. Thread with the presser foot up.
Enjoy using your overlocker!