Competent – can make different clothing items without assistance or guidance, but not good enough to sew intricate projects or to sew without a pattern.
Expert – can sew anything without instruction or assistance; possesses an expansive knowledge of sewing techniques and terminology.
When people know you sew, they give you all sorts of things. This reviewer has received fabric, elastic, spools and cones of thread and boxes full of zippers, bias tape, hem tape and trims.
Someone even gave us a bag full of buttons of all shapes and sizes. Don’t laugh. That bag of buttons has saved many a blouse, handmade stuffed animal and suit jacket. You’d be surprised how often I’ve been able to find the perfect accent button in that grab bag.
Recently, someone gave us a Bernina Bernette 334D serger. It wasn’t brand new, but it was in great condition.
Incredible as it may seem, after sewing since elementary school, we had never touched a serger before. Needless to say, it was quite an experience.
For years, we trimmed seams and added overcast or overlock stitches on our sewing machines. With the addition of a serger to our sewing room, we had a machine that did the work for us while simultaneously sewing a perfect seam.
3 or 4 thread operation
Two different stitch lengths
Good for beginner sergers
Adjustable presser foot pressure to accommodate different fabric thicknesses
Significant learning curve for people new to sergers
At A Glance
The Bernina Bernette 334D has a built in molded carrying handle that is part of the body. A telescoping rod that can be raised to facilitate threading and operation lowered for storage and easy moving about.
Each of the four tension dials has a graphic at the center which displays the way finished stitches should look when the tension is set properly.
Dials on the right side regulate the differential feed and stitch length and width. The color coded threading guide is clearly marked.
The Bernina Bernette 334D comes with the following standard features:
Color coded thread guide
Ability to sew with 2, 3 or 4 threads and 1 or 2 needles
Adjustable stitch length and width
Adjustable presser foot pressure
Working on the Bernina Bernette 334D Serger
The first step in setting up the Bernina Bernette 334D is to raise the telescoping thread rod to its highest level. Our first real challenge in setting up this Bernina serger was learning how to thread this brand new toy.
After all, we are quite adept at threading sewing machines with only one needle and one bobbin. Occasionally, we even use a double needle, but FOUR different threads??? For some strange reason, this intimidated us.
Thankfully the Bernette 334D serger has a color coded chart stamped behind the looper cover door to help make simplify the threading process. It took a little while for us to figure out how to open the panel, but we attribute that to unexplained temerity.
The instruction manual we downloaded clearly tells the user to slide the looper cover opening knob to the right to open the drop down door. Once that hurdle was cleared, we settled our nerves and got down to business.
The first time we treaded the Bernina Bernette 334D, we were able to begin to understand how sergers work. The simple step by step instructions in the owner’s manual, coupled with the color chart inside the looper cover make what appears to be an extremely complicated task as easy as possible.
Anytime you work with four threads for the very first time, the process can’t be overly simple, but the manual and chart were very helpful in demystifying the whole thing.
The Bernina 334D serger comes with extra needles, tweezers, a lint brush and a threading wire, which make it quite helpful when trying to get through the complicated threading process.
Unfortunately, the threading wire was missing from this particular machine, but we substituted it with a conventional needle threader which did the job rather nicely.
The swing out presser foot makes threading the needles a lot less complicated than if it were stationary. By being able to move the presser foot out of the way, treading the needles went from being a challenging task to being a piece of cake.
Simply because we had never taken on a serger before and wanted to get a clear understanding of its workings before attempting to use our new toy, we chose to practice threading our Bernina 334D with four different colors of thread.
Doing this was not only helpful in helping us learn how to thread the machine, it was also helpful for us to understand how the whole serging process takes place.
We found this video on Youtube that gives you a quick look at how the Bernina 334d works:
After threading the Bernette 334D several times, we decided to play with several different thicknesses of fabric and different types of threads in order to get the hang of adjusting the presser foot and tension on a serger.
The presser foot adjustment screw rests on top of the Bernina Bernette 334D serger. Turning the dial left or right increases or decreases the amount of pressure that is applied through the presser foot. This feature is ideal for working with extra thick or very fine fabrics.
We didn’t think adjusting the tension on a serger would be much different from setting the tension on a sewing machine, but four tension dials meant making adjustments in the way we never looked at tension adjustment before.
One of the perks of starting with the Bernina Bernette 334D serger is that each tension knob has an illustration of the thread it controls and how that particular thread should look when the tension is set properly. In addition, the owner’s manual devotes an entire section to teaching users how to set the tension dials for all sorts for fabrics and threads.
However, we need to try everything for ourselves in order to understand how things work on the very basic levels. For starters, we tried a knit fabric and cotton, serger thread.
Just for the sake of experimentation, we set all of the tension dials at 9, the highest setting. As expected, the needle threads broke.
Quite honestly, we were a bit surprised the lower looper threads didn’t break as well. After re-threading yet again, we were able to find the perfect tension adjustment with just a little bit of maneuvering and things went smoothly.
As we changed threads and fabrics, we realized that adjusting the tension on the Bernina Bernette 334D was actually quite easily – even without referring to the table in the owner’s manual.
The next step was to actually sew something on the Bernina Bernette 334D. To our pleasant surprise, we were able to finish all of the seams in a simple knit dress and matching jacket in less than fifteen minutes.
We chose to do the finishing work on our conventional sewing machine and by hand, but if we had decided to finish our new ensemble on the Bernette 334D, we certainly could have.
The owner’s manual clearly shows the user how to hem on this machine. Optional components include a roll hem attachment that can be purchased separately from the manufacturer.
The easy to read seam guide is conveniently situated on the very front of the Bernette 334D, making it as simple as possible to get a perfect seam every single time.
The Bernina Bernette 334D serger also has an adjustable stitch length feature that is preset at 2.5 millimeters. If necessary, the stitch length can be changed to suit the requirements of your particular project from one millimeter to five millimeters.
The only thing that really didn’t excite us about working on this Bernina serger was the mess from all of the fabric clippings falling onto the floor. We learned from reading the owner’s manual that the Bernina Bernette 334D originally came with a waste receptacle bag, but that particular item didn’t make it to our house.
We are certainly not looking a gift horse in the mouth, but if you have white ceramic tile floors like we do, you must be prepared to sweep and mop your floor every single time you use the Bernette 334D.
We really like this machine, so setting it aside and not using it is not an option. This is the reason we came up with the idea to make a device using Velcro to attach it to our Bernette 334D.
This way we will be able to catch all of the clippings that fall off as we’re sewing. The only other option is to constantly stop to clear away the clippings while I’m working.
Replacing the light bulb is as simple as turning off the power, unscrewing the light bulb from its housing and replacing it with a 15 watt bulb.
The owner’s manual has detailed instructions for replacing the upper and lower knives, complete with schematic drawings. The knives, however, are made from cemented carbide and do not need to be replaced under normal use. If a blade should be chipped, however, a replacement can be purchased from a local Bernina dealer.
Extra thick fabrics or multiple layers
Although the owner’s manual was not included with this gift, we were able to download one at the Bernina website.
According to the owner’s manual, the accessories that were included with the original Bernina Bernette 334D included a molded plastic waste receptacle, a lower knife, and a vinyl cover with a pocket which contained two screwdrivers, an oil feeder, four spool retainers.
Also included were extra needles, a lint brush, tweezers and a needle threader which were stored in specially designed compartments inside the lower looper cover.
When we received our gift, the spool retainers were already in place. However, the original vinyl cover, oil feeder, needle threader, waste receptacle and screwdrivers were not included.
Not to fear. This small inconvenience is easily remedied. We used this very serger to make our own cover and a cloth waste receptacle which can be attached to the machine with Velcro.
Our cover is much different however. This customized cover is made of a colorfully durable quilted fabric that allows our personality to shine through and sport a fancy trim.
Unlike the plain vinyl cover that originally came with our Bernina Bernette 334D, our cover also includes an opening for the carrying handle – which, according to the drawing in the owner’s manual, was not a feature of the original cover.
Since we already have an oil feeder and a complete set of sewing machine screw drivers, the pocket is not really necessary, but we might added one anyway… just in case we find a need for one sometime in the future.
Besides, we could use the pocket to store the waste bag when we are not using our Bernina 334D serger.
After each use
Once Each Year**
Clean loopers and feed dogs
Wipe head with soft dry cloth
Wipe head with soft damp cloth
Service by sewing machine repair professional
* more often if the machine is used for extended periods of time or if used frequently/Typically after 100 hours of use
**more often if the machine is used heavily or if it is not operating properly
The Bernina Bernette 334D serger is one of the best gifts we ever received. Although our sewing buddies had advised us to purchase a serger many years ago, we resisted, believing we could accomplish the same results with our zigzag sewing machines.
Unbeknownst to us, having a serger in our sewing room makes all the difference in the world. There are so many things we can do with our Bernina Bernette 334D that we couldn’t do at all; and the things that we could do with the sewing machine would have meant spending hours doing what can now be done in just a few minutes.
The fact that we don’t have a waste bag is a small inconvenience. The vinyl cover was lost long before this Bernina Bernette 334D ever came into our possession.
The cover that was included with our gift is quite literally falling apart. Now that we are hooked on serging, and planning numerous serger projects that will keep us and our Bernina 334D busy for several weeks.
The news about our recent awakening to the world of serging is a big joke with all of our sewing buddies. After all, they have been trying to get us to serge for years and now here we are… happily serging away, whipping up clothes and accessories at a whirlwind pace.
That’s OK with us. Let them laugh. Better late than never, right?