In my search for a coverlock machine, I inevitably stumbled on the very reasonably priced Merrylock 3040.
At 329 €, it is the cheapest coverlocker I have seen anywhere. I even searched ebay and most used machines still go at a higher price on there. It is also just within my price range. I cannot (yet) imagine spending 500 € or more on a sewing machine.
Although he price in itself also gave me some doubts. A machine that cheap could only be terrible, right?
Well, it has two reviews on German Amazon, which give it 4 and 5 stars respectively. Technical information about the coverlocker is sparse though. They both say they are happy with it, nothing about the actual functionality.
So I scoured the internet for some reviews. They are incredibly hard to find and involve going through old forum discussions on German sewing websites. I also found one (and that was the only one) blog entry in English, which dated back to 2011.
It seemed to me that most people who own one or had owned one either hate it or learn to get along with it. The general consensus seemed to be that it has a few quirks, but that if you can live with them, it gives you good results.
I was willing to give that a go. If I found it really unusable, I could always return it.
Here’s what I think about the Merrylock 3040:
First, it doesn’t look of inferiour quality to me. It is made of plastic, like most machines now.
You can use it to make coverstitches with one, two and three needles. I generally use it with two needles to give my jerseys the finish that is used in manufactured clothing.
The manual is a little bit useless if you want to work on knit fabrics. I really don’t understand what this machine was made for or why you would buy a coverlocker if you didn’t want to use it on knit fabrics… It gives you all kinds of ideas for what tension to use for which fabric, as long as it’s not a knit.
That aside, changing thread is quite easy with the tweezers provided. It comes in a little plastic box, together with some screwdrivers and extra needles.
The tension is really “interesting”. I have cursed this machine several times while trying to get little balls of knotted thread out of its interior. Luckily, it is very easy to get to. It didn’t seem to matter how I changed the individual thread tensions though, everything seemed to yield the same result. I am not very patient, so in the end, I looked up the tension for the two-needle stitch in the manual (!) and adjusted it to be slightly looser (by 0.5 on the dial) for the knit. And that was all the magic it needed, apparently.
Now it stitches very neat seams. I have also not yet missed any stitches or snapped a thread while sewing.
I have used it on two different fabrics: one a jersey knit and the other a very thin polyamid knit. In both cases, it does not seem to like going over the slightly thicker bits of any hem where the seams meet. If I’m too quick in trying to go over them, the differential feed will move the fabric forward more on one side than the other, or not at all. I have sort of “solved” this by using the hand wheel when going over those bits and lifting the foot to give the fabric more room. That works fine for me, but takes a bit of time.
This is actually my one problem with the machine. The foot is just so low. There is barely enough room to get the fabric in there to begin sewing and I cannot imagine what it would do to a thicker fabric than I have used thus far. I also find that the differential feed protrudes from the plate quite a bit more than on my overlocker (a Huskylock 560 ED). While I am sure that this is part of the problem, if you could loosen the foot just a little bit, I’m sure all fabrics would fare much better. As it is, even on the lowest setting, it is very tight.
The Merrylock 3040 is absolutely ok for the price. It is not a huge joy to work with, but I am willing to live with that while I can’t afford a better one. It makes beautiful stitches as long as there aren’t too many layers of fabric or crossing seams. If there was more room between the foot and the differential feed, I’m sure it would yield perfect results.
As a sidenote:
I read that the seam-crossing problem can be alleviated with a so-called “midwife” (although that might be a purely German term). Apparently one can make it out of an old credit card by cutting a square out of the middle of one of the sides. The card then goes under the foot with the cut-out square positioned where the needles go into the thread. This is meant to even out the foot. I have not tried it yet.
Since I bought the machine, there have been several reviews by German bloggers under the hashtag missionundercover.
Even if you don’t speak German, I recommend looking at them, as they show how the stitches look on jersey. Everyone seems to have that problem with overlapping/crossing seams though. 🙁
I have been sewing with this machine for almost a year now and when I made this recent dress, I realised that I am not having as many problems as I had when I started. Please have a look at that post to see how nice my coverlocked hems come out now.