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My Brother 2104D overlocker review:
The 2104D is a good choice for sewers who just want the main 3 or 4 thread stitches, easy threading, and don’t want to spend too much.
The price makes it one of the most affordable overlockers on the market.
For a budget overlocker, threading is really good. I like the “F.A.S.T lower looper threading system” and colour-coded guides.
Some industry specialists I spoke to like the Brother brand in general, especially for ease of threading.
They also think you can’t tell much difference in the stitch quality between this and more expensive overlockers.
However, many agreed that there are overlockers with better build quality and more powerful motors than the 2104D. If you want a better-built machine, check out the mid-range Brother 4234D instead.
Price across the web: typically £230-ish. Check Amazon’s price.
Brother 2104D Overlocker Review – Summary
It can do 3 or 4 thread stitches. I like the price, threading system and how many free feet it gets (4 in total). However, there’s no waste tray and build-quality isn’t the best (like all budget overlockers). This is a good option if you only sew occasionally.
Price across the web: typically £230-ish. Check Amazon’s price.
- It can do 3 or 4 thread overlock stitches.
- It can make rolled hems, narrow hems, mock flatlock stitches, blind hems, and pintuck stitches.
- It has differential feed to stop seams stretching out or puckering. This can also be used to create special effects like ruffles or wavy “lettuce leaf” hems.
- It’s easy to switch between overlocking and rolled hemming mode.
- It can sew at 1300 stitches per minute (s.p.m), which is fast. For comparison, domestic overlockers can generally do 1300 to 1500 s.p.m.
- It has a retractable knife. You can stitch without cutting the fabric.
- It has a well-designed looper threading system that’s better than older overlockers.
- The colour-coded threading diagrams are excellent.
Can it handle a variety of fabrics?
- It can handle a variety of fabric thicknesses thanks to its high presser foot lift (5-6mm) and adjustable pressure.
- The pressure dial is also easier to use than some overlockers.
Other features and accessories:
- Lots of free feet included.
- It has a free arm for sewing tubes of fabric. Some brands don’t include this feature, like many Janome overlockers.
- It has built-in storage.
- A small extension table can be bought separately.
- Great price.
- Industry specialists don’t think it’s the best quality.
- It can’t do 2 thread stitches.
- No waste tray included. It’s about £25 to buy separately.
What buyers think:
I analysed 16 buyer reviews.
15 reviews were positive overall.
Most said it was easy to thread and use, especially with the DVD and manual provided. The stitches were praised.
How does it compare to other overlockers?
It’s better than some budget overlockers thanks to its lower looper threading system, free arm feature, and the number of free feet it gets.
It lacks 2 thread stitch ability, a needle threader, and better build quality that mid-range overlockers normally get.
It has no air threading or automatic tension features from the premium market.
Pictures of the stitching. (Skip to this).
Videos of the 2104D. (Skip to this).
What else do you need to buy for your 2104D? Overlocker needles and accessories advice. (Skip to this).
Brother 2104D Review – Pros
3 & 4 thread stitches
The Brother 2104D can make stitches using 3 or 4 threads, which is all most people ever need.
It can create:
- Rolled hem
- Narrow hem
- Mock flatlock
- Blind hem
Like most budget overlockers, it can’t do 2 thread stitches.
This overlocker can do these stitches, except the ones in red:
Domestic overlockers can cost from £200 at the budget end to £1700 for a premium model.
This is closer to £200, making it one of the most affordable overlockers on the market.
A great option for:
- People who don’t want to spend too much on an overlocker, especially if they’re a beginner.
- People who won’t put their overlocker under pressure with heavy usage and tough materials.
Good threading system
Brother has done a better job at designing their threading system than some brands, especially for the budget market.
Some budget overlockers on sale are older machines that have harder to thread systems, especially for the lower looper.
For example, the Janome 9300DX, 9200D and 8002DG.
I would definitely recommend Brother machines over these.
F.A.S.T lower looper threading system
Threading the lower looper is normally the trickiest part.
Especially on an older overlocker. Their lower loopers are normally hidden. You have to reach deep inside to find and thread them. It’s fiddly!
Brother solved this with their “F.A.S.T lower looper threading system”. They created a switch that lets you pull out the lower looper. Now you can thread it in plain sight.
Many other brands have created a similar system.
It really makes a difference.
My lower looper threading test
The Brother 4234D has the same lower looper design as the 2104D, and the Janome model has an older lower looper design.
- It took about 3 minutes and 10 seconds to thread the lower looper on the Janome. It was very fiddly.
- It took about 40 seconds on the Brother 4234D!
What a difference. Brother’s “F.A.S.T lower looper threading system” was much faster and simpler to thread.
Well designed colour-coded guides
The colour-coded threading clearly tells you where to place your threads. This will save you from going back to your manual every time you thread.
I especially like Brother’s colour-coded design.
The stitch illustrations (pictured above) are really helpful when figuring out why your stitch doesn’t look right. The pictures help you identify which needle or looper thread is the cause, and then you can adjust the tension to fix it.
Some brands colour-coded labels are less detailed than this.
Lots of free feet included
The 2104D comes with:
- Standard foot for normal overlocking.
- Blind stitch foot for blind hems, mock flatlocks, and pintucks.
- Piping foot to add piping and overlock the edge at the same time.
- Gathering foot to attach flat fabric with gathered fabric. If you just want to gather fabric, you can use the standard foot and a high differential feed setting.
I was quite surprised it comes with so many feet. Even the more expensive Brother 4234D only gets 1 extra foot, let alone 3!
It would cost you about £80 to buy these separately.
Here’s what you can do with each foot:
Blind stitch foot
It can handle different fabric thicknesses
High presser foot lift
If you’re going to work with thick fabrics, you’ll need an overlocker with a high presser foot lift so that loftier fabrics will fit underneath.
Brother says you can raise the 2104D’s presser foot to 5 – 6mm.
I’m not sure why brands quote a range (maybe to allow for tolerance during manufacturing), but I would stick to the safe side and assume that means 5mm.
All domestic overlockers that advertise a high presser foot lift are between 5 – 6mm, so that still looks pretty good to me.
Presser foot test
I wanted to help you visualise what a 5 – 6 mm presser foot can fit underneath.
Here’s a medium to heavy weight denim jean that I folded and put under my overlockers presser foot when it was 4mm high. Note: I use a Brother 4234D.
I was able to get 8 layers of denim under the 4mm high presser foot.
At 5 – 6 mm high, the 2104D will be able to get even more underneath.
To be clear, I’m not saying the machine will happily stitch through that many layers.
I just want to show what can fit under a presser foot that’s 4mm+ high.
Will it sew denim/upholstery fabric?
According to a technician I spoke to, domestic overlockers are designed to handle about 3 or 4 layers of fabric.
An overlocker salesperson told me that going over 4 layers of denim at the seams every now and then is fine.
But you wouldn’t want to be sewing long stretches of 4+ layers of denim all the time.
Domestic machines, even premium ones, aren’t designed for that.
If you regularly sew multiple layers of thick materials, the technician recommended looking at industrial overlockers instead.
They have a lot more power and better blades to cut and stitch thick materials on a regular basis.
The 2104D lets you change how hard or light the presser foot is pushing down on your fabric. This is called adjustable presser foot pressure.
Most overlockers have it.
You’ll need it to create more pressure to feed thick fabric through the machine, and reduce the pressure for very light fabrics.
Brother has made adjusting the pressure user-friendly with a clearly labelled dial.
I prefer this over other overlockers that just have a screw. There are no markings on a screw, so getting back to normal pressure can be confusing.
This model has a free arm to make sewing tubes of fabric (like necklines, trouser hems, sleeves) easier. This turns the fabric for you as you stitch.
Some brands lack this feature, like many Janome models.
Today all modern overlockers have a differential feed system.
This will let you stretch out or gather fabric as you’re overlocking.
Why would you want to use differential feed?
Fix puckering seams
If you’re experiencing puckering seams, stretching out the fabric slightly will solve this and create a flat, smooth seam.
Fix stretched out seams
If your seam is stretched out, you can very slightly gather the material while overlocking to create a flat seam.
You might have to do this when sewing stretchy knits.
You can quickly gather fabric if you want to create ruffles or a gathered skirt.
Just turn up the differential feed setting to the max.
It’s so much faster than creating gathers on a sewing machine.
Create “lettuce leaf” edge
This is a decorative way to finish an edge on a stretch fabric.
How does it work?
Changing the differential feed setting allows you to make the front and back feed dogs move at different speeds. Note: feed dogs are the jagged metal bars under the presser foot.
You can make the back feed dog move faster than the front one to stretch the fabric.
You can make the front feed dog move faster than the back one to gather the fabric.
Or you can keep both feed dogs moving at the same speed for normal overlocking.
Easy to switch to rolled hemming
The 2104D has “instant rolled hem conversion”.
This means you can easily switch from overlocking to rolled hemming by just removing the stitch finger.
In the past overlockers made you change the needle plate too. This made switching to sewing rolled hems slower and more difficult.
This is a normal feature in modern overlockers.
There’s space in the overlocker for tweezers, a stitch finger, a screwdriver, and a pack of needles.
No space for
There’s no space for any spare feet or the cleaning brush.
It would be nice if there was space for the brush because you’ll need it often, but it’s not a deal-breaker.
Extension table available
Price: typically £15 – 22
You can buy an extension table to make your sewing area bigger. This will help you handle the fabric better.
Expect to pay about £15 to £22.
This can be helpful when working with knits that might stretch out and distort if dragged, or heavy materials that might pull on the needles if dragged.
I don’t think the extension table is a necessity. I sew knits without an extension table and haven’t had distortion problems.
Brother 2104D Review – Cons
Industry specialists don’t think it’s the best quality
I called multiple overlocker salespeople and technicians to learn about good and bad quality overlockers.
1 salesperson said they sell a lot of Brother 2104D’s, but the build quality isn’t as good as other machines.
Another salesperson agreed that more expensive overlockers have better motors and build quality than the budget 2104D.
Budget overlockers, in general, tend to have:
- Poorer quality metal frames that will wear out quicker.
- More gearing and linkages made from plastic.
- Weaker motors.
- And more “relaxed” quality control standards during manufacturing.
These are all the result of cost-saving decisions the manufacturer has to make for a budget product.
A salesperson gave me a rough estimate that budget overlockers might only have a lifespan of 4 to 6 years. I imagine how often it’s used and how well the machine is looked after will change that stat.
If you’re looking for a better-built overlocker that’s not too expensive, some of the models they recommended instead were the Brother 4234D and Janome 6234XL.
If you’re an occasional sewer who doesn’t want to spend too much on an overlocker, the 2104D is still a good choice.
It can’t do 2 thread stitches
Like most budget overlockers, it can’t do 2 thread stitches. You’ll normally only find this on some mid-range machines and all premium ones.
This will let you create more stitches like the 2 thread overlock, 2 thread rolled hem, and 2 thread mock flatlock.
This is a feature that’s great for sewers who want to experiment with different techniques.
If you’re one of those people, remember that you can’t add 2 thread stitches later, so now is the time to consider it.
Here are some budget or mid-range alternatives that can do 2 thread stitches (UK/Europe only):
- Brother 4234D
- Janome 6234XL
- Husqvarna Viking Huskylock s15
- Pfaff hobbylock™ 2.0
- Elna 664 Pro
- Bernette Funlock 44
- Singer 14SH754 and 14HD854 (warning: not loved by industry specialists)
I don’t think most people need it though. You can achieve a lot with just a 3 or 4 thread stitch.
No waste tray included
Price: typically £23 – 30 across the web. Check Amazon’s price.
You will need to find and buy the waste tray separately.
For regular sewers, I highly recommend getting one. Overlocking is messy!
Without a tray to catch fibers, they’ll end up all over your table and lap.
What buyers think
I analysed 16 buyer reviews.
(13 reviews from amazon.co.uk and 3 reviews from sewingmachinesales.co.uk).
15 reviews were positive overall.
1 review was negative overall.
Is it easy to use?
3 buyers praised the instructional DVD and manual, saying they made threading easy.
10 buyers said the machine was easy to use and/or thread.
1 buyer recommended this machine for beginners because they thought it was easy to use.
However, another buyer said the DVD and manual were not clear enough for an absolute beginner.
They said the part of the DVD that should have explained where to place the threads at the end was edited out. And sometimes the presenter’s fingers got in the way.
Is the stitch quality good?
2 buyers were happy with the stitches.
Is it noisy?
1 buyer said it’s not noisy.
If you want to hear how the 2104D sounds, skip to the videos section.
Are there quality problems?
1 buyer said it felt sturdy and robust.
1 buyer said it felt compact and lighter-weight than they expected.
How does the Brother 2104D compare to other overlockers?
Compared to budget overlockers
This is a really good option when compared to budget models from other brands.
It shares these things with most budget machines:
- 3/4 thread stitch ability.
- Differential feed.
- Easy to switch to rolled hemming mode.
- Adjustable pressure.
- Colour-coded threading, although I think Brother has a more detailed and helpful design than some brands.
- Similar price.
I think the Brother 2104D has an advantage over some budget models in these ways:
- It has a better lower looper design than some older machines.
- Many budget overlockers don’t get many free feet, unlike the 2104D which gets 3 extra feet.
- Brother had a good reputation among some of the industry specialists I interviewed. A technician said you can expect a nice machine from Brother.
- Not all overlockers have a free arm like this Brother one. For example, many Janome overlockers.
- Some budget models don’t have the option to add an extension table.
Compared to mid-range overlockers
It lacks features normally found on mid-range overlockers, like:
- 2 thread stitch options.
- Built-in needle threader.
- Better build quality and motor power.
Compared to premium overlockers
There probably won’t be much difference in stitch quality between budget and premium overlockers.
The difference is normally in:
- Air threading.
- Automatic tension.
- Built-in needle threaders.
- 2 thread stitch options.
- Build quality and motor power.
- Other conveniences like a built-in spreader, a more sensitive differential feed system, a more sensitive pressure adjustment dial, etc.
Compared to other Brother models
What’s the difference between the Brother 2104D and M343D?
- The M343D is about £20 cheaper than the 2104D (at the time of publication).
- Feature-wise, they’re almost identical.
- The M343D only comes with the standard foot, whereas the 2104D gets the standard foot plus 3 extra feet. It would cost about £80 to buy these 3 feet separately.
- I also think the M343D is a discontinued model because it doesn’t exist on Brother’s website anymore, whereas the 2104D does. That means new M343D’s probably aren’t being manufactured anymore.
What’s the difference between the Brother 2104D and 3034DWT?
- The Brother 3034DWT is about £50 more expensive (at the time of publication).
- You get a waste tray and extension table included. It would cost about £45 to buy these separately.
- Otherwise, the features are identical.
- 1 overlocker salesperson I spoke to believed the build quality and motor is slightly better.
What’s the difference between the Brother 2104D and 4234D?
- The 4234D is about £170 more expensive (at the time of publication).
- Overlocker salespeople said the build quality and motor is definitely more sturdy and robust on this model.
- It can make 2 thread stitches.
- It has a built-in needle threader.
- It comes with a waste tray and 1 extra foot.
- Brother also designed a much larger extension table just for the 4234D.
Videos of the Brother 2104D
See it stitching (not in English):
How to create a rolled hem (not in English):
An unboxing video. See and hear it stitching at 5:26
See it stitching from 2:34 and hear how it sounds (not in English):
An unboxing. See what comes with the overlocker. (Not in English):
What else do you need to buy?
The manual says you’ll need the 130/705H needle type in sizes #80 and #90.
This is a universal needle that you can also use in your sewing machine.
130/705H: size #80 needles
For fine to medium weight fabrics.
130/705H: size #90 needles
For medium to heavy weight fabrics.
A technician’s warning about needles
“We are seeing quite a few machines coming in with problems caused by a budget brand of needles being sold at some department stores.
These needles are made so poorly that they will actually cause your machine to not sew properly.
To demonstrate – the needle on the left is a Schmetz brand needle size 80 and on the right is the department store needle size 70.
This size needle should be finer than the Schmetz, and as you can see, not only is it thicker, but it’s also longer!
Other needles in the same department-store-pack are made backwards or are bent…”Technician Mike from mikessewingmachinerepairs.com.au
Make sure you buy your needles from a trusted manufacturer. For example, Schmetz is a well-known brand for quality.
If you want to overlock with elastics and beads here are 2 feet that will make it much easier.
If you don’t, they’re probably unnecessary.
Attach tapes and elastic to stretch fabrics up to 12 mm in width.
Pearls and sequins foot
Attach pearls and sequins up to 5mm in diameter to fabric.
This post was originally published on 11 March 2020. It has since been updated.
Now it’s your turn
I’d like to hear from you 🙂
Do you have any questions about this overlocker?
Maybe I missed something you want to know?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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support.brother.com. ‘2104DAV: Manuals’. [online] Available at: https://support.brother.com/g/b/manualtop.aspx?c=gb&lang=en&prod=hf_2104daveuk [accessed: 6 March 2020]
sewingcraft.brother.eu. ‘2104D Overlocker’. [online] Available at: https://sewingcraft.brother.eu/en/products/machines/overlocker-machines/overlocker-machines/2104d [accessed: 6 March 2020]
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@celtic_crafts_by_sarah. Instagram. (2019). [online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1gv5fahIeU/ [accessed: 6 March 2020]
@kreapatch. Instagram. (2016). [online] Available at: https://www.instagram.com/p/BENhP-8nOhw/ [accessed: 6 March 2020]
@GutStoff. Instagram. (2018). [online] Accessible at: https://www.instagram.com/p/Blz4UQhDA6i/ [accessed: 6 March 2020]
@blackeyed80. Instagram. (2019). [online] Accessible at: https://www.instagram.com/p/B5NOg6Fq8xz/ [accessed: 6 March 2020]
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sewingmachinesales.co.uk. ‘janome-9300dx-quick-threading.jpg’. [online] Available at: https://www.sewingmachinesales.co.uk/pub/media/catalog/product/cache/8332a5dc88bf8fdc908cb29de73a9b10/j/a/janome-9300dx-quick-threading.jpg [accessed: 11 March 2020]
ebay.com. ‘Elna 664 Pro Serger Sewing Machine *no power cord* untested’. [online] Available at: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Elna-664-Pro-Serger-Sewing-Machine-no-power-cord-untested/264590369868?hash=item3d9ad0a44c:g:HXcAAOSwGyZeE28C [accessed: 11 March 2020]
amazon.co.uk. ‘Customer reviews: Brother 2104D Overlocker’. [online] Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brother-2104D-Overlocker/product-reviews/B0191J6QEE/ref=cm_cr_getr_d_paging_btm_prev_1?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews&pageNumber=1 [accessed: 6 March 2020]
sewingmachinesales.co.uk. ‘BROTHER 2104D OVERLOCKER’. [online] Available at: https://www.sewingmachinesales.co.uk/overlocker/brother/brother-2104d-overlocker.html [accessed: 6 March 2020]
Mike. (2018). Mike’s Sewing Machine Repairs. ‘An Important Point About Needles’. [online] Available at: http://www.mikessewingmachinerepairs.com.au/2018/10/08/an-important-point-about-needles/ [accessed: 3 March 2020]
support.brother.com. ‘2104DAV: FAQs & Troubleshooting’. [online] Available at: https://support.brother.com/g/b/faqlist.aspx?c=gb&lang=en&prod=hf_2104daveuk&ftype3=2145 [accessed: 6 March 2020]