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My Brother 3034DWT overlocker review:
The 3034DWT 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.
It comes with an impressive number of free accessories:
- Free extension table (about £22 if bought separately).
- 3 extra feet (about £80 if bought separately).
- Free waste tray (about £24 if bought separately).
That’s a saving of £126!
For a budget overlocker, threading is really good. I like the “F.A.S.T lower looper threading system” and clear colour-coded guides.
Industry specialists I spoke to like the Brother brand in general, especially for ease of threading.
Overlocker salespeople I spoke to thought the 3034DWT‘s build quality was a bit better than the cheaper Brother 2104D’s, but there are still better-built machines out there with more motor power.
Price: typically £309. Check Amazon’s price.
Brother 3034DWT Overlocker Review – Summary
(Note: the Brother 3034DWT and Brother 3034D are different machines.)
Who this overlocker suits:
- Sewists on a budget.
- Sewists who won’t put their overlocker under pressure with heavy usage and tough materials.
- Sewists who don’t need 2 thread stitches. They just want the main 3 or 4 thread stitches.
- They want lots of free feet to experiment with, and the convenience of a waste tray and extension table.
- They don’t need a needle threader, which is normally only found on mid-range or premium overlockers.
- 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 has a retractable knife. You can stitch without cutting the fabric.
- 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 well-designed looper threading system that’s better than older overlockers.
- The stitch illustrations and colour-coded guides 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.
Other features and accessories:
- Lots of freebies included: 3 extra feet, an extension table and waste tray.
- It has a free arm for sewing tubes of fabric. Some brands don’t include this feature, like many Janome models.
- It has built-in storage.
- It works with normal sewing machine needles.It works with normal sewing machine needles.
- Decent build quality for a budget machine, but there are better options.
- No 2 thread stitches.
What buyers think:
I analysed 13 buyer reviews.
12 were positive overall.
Buyers thought threading was relatively easy, they liked the instructions the overlocker came with, and loved how many free accessories were included.
How does it compare to other overlockers?
This is similar to many budget overlockers, but comes with a lot more accessories than normal.
It lacks key features from the mid-range and premium market, like 2 thread stitch ability and air threading.
Pictures of the stitching. (Skip to this).
Video of the 3034DWT:
What else do you need to buy? Overlocker needles and accessories advice. (Skip to this).
It can do 3 or 4 thread stitches. I like the threading system, price and industry specialists think the build quality is decent (but not as good as the 4234D). It comes with a surprising amount of free accessories: 3 extra feet, a waste tray and an extension table. It would cost about £126 to buy these separately!
Price: typically £309. Check Amazon’s price.
Brother 3034DWT Review – Pros
3 and 4 thread stitches
The Brother 3034DWT can make stitches using 3 or 4 threads, which is all most people ever need.
It can create:
- Overlock; create seams and stop fabric edges fraying.
- Rolled hem; a fast and neat way to hem chiffon.
- Narrow hem; for similar uses as the rolled hem, just a different look.
- Mock flatlock; a decorative stitch for sporty sweaters and leggings.
- Blind hem; hem trousers and dresses almost invisibly, while overlocking the fabric edge at the same time.
- Pintuck; create decorative pintucks on blouses.
This is a normal range of stitches for a budget to mid-range overlocker.
Here’s a look at the stitches. It can do all of these, except the ones in red which only 2/3/4 thread machines can do:
Domestic overlockers can cost from £200 at the budget end to £1700 for a premium model.
This is closer to £200, making it more affordable, especially when you consider how much you’re saving with all the free accessories it comes with.
Lots of free feet included
The 3034DWT 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
Waste tray included
Overlocking is messy!
Without a tray to catch fabric fibers, they’ll end up all over your table and lap.
Lots of budget overlockers don’t get a free waste tray, but this Brother model does.
It would cost about £24 to buy this separately (at the time of publication).
Extension table included
The extension table makes your sewing area bigger. This will help you handle the fabric better.
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.
The cheaper Brother 2104D makes you buy this extension table separately for about £15 to £22.
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 “F.A.S.T lower looper threading” design as the 3034DWT, 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 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.
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 3034DWT’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 3034DWT 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 3034DWT 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 3034DWT has “instant rolled hem conversion”.
This means you can easily switch from overlocking to rolled hemming by just:
- Removing the stitch finger.
- Selecting the ‘R’ settings on the stitch length and stitch width dials.
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 on 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.
It uses normal sewing machine needles
All current Brother models are designed to work with the universal 130/705H needle system.
This means you can use these needles in your sewing machine and overlocker. You won’t need to buy special needles.
You’ll need 130/705H needles in sizes #80 and #90.
Buy size #80 needles:
For fine to medium weight fabrics.
Buy size #90 needles:
For medium to heavy weight fabrics.
Brother 3034DWT Review – Cons
Decent build quality, but there are better options
Overlocker salespeople I spoke to thought the 3034DWT’s build quality was a bit better than the cheaper 2104D, but there are still better-built machines out there with more motor power.
If you value build quality more than price, check out:
No 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 my reviews on budget or mid-range alternatives that can do 2 thread stitches:
- Brother 4234D
- Janome 6234XL
- Husqvarna Viking Huskylock s15
- Pfaff hobbylock 2.0
- Elna 664 Pro (reviewed in my overall ‘best overlockers‘ post)
- Bernette Funlock 44 (also reviewed in my ‘best overlockers’ post)
- 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.
What buyers think
I analysed 13 buyer reviews.
(10 reviews from amazon.co.uk, and 3 from sewingmachinesales.co.uk).
12 were positive overall.
1 was negative overall.
Is it easy to use?
9 buyers said it was easy to thread or use.
2 buyers liked the DVD and instructions that came with it. They said it made it clear how to thread the machine, change the foot, move the knife, etc.
3 buyers loved how many accessories it came with, like the extension table and lots of feet.
Is the stitch quality good?
1 buyer specifically mentioned good stitching.
Are there quality problems?
1 buyer said their overlocker stopped working after 5 months.
They didn’t give any details about what happened, so I don’t know if the problem was caused by their usage or if it was just a faulty machine.
Brother does have a 3 year warranty though. See what it covers here.
One important point is that the warranty only covers you “…if you have purchased the product new from an authorised Brother vendor as the first purchaser and end-user of the product.”
Many overlocker sellers on Amazon are official dealers, but I would google them first to check that they’re an authorised Brother dealer.
How does the Brother 3034DWT compare to other overlockers?
Compared to budget overlockers
It shares most of the features found on budget models, but comes with a lot more accessories and slightly better construction according to an overlocker salesperson.
She also thought it was a bit quieter than the budget 2104D, but she couldn’t tell a difference in the stitch quality between the two.
Compared to mid-range overlockers
It lacks the features and build quality that mid-range overlockers tend to have, like:
- 2 thread stitch ability.
- 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
See my post comparing Brother overlockers.
What else do you need for the 3034DWT?
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.
Buy size #80 needles
For fine to medium weight fabrics.
Buy size #90 needles
For medium to heavy weight fabrics.
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.
For example, you could use it to stabilise shoulder seams in stretch garments.
Pearls and sequins foot
Attach pearls and sequins up to 5mm in diameter to fabric.
This post was originally published on 14 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 Brother overlocker?
Maybe I missed something you want to know?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.
Phone calls with salespeople at sewingmachinesales.co.uk, Frank Nutt Sewing Machines Ltd, Gur Enterprise (UK) LTD trading as GUR Sewing Machines, and Lords Sew-Knit Centre on 27 Feb. 2020.
Phone call with a technician at BSK Ltd on 17 Feb. 2020.
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download.brother.com. ‘Brother 3034DWT Operation Manual’. [online] Available at: https://download.brother.com/welcome/doch100696/884_b02_b03_om04en.pdf [accessed: 11 March 2020]
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amazon.co.uk. ‘Customer reviews: Brother 3034DWT with Wide Table Overlocker’. [online] Available at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Brother-3034DWT-Wide-Table-Overlocker/product-reviews/B075NMBVH9/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_show_all_btm?ie=UTF8&reviewerType=all_reviews [accessed: 11 March 2020]
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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]