Top positive review
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Good Value for the Money
on August 25, 2011
The conventional wisdom in buying sewing machines (among people who sew a lot) is to spend around $500 minimum. This may mean buying used, because sewing machines can be very pricy. In general, I agree with this philosophy. There are definite advantages to higher end machines. That said, this decidedly lower end machine performed quite a bit beyond my expectations.
The most important thing for a sewing machine to do is to hold its tension. Bad tension control of your thread means bad stitches and endless frustration. I've heard horror stories about poor tension on low end machines. This machine has very good tension. The motor growls a little before starting when you depress the foot pedal. Once you get going, it is pretty easy to control the speed, which is important too, for precision.
The straight stitching is very nice. Straight stitching is, by far, the thing you will do most on a sewing machine, whether you are doing garments or quilts and crafts. The next most important thing is the zig-zag, and there is no problem there either. This machine also has a number of utility stitches, including a blind hem stitch and several stretch stiches. There are no real decorative stitches. To me this is not a drawback, since I use them little. if at all.
Singer supplies only basic feet with this machine. You get the standard presser foot, a zipper foot, buttonhole foot, and a foot for sewing on buttons. I have not used the machine to sew in a zipper, but I have made several buttonholes. They came out fine, and the four-step buttonhole process is simple. Always do a sample buttonhole using a scrap of fabric and interfacing before you do one on your garment, in order to get the size and density of the stitches correct. I think Singer could have thrown in a quarter-inch foot, a darning (hopping) foot and a blind hem foot while they were at it. Generic low-shank feet should fit. I attached a quilting hopping foot from another low-shank machine and it worked just fine. Likewise I attached a walking foot and it fit and worked. This machine isn't optimal for quilting because of the small harp area, but it would be okay for placemats or really small quilts.
The manual I received with the machine was in Spanish. Upon request, Amazon supplied me with a link to download the manual in English for free. The manual is pretty spotty, but it covers the most important stuff. Threading directions are on the machine itself. One issue I have is that there are no maintenance directions at all, except for how to change the lightbulb. An empty oil bottle was supplied with the machine. I guess this makes sense because there were no instructions on how, where, or when to oil. Oh, except in the troubleshooting section where it said to "lubricate as described" if the machine was noisy. I'm not sure where they "describe" it; I sure couldn't find it. Based on my experience with similar machines, I'd oil in the shuttle area where the bobbin case sits. That area can also be dis-assembled for a thorough cleaning, but the manual doesn't mention doing this at all. They don't even tell you that you should remove the needle plate and clean around the feeddogs, which is pretty important.
So, in summary, if you want to see if you'd like sewing and don't want to spend over a hundred dollars for a machine, you could do a lot worse than this one. Change the needle once in a while. Try to find someone who sews to show you how to maintain it. Durability is an issue that I can't speak to, but I am not a person who worries about plastic parts in a machine. Most modern machines, even high-end, have plastic parts. If you become more serious about sewing and want to graduate to a higher end model, this machine would be a good backup machine, or a machine to take to classes. It's really pretty good for the money.