Sewing is a creative activity that is not confined to the female sphere. Previously, sewing was thought of as a feminine pursuit, but these days this activity is done by both genders, as the manufacturers of the most prestigious appliances in this area as well as one of the first produced in the history of sewing, Singer sewing machines, know well.
Singer sewing machines have been synonymous with quality and prestige since 1851, when Isaac Merrit Singer founded I.M. Singer & Company together with Edward C. Clark. Without going into their business dramas, it is true to say that Singer sewing machine gained international fame which has never let their customers down.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 Key Facts
- 3 Our selection: The best Singer sewing machines
- 4 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about Singer sewing machines
- 4.1 What is a Singer sewing machine exactly?
- 4.2 Why is the Singer sewing machine so prestigious?
- 4.3 What types of Singer sewing machines are there on the market?
- 4.4 What types of Singer sewing machines are there in the market?
- 4.5 What is the difference between a mechanical and electronic Singer sewing machine?
- 4.6 How can I know the age of my Singer sewing machine?
- 4.7 Is there another way to determine the value of Singer sewing machines?
- 4.8 What maintenance is required for Singer sewing machines?
- 4.9 What kind of needles should I use in Singer sewing machines?
- 5 Shopping criteria
- 6 Summary
- Mass production of clothing became possible thanks to the Industrial Revolution and this had a pivotal role in the life of Isaac Merrit Singer, the founder of the hugely popular Singer sewing machine company, which are today known worldwide as a universal symbol of quality and prestige when it comes to sewing.
- There are two main types of Singer sewing machines, mechanical and electronic, the latter being digital and have a large number of functions. If you have an antique model, at the end of this guide you will learn how to determine its year of manufacture and current market value.
- When buying a Singer sewing machine, you should consider certain key features, such as the number of stitches it can produce, and what you want to use it for, both now and into the future. If you plan to get into the fashion industry, you are better off going for one with plenty of features rather than a basic model.
Our selection: The best Singer sewing machines
Tradition and modernity are two sentiments which sum up the "soul" of a Singer sewing machine, which have been available for decades. With this in mind, we present to you a selection of the brand's best models currently available, suitable for everyone from amateurs to professionals. Let's take a look!
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about Singer sewing machines
If you already are a professional dressmaker or embroiderer, you will know that Singer sewing machines stand out for their efficiency and quality, but did you know that there are different types of machines? There are mechanical and electronic machines. You were probably also not aware that the mechanical ones also run on electricity. We will cover all this in this section, dedicated to the most frequent questions of users.
What is a Singer sewing machine exactly?
Although they were already present in the market, the original sewing machines used chain stitch. The evolution of these gadgets would not have been possible without the intervention of the American Isaac Merrit Singer (1811-1875), who improved the first sewing machines with great success thanks to a device that could sew 900 stitches per minute.
Why is the Singer sewing machine so prestigious?
Thanks to the "rent with purchase option"; Singer allowed thousands of dressmakers to improve their productivity. With his marketing techniques which are still used today, the inventor proclaimed himself the leader of the textile sector, creating sewing machines for both industrial and domestic use. Today, Singer remains a symbol of quality and efficiency.
What types of Singer sewing machines are there on the market?
|Types of sewing machine||Which is right for me?|
|Straight edged|| Also called "stitching", sew with one, two or three needles. In the case of the last two, it is also called "flat".
They are the simplest and most common sewing machines found in homes.
|Overlocker||They are used for overstitching and are great for stretch fabrics. Used to jin two pieces of textile, or to finish the edges. There are several types, suitable for different fabric thickness, and are also used at home.|
|Sergers||For knits. Sew with one, two or three needles and allow you to make elastic hems in knits, decorative stitches, and other effects. The machine sews, overlocks and cuts all at the same time.|
|Eyelet||Specific for making eyelets and is usually industrial. Used to create professional finishes which cannot be achieved with hand sewing.|
|Collar||Perfect for making sportswear. Sews up to two or three needles with three or four threads. Produces a discreet stitch which is often used for professional finishing.|
|Blind hem||Used to make invisible seams, such as hems on dresses and formal wear.|
|Button maker||As the name suggests, designed for sewing buttons and specific for industrial settings.|
|Bearer|| Not commonly used, but is designed to seal pocket opening, among other uses.
Are, like most others cited in this table, for industrial use.
|Closer||Closes sleeves, shirts and pants, among other garments, with up to three needles.|
|Elastic||Are not generally found outside a factory setting and used to sew lingerie, for example.|
|Cutting||Used to cut patterns, and as you can imagine are usually used in factories.|
What types of Singer sewing machines are there in the market?
- Electronic: Electronic machines can reach up to 1,300 stitches per minute and are popular today. They are digital and you can select the stitch on an LCD screen if the sewing machine is high end. Singer's catalogue includes models such as "Confidence" or "Starlet".
- Mechanical: These mechanical Singer sewing machines are electric, contrary to what you might think, and they are what we usually have at home. The "Simple" and "Tradition" models stand out, among others, although there are a large number of models in the Singer catalogue, with various features.
- Embroidery machines: They are sewing machines that serve for this, but also for embroidery. They are domestic devices since the manufacturers saw their huge output in the market. At present, they are much more affordable than the past and in Singer's catalogue, models like "Legacy" or "Futura" stand out.
- Overlockers. As we've already mentioned, these are perfect for overstitching stretch fabrics, above all. The sew and cut the excess fabric at the same time, allowing speed and a professional finish. In Singer's catalogue, you'll find the 14T970 model, among others.
What is the difference between a mechanical and electronic Singer sewing machine?
The electronic machines, on the other hand, select the stitch, as well as its length and width, with buttons. They are digital machines, with a variety of programs, and usually include an LCD screen so you can see your selection. They are more accurate and generally include Overlock or even Festoon stitches. They are more efficient but also more expensive.
How can I know the age of my Singer sewing machine?
Let's see below exactly where, according to the brand's own guidelines:
- Manufactured since 1990. Look for the reference number near the on / off switch.
- Manufactured between 1970 and 1980. You will find the reference number on the front panel of the machines manufactured in the 70s and 80s.
- Manufactured in the 1960s. Sewing machines manufactured in the 1960s generally have the reference number on the front panel of the machine, above or below the stitch length controller.
- Manufactured before 1960. The reference number is on a small plate on the front of the machine.
Is there another way to determine the value of Singer sewing machines?
Remember that the value of the model is not only determined by the year of manufacture, but also by its quality. Singer sewing machines that do not work anymore have a lower value, unless they can be repaired with new parts. Also, keep in mind that Singer sewing machines manufactured before 1860 are highly sought after by collectors.
What maintenance is required for Singer sewing machines?
- Unplug from the power. This is a key piece of advice. Whether you are going to clean the machine or not, it is advisable that the sewing machine is completely unplugged from the electrical current.
- Surge protector. If you own an electronic Singer sewing machine, use a surge protector or current regulator so that the appliance will not suffer possible surges or sudden drops in the power supply.
- Cleaning. It is important to regularly clean the machine of dust and lint. A damp cloth will be sufficient for the surface. Use a bit of dental floss to remove lint from the thread tensioning mechanism.
- Lubrication. On sewing machines, oil can mix with dust particles, which can affect the normal operation. It is necessary to regularly lubricate the mechanisms and it is best to do so with the Singer multipurpose oil, specially designed for the lubrication process that is shown in the product's user manuals.
- Direct light. The Singer sewing machine must not be exposed to direct sunlight so as to avoid fading.
- Suitable needle. You must insert the needle recommended by the manufacturer for each item you sew and do not forget to replace it if it breaks.
- Modifications are forbidden. Do not make any modifications to your Singer sewing machine as this may affect its performance.
- Storage. If you have to store your Singer sewing machine for a period of time, do not forget to use a cover to protect it and do not expose it to direct sunlight.
What kind of needles should I use in Singer sewing machines?
If you have already decided that you are going to buy a Singer sewing machine, you will agree that before buying it is important to follow a series of criteria so as not to make a mistake in the purchase. For this reason, the following are the most relevant aspects that you should not forget. Have a look at this advice to help you choose the Singer sewing machine best suited to your needs.
- What kind of sewing do you want to do?
- What are you going to use it for?
- Technical characteristics to keep in mind
- Mechanical or electronic
What kind of sewing do you want to do?
Before starting a project, you should already know what type of seam you want to make. This will not be the same if you want to repair some lycra tights as if you want to decorate a denim jacket, for example. Therefore, below we summarize the types of sewing you can do with a Singer sewing machine:
- Stretch stitching. Used to sew stretch and elastic fabrics, such as lycra or elastane, which are very fashionable these days.
- Decorative stitching. These are specific stitches used to decorate or embellish pieces of clothing. The most basic Singer sewing machines usually include more than one stitch of this type.
- Functional stitching. They are useful stitches for any type of work, such as making invisible stitches on the hems or zigzag stitches. Remember that for a beginner, the most used stitches are the straight and zigzag stitches.
The type of sewing can also be classified by the specific stitches used. For this, we will follow the industrial standard ASTM D6193-11 for sewing machines, as we see in the following table:
|Type of stitch||What is it used for?|
|Stitch 100 or simple chain|| Does not need a bobbin and is made with one or more needles. An elastic stitch, it is easily unpicked.
The 101 is for sewing buttons, the 103 for sewing hems among other uses, and the 104 is for embellishments.
|Stitch 200||Made with a single thread and a single needle. Includes decorative stitches are included.|
|Stitch 300 or double stitching|| Uses two interlaced threads with a needle and bobbin. A sturdy stitch which does not easily break.
The 301 is the most commonly used stitch for double stitching, the 304 is a zigzag stitch used for lingerie, sportswear, buttonholes and belt loops, among others.
|Stitch 400 or multiple chain stitch|| Can use one or more needles with one or more interlaced threads.
Needs a needle and anchor. They are resistant stitches and they look different on the correct and underside. There are the 401, 404 (zigzag), 406 and 407.
|Stitch 500 or Overlock|| Needs a needle with two anchors, and is made of one or several interlaced threads. Ideal for stretch, but breaks easily.
There is stitch 504 (overcast, the most common Overlock stitch), 512, 514, 515 y 516.
|Stitch 600 or cover stitch|| Needs two or more needles and one or several anchors. Made by three interlaced threads and uses a great deal of thread. Stitches are elastic and resistant.
There are stitches 602 (2-needle cover stitch) and the 607 (4-needle cover stitch).
What are you going to use it for?
Of course, it will be a very different case if you are going to repair any piece of clothing compared to if you plan to dedicate yourself professionally to sewing. If you plan to invest in a Singer sewing machine, first consider how often you will use it. If you love the world of fashion and enjoy sewing, it is better to choose a high-end machine with all its benefits.
If, on the other hand, you are a person who is beginning to take your first steps in the world of sewing, a simpler Singer sewing machine will suffice. Although if your intention is to continue learning, it is always better to spend a little more and have a quality machine that will last you a lifetime.
Technical characteristics to keep in mind
In addition to other factors, when buying a Singer sewing machine it is important that you take into account a series of important technical features, such as what type of stitch you will make and how many, whether it includes a buttonhole or variable stitch width, among other features. Below, we summarise the most important technical characteristics:
- Stitch types. The number of different types of stitching is a crucial aspect when buying a Singer sewing machine. There are some which offer eight stitches, and others with 180 stitches, as you can see in our Ranking. Do not leave this aspect aside and look carefully at how many types of stitches you will need, which will depend on your experience and skill level.
- Variation of length and width of the stitches. It is useful to be able to vary the width and the length of the stitch because it is not the same to sew thick fabric as lighter ones, among other aspects. Look at this detail, although if it is Singer you are unlikely to run into any problems in this regard.
- Needle positions. The more needle positions your Singer sewing machine offers you, the more creative possibilities you can enjoy. This aspect is important, as you will already know if you have experience with sewing.
- Buttonhole. The buttonhole, as the name suggests, is used to make eyelets. If you want to do them in one step you will need an advanced Singer sewing machine. This is worthwhile if you are pursuing a career in the world of fashion.
Mechanical or electronic
This is another crucial aspect when choosing a Singer sewing machine. We have already addressed this issue in a question of the Purchasing Guide, but in this section we will indicate its advantages and disadvantages in a table, so that it is easier for you to make a comparison and choose the one that best suits your needs:
|Mechanical machine||Electronic machine|
|Advantages|| More economical
Relatively easy to use
Perfect for beginner
| A wide range of features
Better quality for precision sewing
Screens display the chosen selection
|Disadvantages|| Less features
The sewing quality is less than that of electronic machines
| More expensive
More difficult to use than a mechanical machine
Generally, Singer sewing machines include a number of accessories. It is an important aspect because these are not cheap and will make sewing easier and better quality, especially if you are a beginner. Usually, accessories include different types of pedals, dials, a cleaning kit (oil, brush or screwdriver, among others), needles and threads.
In the first decade of the twentieth century, Singer sold an amazing three million sewing machines, which gives you an idea of the economic power of the company founded by Isaac Merrit Singer. Apart from the financial tribulations of this company throughout its more than 160 years of existence, Singer sewing machines have maintained a reputation to this day as a symbol of quality and prestige.
Through this guide, you have learned interesting facts in the history of the Singer sewing machine, but above all, we want to allow you to choose a machine that you will be happy with. If sewing is yur passion, weigh up our criteria and choose the Singer sewing machine which meets your needs most closely. Surely you will not regret it.
(Source of the featured image: mnsanthoshkumar: 14646524/ 123rf.com)