I got a wonderful xmas gift from my DH. The new Singer 160 Anniversary Edition home sewing machine. The moment I saw a photograph of it I fell in love. Of course I have numerous sewing machines, as most sewers and quilters do. So this purchase was definitely a want and not a need. Here is my review.
She is beautiful to look at with an innovative retro design. Singer managed to capture the best design details from their turn of the century models and incorporate modern electronic innovation into this anniversary model. The whole visual package is very appealing.
The Singer 160 is affordable at $599 (Australian). This price puts it in the mid range of cost for most standard home machines. Its a bit plastic-ish but that's to be expected in this price range. Also because this machine is black I think instead of the color enhancing the look as it did on the original metal models, the black color now draws attention to the housing now being made of plastic. Even having said that I still think the black is appropriate for the overall look.
It has a good weight and size with an ample sewing bed that slopes toward you. This is well lit with 3 LED lights, 2 under the needle area and one over the bed. It gives off a bluish light.
The machine is equipped with a sleeve arm (something my Janome 6600 is sorely lacking) which has a built in storage tray that opens from the end. The inside of the tray is open space to store accessories. It would have been nice if the tray were built with slots to hold specific items so they wouldn't rattle about but they didn't. Even so, there is ample room for all the accessories and then some. Also no 1/4 inch foot is included with this model but there is a 1/4 inch guide on the bobbin cover. I've ordered a Singer 1/4 inch foot through the store I purchased the machine from.
The fly wheel looks a bit too shiny which made me think it was chromed plastic at first but on feel I believe it is a light weight metal.
There is an electronic stitch panel with basic stitches. The limited choices reminds me of the very old Singers that performed just the basics and really this is what you want this machine for. It's to the point and not fancy. Very much I think in the spirit of the original Singers and fitting for the 160 anniversary year model. There is a hand quilting stitch setting but I had some teething problems with this. I've found that you absolutely must use a top stitch thread in the bobbin and light weight thread through the machine when using this stitch or else the machine has a tizzy and jams. The instruction manual specifies the type of thread but not what gage. Also I found that the tension must be as high as 9 for a really smooth, nice looking stitch. Once my DH figured out this was the problem the machine worked well and the stitches looked great.
Bobbin winding is a bit fidly - I had to give it a go twice. There is no automatic stop on the bobbin wind. Threading from spool through the machine is easy and it has an auto needle threading capability. Also bobbin threading is simple. There's no need to bring up the bobbin thread as there is a built in channel you feed the tread through which does this automatically.
The first sound you hear when you turn it on is mechanical. No dainty beep or ping.
When sewing the machine has a heavy mechanical hum. Again, it sounds like it has grunt.
The stitches Stitches are even and lovely.
There is no auto thread cutter but the built in manual cutter is convenient and easy to use.
Also there is no needle down setting. I found an interesting feature of the reverse sew button is that it will work independently from the power pedal. This can be used as a tacking stitch at the beginning and end of sewing a line of stitches without requiring touching the foot petal.
Overall I'd give the Singer 160 an 8 out of 10. I think it's good value for money as a basic machine with style and performance. This is going to be the machine I bring to my quilt meetings and retreats as my Janome 6600 is just too heavy and large to tote around on a casual basis. I haven't owned a new Singer since I was a teenager (though I have two vintage Singers I love). I'm hoping this anniversary model becomes a fantastic work horse for me in my basic sewing needs and is as reliable and still desirable machine after many years as my vintage Singers. I'd love to see Singer get back on the fast track of producing cutting edge, high performing machines as this they did so many years ago.
Here's to a long and happy relationship with the 160.