Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review of the Singer 160 Anniversary Edition Home Sewing Machine


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.  
Happy Sewing,

14 comments:

  1. Hi, thanks for your post. I recently inherited an antique Singer 15-91 with cabinet. I'm having trouble getting the machine refurbished, and saw the 160th edition. Do you have any idea of it's dimensions and if it would fit in such a cabinet? I've been looking around and haven't been able to find them yet. I'm a newbie to sewing - what do you think of this for someone learning?

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    1. For help with your 15-91 check out "Treadle-On" and "Ismacs" for help. Great people @ both of these sites. Personally, although I am somewhat fascinated by this machine (probably more nostalgia), I would recommend other machines. I have a Janome 4800QE that I love (and 4 vintage Singers), You might want to look at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KD-tyzqMi3M&feature=grec_index
      Consider: Janome 7330; DC350
      The best thing you can do is go to a dealer (one offering more than one brand gives you flexibility) and try out machines with your own fabric. Have a price range in mind and don't be swayed by the “next machine up” (something most of us have done at one time or another). Check online for customer service reviews of your dealer but don't buy online for your first time. Most dealers will offer or give you lessons & continued assistance (they want you back when you go to buy that several thousand dollar machine). Hope this helps and good luck.
      Ps I believe Janome makes Elna now & they may be a bit less expensive (haven't priced them) and I have sewn on several Juki 's that I thought were comparable to other brand machines @ hundreds of $ less.

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  2. Hi Jennifer,
    I just took the dimensions. They are: 21 inches in length, 10 inches deep ( from the widest point on the bed) and 13 inches tall. I hope this helps. I have a Jones Family treadle machine and looking at the Singer 160 to this I don't think it would fit. But perhaps in a Singer cabinet it might. I don't know.

    As a newbie to sewing would I recommend the 160? Good question. I guess it would depend on what kind of sewing you plan to do. As a quilting machine it does lack a couple of basics you would find in other machines. There is no needle down setting which is very helpful in block piecing and no 1/4 inch foot is included in this model. However as a basic sewing machine for clothes making I think it's a good starter. Buying a new (or first) machine is always about trade offs - getting the most bang for your buck and still be affordable. I would suggest finding a dealer who will let you give it a test sew before committing because for me I've found that feeling comfortable with how the machine feels and performs in general out weighs a few extra bells and whistles.

    Good luck with your search.

    McKenna

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  3. Dear McKenna,
    Thank you for your info on the singer 160 ! When you were talking about the hand quilting setting you mentioned top stitching thread in the bobbin and light thread in the needle. Can you give thread gauges on these threads for me? I would be really happy if you did.....Thank you in advance !
    Eva

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  4. Hello McKenna!
    I also have a question,
    I usually use my old and a bit buggy sewing machine to make my clothes fit.
    What would you say on your experience, is this '160 able to sew a thicker fabric? Like a light jacket or lycra jean?
    Thank you so much in advance!
    Helene

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  5. Hello, I've also purchased this machine and Love it!! I just wanted to tell you I got a 1/4 inch or patchwork foot WITH my machine and my bobbin stops winding when it's full automatically. Thanks Michele

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  6. Hi McKenna,It's Michele again.I'm from New York here in the states and they just finished the launch of this machine here in the USA about 1 month ago.A Lot of the reviews are now coming in and for the most part, they are wonderful.Some people are complaining about some things that kind of bug me.Like the plastic housing.If this machine were made of metal or cast iron like the old singers,they wouldn't be able to lift it and then they'd say it was to heavy and they also wouldn't be able to afford it and the shipping cost would out outrageous.There saying the needle threader doesn't work right and probably have not read the manual. the needle needs to be in the highest position to work.Also they say the screw driver is missing.It doesn't look like a screwdriver,it looks like a little coin.Also the bobbin thread keeps popping off.The manual will tell you it needs to be wrapped around that disk on top correctly and the presser foot needs to be in the down position.I wish people would read the manual BEFORE giving a review.

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  7. Thank-you for a real review of the anniversary Singer. I especially appreciate the photos you've included. I'm hoping to convince my husband this machine has a place in my sewing room when it becomes available here in the UK. Not sure I'll be able to talk him into it, though, as we own eight vintage Singers (1917-1979, all working and used regularly), one antique Singer (1898 vibrating shuttle-'just for pretty':), and just added a Talent 3321 for my sewing students who wanted to learn on a more modern machine.

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  8. Thank you for your review. Love the look of this machine and now on sale at Joann's and Amazon... It may soon be at my house... ;)

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  9. Hi,
    I have a Singer 160 and though it does not come with a 1/4" foot, the needle can be moved to the right so that a 1/4" can be sewn with the regular foot. I love it!

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  10. I want this machine but not sure i have the funds at this time how long will it be available

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  11. I heard it would be sold for one year (2012) when I purchased mine from the HSN (home shopping network). That was in the spring. Good Luck

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  12. I just ordered mine today for $199.00 at the Singer shop inside JoAnn Fabrics. I'm super excited about it. The lady told me they want them gone by the end of the year. Priced to sell.

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  13. Perfect, thanks for your blog. I have searched any info of this gadget cca one year ago. Here in Slovakia and on the web. I am owner Brother PE300s, Veritas Columba EL and Veritas Rubina. The best of theese ones is Columba. Brother is more modern, but slow. It sews 700 stichs per minute. I counted it. It is slow, slow! It cost 1000 euros and I am not satisfacted.There's no comfort doing overlock stichs, no fun, slow. So I use Veritas for daily sewing. Will you able to answer me about speed of Singer 160?. There's no info at product webpage or in Singer global site or at any seller pages. Thanks. Mail to mezes.peter(at|gmail.com
    By the way Slovak price list is cca 270 euros>
    http://sijacie-stroje.heureka.sk/singer-smc-160/#buy-there
    I like design of Singer 160, I agree with funcionality, but I don't bye it without speed info.

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