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Sewing Machine Review

January 23, 2009
A couple months ago, I reviewed my sewing machine on Pattern Review, but I feel it’s not quite enough.  When I was looking for a machine, I wanted to know everything I could about it.   It was extremely hard to find!  So, when I found this great feature list/sales-pitch for my machine on Ken’s Sewing Center’s website, I decided this would make a really good start to an in-depth review.  Under each bullet, I’ve inserted my comments.  Hopefully this will help those who are in the confusing process of finding the right machine.

In case you’re wondering, overall I’ve been very very happy with my choice of machine.  I think there are so many things they got right with this one, that most of the issues I have are totally worth it.  And, the fact that I was able to get it using my employee discount is just the icing on the cake.  One point to mention: while in general the opinion of the newer Singer machines is very poor, this machine is not in the same category.  In fact, SicilianChick left a comment on my review at PR saying that this machine is made by Juki, and below you will see that it is made of aluminum (not plastic) parts.

The major annoyances are in red below for easier reading 🙂

Singer 7470 Confidence Sewing Machine WITH 173 STITCHES

Consumers aspire to express their creativity through sewing, but don’t necessarily want to invest significant time to learn and set up a sewing machine. SINGER global product development efforts directly involved consumers, resulting in a line rich with innovative new features that are simple to understand and easy to use making sewing stress-free and fun. The SINGER CONFIDENCE line of sewing machines will quickly become every sewing enthusiasts favorite sewing machine, loaded with features like 173 Built-In Stitches, 6 one-step buttonholes, built-in alphabet and one-touch stitch selection.

• Electronic Sewing Machine with Push-Button Stitch Selection. With just a simple push of a button you have selected the stitch as well as the optimum settings for length, width, balance, pressure and tension.

  • It is true that the electronic functions on this machine are very easy to use.  They don’t take long to learn either.  The 6 most useful stitches have their own button.  The symbols are fairly universal or at least easy to understand.

• Liquid Crystal Display Select a stitch, and an illustration of the stitch is displayed on the LCD screen. The LCD provides clear and easy viewing of stitch patterns, including stitch width and length.

  • It is very nice and clear, and you can adjust the contrast for easier viewing in extra-light conditions

• Built-In Stitches. A large variety of stitches for construction, fashion sewing, quilting, heirloom, crafts, home decorating and decorative sewing always ensures the perfect stitch for every project.

  • Although I admit I will probably never use most of the 173 stitches, I’m sure that some of the ones I use frequently couldn’t be found on a machine with fewer options.  I am also trying to play with stitches and use what I can (I feel like I owe it to the machine ;-))  Usually I don’t go for decorative stitches, but I have found a few small occasions for them so far (see my robe).

• Built-In Alphabet. Personalize projects by adding a monogram, name or phrase with the Built-In block style Alphabet.

  • Eh, not that great.  Cool feature to brag about, sure, but you can’t control them at all.  They only come in one size, and they begin at the lower end of the letter, meaning that before and after every letter the needle moves to the bottom and places on stitch before moving on.  Fairly annoying, not very pretty, and not very useful.

• Built-In Stretch Stitches. Specially designed stitches that add strength and flexibility to seams, especially useful when sewing on knitwear. Some of the stretch stitches can also be used for decorative embellishment.

  • Nice and useful

• Hand-Look Quilt Stitch. This stitch is designed to look like hand sewing for topstitching or quilting. The Hand-Look Quilt Stitch is especially valuable to quilters, crafters and heirloom seamstresses.

  • I don’t quilt, so I haven’t tried it, although I plan to!

• Adjustable Stitch Length. Optimal settings for length are automatically adjusted when choosing a stitch. They can be overridden to personalize length choice.
• Adjustable Stitch Width. Optimal settings for width are automatically adjusted when choosing a stitch. They can be overridden to personalize width choice.

  • Very easily done!  Also, you should know that adjusting the stitch width for a straight stitch is how the needle position can be changed (13 individual positions! more below).  A very nice feature, although expected.

• Center Zigzag Taper. When tapering with the zigzag stitch, the stitch tapers to the center, not the left or right. This provides a more attractive look when tapering into or out of a point.

  • haven’t tried it yet

• Automatic Tacking Stitch Function. Tie-off decorative stitches with just a push of a button. With 4 tiny tacking stitches the start and end of the pattern is reinforced. This ensures quality stitching and avoids raveling.

  • Cool idea, but I don’t really use the decorative features.

• Automatic Tie-Off Function. With just a push of a button the 7470 will sew 4 stitches forward and then 4 stitches in reverse at the start of Straight Automatic Tie-Off Stitching. At the end press the reverse button again and the machine will sew 4 stitches in reverse and then 4 stitches forward and then stop. The Automatic Tie-Off Function reinforces the start and end of seams for stronger stitching.

  • I haven’t tried this yet because I thought it would automatically tie-off when I stopped.  Next project I will use this.

• Automatic Reverse. Push the conveniently located Automatic Reverse Button to sew in reverse and reinforce the stitch.

  • Convenient location- yes, but you have to hold it down.  I prefer pushing it once for reverse and again for forward.  I generally need both hands.

• 7mm Stitch Width. Most stitches can be set for a maximum width of 6mm. When sewing decorative stitches or satin stitches, the wide stitches are bolder and more pronounced.

  • Versatile.

• One-Step Automatic Precisely Balanced Built-In Buttonholes. Choose from 6 different one step buttonhole styles. Buttonhole sewing is a one step simple process, providing reliable results. Each side of the buttonhole is sewn in the same direction, creating beautifully balanced buttonholes.

  • They are very nice, and fairly simple to use.  The only problem I have found is the pressure.  If you are using thick fabric or sewing through lots of layers, you have to go really slow and virtually pull the fabric through on your own in order to get the correct size buttonhole.  This is very difficult and not fun!  To give you an idea, my wool suit jacket had only 2 layers to sew through to make the buttonhole.  However, it wouldn’t guide itself correctly.  The wool was not even that thick.  Not a good thing.

• Exclusive 3-Step Infinite Length Bar-Tack Buttonhole. Create a buttonholes with endlessly long sides. This is ideal when sewing non-traditional sized buttonholes. There are no size limitations with this buttonhole.

  • I need to try this to combat my previously mentioned problem.

• Electronic Twin Needle Control. Stitches are automatically adjusted for twin needle sewing with just the touch of a button. Twin needle sewing creates two parallel rows adding a decorative touch.

  • Sure.  Yes it’s very nice that the machine supports a twin needle.  However I have not yet found the correct tension for it.  I use it mostly on jersey, and end up getting lots of loose thread loops underneath quite frequently.  Not a fun problem!

• 13 Needle Positions. Needle position can be adjusted for techniques, such as inserting zippers or cording, and also topstitching.

  • Very very very useful!  Great feature- I use it all the time!

• Programmable Needle Up and Down. Select whether the needle is up or down when the machine stops. It is beneficial to have the needle stop in the down position when appliquéing, quilting or pivoting fabric. When removing the fabric from the machine, it is easier if the needle is raised to highest position.

  • Again, very useful!  I especially use this for topstitching when I know I will be having to pivot around corners.

• 20-Space Memory. A memory bank holds full names and simple phrases.

  • I’m not sure whether this means it will actually remember your combination so that you can easily pull it up again, or whether you can enter up to 20 decorative stitches in a pattern.  I think it means the latter, in which case it’s not that impressive.  I wish it was the other.

• Editing Capabilities. Editing is simple. A cursor button can be moved through the 20-space memory. If a stitch or letter needs to be removed, use the editing button.

  • True, it is pretty easy

• Mirror Image. * Just touch a button and stitches can be mirror imaged.

  • I don’t use it, but I guess it’s cool 🙂

• Continuous Pattern. * Just touch a button and stitches can be sewn either as a single pattern or can be sewn continuously. (*Only specific stitches can be mirror imaged and/or sewn as a continuous pattern.)

  • Neat feature.

• Error Messaging. 4 audible and visual warning messages alert the sewer. The messages make for trouble-free sewing.

  • Things like- “your bobbin winder is in the wrong position, silly” and “the buttonhole lever is down but you’re not using a buttonhole stitch”

• 6-Second Threading. Thread a machine in 6 seconds! No tediously following manual’s instruction to thread the machine, just follow the arrows on the machine…and you are threaded in a snap.

  • It is pretty easy, but I would say it’s about the same as most other machines out there 🙂

• Automatic Needle Threader. After effortlessly threading the machine this feature automatically threads the eye of the needle!

  • I tried it out once- it’s not worth the effort (unless your eyes are really bad I suppose).  It also gets in the way of sewing!

• Audible Tone. An audible tone confirms pattern and function selection.

  • I always like to hear that I have pressed a button

• Automatic Tension. This system ensures stable stitch quality, whatever type of fabric is being used.

  • Pretty good I guess, but I’m always playing with the manual tension adjustment

• Automatic Presser Foot Pressure Control. The amount of pressure exerted on the fabric by the presser foot against the feed dogs is automatic. Sew from the lightest weight tricots to the heaviest denim, without making adjustments.

  • I touched on this in the buttonhole point.  Not good!  This is the machine’s biggest fault!  I have so many problems with the pressure being way too much.  It would be really nice to have a manual adjuster option.  I have issues with pins getting stuck under the foot in lightweight fabrics.  Also, when you’re trying to sew through lots of layers, it’s way too much pressure, you’re constantly having to adjust the fabric by hand (sew a stitch, adjust, repeat).  My next machine will have a manual pressure adjustment!

• Jam-Proof Bobbin System. The bobbin case floats above the hook, precluding thread jams. The machine will not jam, even when sewing on sheer fabric or no fabric at all! The bobbin loads from the top, so it is easy to insert the bobbin. The clear cover makes it easy to monitor the bobbin thread supply.

  • I would not say it’s jam-proof, but it’s pretty good.

• Automatic Bobbin Winding Clutch. Needle bar automatically disengages when winding the bobbin, making bobbin winding more convenient.

  • very nice feature

• Extra-High Presser Foot Lifter When the Presser Foot Lifter is in extra-high position it offers more clearance, which is needed when placing multiple layers of bulky fabric under the presser foot.

  • very nice, and very much necessary

• LED Lifetime White Lamp. The lamp illuminates the sewing surface for optimal viewing. The long-lasting bulb (100,000 hours) stays cool, regardless how long the machine is operated.

  • mine hasn’t gone off yet (in 10 months or so) 🙂

• 6-Segment Feeding System. There are 6 points of contact between the fabric and the feeding system. The more contact points the better the fabric feeds. With 6-segments even lightweight fabrics feed smoothly.

  • I’m not this knowledgeable- I can’t comment here 🙂

• Box Feed. This is a feed dog motion that moves the feed dogs in a box motion, rather than the historic arc motion. Box motion assures perfect feeding throughout the entire feed process, as the feed dogs are always in perfect and equal contact with the fabric and presser foot.

  • Same with this one, although I need to compare it to an arc feed machine and see which I prefer.  Sometimes I think that I would prefer the arc kind, but that might be a function of the too high pressure from the foot.

• Drop Feed Dogs. A conveniently located lever, easily and effortlessly moved, will lower the feed dogs for free-motion embroidery, monograms, and for attaching buttons.

  • I’m not sure about “conveniently located”.  It’s on the back of the machine underneath a plastic cover that takes a little time to remove.  Also, I have heard from many people that they have trouble raising the feed dogs once they have been lowered.  I don’t use it, but I will try to find the fix for this.  I read it somewhere and can’t remember where.

• Aluminum Frame. The internal skeleton of the sewing machine. This rigid support holds all the mechanisms in perfect alignment for perfect, skip-free sewing.

  • It is very nice, very sturdy, and handles all kinds of fabric.

• Electronic Stitch Formation. All stepper motors are electronically controlled. Digital electronic control of the stepper motors that control the pattern formation allows for perfectly formed patterns every time.
• Optimum Power Control. This is a SINGER® name for a control system that senses when additional power is required to maintain speed through thick or changing fabric conditions. This feature is most useful when sewing through multiple (6-8) layers of fabric.

  • ha.  I would much prefer if it slowed down when I have lots of layers…

• Electronic Foot Controller. Guarantees consistent sewing speed with no jump starts.

  • Another big pet peeve here.  It is extremely difficult to control the speed of the machine.  The foot pedal is so light weight, and presses so easily that you can’t sew at a slower speed for topstitching and precision sewing.
  • This deserves a second bullet.  Another problem is this: once you stop the machine, it takes about 3-4 seconds before you can start back up again.  So the machine goes from fast to stop and then you have to wait before starting back up to fast.  Grrr.

• Snap-On Presser Feet. Change from one to another effortlessly with a simple push of the foot release button.
• Dust Cover. Covers the machine when not in use.
• On Board Storage. Keep the accessories in the Extension Table Storage area, and they are always within reach.

  • great, but I think these things are expected in a modern machine
  • it does have a handle for transport, so not having a hard cover isn’t really an issue for me.
3 Comments leave one →
  1. Brenda Campos permalink
    July 22, 2009 12:03 am

    Im one who now has a problem with my 7470
    singer. I lowered the feed and now cant seen to get it back up high enough to sew!
    Can you help me??

  2. Kathleen permalink
    July 27, 2009 3:33 pm

    I was seriously leaning toward this machine as my first choice, but your review has made me think twice. I’m a quilter and one feature that sounded really appealing was the automatic pressure foot pressure control, but from what you’re saying I’d want to chuck the machine out the window! Also, I frequently need to sew VERY slowly (precision sewing as you said) so not being able to do so is just not an option. Thank you so much for taking the time to give such a detailed review!

  3. Brenda Campos permalink
    July 28, 2009 8:12 am

    Im still having this problem and have not been able to sew. I m now searching for a place to see what the problem is and have it fixed.
    If there is any one who might know what causes this problem, please write in and share with other.

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