Insightful sewing machine reviews

Singer Simple 3221 Review

Singer Simple 3221 Review
Singer Simple 3221 Review
Author
  • Stitch quality
  • Speed
  • Ease of use
  • Maintenance
Beginner
Needs lots of help – able to sew a straight seam but unfamiliar with most sewing techniques; needs assistance and instruction on basic sewing techniques.
Intermediate
Competent – can make different clothing items without assistance or guidance, but not good enough to sew intricate projects or to sew without a pattern.
Expert
Expert – can sew anything without instruction or assistance; possesses an expansive knowledge of sewing techniques and terminology.

To be honest, when I reviewed the Singer Simple 3221, I pretty much expected it to be like all the other new Singers I’ve been looking at. In some ways, I was dead on. However, the Simple 3221 can stand on its own merits.

Singer Simple 3221

Singer Simple 3221

Pros

  • Affordability
  • Lightweight – only 12 ½ pounds
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Instructional DVD

Cons

  • Inefficient access to bobbin case
  • Manual tension difficult to adjust when working with specialty thread
  • Adjusting stitch width is a bit tricky

At A Glance

Stitch selection and length adjustment dials

Stitch selection and length adjustment dials

The Singer Simple 3221 has calming blue accents that in a way, invite you to just sit down and give it a try.

The stitch selection and length adjustment dials on the Singer Simple 3221 are situated on the right side of the machine; and the reverse stitch lever on the left, next to the needle housing.

Features

AThe standard features included on the Singer Simple 3221 are:

  • 21 built in decorative and utility stitches
    • One automatic 1-step buttonhole
    • 9 decorative stitches
    • 5 stretch stitches
  • On board seam guide
  • Automatic needle threader
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • On board accessory strorage compartment
  • Free arm

Working on the Singer Simple 3221

Winding the bobbin and threading the Singer Simple 3221 is relatively easy and uncomplicated.

However, I ran into two things that, in my opinion, could have been designed more user friendly. First, the front loaded bobbin housing is tucked away behind the removable accessories case.

Easy and uncomplicated winding of the bobbin

Easy and uncomplicated winding of the bobbin

I have encountered this on several new Singers and for the life of me wonder what the designers were thinking. In order to gain access to the bobbin, it is necessary to remove the accessories case, which by the way also gives you access the free arm.

That is all well and good if you are working on small things like collars, cuffs and things of that nature. If, however, you are sewing a long seam and need lots of workspace, this is a time waster.

My next issue is the fact that the thread take up guide does not quite clear the top of the machine. I don’t know if this is a design flaw or if it is just a matter of trying to cut a corner here and there.

Heavy duty metal frame

Heavy duty metal frame

I didn’t have any real trouble threading the machine. However, I suspect a newcomer might find it a bit challenging. The heavy duty metal frame enables the Singer Simple 3221 to sew quickly and quietly with very little vibration.

In fact, I didn’t notice any vibration at all until I pushed it to its maximum speed. The machine ran smoothly and quietly, even at top speed, which is a definite plus.

For every review, I sample most if not all stitch options in order to have a basis for comparison. I am pleased to say that the stitch quality produced by the Singer Simple 3221 is superior to many other brand new Singers I have had the opportunity to review.

For this review, I also sampled a couple of different types of thread. The thinner threads – metallic, shiny and variegated – worked great. When I tried using Gutterman 250mm decorative thread, however, I ran into an unexpected challenge with the tension adjustment.

Even after referring to the owner’s manual, it took several attempts before I was satisfied with the tension setting. Once that was achieved, however, the stitches were absolutely beautiful. They were well defined and stood out just the way I had hoped they would.

The Singer Simple 3221 comes with an easy to use stitch length adjustment dial which is situated above the stitch selection dial. Adjusting the stitch width, however, is not as simple.

Without an actual stitch width adjustment control, I found that it was necessary to manipulate the stitch length adjustment dial within the buttonhole range to achieve the desired density in the decorative scallop stitch.

Absolutely beautiful stitches

Absolutely beautiful stitches

Lighting above the needle makes better illumination

Lighting above the needle makes better illumination

The lighting above the needle on the Singer Simple 3221 is, in my opinion, superior to many other single light sewing machines in its class. Perhaps the slightly different shape of the lighting housing was a contributing factor to the better illumination.

Whatever it is, that is definitely one thing that Singer got right with the design of the Simple 3221. It’s always a pleasure when you are sewing at night and the machine has a great built in light to help you get the job done without excessive eye strain.

Fabrics

  • Natural fibers/cotton-linen-wool
  • Fine fabrics/silk-satin-taffeta/velvet
  • Knits
  • Synthetic fabrics/blends-rayon-polyester
  • Upholstery
  • Leather/suede
  • Fur
  • Reptile skin
  • Canvas/Twill
  • Plastic/Rubber
  • Extra thick fabrics or multiple layers

Accessories

When it comes to standard accessories, the Singer Simple 3221 comes with:

  • 4 presser feet
    • All purpose
    • Zipper
    • Buttonhole
    • Button
  • Extra spool pin
  • 4 class 15 bobbins
  • 2 spool caps (1 large/1 small)
  • Darning plate
  • Quilting guide
  • Lint brush/seam ripper
  • Owner’s manual
  • Quick start guide
  • Instructional DVD
  • Soft plastic dust cover
Accessories

Accessories

Maintenance







After each useMonthly*Once Each Year**As Needed
Clean race hook and feed dogs
Wipe head with soft dry cloth
Wipe head with soft damp cloth
Lubricate
Service by sewing machine repair professional

* more often if the machine is used for extended periods of time or if used frequently

**more often if the machine is used heavily or if it is not operating properly

Tying Off The Loose Ends

All in all, the Singer Simple 3221 is a viable option for someone who is relatively new to sewing. I hesitate, however, to recommend it for someone who is what I call a ‘heavy’ sewer. I say this because of the peeves I mentioned above.

When I am working on a big sewing project, I want my work to go as smoothly as possible with a minimal number of interruptions. Before starting a big job, I estimate how many bobbins I’ll need and pre-wind them.

I then set them aside and as one bobbin is emptied, I simply pop in a new one and keep going. Having to take the time to remove anything and replace it – especially something that will affect my work surface is, in my opinion a huge inconvenience.

When you add that to the fact that the clearance of the thread uptake guide is so close to the machine, I can’t help but wonder if the person or people who designed this sewing machine really spend a lot of time actually sewing or if they are just sewing machine ‘experts’.

There is a difference, you know; and anyone who really spends a significant amount of time using a sewing machine will be able to spot that difference in a flash.

I have, no doubt, been spoiled. For me, the true indication that a sewing machine is really designed with the user in mind is the number of built-in energy and time-saving features.

It is a sound machine that sews quietly and its stitch quality is very good. I hesitate to recommend its use by children younger than 12, however. Again, my reasons for this reservation are the placement of the bobbin housing and the low clearance of the thread take up guide.

The Singer Simple 3221 is not a bad machine for the intermediate home sewer who doesn’t plan to use it too frequently or for someone who has advanced sewing skills and wants to add a machine to their sewing room as a back-up machine that will not be used on a regular basis.

My final recommendation, however, is that the Singer Simple 3221 is best for the beginner who is at least 12-20 years of age, and not yet certain if sewing is something they want to do for many, many years.

Quick start guide and instructional DVD are excellent tools

Quick start guide and instructional DVD are excellent tools

The quick start guide coupled with the very easy to understand instructional DVD are excellent tools. It might be a very good idea for more sewing machine manufacturers to consider including such well thought out visual learning tools with their sewing machines as well.

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