My new NEW Singer machine and one for you too!

Hi everyone! Guess what? I have a new sewing machine!

And it’s actually new!

So obviously it’s from Singer and it’s mine until they give me something else.

But don’t get too green with envy ok?

(Hehe, see what I did there?)

Because guess what? My machine is green and you’ll be tickled pink when you see the raspberry version I have to give away to one lucky NZ reader!

Keep reading… 🙂

So what’s this machine all about? It’s a Singer Simple 3223, an entry level mechanical sewing machine aimed at beginners and here in NZ it comes in green (ok, aqua) and raspberry.

So pretty.

Now let’s address the elephant in the room. I am not a beginner sewist. At the most you might catch me calling myself advanced intermediate. So you might be thinking, why did they give you this machine? Good question!

When I think about my current machine (it’s not a Singer, so we won’t talk about it in too much detail, you understand…) it’s not particularly fancy either. It has a lot more stitches than the Simple but really what stitches do you actually use for garment sewing? I use straight stitch, zig zag, blind hem, I insert zippers, I sew on buttons (because I hate hand sewing) and I make button holes.

That’s pretty much it.

So what can the Simple do? Well, it does straight stitch, zig zag and blind hem. It can insert zippers, sew on buttons and make button holes!

Tick, tick, tick…tick!

I’m going to give you a quick review because I’ll be sewing my next Singer Sewing project solely on this machine and then I’ll be able to give you a better idea of what it’s like to “live” with in a future post. Fluffing around on fabric scraps is fun but sewing an entire garment? That’s a real test of endurance!

The Singer Simple 3223 is a fun, retro looking mechanical sewing machine aimed at beginner sewists. It would also make an excellent backup or travel machine, it’s got a great price tag and it’s pretty colours really stand out among all the white and grey machine options.

I got to choose what colour I wanted and I really struggled. I can tell you what I think of this machine but I am afraid you’re on your own when it comes to choosing which colour!

It arrived in a colour matched box (squee!) and was very well protected, snuggled in a polystyrene inner and plastic bag. Immediately inside the box was the instruction manual and DVD, a dust cover and the electronic foot.

First impressions: It looks like a typical mechanical sewing machine but very pretty. The knobs and machine markings are colour coordinated, there is a thread cutter on the side of the machine and it has a front loading bobbin. The standard presser foot is attached (snap on) and the front sewing bed is nice and deep.

Inside the accessory compartment was a nice selection of standard accessories. There were a couple I didn’t recognise so I had to look them up! They turned out to be a fancy shaped screw driver, a darning plate (to cover the feed dogs in place of being able to lower them) and two different thread spool caps.

The full list of standard accessories is:

  • All purpose foot
  • Zipper foot
  • Buttonhole foot
  • Button sewing foot
  • Seam ripper/brush
  • Edge/quilting guide
  • Needles
  • 2x Spool holder caps
  • 3x Bobbins
  • Screwdriver
  • Darning plate

Ok, Harriet has approved the new addition, now let’s sew!

First thing I noticed was that the thread spool sits sideways and that’s what the caps are for! It might seem strange for me to point that out but this is new for me.

Secondly, I didn’t even need to glance at the manual to start filling the bobbin (in Singer red, of course!). Threading and bobbin winding threading sequence is nicely indicated on the top of the machine with arrows and numbers without being too “Fisher Price” obvious.

I did check about declutching! Unlike most machines I’ve used you don’t need to pull the handwheel to declutch, it’s automatic once you push the bobbin over against the bumper. With a full bobbin I threaded up following the markings, it’s all pretty conventional.

If you do need the instructions they are filled with lots of great diagrams and there is even a DVD if you learn better that way.

I started out sewing on some calico and went through each stitch option before trying out the 4-step buttonhole. Apart from the zig-zag stitch, you can change the stitch length but not the width. All the stitches were really neat and straight and there are 23 of them to choose from including the stretch stitches.

I posted a pic of my first sewing trial on Instagram and was immediately asked if the machine could sew denim. That sounded like a good test to me! I dug out some denim and changed to a jeans needle.

I folded the denim so I had a section each two and three layers thick (because who sews just one layer?!) and started with standard thread for straight stitch and triple straight stitch. It looked good, no complaints from the Simple so far and this denim is fairly thick, I use it for patching. Next I switched out the top thread for a heavy duty top-stitching thread and repeated the process.

Single and triple straight stitch looked great and even the decorative stitches sewed fine! The Simple didn’t sound like it was under any duress and I only had to tweak the tension a little.

I was on a role now so I switched back to standard thread and changed the needle to stretch. I found some cotton knit and tested out the zig-zag and stretch stitch options. No problems again and the fabric stayed nice and stretchy without popping any stitches.

This little machine actually really impressed me! I honestly didn’t think it would eat the denim so easily and if I am brutally honest I did not have particularly high hopes for stretch sewing…but it proved me wrong and lives up to the long standing Singer name.

Ok but it can’t be all roses right? No, it cannot. But they aren’t total deal breakers as you will see. Remember this machine sells for only a little over NZD$300 (on special until the end of May for just NZD$299) and as we’ve already seen it’s pretty capable….and also really pretty.

So, what don’t I like?

First thing I noticed: No number markings on the needle plate. It’s broken down into 1/8th lines  but they aren’t numbered. I was quite surprised when I first noticed this because seam allowance is a really important thing to keep track of as a beginner…and always. Plus I would expect a machine marketed to NZ/Aus would have both metric and imperial markings. Needle plates are removable and therefore replaceable…and that’s the subtle hint I dropped at Singer.

Has it stopped me sewing? No. I’ve started my next project already and I’m using my magnetic seam guide to keep my stitching in the right spot. Another option would be to use pretty washi tape, you can relocate it as needed and I‘d be lying if I said I’ve never done that myself on my other machine. Several times I’ve had tape markings on the plastic bed halfway between the needle plate and the upright arm!

Secondly, the bobbin door is spring loaded and opens just short of completely flat. You can’t fold it much further down because it gets hung up a piece of plastic that sticks out. It’s not a big deal but at first I found it a little awkward to put the bobbin in. This is also possibly a result of the extra deep sewing bed which is a good feature for new sewists. Hey, you can’t please everyone! I do have pretty big hands and I’m just used to a bit more room on my other machine, anyone else might not even notice 😉

That’s kind of it…so what’s next? Well I’m currently sewing a dress out of very naughty slippery fabric so that’ll be a good challenge for the Simple and then a new coat for winter…that’s a big ask right? But I think she’ll be ok…watch this space…


Now, to thank you for reading my little Singer Simple 3223 review I have the pleasure of giving away a raspberry version of this machine to one lucky NZ reader. So exciting!

To enter jump on over to the Singer NZ Simple 3223R product page to learn more about the machine, check out the description (big hint drop). While you’re there look out for the special competition code (you’ll need it to fill out the entry form – it is not the sewing machine’s model code!) then just hit the button below!


Sorry this competition is now closed.
What do you think of the new colourful Singer machines? I’d love to hear all about your current machine (or lack of…), tell me in the comments below 🙂

Good luck everyone!

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I was given the Singer 3223G Simple Sewing Machine you see me using in this post to review as part of my work with Singer Sewing Company Australia New Zealand. All opinions expressed in this post are honest and my own. I freely chose to review this product because I genuinely believe it is a good product, I enjoyed using it and will continue to use it in the future. My samples were stitched on calico, denim and cotton knit using Singer Universal, Jeans and Ball Point needles, Gütermann 100% Polyester Sew All and 100% Polyester Extra Strong M782 thread.

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Put a pin in that…

…and then forget all about it! 😉

That’s pretty much every single one of my Pinterest boards.

Except that recently I pinned a dress that I couldn’t get out of my head.

I was shoulder surfing my work colleague A as she was scrolling through an online clothing store called The Iconic. I spotted a blue and pink striped dress and I wanted it immediately.
I went fabric shopping that weekend to find blue and pink striped fabric but that didn’t exist so I grabbed bolts of pink and blue cotton instead. Later I noticed that the dress is actually described as black and pink but it’s also pretty horribly made (look closely at the arm hole and back zipper…) so yeah, I’ll do what I want 😉

For my pattern I decided to mash up the pleated skirt from Vogue 1353 and bodice from the Sew Over It Betty Dress. The Vogue bodice is princess seamed and that was going to ruin my stripes. I’ve made the Vogue dress twice and the Betty dress three times, both of which the most recent version is still waiting to be blogged about…
But first I had to “make” my fabric!

I decided 15cms plus seam allowance looked about right for the stripes began cutting my two fabrics into strips. Then the “fun” began, lots and lots of overlocking followed by lots and lots of straight stitching and then lots and lots of pressing!
I think I spent longer making my fabric than sewing up the dress!

I placed my bodice pieces on the fabric using the Iconic dress as a guide and then carefully matched the the stripes for the back bodice too.
I also finally got around to lengthening my generic pocket piece. No more peeking cell phone 🙂

Samsung Galaxy S5 for scale

I wrote a little tutorial on how to add inseam pockets to a dress or skirt over on the Singer blog. You can check it out here.

When I tried the finished dress on I was really surprised to discover it was a bit tighter than I was expecting. I know both the base patterns fit me perfectly and I had a bit of a panic moment trying to work out how I’d suddenly put on a few excess kilograms while training over Christmas for an upcoming 10km run! It was not possible!

And then it clicked. Despite writing myself a note I completely forgot to compare the lengths of the Vogue and Sew Over It bodices. Of course the Sew Over It bodice is longer so the skirt is now sitting lower than it should. Finished photos are coming up next and you can see it’s a bit tight across my stomach and hips because of this.

In the interests of honest blogging I’m currently is unpicking the skirt so that I can reattach it 2cms higher. The lining will be next and the bottom part of the zipper. This will also bring the hem up 2cms which is fine because I hemmed it as per my first version of Vogue 1353 and it’s a little long.

Ok let’s get on with it then…the finished dress!

The whole time I was making this dress NH kept coming into my sewing room and saying, “that fabric combo reminds me of something but I can’t quite put my finger on it…” And then while I was hemming it he proudly declared, “It’s James May’s jumper!”

Yes, it has its own tumblr, of course.

Besides that, my own realisation that it’s also a little bit Cheshire cat, and the tight tummy issue, I’m really happy with it!

Pockets!

THE DEETS:

Patterns – 

Fabric – Pink and blue broadcloth and cotton lining from Spotlight, Porirua.

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

PS: I have a Facebook page for my blog now. A couple of people emailed me to say that they use Facebook to keep track of their favourite blogs so that’s what my page is for, links to new posts if you prefer to follow that way 😉

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99 Hot Air Balloons

I recently completed my first Singer Australia/New Zealand Blog post – I’d love it if you popped over and read that post here, maybe leave a comment 🙂

You might remember seeing me cut this dress out when I reviewed my new Singer scissors.

I’m sharing it here too (because blog) but in the interests of not repeating myself entirely and this being my first Pauline Alice make I thought I’d make this post more of a pattern review.

The Cami Dress has a fitted bodice with front and back waist darts, a classic shirt collar and buttons on the front from the waist up. The high-waisted full skirt is gathered and has inseam pockets and a side zipper (“for comfort”?).

My pattern was bought some time ago and I noticed that the line art on the front page of the instructions pdf incorrectly shows a view of the dress with a waistband.

It’s cute with a waistband, so perhaps my next version will have one…

I bought my pattern as a pdf and the nice thing about this particular pdf pattern is that you only have to print and assemble the bodice, sleeves and collar. The skirt is a simple drindle rectangle gathered to the width of the bodice. The dimensions for this are given in the instructions for the overall size and where to place the notches for the CF, pockets and zipper placement.

It’s great that we don’t have to waste a heap of paper printing a simple rectangle (Burda I’m looking at you!) and, although it’s a simple thing, I appreciate that I can be trusted with some measurements and then left to get on with it.

Instructions are given for both regular and invisible zipper insertion. I made version A with the short sleeves and I used an invisible zipper.

I was expecting the suggested skirt length will be a little short on me and I always need a bit more over my bottom. To get the longest possible skirt out of my fabric I cut out all my patterned pieces first and then I divided the left over fabric length in half. This was 140cm so I ended up with two 70cm tall rectangles instead of the suggested 55cm. When I hemmed the dress I cut off 9cm so next time I know I’ll need to cut the skirt rectangle 61cm long.

In general the instructions are quite thorough with good diagrams except for when we get to the collar where they become confused and a little convoluted while including the dubious suggestion to clip all the way around the neckline.

It had been a while since I’d sewn this type of collar so I decided to ignore the instructions and consulted my Reader Digest Complete Book of Sewing instead. It’s not the first time I’ve resorted to this page while sewing a collar using Indie pattern directions…

If you’re looking for a general sewing book to supplement your sewing knowledge this is my number one recommendation. I bought my older copy second-hand but you can also still buy this book brand new, it’s all the same great content in a new dust jacket.

There is also some confusion around button placement. One image shows the buttons on the left, then later they are shown on the right. Even the finished garment photos on the website show dresses with buttons on differing sides.

I’ve accidentally sewn buttons on to the “wrong” side of a blouse before and my brain did not like it. So I made sure to place mine on the traditional side and while it might not matter to some once the buttons are done up I find this dress tricky to get on and off unless I undo the buttons as well as the zipper.

Speaking of buttons, mine are abalone with a brass surround and I think they were a Fabric-a-Brac find. I’ve been dying to use these so I’m very happy that they suit this fabric. I tried out several top-stitching colours (yellow, dark green, coral and orange) before I settled on the light green.

This dress was stitched 95% on my 1946 Singer 99k – the remaining 5% is these buttons and their respective button holes.

I couldn’t get my vintage button-hole attachment to work correctly so I used my modern Elna instead and while I was at it I stitched the buttons on too because I hate hand stitching and I’ve not lost a machine stitched button yet.

So that’s it!

I really like my finished dress, there are a few modifications I would make if I did sew it again (the pockets feel a tad low, it’s a bit tight across the ladies), but I wore it to work last week with a belt and got several unsolicited compliments. Yay.

Contrast pockets!

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Pauline Alice Cami Dress, size 42 graded to 44 at the waist.

Fabric – Spoonflower Hot Air Balloons

Other notions – Invisible zipper, interfacing

Next time I will lengthen the bodice by 2 – 3cms, do an FBA, insert the pockets a little higher and make them slightly deeper. The skirt needs to be cut 61cm in length.

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Shiny sharp scissors, snick, snick, snick! (and a giveaway)

I’m excited to share with you guys that I am going to be working with Singer Sewing Company, blogging on their Australian/New Zealand website.

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I’m being joined by Christina of Little Pickers who is based in Tasmania. We’ll both be blogging about our sewing over on the Singer site with a new post every three months so I hope you’ll pop over and see what we’re up to.

To kick things off here on my blog I’ve got a little goodie to share with you all and two more to give away, one each to a lucky Kiwi and Aussie follower 🙂

New scissors!

Singer scissors (of course!) in a beautiful heritage tin.

We’ll get to the scissors in a moment because initially I was more excited about the tin! It came protected in a cardboard sleeve and it matches all my vintage Singer accessory boxes 🙂

Squee! Clever packaging makes me super happy.

But we are here to talk about scissors. Here is my current fabric cutting arsenal, it consists of a pair of Mundial scissors and a 28mm rotary cutter which I use with pattern weights and various rulers.

Rotary cutting is a fairly new revelation for me. I use it for all the naughty fabrics. You know the ones. They’re slinky and/or stretchy and just looking a them moves them off-grain. Rotary cutters on a big cutting mat are perfect for zipping around naughty fabrics without disturbing them.

For fabrics that behave, stable ones such as cotton, I still prefer the satisfying snick snick of a nice heavy pair of sharp, all-metal scissors.

The Singer scissors are similar in size to my Mundials with nice sharp tips and maybe the teensiest bit heavier. I like the weight, I think it gives you more control.

So to give these shiny new scissors a thorough review I used them to cut out the project that I’ll be sewing up for my first Singer blog post – it’s the Pauline Alice Cami Dress in the Spoonflower Hot Air Balloons that I mentioned in my last post.

I wasn’t entirely sure how to make scissor action shots sexy but I set up my tripod and got to work.

The dress pattern includes only the bodice, collar and sleeve pieces. The skirt piece is drafted from the instructions. It’s basically a drindl, a rectangle that you gather to fit the bodice width. There are measurements included in the instructions including where to place your notches for center front, zipper and pocket placement.

I actually really like that there isn’t a huge waste of paper just for a rectangle. It also makes me feel like Pauline Alice takes me seriously as a home sewist. I can work out a little bit of maths (or in this case, follow simple directions) and mark straight onto my fabric.

I think the suggested skirt length will be a little short on me plus I always need a bit more over my bottom so I pinned all my pieces in place and then just divided my left over fabric length in half. I ended up with two 70cm tall rectangles instead of the suggested 55cm. After I hem this dress I’ll make a note of how tall my rectangles need to be for next time.Cutting out is one of the sewing tasks I find most tiresome. That’s why I usually cut out 3 or 4 projects in one go but only having to cut out the bodice pieces and with shiny new scissors made this feel really quick.

As you would expect, the scissors were super sharp and made that satisfying snick snick I love. My only complaint would be that they were a little stiff at first but I cut out two more projects after this and they have loosened up.

They are a great pair of scissors and if you’re looking for a decent pair for your fabric cutting needs I highly recommend them. Good quality sewing scissors are an investment and if you look after them (read: they don’t go near a piece of paper. Ever.) all-metal scissors last practically forever.

Oh hey, do you need some new scissors? 😉 Would you like to win your own pair of sharp and shiny Singer scissors?

Yeah you would…so here’s what we’re going to do:

  • Share a photo of yourself using your sad sewing scissors on Instagram – maybe they are blunt, maybe they are cheap, or maybe they don’t exist at all!
  • Hashtag #ineedsingerscissors and tell us in a few words why you need your own pair of Singer sewing scissors
  • Tag @thecuriouskiwi and @singer_sewing_aus_nz
  • Don’t forget to mention where you live (Australia/New Zealand)

You have until 4th July then we’ll pick one Kiwi and one Aussie to win their own pair and then we can snick snick away together and sew. All. The. Things.

Sorry this competition is only open to New Zealand and Australian readers.

Happy cutting

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* I was given the set of Singer Dressmaking Scissors you see me using in this post to review as part of my work with Singer Sewing Company Australia New Zealand. All opinions expressed is this post are honest and my own. I freely chose to review this product because I genuinely believe it is a good product, I enjoyed using it and will continue to use it in the future.