Monday, June 11, 2012

My new machine - Singer 6180

Here she is, my new sewing machine. She's been a little shy since I got her, not wanting to be blogged about until we had truly connected and become friends (she's right it was a little rocky to start with). But now it's time to reveal her to the world.

I'd like to preface this whole post by telling you that my previous sewing machine was a Brother 2600. She was lovely. She really was (and still is - for my mum who intends to use her for pillowslips and curtains and such). But we reached a point together where I wanted more. She tried to step up. She tried to sew through multiple layers of fabric. She tried to sew leather and faux leather but sadly we were both kidding ourselves. I was asking too much and it was hurting her. So we parted ways.

I'd been searching for a machine I could grow into. Something with a whizzbang motor, auto tension, lots of stitches and the ability to sew through anything. Originally I was dreaming about looking at machines around the $1000 mark thinking I could save for a while and get something really spiffy. As it happens just shortly after looking at said expensive machines I saw that Lincraft were having a one day sale on the Singer 6180 which reduced it from $700 to just $200! I read countless reviews online and reviewed all the specs. I was a bit worried about some of the reviews because people tended to whinge a lot about the fact that the bobbin was hard to get to, they had lots of C4 errors where the thread got stuck and the machine became unusable and all sorts of catastrophes. Although a nagging little voice kept saying perhaps the only people who seek out review boards online might be the very people who have something quite negative to say and just need to get it out to the world. Honestly for the amount of these machines there would be in the world there must have been thousands of happy seamstresses who were just too busy sewing to comment on a review board. So I bought the machine.

She came with everything you see here. Yes those are new, sharp dressmaking scissors you see there - included!

I started by watching the DVD before I even attempted to turn her on. It meant I had some vague idea of what the buttons were before I went breaking anything on my first try. I also skimmed through the manual for the essentials before flicking the switch and being greeted by her little light and her electronic screen.

She was pretty easy to thread up and inserting the bobbin was not nearly as hard as everyone had whinged about. The tension took me ages to get right but that's never been my strong suit. So I spent a while adjusting the tension until I had something I was vaguely happy with before whipping out some scrap cotton and sewing my way through a whole lot of her (80!) stitches.

So what's the verdict?

She is an absolute dream to sew with. Having a proper motor makes all the difference to sew with. She feels so sturdy and so my clothes feel sturdier. She can sew through multiples layers of fabric with ease. She found it really easy to sew through the wool skirt I just made which, on the yoke, had 6 layers of wool as well as bias tape. No problems!

Yes you do have to take the accessory tray off each time you want to rethread the bobbin but I really don't see this as the major catastrophe that others seem to make it out to be. And the bobbin itself seems sturdier than my last drop in one with plastic bobbins. Sorry Brother 2600 this one beats you on that one too!

Sewing reverse is different on this machine. Instead of having a lever to hold down to sew in reverse this one has a little button above the needle that you press to sew in reverse. This took a bit of getting used to (habit!) but then I realised that this reverse button was niftier than I had at first thought. You don't have to have your foot on the pedal to sew in reverse! You just press this button and it will sew 4 stitches in reverse for you. Unless you hold it down, in which case, it will just keep sewing in reverse. Love it!

This machine came with some awesome feet! Before purchasing this machine I had no idea that an overcasting foot even existed and yet now I couldn't live without it. So in love with this foot am I that I shall dedicate an entire post to it so you know what I mean.

So on my road to finding the perfect tension I had many a C4 message as well as some pretty scary mechanical sounds which made me think my machine would go bang. Every time it did that I took off the accessory tray cleaned out the bobbin, fully reathreaded the machine, turned it off and back on again and voila it was talking to me again.

Although it took me a while to get the tension right it is now perfect every time on cotton, jersey and faux leather. I never really noticed how inconsistent the tension was on my previous machine until sewing with the Singer. It seems to have reliable, sturdy stitches regardless of what you're sewing with or the thickness. The tension on this machine singlehandedly convinced me that it's the sewing machine for me. Everything else I'm impressed by is just a bonus.

In short I love my new machine and I can't wait to make my entire wardrobe with her!


  1. Oh it does some really pretty stitches!

  2. singer işde harika bir urun

  3. does this machine have the overlock effect too? I mean, yeah..

  4. Hi Jodi.

    I was wondering if you could explain the process you went through to solve your tension issues?

    I'm considering buying this model, but I would love to have some pointers to be able to avoid the issues you had in getting the right tension set. My projects will revolve around sewing numbers/letters/patches onto NHL jerseys.


    1. Sure! I'm wondering now if perhaps all machines need to be fiddled with straight out of the box to get the tension right to start?
      I remember trying to target one thing at a time. So I started with finding the right tension of the upper thread - which is set to 6 just about all the time for me (in case that helps!). Then I worked on getting the lower thread to the right tension which I remember being a lot fiddlier and you don't want to mess with the bobbin winding too much. I was doing quarter turns with a screw driver and then once I had it in the right vicinity I could tweak it a little to the right or left to get it perfect.
      I remember my machine having C4 errors during the process and it felt so frustrating - like I was going to break my machine. But all that was telling me was that the machine couldn't sew at the weird tension it was at and it needed to be fixed.
      As I said in the post don't be afraid of a C4 error. Switch your machine straight off, unthread to spool of thread through the top and thread it again. Then take out your bobbin, clear any pesky threads that might have gotten stuck and rethread that too.
      I've never had a C4 error that couldn't be fixed by rethreading.
      It'll be a great machine for sewing patches onto fabric because it's quite happy to sew through as many layers as you need. When topstitching I use my zipper foot because it lets me get really close and get a professional finish.
      All the best with the machine!

  5. spool thread keeps breaking. Any suggestions?

    1. It sounds like the tension is too tight. Try loosening the tension of the spool thread and see how you go.
      Mine has also been known to break if I've pulled on the thread a bit to cut off the thread of what I've just sewn. In this case it always rights itself if I rethread.

  6. I just picked up a used 6180 at the Flea Market for $35 (still looks new). It does not have the controller cord or foot, so I've ordered. It's good to read your review ... as I'm a complete novice at sewing and know nothing about machines. You have really made happy I got this bargain. I notice this post is about a year old. Are you still happy?

  7. Hi Nancy, bargain!
    I've had it for 3 years now and it's been a little trooper. Occasionally it will get an error which I still fix by turning it off, rethreading and turning it back on. The button hole foot is a little bit fussy but works. I've outgrown it a little bit since then because I'm using it almost every day. It's a great machine to start on so I hope you two get along nicely. Let me know if you get stuck.