- 1 SINGER 1304: Review and Specs
- 2 Sewing Machines: Full Featured or Lean and Mean?
- 3 Features of the SINGER Start 1304 Sewing Machine
- 4 Alternatives to the SINGER Start 1304
- 5 Final Thoughts
From the outside the SINGER Start 1304 looks like a mini marvel. It’s 9.8 pounds of lightweight yet heavy duty construction. Portable, powerful, and fun, this machine is simplicity itself. When might you want a small portable sewing machine? Our SINGER 1304 review will consider that question and more.
SINGER 1304: Review and Specs
Since 1851, the SINGER Company has been America’s sewing machine company. Like Janome and Brother, SINGER started out in sewing machines, but has since branched out to produce other sorts of industrial and home equipment. But for many people, the name is still synonymous with sewing machines.
What’s in the box?
Accessories that come with the SINGER Start 1304, include:
- General Purpose Foot
- Zipper Foot
- Buttonhole Foot
- Darning Plate
- Pack of Needles
- Needle Plate Screwdriver
- Spool Pin Felt
- Seam Ripper/Lint Brush
- SINGER Start 1304 manual
|5||STITCHES PER MINUTE (SPM)||750|
|16||DIMENSIONS||13 x 7 x 11.5 inches|
|18||WARRANTY||25yr / 2yr / 90day|
About the SINGER Start 1304 Sewing Machine
SINGER produces a wide range of mechanical sewing machines, from the heavy duty 44 series to half a dozen models of varying complexity. The target markets for the machines vary, as well, from beginners to semi-professional sewists who need a no-nonsense machine for heavy work.
The SINGER Start 1304, as the name suggests, is aimed at learners and occasional sewists. It’s small, simply put together, and light enough to take with you to classes and meetups. Its diminutive size makes it appealing to a wide variety of learners, including young people.
But its size belies its power. Beneath its cute exterior lies a heavy-duty metal frame that gives it unexpected power and durability. This means the SINGER Start 1304 is better able to handle thick and layered fabric than one might expect from a smaller machine.
The SINGER Start 1304 sewing machine is extremely basic. It has six built-in stitches and one four-step buttonhole. That’s not a lot, even for a mechanical sewing machine. At the same time, it has some surprises, including dual spool pins for using a twin needle–something one doesn’t often see in an entry-level mechanical sewing machine.
Best of all, when you balance this model’s features against it’s equally diminutive price, it is extremely good value for money.
- Easy to use
- Heavy duty metal frame
- Free arm
- Great value for money
- Limited number of stitch designs
- No automatic needle threader
- No dust case or cover of any kind
Why a Mini Sewing Machine?
Sewing machines come in a variety of sizes, ranging from table-mounted industrial machines that take up half your garage to handheld models that fit in your pocket. Why might you want a smaller model?
The most obvious advantage of a mini sewing machine is portability. The SINGER Start 1304 weighs as much as your average cat, but it’s a lot easier to pick up and cart around.
It’s the perfect companion for a sewing class. It has all of the essential features you might need for a variety of crafts, and nothing that isn’t essential. It would be even better if it came with a hard case, or at least a dust cover. But at this price point, you could buy your own and still come out on top.
Ease of Use
In order to stay small and light, a mini sewing machine needs to be simple. This means a minimum of features, easy controls, and a modest complement of accessories. Your SINGER Start 1304 won’t do it all, but it will do enough.
All of this adds up to a user-friendly experience that will bring you back to your machine again and again.
Sewing Machines: Full Featured or Lean and Mean?
It’s tempting to think that the bigger and more feature-rich a sewing machine is, the better it will suit your needs. That may be true, but then again, it might not be. The fact is, different needs call for different types of sewing machine, whether it’s a high-end, feature-loaded do-it-all machine, a single-purpose industrial machine, or a small-but-mighty mini.
The trick is knowing your needs.
When You Might Want an All-Purpose Machine
An all-purpose computerized sewing machine is what a lot of people envision when they think about a sewing machine. This type of machine has dozens (sometimes even hundreds!) of stitch designs and push-button stitch alterations. It may also have memory for saving your favorite stitch sequences, and even the ability to import and edit your own designs.
All-purpose sewing machines range from fairly simple to expensive and elaborate. Some come with craft-specific features and accessories, such as knee lifters and extension tables. Others may come with heavy-duty construction, high speed, and other features.
The more features an all-purpose sewing machine has, the more versatile it will be. On one hand, this can mean a steeper learning curve. On the other hand, it means that your machine can grow with you as you gain experience.
An all-purpose computerized sewing machine is an excellent choice for general home sewing. Machines at the simpler end of the spectrum are very suitable for learners and people exploring different crafts. More expensive and elaborate machines are often aimed at specific crafts. For the majority of home sewists, an all-purpose computerized machine can be a good choice.
When You Might Want a Craft-Specific Super-Machine
Sometimes an all-purpose sewing machine isn’t enough. If you’ve progressed in your craft to the point that you’re starting to feel the limitations of your sewing machine, an upgrade may be in order.
Some of the features you might find in a semi-professional crafting machine include:
- High stitching speeds of 1,000 to 1,500 stitches per minute, or even more
- Stitch sequencing and memory
- On-the-machine stitch and pattern editing
- WiFi and USB connectivity for pattern transfer
- An extensive library of stitches and/or embroidery patterns
- A knee lifter
- A wide extension table for free motion and embroidery work
- Machine embroidery hoops
- A touch screen
A semi-professional quilting, embroidery, or other craft-specific sewing machine often involves a hefty price increase. But if you’re competing, making products for sale, or simply spending a lot of time practicing your craft, the features will be worth it.
When You Might Want a Simple-but-Sturdy Sewing Machine
The mighty mini like the SINGER Start 1304 has a couple of different markets.
First, it can make an ideal sewing machine for someone dipping their toe into the craft of sewing. Portables are often inexpensive, which means that not only does cost present less of a barrier to entry, but also, if you decide that sewing isn’t for you, you won’t have made a huge investment in equipment.
Being generally simple in construction, portables also lend themselves to learners. They’re easy to set up and easy to use.
Finally, as the name suggests, a portable sewing machine like the SINGER 1304 is just the thing for sewing classes and meetups.
Features of the SINGER Start 1304 Sewing Machine
The SINGER 1304 isn’t your ordinary mini. In fact, plenty rate it as one of the best mini sewing machines on the market. So, what makes this simple, bare-bones portable so great?
A free arm is de rigueur for larger and more expensive sewing machines. However, a lot of smaller sewing machines don’t have them.
A free arm is essential for mending and sewing small, circular work such as collars, cuffs, waistbands, and trouser legs. The SINGER 1304 has a free arm, and we’re glad.
Heavy Duty Metal Frame
A lot of times, small and inexpensive means insubstantial and cheaply made. This is not the case with the SINGER 1304. Underneath the unassuming exterior lies a heavy duty metal frame. What does this mean? Well, in a lot of inexpensive sewing machines, plastic construction is the norm. Not here.
The SINGER Start 1304 may be small, but it’s not too small to handle heavier work such as multiple layers or thicker fabrics. The heavier frame also means greater durability over time.
Extra High Presser Foot Lift
Going along with the heavy duty frame, an extra high presser foot lift is another feature that one might not expect in a smaller, more inexpensive machine.
In many sewing machines, the presser foot can only raise so high. When you’re working with thicker work like quilts or stacks of heavy fabrics, that standard height might not be enough. An extra-high presser foot lift means that your SINGER Start 1304 can accommodate thicker work with ease.
Have you ever seen those neat, identical parallel rows of decorative stitching or seam reinforcement? Those were made with a twin needle. A twin needle is exactly what it sounds like: two needles sewing together, simultaneously and in parallel. You can see how it works here.
Twin needle capability is another feature one might expect to find in a more expensive machine. But SINGER assumes you’ll want to give it a go, so they’ve provided dual spool pins. You’ll still have to provide your own double needle, but, like a sewing machine cover, those are inexpensive and easy to find.
Alternatives to the SINGER Start 1304
We’ll say this right off: you probably won’t find a portable of the same quality at the same price as the SINGER 1304. However, there are a few competing models that may be worth your attention, regardless of their price.
Brother sewing machines tend to be affordable and reliable. The company also has a knack for adding features without jacking up the price.
Like the SINGER 1304, the Brother GX37 is a portable mechanical sewing machine. It has 37 stitches and a single one-step buttonhole. In addition, it has a top drop-in bobbin, which many users prefer to SINGER’s front-loading bobbin.
It’s a bit more expensive than the SINGER Start 1304, but not much. If you’re looking for an inexpensive portable, but want a few more features than the 1304 can provide, this could be a good option.
The SINGER 3232 is a bit larger than the SINGER Start 1304. Weighing in at around twelve-and-a-half pounds, it’s still highly portable. It’s more expensive than the Start, but not by a lot. At the same time, for your extra money, you’ll get:
- An automatic needle threader
- 32 built-in stitches
- A dust cover
- A really excellent accessories pack
Like the 1304, the SINGER 3232 has a heavy-duty metal frame and an extra-high presser foot lift. It’s a comparatively feature-rich model for not a lot more money.
The Janome C30 is a portable computerized sewing machine. Like our other comparison models, it has a simple, easy-to-understand design. The C30 has 30 built-in stitch designs, as well as a few features that you most often find with computerized, rather than mechanical sewing machines. These include:
- Programmable needle
- Locking stitch button
It also has a few features that the SINGER 1304 lacks, including an automatic needle threader and a dust cover. On the other hand, it lacks a twin needle guard.
Like most Janome machines, the C30 is a bit more expensive. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a simple portable sewing machine, and your tastes run toward computerized machines, this could be one to consider.
We really like the SINGER Start 1304. It’s easy to set up, simple to use, and has quite a bit of power for its size. It definitely doesn’t have the same features as a full-featured all-purpose sewing machine. But if you’re looking for something that’s portable and durable to jump start your new hobby, this might just be the mighty mini that you need.