Singer M3500 Sewing Machine Review: How Good Is It?

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When looking for your first sewing machine, you might be tempted to go for the lowest price. This is especially true if you’re not sure that you’ll be sewing regularly. Unfortunately, a low price can sometimes mean poor quality, or even missing features. 

Sometimes, though, you can find a full featured machine at a bargain price. Is the Singer M3500 the unicorn you’ve been looking for?

About Singer and the Singer M3500

singer m3500 sewing machine

Even people who are unfamiliar with sewing and sewing machines know the Singer name. Singer has been America’s sewing machine company since 1851. As we discovered in our article on the history of the sewing machine, Isaac Merritt Singer wasn’t the first person to design one. However, he was the first to design a working machine, patent it, mass produce it and sell it.

Singer’s genius lay not in sewing machine design itself. The company’s first model relied heavily on designs that had come before. In fact, in 1858, Singer ended up paying $50,000 to Walter Hunt after losing an intellectual property violation lawsuit. [1]

Instead, Singer’s success came down to his efforts to market sewing machines to home sewists. 

Previous companies had focussed exclusively on making factory equipment. Singer was the first company to cater exclusively to the home market. Not only did Singer make machines that home users could easily learn, but he enlisted new ideas and technologies to make sewing machines more affordable than ever.

Some of these ideas included:

  • Mass production
  • Interchangeable components
  • Purchasing on installment

In addition, Singer opened up “sewing centers” in major cities, where home sewists could see a machine in action, take sewing classes, and buy fabric and supplies.

All of these efforts made Singer America’s sewing machine company, a role that they fulfill to this day.

The Singer M3500 is a simple, affordable mechanical sewing machine suitable for a wide range of home sewists.

Who is the Singer M3500 For?

singer m3500 rear view
Rear view of the Singer M3500

The Singer M 3500 is a basic, no-frills mechanical sewing machine. 

This type of machine is often the first choice for a new sewist. Mechanical machines are simple to use, with a limited range of features and intuitive controls. It’s easy for many users to start sewing right out of the box with this kind of machine. 

This kind of machine also makes a good choice for everyday household sewing. Many are versatile enough to handle a variety of crafts and projects, and sturdy enough to last through years of casual use.

In fact, for many sewists, a well made mechanical sewing machine may be the only machine they’ll ever need.

The Singer M3500 could be an excellent choice for a new sewist. It has all of the essential features, plus easy, intuitive controls. On top of that, it’s priced right for an experiment. If the user decides that sewing isn’t really for them, they won’t have invested a huge amount of money finding that out.

And if they do like the craft? Well, the Singer M3500 has the features to see a casual sewist through all sorts of sewing adventures. 

How Does the Singer M3500 Stand Out?

Singer makes an astounding number of basic mechanical sewing machines, and though they all look pretty similar, some are definitely better than others. The Singer M3500 is one of the better ones.

When it comes to their budget models, many manufacturers skimp on convenience features, and even a few essentials may go missing. You might find, for example, that the budget machine you’re looking at lacks:

  • Needle threader
  • Free arm
  • Stitch length or width adjustments
  • Thread tension adjustment
  • Drop feed
  • Adequate stitch library
  • Decent warranty

With the exception of a drop feed, the Singer M3500 has all of these necessaries. What’s more, its stitch library is quite extensive for this level of machine.

Finally, the Singer M3500 has a huge number of highly positive customer reviews across several websites, which is often the best recommendation of all.

What’s in the box? 

Accessories that come with the Singer M3500, include:

  • Pack of Needles
  • Bobbins (15 Class Transparent)
  • Thread Spool Cap
  • Needle Plate Screwdriver
  • Seam Ripper / Lint Brush
  • Soft-Sided Dust Cover
  • All-Purpose Foot
  • Zipper Foot
  • Buttonhole Foot
  • Button Sewing Foot
  • Edge / Quilting Guide
  • Darning Plate
  • Auxiliary Spool Pin

Technical Specifications

  • 32 distinct stitch designs
  • One-step buttonhole
  • Needle threader
  • Extra high presser foot lift
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • Adjustable stitch width
  • Thread tension adjustment
  • Heavy duty internal metal frame
  • No drop feed

What Makes a Great Basic Mechanical Sewing Machine?

You might think that a mechanical machine is a mechanical machine. You’d be wrong. At the basic level, some manufacturers skimp on essential features in order to bring the price down. If you’re not careful, you could end up with a machine that doesn’t quite fit your bill.

On the other hand, if you know what to look for, you could find a machine that suits you to the ground.

Here are our must-haves.

Stitch Library

A mechanical sewing machine will almost always have fewer built in stitch designs than a computerized machine. But even within this class of machine, there’s quite a lot of individual variation.

Many mechanical sewing machines have around a dozen distinct stitch designs. Some may have as few as one or two. Three dozen appears to be the maximum.

You don’t need a huge number of stitches. Most types of sewing can be accomplished with a straight stitch, and possibly a zig zag stitch. However, there are other stitch types that will come in handy, the more you explore the craft. So look for:

  • Straight stitch
  • Zig Zag stitch
  • Stretch stitch
  • Blind hem stitch

In addition, you might also find an overcasting stitch, and a range of decorative stitches.


Mechanical sewing machines come with either a one-step or a four-step buttonhole. You can make attractive, functional buttonholes with either setup. However, many sewists find a one-step buttonhole faster and easier.

Stitch Adjustments

Most sewing machines allow you to adjust stitches for length and width. However, some basic machines omit one, or even both of these adjustments. You might also find machines that include the same stitch at different lengths or widths as individual stitches in the stitch library.

Being able to adjust the length or width of your stitches means greater versatility for different types of fabrics and sewing. We would recommend against purchasing a machine that doesn’t allow you to adjust one or more of these parameters.

Thread Tension Adjustment

Adjusting the thread tension also increases the range of fabrics and projects that you can work with. Unfortunately, some basic machines do not allow you to adjust the thread tension. This, too, is an important feature, in our opinion, so make sure that any machine you’re considering has it.

Needle Threader

A needle threader isn’t a necessity, but it certainly can make things easier. What’s more, it’s a low tech and inexpensive convenience. This is another feature that is often left off of lower end machines, and that’s a shame.

Free Arm

Many sewing machines allow you to slide off part of the base to reveal a smaller, circular work area. This is the free arm, and it’s essential for sewing smaller, circular bits like collars, cuffs, and trouser legs. It can also make it easier to get to those hard to reach spots of your project.

Most sewing machines have a free arm, but quite a few at the basic level do not. So if this is a feature you think you might use, make sure to check those specs before purchasing.

Drop Feed

A drop feed is a convenience feature that comes standard on many sewing machines. However, again, at the basic level, you’ll find many models that don’t have one.

What is it?

Well, the feed dogs sit beneath the fabric and move it backward or forward beneath the needle. This keeps your stitches even and uniform. However, there are some types of sewing, like free motion embroidery, where the feed dogs get in the way. The drop feed lever allows you to “drop” the feed dogs out of the way.

If your machine doesn’t have a drop feed, don’t worry. You can always cover the feed dogs with a darning plate. In fact, many machines that don’t have a drop feed come with a darning plate for that reason.

Quality Construction

Some inexpensive sewing machines are a bargain, while others are just cheap equipment. What’s the difference? Construction.

Once upon a time, almost every part of a sewing machine was made from metal. Over time, however, manufacturers began to replace metal parts with plastic ones. This made machines lighter and more portable, true. However, it also made them less durable.

Some plastic sewing machine parts such as knobs, sliders, and buttons, are great. But other parts should never be plastic. Some inexpensive machines even have plastic internal frames!

One of the great things about Singer machines is that most of them come with a heavy duty all-metal internal frame. This can increase not only the lifespan of your machine, but also that machine’s stability during sewing.

Features and Benefits of the Singer M3500

The Singer M3500 has a terrific raft of features for sewists at all levels. Here are a few of our favorites.

32 Distinct Stitch Designs

With 32 distinct stitch patterns, the Singer M3500 doesn’t have the largest stitch library amongst mechanical sewing machines, but it comes very, very close. All of the essentials are there, plus quite a few decorative stitches to have fun with.

One-Step Buttonhole

The Singer M 3500 has a one-step buttonhole. If you’re interested in garment making, this is a must-have feature.

Needle Threader

The Singer M3500 comes with a needle threader, which makes threading that machine needle as easy as flicking a switch.

Extra High Presser Foot Lift

The Singer M3500 allows you to lift the presser foot a bit higher than average. This will make it easier to work with thicker projects like quilts and applique.

Adjustable Stitch Length

An easy dial allows you to adjust the length of your stitches to the needs of your project.

Adjustable Stitch Width

You can also adjust the width of the stitches on your Singer M3500, using the stitch width dial.

Thread Tension Adjustment

The Singer M3500 also comes with a thread tension adjustment dial. This makes it easier to work with a wider variety of fabrics and project types.

Heavy Duty Internal Metal Frame

The Singer M3500 has an all metal heavy duty internal frame for added durability and stability.

Alternatives to the Singer M3500

As great as we think the Singer M3500 is, there are a lot of basic mechanical sewing machines on the market, and each has a slightly different set of features. Here are a few other models which may fit the needs of your sewing room a bit better.

Bernette B35

bernette b35 sewing machine-

Bernette is a child brand of Bernina, which means two things. First, the construction quality is unparalleled. Second, you’ll pay a bit more for it. But if you’re looking for a solid machine that could take you through your entire sewing career, then the Bernette B35 may be worth the slightly higher price. 

This model’s features include:

  • 23 built in stitch designs
  • One step buttonhole
  • Needle threader
  • Extra high presser foot lift
  • Free arm
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • Adjustable stitch width
  • Thread tension adjustment

Although this would make an excellent first sewing machine, the Bernette B35 could also serve very well for general crafting and home sewing at all levels.

EverSewn Sparrow 15

eversewn sparrow 15 vs singer m3500

EverSewn is a twenty-first century brand with ties to Bernina, though it’s not a subsidiary. EverSewn’s focus is spreading the love of sewing to new crafters through powerful yet easy to use machines. The EverSewn Sparrow 15 is their entry level mechanical sewing machine model. 

Its features include:

  • 32 built in stitch designs
  • One step buttonhole
  • Needle threader
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • Adjustable stitch width
  • Thread tension adjustment
  • Adjustable presser foot pressure
  • Extra high presser foot lift
  • Free arm

Depending on your retailer, the EverSewn Sparrow 15 may cost about the same or a touch less than the Singer M3500. This would make an excellent first sewing machine, or machine for general home sewing and crafting.

Brother SM2700

brother sm2700 vs singer m3500

Brother makes a wide range of budget sewing machines. The Brother SM2700 is one that hits the sweet spot of price and features. Those features include:

  • 27 built-in stitches
  • One step buttonhole
  • Adjustable thread tension
  • Stitch length adjustment
  • Stitch width adjustment
  • Free arm

In addition, it’s light and portable, so it’s perfect for taking to classes and meetups. The Brother SM2700 costs a bit less than or about the same as the Singer SM3500.

Should You Buy the Singer M 3500?

singer m3500 power socket

The Singer M 3500 seems to be that rare and sought after machine: a great set of features at a great price. It has everything a beginning or general purpose sewist needs, and almost everything that one could want. And it’s utterly affordable.

On top of that, the M3500 has an absolutely huge number of highly positive customer reviews. This suggests that yes, it really could be all it’s cracked up to be.

If you’re looking for an affordable home sewing machine, especially for a new sewist, the Singer M3500 could be an excellent choice.

Have you used the Singer M3500? What did you think? Tell us about it in the comments!

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singer m3500 reviews
About The Author:
Jess Faraday

Jess Faraday learned to sew as an act of teenage rebellion. Her mother always hated to sew, so Jess took up the hobby to prove a point! It has since turned into a satisfying lifelong hobby. When not sewing, Jess enjoys trail running and martial arts. She’s even written a novel or two!

  1. | Walter Hunt |

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