Singer Simple 3221 Review: A Good Sewing Machine For Beginners?

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If you’ve been looking at basic mechanical sewing machines, you might have come across the Singer 3221. Singer makes numerous simple mechanical sewing machines, including the Singer 3221. Some are decidedly better than others. So, where does the Singer 3221 stand?

About Singer and the Singer 3221

Singer has been America’s home-grown sewing machine company for over 170 years. Singer was the first manufacturer to focus on the needs of the home sewist exclusively, and they continue this tradition to this day, with a wide range of machinery for sewists, quilters, home embroiderers, and more.

Who is the Singer 3221 For?

singer 3221 simple sewing machine

The Singer 3221 is an entry-level mechanical sewing machine. 

Mechanical sewing machines are often the first choice of new sewists and occasional home sewists. Their ease of use makes it easy to hit the ground running and start sewing right out of the box. 

But many sewists at various levels prefer a mechanical machine. Mechanical machines can be powerful and focussed. There’s no onboard computer, which means that users can do many types of repairs themselves. And the manual controls of a mechanical machine often provide greater precision in setting stitch length, width, and thread tension.

The Singer 3221 is an easy to use basic mechanical sewing machine. We’d recommend it for new and occasional sewists for sure. At the same time, it could be a very decent machine for home sewists at a variety of levels.

How Does the Singer 3221 Stand Out?

singer simple 3221 review

The Singer 3221 stands out in a couple of different ways.

First, in Singer’s lineup of entry level mechanical sewing machines, the 3221 is one of the higher priced models. You might discount it for this reason. However, when it comes to buying equipment, rushing for the lowest price can be a mistake.

The large number of highly positive consumer reviews across platforms indicates that this model performs well. This isn’t always the case for budget sewing machines, and it’s definitely not the case for a number of budget level Singer machines.

Also consider the fact that the Singer 3221 comes with a very decent warranty. Quite a few budget sewing machines do not. We’ll discuss this more in a bit.

Finally, though by no means least importantly, the Singer 3221 comes with most of the features that manufacturers often leave off of their budget machines.

So, does the Singer 3221 cost more than many bargain basement sewing machines? Yes. Is it worth the extra expense? Considering that it’s still firmly in the budget range, we would say almost certainly.

What’s in the box? 

Accessories that come with the Singer 3221, include:

  • All-Purpose Foot
  • Zipper Foot
  • Buttonhole Foot
  • Button Sewing Foot
  • Thread Spool Caps (2)
  • Screwdriver
  • Darning Plate
  • Edge / Quilting Guide
  • Bobbins (Class 15)
  • Pack of Needles
  • Auxiliary Spool Pin
  • Seam Ripper/ Lint Brush
  • Soft-Sided Dust Cover
  • Foot Pedal
  • Power Cord
  • Instruction Manual

Technical Specifications

  • 21 distinct stitch designs
  • One-step buttonhole
  • Adjustable thread tension
  • Needle threader
  • Extra high presser foot lift
  • Free arm
  • Heavy duty metal internal frame
  • Lightweight and portable 
  • Standard warranty
  • Large number of positive customer reviews
  • Adjustable width for zigzag stitch only
  • No drop feed

How to Choose a Basic Mechanical Machine

So you want to buy a sewing machine. At the basic level, many machines look very similar, but their features can vary greatly. So, what should you look for?

Here are a few of our favorites.

Stitch Library

Mechanical sewing machines almost always have a smaller stitch library than machines with an onboard computer. Some models have as few as one stitch, while three dozen appears to be the upper limit.

In truth, you don’t need more than a straight stitch to do most types of home sewing. However, there are several functional stitches that can increase your crafting versatility, such as:

  • Overcasting stitch
  • Blind hem stitch
  • Zig Zag stitch
  • Stretch stitches

Some machines also come with decorative stitches, which, though not strictly necessary, can be a lot of fun.


Mechanical sewing machines come with either a one-step buttonhole or a four-step buttonhole. You can make great buttonholes with either one. However, many people find a one-step buttonhole to be easier and more straightforward.

Drop Feed

The feed dogs sit below the fabric and move it forward (or backward) through the machine. This keeps stitches uniform and even. For some types of sewing, however, such as free motion sewing, you may want to move the fabric in different directions or at a different pace. The drop feed lever “drops” the feed dogs out of the way.

At the basic level, many, many machines don’t have a drop feed. But don’t worry. You can cover the feed dogs with a darning plate to achieve the same effect. In fact, many machines that don’t have a drop feed come with a darning plate for this purpose.

Adjustable Stitch Parameters

Most sewing machines allow you to adjust the length and width of your stitches. There may be separate controls for each of these functions, or a machine may include stitches of different widths (or lengths) as separate designs in the stitch library.

At the basic level, though, some machines miss out one or the other of these controls. Being able to control stitch length and width can reduce your crafting versatility, so keep your eyes open when reading the specs.

Thread Tension Adjustment

You can sew many fabrics with a standard thread tension (often marked “A” or “3” on a thread tension adjustment wheel.) However, some fabrics and project types do better with either higher or lower tension, for example:

  • Stretch fabrics
  • Very heavy fabrics
  • Ultralight fabrics

Being able to adjust the thread tension gives you greater freedom to work with a larger variety of fabric and project types. Unfortunately, this is one area where manufacturers often skimp on their basic machines.

Needle Threader

It can be difficult to thread a sewing machine needle. An automatic needle threader makes it as easy as flipping a switch. This, too, is a feature often lacking on basic machines, so check those specs before pressing “buy.”

Free Arm

Sewing machines with a free arm allow you to remove part of the base to reveal a smaller, circular work area. This is the free arm. The free arm makes it easier to get at hard to reach places like corners and curves. It also makes it easier to sew smaller, circular things like cuffs, trouser legs, collars, and handbags.


New sewists sometimes like to bring their machines to classes. Light weight and a carry handle make it easy to do so.


You might not think a standard warranty is a big deal. After all, if something is “standard,” that means everyone does it, right? 


Warranties can vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, and from machine to machine. Many budget sewing machines (and many Singer machines) come with an abbreviated warranty, and some come with no warranty at all.

A substandard (or missing) warranty may indicate that the manufacturer doesn’t have a lot of confidence in a given model.

So, what does a standard sewing machine model warranty look like? 


  • 25 years for the machine head
  • 5 years for the motor and electronic components
  • 1 year for belts, rings, and attachments

Warranties vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and from machine to machine, so be sure to check carefully for each model you’re considering.

Features and Benefits of the Singer 3221

The Singer 3221 doesn’t have everything on our must-have list, but it does have a lot. Here are some of its best features.

21 Distinct Stitch Designs

The Singer 3221 has 21 distinct stitch designs, not including the one-step buttonhole. All of the essentials are there, plus some important extras like an overcasting stitch.

singer 3221 buttonhole

One-Step Buttonhole

Speaking of that buttonhole, it’s a one-step automatic buttonhole, which makes it easy to pop out consistent, attractive, functional buttonholes. You can use the buttonhole foot that comes with the machine to customize the size of the buttonholes to the exact size of the button you’re using.

Adjustable Thread Tension

It’s easy to adjust the tension of your top thread using the thread tension adjustment wheel at the top of your Singer 3221 Simple.

Needle Threader

The Singer 3221 has an automatic needle threader, which means fast and easy threading.

Free Arm

With the Singer 3221’s free arm, you can easily reach those hard-to-get-to corners and curves. It will also help you with small, circular work.

Extra High Presser Foot Lift

Think you might be making a quilt or working with layers? The Singer 3221’s extra high presser foot lift will make it easy.

Heavy Duty Metal Internal Frame

Like many Singer machines, the Singer 3221 Simple comes with a heavy duty metal internal frame. This will add durability to your machine, as well as stability for sewing.

Lightweight and Portable 

At just 15 pounds, this compact model is lightweight enough to take to classes and meetups. The convenient carry handle means that most sewists will be able to move the Singer 3221 from place to place with ease.

Standard Warranty

The Singer 3221 Simple comes with an industry standard 25 year limited warranty, which speaks well of the manufacturer’s confidence in the durability of this model.

Large Number of Positive Customer Reviews

One of the best tests of a product’s quality is what users have to say about it. If you research this model, you’ll find that it has a large number of highly positive reviews from verified customers across platforms and vendors. 

Alternatives to the Singer 3221

We think the Singer 3221 is a really decent basic machine. But there are a lot of this type of machine on the market. It’s possible that one of these comparison models may have more of the features that you’re looking for.

Singer 3232 Simple

singer simple 3232 sew machine

The Singer 3232 Simple is a follow-on machine to the 3221. It’s similar in some ways, but has a slightly different set of features, including some that are lacking on the 3221. Check these out:

  • 32 distinct stitch designs
  • Adjustable stitch width
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • Thread tension adjustment
  • Heavy duty internal metal frame
  • Needle threader
  • Free arm
  • One-step buttonhole
  • Ultra lightweight (12 pounds)

Depending on your retailer, you may find the Singer 3232 at about the same price as, or even a bit less than the Singer 3221.

Bernette B35

bernette b35 sewing machine-

Bernette tends to make more expensive sewing machines, and for many sewists, the impeccable construction is well worth it. The Bernette B35 doesn’t actually cost that much more than the Singer 3232, and for the right sewist, its features could be exactly what the doctor ordered. These include:

  • 23 built-in stitch designs
  • One-step buttonhole
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • Adjustable stitch width
  • Thread tension adjustment
  • Needle threader
  • Free arm

Bernette is a child brand of Bernina, and shares its focus on sustainable manufacture and quality construction. They make their machines to last. If you’re looking for a basic sewing machine to take you through your entire sewing career, the Bernette B35 deserves your attention.

Brother ST371HD

brother st371hd sewing machine

Brother makes a wide variety of equipment for both home and industrial sewists, but one place where they focus a lot of attention is basic mechanical home sewing machines. The Brother ST371HD is a workhorse machine built to stand up to your toughest home sewing tasks. Its features include:

  • 37 distinct stitch designs
  • Heavy duty internal metal frame
  • Adjustable stitch length
  • Adjustable stitch width
  • Thread tension adjustment
  • Needle threader
  • Free arm
  • One-step buttonhole

Depending on your retailer, the Brother ST371HD may cost about the same or slightly less than the Singer 3221.

Should You Buy the Singer 3221?

front loading bobbin singer 3221

We think this is a terrific model with a solid set of basic sewing features. It’s light and portable, and its warranty suggests that Singer has confidence in this model’s durability and performance.

We’re a bit sad that you can’t adjust stitch width (with the exception of the zig zag stitch). But to go by the customer reviews, plenty of sewists love their machine even without this feature.

At present, this model can be hard to find. If you like the Singer 3221, but are having a difficult time getting your hands on it, you might consider the Singer 3232. The 3232 is a very similar model that comes at an excellent price and has a bit more in terms of features, including stitch width adjustment.

Have you used the Singer 3221 Simple? What did you think? Tell us about it!

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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!

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