“ Brand: Singer „
I have previously reviewed the Singer Featherweight, and while I still adore that particular Singer model, I must confess I also am in love with another. While on the look out for attachments, along came a our first sighting of this at first unpreposseing beauty. Then it dawned on us. THIS machine was actually the VERY nifty machine that we had accessories for, having bought a mixed lot of sewing machine feet and attachments. The attachments had came in a little box, and proclaimed they were for the Golden Touch and Sew, and which looked like plastic top hats which had interesting stitch designs printed upon them, including little rows of ducks!
As a bonus, this little number was sat in its original Singer cabinet and had more of the original gubbins with it, such as the buttonholer, which was important as it is a slant shank machine and not a short shank one such as my other Singers, so their feet and attachments will not fit. I sat down to bid, and a few hours later hubby and I were thrilled to learn we had a new to us sewing machine in a nice end table cabinet for the grand sum of £5.50.
Like most Singer sewing machines, Touch and Sews and the other related slant needle models have a sort of cult standing about them, as I was to discover. There are actually entire websites and email discussion groups dedicated to nothing else, including one extremely helpful site in the U.S. Virgin Islands that provides parts, detailed instructions and telephone and email help in repairing them, to each and every component. Now you might wonder why someone would want to spend out to repair such an old machine, and I can tell you. It is quality, and I mean the sort with a capital Q. I have sat down and sewn on Bothers, Toyotas, Berninas, Pfaffs, Vikings, you name it, but I, and most other serious quilters and home dressmakers return to these machines. The new Singers can't touch them either, the name having been bought but the machines made abroad to "more modern" specifications. It is not so much that the higher end new Singers and Pfaffs, Berninas, and Vikings can't compete, but that they are overpriced and over engineered. The Singers are simple in design and operation, and easy to keep running. If in need of a repair, the repairs are easy enough that with a simple "how to" e-book and emails from an Old Singer Guy (as the old Singer repairmen are known with great fondness) that even the most untechnical person can effect the repair herself (or himself!).
Now, many of the newer machines do zigzags and fancy stitches, and have multiple levers, knobs, and buttons you press in complicated combinations to do them. Just how often do those get used? Despite my making embellished clothing for the family and several wallhangings and bed quilts, I can honestly tell you less than a dozen get used with ANY regularity. This is where the Touch and Sew really shines. Forget all those fancy computerised sequences of knob turnings and button pushings, and even software glitches when you pull up a menu in the really top of the line modern machines in order to select a stitch. The Touch and Sew has all of three dials. Yes, dials. Each dial helps youselect what you want to do. Want a straight stitch? Turn the first dial to the picture of the straight stitch. Want to stitch more to the left? Move the second dial to where the needs position picture is to the left.Wait, you want a scallop? Go back to dial number one and choose that picture. How wide do you want those scallops? Choose the pattern width by selecting a number from 0-6, with the lowest numbers being the narrowest. It's the lower part of the second dial. How short or long do you want each actual stitch to be? that is the third dial. Now you are ready to stitch! If the sttich is one of the fancier ones not printed on the dial, the first dial has a picture of a top hat cam on it. Simply select this setting, lift the lid on the top of the machine, and place the desired stitch pattern cam inside, and close the lid. That is all that is required. It is simple, and requires no downloads, no software upgrades, no fancy combos of button pushing, lever pulling, or going through long winded computerised onscreen menus. This is sewing as it is meant to be, easy and fun!
As a bonus, many of the designs you can use are pictorial, such as rows of little ducks and ivy leaves, and you can use machine embroidery thread or normal thread to embellish your fabrics. My daughter loves those jeans with designs all up one leg. They are expensive, especially considering how short a time children fit in their clothes. It only costs thread and the fabric here though, as all I have to do is cut out the two pieces of fabric for the trousers, and chalk the lines I want to follow for the sttiching, place it in my machine, put in the leaf cam, and follow the line for the "vine" I am putting on. When finished, I can either applique or freeehand stitch a flower, or use a ready made flower iron on applique. Then it is just a matter of sewing the legs together and hemming to make trousers. Instant designer jeans, cost: £6-8 including fabric, thread, and purchased flower, compared to £18 or more at a certain High Street fashion shop.
Quality wise, the stitches ae even and firm. The tension dial is to the front and it is a simple matter of turning it to a higher number if the stitiches look slack, or if you get pucker, to turn to a lower number to reduce the pull on the thread. The real gem though, is the bobbin winder. I don't know about you, but I hate all the faff of winding a bobbin on most machines. Open the side or front, remove the bobbin, put the thread through that tiny hole, remembering to get it on the correct side, handwinding it a few times, ,oh yes, and having to rethread the machine into bobbin winding mode first, slap head, having to undo that and rethread it all again. Not on these beauties. Ran out of bobbin thread? Just slide the cover open (its located just below the throat plate by the needle), push a little button inside to the left, hold the thread from the needle over the foot clamp, and start sewing as usual, letting go of the thread once it goes inside the bobbin case. Just keep sewing til you see the thread has reached the circle printed on teh see through bobbin. Now close the case and start sewing again. That is it! How fabby is that?!
Speaking of threading, it also has a built in needle threader that you can use if desired. On the left hand side of the machine head is a door. You open it and inside there is a little arm that has a small wire hook. You lower this arm and place your thread inside the hook, and line it up with the front of your needle. It catches the eye of the needle and pushes the thread through so that when you pull it back, your needle is threaded. If you break the wire, you can buy 3 more for under £3.50. They come on a small piece that simply screws ont the arm for easy replacement.
The machine also comes with a light as standard, and it is a very good one. The light palcement does not suffer from poor positionsing, which cam be a problem with somemachines. I really dislike those that lamp on the back, as most of the light goes BEHIND the foot and can make for odd shadows. Lights to the front can cause glare and shine too, unless the hood is designed to combat this. No problems here, the bed of the machine is well lit.
I know this sounds like a dream machine, but here I must put in a word of caution. The Touch and sews were made from the 60's to 70's, and came at a time when metal got expensive, so manufcturers began using nylon gears (they still do). So sooner or later you may have to have a couple gears replaced (don't worry, it is cheap, and actually not that complicated. Little old ladies in Dallas tell me they follow Old Singer Guy's instructions and do it themselves in an afternoon or two!). My personal experience has been that they are very hardy machines, and when my gears wear down, I simply will replace them, as this is too good a machine to just junk.
While this review is about the 760, I must tell you that all the Touch and Sews are pretty well of a muchness. Earlier models had slide levers rathr than dials, and those are the 600 series. The 700's are all pretty much the same, with the 720 being a free arm version. The free arm is VERY handy to have as you can take off the little extension on the bed, and sew round the cuffs and inside closed necklines and what have you without the fabric getting it in the way.
Oh yes, one more thing I must mention about the Touch and Sew. This is IDEAL for a beginner or for the advanced seamstress, especially if in need of being able to reliably run it slower due to inexperience or intricate work. This is because the foot pedal and the machine are made so that it actually HAS speeds. A gentle pressure brings a slow, but even speed, and a little more gets a nice little trot, and flat out makes it go vroom, without skipping stitches or snapping needles.
Other little features that people find handy are the reverse and the ability to use a twin needle. It also can do buttonholes and buttons, and there is even a monogram attachment available that uses discs and automatically sews the initals for you just by starting to sew, without any guidance from yourself. The reverse is very simple, you simply flip a switch and hold it up , and it is located on the side of the third dial on the right hand side of the machine head. Buttonholes can be done eithr with the cam inside, and adjusting the stitch type, or by using the buttonholer, which is more versatile as you simply pop in a cam for size and style of buttonhole, and it does them for you. Both the buttonholer and the monogrammer fit in place of the foot, so are dead easy to attach and use. To do buttons, you simply place on a button foot and do a zigzag stitch with the needle to the left. Twin needle stsitching just means you put in a needlle that has TWO needle heads and use two reels of thread. This makes a double row of stitching evenly spaced apart for nice detailing and can be used with straight stitch, zigzag, and many of the fancier stitches for a professional look. Nothing could be simpler.
You can find these from time to time on eBay, though they are not usally listed as Touch and Sew on the UK site, as often sellers have NO idea what they have, it is just an old Singer sewing machine! This is because many who sew and use them, do not part with them, which attests to the fine machine they are. Therefore, I suggest you look up Singer Touch and Sew and Singer 760 on Google Images to get an idea of what they look like, so you can spy one for yourself, as they have a distinctive look. It is a purchase you won't regret.
Short name: Singer 760