The Singer 1304 is an affordable, user-friendly mechanical machine. Although you may outgrow this machine as you become a more advanced sewist, this is an excellent choice for anyone who is learning to sew. Read our full Singer 1304 review to discover more about this simple yet versatile machine.
Singer 1304: an overview
The Singer 1304, also known as the Singer Start, is designed to be the perfect entry-level mechanical sewing machine for new sewists. It is equipped with all the basic stitches you’ll need, with stitch length adjustable up to 5mm.
It comes with three different presser feet for working with different fabrics and sewing techniques, and although not an advanced machine by any means, it does have a few features that will allow you to experiment. These include a darning plate for free-motion sewing and a removable free arm for small, fiddly items.
What we like:
- Beginner-friendly: The Singer 1304’s simple features and intuitive design make it ideal for novice sewists.
- Versatile: Although a basic machine, the 1304 has features supporting a range of sewing techniques such as a four-step buttonhole, free arm, and free motion sewing.
- Affordable: This machine comes with a very affordable price tag.
What we don’t like:
- Jamming issues: Some reviewers report jamming when using or winding the bobbin.
- Limited features: You may outgrow this machine as you develop your sewing skills.
The 1304 is portable and lightweight, being very compact and weighing just 11.5 pounds. Even still, this machine is durable and reliable thanks to its solid metal frame.
This is a great sewing machine for beginners to learn on, but misses many of the features that more advanced sewists will likely look for.
Singer 1304: features & benefits
The Singer 1304 is an entry level machine, but it has a range of features including:
- Six built-in stitches: Including zigzag stitch, satin stitch, scallop stitch, and blind-hem stitch.
- Four-step buttonhole: Easily stitch a neat buttonhole in just four simple steps.
- Reasonably-fast sewing speed: With a maximum sewing speed of 750 stitches per minute.
- Automatic tension adjustment: The Singer 1304 will automatically select the correct thread tension for your chosen stitch.
- Bobbin winding system: To easily and quickly wind bobbins in thread of your choice.
- Darning plate: For free motion sewing.
- Extra-high presser foot lifter: For sewing bulky fabrics and multiple layers.
- Removable free arm: For easy sewing small, circular items like sleeves, pant legs, and collars.
- Stitch diagrams: Printed next to the stitch selection dial to help you choose the right stitch.
- Solid metal construction: Means that the 1304 doesn’t vibrate or shake as you sew, and can handle robust fabrics.
- LCD light: The built-in LCD light allows you to clearly see your work.
Ease of use
The Singer 1304 is a very user-friendly machine that is ideal for beginners to use to learn to sew. Let’s take a look and some of the key features that make this machine easy to use.
Even if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll be able to sit down and start using the Singer 1304 straight away, thanks to its straight-forward and intuitive design.
There is a large dial on the front of the machine to select the type of stitch you want to sew, with clear stitch diagrams that help you to identify each stitch.
There is an LCD light that brightly illuminates the work areas and helps you to see what you’re doing. This is important for beginners as it allows you to clearly see your stitches and check everything is ok, even when working with dark thread on dark fabric.
The light will also be helpful for anyone with poor eye sight, or those who need to work at night or in low light conditions.
The Singer 1304 comes with a bobbin winding system that allows you to easily wind your bobbins with the thread color of your choice in no time at all.
However, some online reviewers report that the thread can jam when winding or using the bobbin. This is a disadvantage for beginners, as incorrectly-wound bobbins are one of the main causes of sewing machine problems, so this may give you extra issues to troubleshoot.
On the upside, the 1304 features automatic tension adjustment that changes the thread tension depending on the stitch option you choose. Given that incorrect tension can also cause stitch issues and poor stitch quality, this is a very useful feature, particularly for beginners as it will help you ensure you always have the correct thread tension.
Although a fairly basic, beginners-level machine, this mechanical sewing machine is pretty versatile and can perform a range of sewing techniques on different fabrics.
The Singer 1304 comes with just six built-in stitches. This is a very limited number even for a beginner-level mechanical sewing machine, and vastly fewer than most computerized sewing machines. There more differences between mechanical and computerized sewing machines, which we cover in a separate post.
However, these stitches are sufficient for basic sewing, garment making and repairs. The stitches are:
- Straight stitch
- Zigzag stitch
- Satin stitch
- Scallop stitch
- Blind hem stitch
- Four-step buttonhole
The four-step buttonhole is a particularly handy feature that lets you sew a buttonhole in just four easy steps.
You can adjust stitch length up to 5mm, allowing you to adapt your stitches to different fabrics and techniques. For example, generally you’ll want to use shorter stitches while working with thinner fabrics, and longer stitches for thicker materials.
If doing a basting stitch, it is also useful to be able to sew very long stitches. However, this machine does not have the ability to adjust the stitch width, so you will not be able to use it for some sewing techniques such as applique.
With such few built-in stitches and limited features, you may quickly outgrow this machine as your skills develop. However, this is a great option for absolute beginners who want an easy mechanical machine while they learn how to sew.
If you are looking for an affordable machine with a larger selection of stitches, check out Brother XM2701 – this beginner-friendly model can boast 27 built-in stitches, including sewing, quilting, and decorative stitches.
Capable of handling different fabrics and techniques
One more advanced feature that the Singer 1304 has is a darning plate that allows you to do free-motion sewing. This is particularly useful for quilters who want to use free-motion quilting techniques.
The Singer 1304 also has an extra-high presser foot lifter so you can easily slide bulky fabrics under the presser foot.
This machine is also equipped with a removable free arm that makes it easy to sew small, circular items like sleeves, pant legs, and collars.
One of the most impressive things about the Singer 1304 is that it has a solid metal frame. This makes it very durable for such an affordable, lightweight machine, and means it is capable of handling robust fabrics.
Additionally, the 1304’s solid metal construction means it does not shake or vibrate too much even when sewing at high speeds. This machine has a maximum sewing speed of 750 stitches per minute, which is not super speedy, but fast enough to let beginners work efficiently.
Even though the 1304 has a metal frame, it is still lightweight, weighing only 11.5 pounds. This makes it suitable for taking with you to sewing class, sewing bees, or on the road.
This machine is also very compact, measuring just 13 inches by seven inches by 11.5 inches, making it one of the smallest machines on the market. Therefore, it won’t take up too much space in your sewing room, or in your closet if you want to store it between uses.
The Singer 1304 is a very affordable machine. This is one of the cheapest sewing machines you’ll find on the market, particularly when considering models from reputable brands like Singer.
It also comes with Singer’s 25-year limited warranty. This covers repairs due to manufacturing defects during the first year and replacement parts (but not labor) for the rest of the 25 years if they are found to be defective.
Range of accessories
You’ll get a range of accessories with the Singer 1304 that will set you up for basic sewing. These accessories include:
- Class 15 bobbins
- Dual spool pins
- Pack of needles
- Seam ripper
- Lint brush
- Needle plate screwdriver
- Instruction manual
You can stash your accessories in the free arm accessory storage tray to keep them neatly stored but handy while you’re working.
There are also three presser feet included:
- All-purpose foot
- Buttonhole foot
- Zipper foot
All presser feet are snap-on, making them easy to change. All you have to do is gently snap the old presser foot off to remove, and then place the new presser foot underneath the needle column.
Then lower the needle column using the presser foot lever, and the new foot will snap into place.
The Singer 1304 is a good choice for anyone looking for a basic mechanical sewing machine that they can use to learn to sew. Although fairly limited in its features, it does allow you to do a range of sewing techniques and work with various fabrics.
Overall it is a versatile, user-friendly, and affordable sewing machine.
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