Thursday, July 15, 2021

Chainstitching : Singer versus Kenmore

We all knew this post would come, right?  Singer versus Kenmore!

Well relax, because this is only one feature I am comparing here, and you still can't pin me down on saying that one brand or the other is BETTER (I can think what I think, but you won't be able to drag it out of me.)

The feature I'm discussing is chain stitching.  I covered this before on the Singer 600 machines HERE  My sewing machine collection "rule" is to only keep ONE of any particular model, and furthermore to keep only models that offer some unique feature that isn't found on every other machine.  It's kind of hard to explain, but trust me, it all works out in my head.  

I've cycled through half a dozen Kenmores, and am currently attached to my recently acquired 158.17741
(Shown here with my recently acquired kitty)

The 1774 has plenty to recommend it:

Low shank
Vertical oscillating hook
Class 15 bobbins
Twin needles
Feed dog drop
Reversible straight stitch/zigzag needle plate
Presser foot pressure adjustment
Built-in stretch stitches
Takes C cams
Does reverse stitch patterns
Super easy threading 
Easy "pop-out" clutch release
Powerful 1.2 amp motor 


Chain stitching!

(SPOILER ALERT:  This feature will NOT cancel out the 603, because the Touch & Sew has the wind-in-place bobbin. The Kenmore also stays because it is my only machine that does reverse pattern stitches.)

So, while the chain stitching is essentially done the same way - you remove the bobbin and cover the bobbin case, plus install a special throat plate/throat plate insert - there are a few differences in these machines.

First the 603.  As shown in the earlier post, you have three parts to install in order to chain stitch.

1.  Thread guide

2.  Chain stitching throat plate

3.  Bobbin cover


The Kenmore 1774 (and presumably other 158 Kenmores that chain stitch) only has TWO parts to be installed.  You save maybe 30 seconds because they are also slightly easier to put in place.

1. Chain stitch throat plate insert

2. Bobbin case insert 

The Kenmore is quicker and easier to set up: +1

As for how they sew, there is one BIG difference.  Here is the Singer 603:

Play to the end, and you'll see that with this machine you "chain" right off the fabric just like you do with a serger. 

Compare to the Kenmore which doesn't do that (at least mine doesn't!)

 I think the Singer has better stitch quality (the one with the chain, of course)

And if the chain doesn't seem like a big deal, it really is because chaining off makes it easier to remove the work from the machine without pulling out the stitches.   Chain out as far as you like, then you can easily cut it off.  With the other one, you have to hold on tight to that thread in order to get it out and cut it without pulling out the stitches (ask me how I know!)

Also, the chains themselves come in handy if you want to make chain loops for belt carriers or to tack shoulder pads into place or something like that.

The Singer does better stitching:  +1

I guess you could call it a draw, each one has an advantage so it just depends on what you are doing.  If you want a quick removable basting stitch, the Kenmore is quicker to set up (and otherwise I wouldn't even bother!)  If you are doing extensive chain stitching and need it to be more secure and/or you want the actual chains, then go for the Singer. 

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