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Sergers & Overlockers

Singer Overlocker Reviews from Industry Pros: they say AVOID

Learn what 5 industry specialists think about Singer overlockers. Their brutally honest reviews might put you off Singer!

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My Singer overlocker review:

When it comes to price and features, the Singer overlockers look really good.

For example, the 14SH754 and 14HD854 are budget priced but can make 2 thread stitches. This is normally only found on more expensive mid-range and premium overlockers.

Singer’s marketing is excellent. They describe their products with words like “heavy duty metal frame”, “powerful and durable”, “cuts through thicker fabrics with ease”.

But talking to industry specialists has changed my mind.

I learned that some technicians and authorised overlocker dealers are very negative about the build quality of Singer overlockers.

They were very clear to me that I should avoid buying them.

In this article, I will share what I learned from 5 industry specialists.

singer overlocker reviews

Overall, I would not recommend buying a Singer overlocker:

  • Some industry specialists think they’re poorly made, won’t last long, and are not worth repairing.
  • A technician told me he has returned Singer machines to customers before, saying they’re not worth repairing because they’re poorly made in the first place.
  • They disagree with the “heavy duty” names Singer gives its machines. It’s just marketing hype to them.

Here are overlockers they recommend instead.

It’s probably only an OK choice for sewers who:

  • Only sew occasionally. They won’t put their overlocker under pressure with regular use and tough materials.
  • Really want 2 thread stitches without paying for a mid-range or premium overlocker.
  • This is a beginner overlocker for them and they plan to upgrade in a few years anyway.

Even then, I would recommend looking at Brother overlocker reviews instead if you want a good budget model.

Industry specialists have praised their overlockers for being easy to thread. A technician I spoke to thought Brother made nice machines.

Janome’s premium and mid-range overlockers are excellent, but their budget ones aren’t so great for threading. I’d stick to Brother.



Download Free Checklist

A checklist of features to look for in a serger or overlocker.

Avoid investing in a machine that isn’t right for you.


Singer 14SH754 and 14HD854 Overlocker Reviews:

*Heads up: some machines are only available in certain countries. This article is focused on what’s available for UK buyers.*

singer 14sh754 overlocker graphic

Singer 14SH754 Review

It can do 2, 3 and 4 thread stitches. This is rare on a budget overlocker. Threading is relatively easy and I like the free arm. Adjusting the pressure isn’t the easiest, and other brands have higher presser foot heights. Industry specialists aren’t fans of it because of build-quality issues. No extra feet or a waste tray are included.

Price: typically £329. Check Amazon’s price.

Singer 14SH754 Video:

See what stitches it can make.
singer heavy duty 14hd854 overlocker graphic

Singer ‘Heavy Duty’ 14HD854 Review

It can do 2, 3 and 4 thread stitches. This is rare on a budget overlocker. It’s advertised as “heavy duty” because it claims to have:

  • a “heavy duty metal frame” for durability,
  • a “high performance motor” for more penetration force,
  • and the cutting knife is 60% bigger than before to cut through thicker fabrics.

Industry specialists think this is just good marketing. They strongly believe build quality is poor. The presser foot is advertised as “extra high” (4.5-5mm), but I have seen higher on other brands (5-6mm). No extra feet are included, but it does come with a waste bag.

Price: typically £329. Check Amazon’s price.

Singer 14HD854 Videos:

https://youtu.be/YOTnPi0kitE
See stitch samples. *not in English*

An FYI about “internal metal frames”:

Sometimes overlockers are advertised as having an internal metal frame. This might make you think it’s good quality, but it might not be true!

A technician told me most overlockers have a metal internal frame. So it’s not unique.

Cheaper overlockers tend to use much poorer, weaker metals for the frame to save on costs. This makes them more likely to wear out quicker.

I have an article on what makes an overlocker good quality if you want to learn more.


Honest Singer overlocker reviews from specialists

Reviews from technicians:

(Note: I’m talking about technicians who service and repair sewing machines and overlockers).

A technician I spoke to had strong criticisms for Singer, saying the machines aren’t made well.

He has had to return Singer machines to customers before, saying they’re not worth repairing.

Another salesperson I interviewed mentioned Singer as a brand to avoid buying domestic overlockers from.

She said her companies technician had criticised Singer for making bad quality machines.

One detail I managed to get from her was that the metals used inside aren’t great. They aren’t finished well and smooth like they should be.

On top of that, she thinks Singer overlockers are noisy and lightweight.

She also warned that some customers fall for the “heavy duty” marketing names Singer give their machines. Customers are under the illusion that they’re almost like industrial machines.

She thinks the “heavy duty” names Singer use are misleading.

A dealers review:

From the dealer GUR Sewing Superstore:

“Stay away from the new Singers, although the old ones (30 years or older) are still excellent workhorse machines.”

Official advice on the GUR Sewing Superstore website

An overlocker teachers review:

Jenn Skedd is a professional overlocker workshop teacher. She owns the 14SH754 and has seen her students with this model and the 14HD854.

Here’s her review 2 years after buying her Singer overlocker:

“*Update August 2018*  Initially this machine worked reasonably well for the first year, although it doesn’t give the stitch quality of my other overlockers.

Then it developed a problem where the looper tensions were too loose. The normal setting should be around 4-5 but I had them turned up to 8-9 before achieving the required tension.

I returned it to Singer and it was returned to me quickly. The tension dial problem was apparently fixed but almost immediately the left needle started skipping stitches.

Singer advised to change the needle. This problem is continuous regardless of whether it’s a new needle of not, and it takes me an hour of fiddling every time I want to use the machine, to achieve anything like a reasonable stitch quality.

As a professional who’s an experienced overlocker user, and the owner of 3 other machines which all perform perfectly (one of them is over 40 years old), I’m withdrawing my favourable review of this machine.

Through running my Overlocker workshops, I see a good amount of this model, and also it’s successor, the S14-78, as well as many other makes. Therefore I feel qualified to say that the 14SH754 is a poor-quality machine that’s not fit for purpose.

The S14-78 is marginally better but still doesn’t have a good-quality stitch.

Both feel light and flimsy and it’s my opinion that the resulting vibration is what causes the inconsistent stitch tension and quality.

If you’re a first-time user then you may not be aware of the difference but I doubt these machines will last you more than a few years and I’d think are only good for occasional light use.

Jen Skedd (2016) from Artisan Stitch.

A customers review about a design problem he found:

A year after buying the Singer Heavy Duty overlocker, Youtuber Kevin Sews was overlocking a t-shirt when his overlocker suddenly stopped working.

He thought he might have heard the sound of the belt slipping.

He took the cover off to see if he could fix the problem by simply tightening the belt.

That’s when he discovered a construction problem.

The whole assembly near the handwheel is held together by just 1 bolt.

He believes this is poor design because every time he plugs and unplugs the machine, it puts a lot of pressure on the bolt.

He found that the bolt was really loose and fell off when touched. He couldn’t just put it back on though.

The bolt and metal assembly had worn out, so the bolt wouldn’t fit on tightly anymore.

He contacted Singer but wasn’t sure if the overlocker was worth repairing.

In the comments section a viewer asked if Singer responded to the problem he found:

“Did singer ever get back to you ? I was tempted to buy this machine because I wanted one that could handle thicker material. Do you still think it was a good buy or would you advise against it”

J. CONYERS-DAVIES (2019) on Youtube

Kevin Sews responded:

“Yes, they did. Said there was nothing they could do about it.

I finely bored out the hole and inserted a bit larger screw in it. It worked fine after that.

I just wish they wouldn’t label this machine as heavy duty when all I did was surge some denim and drapery fabric on it twice before it broke.

Sadly, Singer is nothing but a marketing name these days.”

Kevin Sews (2019) on Youtube

What’s the difference between Singer 14SH754 and 14HD854?

  • The SH is about £15 cheaper (at the time of publication).
  • The HD is advertised as having a heavy duty metal frame, more motor power, and a cutting knife that’s 60% bigger. The SH isn’t described like this.
  • The HD comes with a waste bag for catching cut fabric, whereas the SH doesn’t.
  • The HD has twice the light of other models.
  • The HD has a slightly higher presser foot height.
14SH75414HD854
Price (adjusted September 2020)Typically £329Typically £329
Check Amazon’s priceCheck Amazon’s price
Stitches
Stitch Ability2/3/4 threads2/3/4 threads
4 Thread Overlock
3 Thread Overlock
3 Thread Flatlock
3 Thread Rolled Hem
2 Thread Overlock
2 Thread Flatlock
2 Thread Rolled Hem
Stitch Length1 – 4 mm1 – 4 mm
Stitch Width3 – 6.7 mm3 – 6.7 mm
Retractable Knife
Max. Speed (stitches per minute)13001300
Feet IncludedStandard footStandard foot
Easy to Use?
Looper Air Threading
Easy to Thread Lower Looper
Needle Threader
Automatic Tension
Colour-Coded Threading
Waste Bin
Free Arm
Easy Rolled Hem Conversion
Weight6 kg6.2 kg
LED / Light bulb
Extension Table
Can Handle Different Fabrics Well?
Differential Feed (to stretch or gather fabric)
Adjustable Pressure
(unlabelled screw)

(unlabelled screw)
Max. Presser Foot Height4.5 mm4.5 – 5 mm

Download Free Checklist

A checklist of features to look for in a serger or overlocker.

Avoid investing in a machine that isn’t right for you.



Now it’s your turn

I’d like to hear from you 🙂

Do you have any questions about Singer overlockers?

Maybe I missed something you want to know?

Let me know by leaving a comment below.


Sources

Singerco.co.uk. ’14HD854 Overlocker’. [online] Available at: https://www.singerco.co.uk/14HD854.html [accessed: 15 March 2020]

singer.com. ’14HD854 Heavy Duty Serger’. [online] Available at: https://www.singer.com/14hd854-heavy-duty-serger [accessed: 15 March 2020]

Singerco.co.uk. ’14SH754 Overlocker’. [online] Available at: https://www.singerco.co.uk/14SH754.html [accessed: 15 March 2020]

Singer. (2005). ’14SH754 Instruction Manual’. [online] Available at: https://blessington.app.box.com/s/uqovo8h3e0vpp5rkniy3z5jd26jzko5c [accessed: 15 March 2020]

Singer. (2012). ’14HD854 Instruction Manual’. [online] Available at: https://res.cloudinary.com/singer-sewing/image/upload/v1576240132/Singer-Website-Library/Manuals/Products_manuals/14HD854_English.pdf [accessed: 15 March 2020]

Kevin Sews. (2014). ‘Singer Heavy Duty Serger Design Problem’. [online] Available at: https://youtu.be/d0Zy0ZtnbLU [accessed: 15 March 2020]

Jamie Kemp. (2017). ‘Singer 14SH754 Overlocker Basics and Threading tutorial’. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m4c80OshDHY [accessed: 14 March 2020]

Phone call with a technician at BSK Ltd on 17 Feb. 2020.

Phone calls with salespeople at sewingmachinesales.co.uk, Frank Nutt Sewing Machines Ltd, Gur Enterprise (UK) LTD trading as GUR Sewing Machines, and Lords Sew-Knit Centre on 27 Feb. 2020.

gursewingmachines.com. ‘FAQs’. [online] Available at: https://www.gursewingmachines.com/buyersguide#faq [accessed: 11 March 2020]

Jen Skedd. Artisan Stitch. (2016). ‘Singer Overlocker 14SH754 Review’. [online] Available at: https://www.artisanstitch.co.uk/singer-overlocker-14sh754-review/ [accessed: 12 March 2020].

2 replies on “Singer Overlocker Reviews from Industry Pros: they say AVOID”

Hi Julie,

A technician told me he liked these brands: Brother, Janome, Bernina, Pfaff, and Husqvarna. He said you can get a more substantial machine for about £300+.

However, this was pre-pandemic. Overlocker prices have been artificially inflated recently. So I would say the better quality ones will be £400+ now.

Another great brand is Babylock. 2 overlocker sellers told me they’re the “rolls royce” of overlockers.

If you want to know more about good and bad quality overlockers, I have this post: https://threadsmonthly.com/good-quality-overlockers/

If you only want a decent budget machine, I recommend the Brother 3034dwt. The threading system is excellent, and it has tons of free accessories. If unavailable, the brother 2104d. It’s almost identical, except it doesn’t have the extension table and waste tray included.

Janome’s budget overlockers are bad for threading. Very outdated design. More info here: https://threadsmonthly.com/best-janome-overlocker-review/

I hope this helps.

Sara 🙂

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