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Singer 7640 Confidence™ Computerized, 200-Stitch Sewing Machine
Sewing technology so masculine (simple) even guys can use it!
Text, photos and video by Tom Hintz
Posted – 12-12-2017
I decided that either I or my 40-some-year-old JC Penny sewing machine was going to cease to exist because it frustrated me more frequently than it made workable stitches. When looking for a new machine I tried to be realistic about my needs and less than stellar sewing skills. Buying a mega-buck machine with all the whiz-bang computerized features was way out of my budget, my skill and need range. I did want a durable machine that I could grow into, one that worked as it is supposed to, one with a set of capabilities that made sense for me and one with a reasonable price. After much searching, reading of reviews and watching videos I decided on the Singer 7640 Confidence™.
The Singer 7640 Confidence™ has a surprising list of 200 built-in stitches, including 8 different buttonhole styles, all of which are automatically created using a nifty buttonhole presser foot that measures the button and creates a correctly-sized buttonhole for it. I have difficulty thinking that anyone needs 200 stitches, but these big numbers appear to be a sewing machine industry “mine is bigger than yours” scale in the quest to be the “big dog” in the sewing machine world. After looking through the available stitches I noticed that more of them looked like they could be useful, even for me. This is where that “teach an old dog new tricks” thing could be very handy for me.
The Singer 7640 Confidence™ is built around a rugged metal frame that provides stability and surprisingly smooth operation for a machine in this price range. Everything I can see in the mechanics and general fit and finish suggest the Singer 7640 Confidence™ should have a long useful life in my shop with minimal, common sense care.
They even increase the working surface of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ with an included 15 ½” by 10” extension table that snaps on and off. The table has a subtly curved surface that makes moving fabric across it snag-free. The extension table has leveling feet to keep it stable when the surface it’s on is not so perfect. To better see all that working area the Singer 7640 Confidence™ comes with a LED light that keeps the large work area bright without glaring back at the operator.
Included are a generous array of accessories including an all-purpose foot, zipper foot, buttonhole foot, button sewing foot, Sew Easy™ foot, blind hem foot, satin stitch foot, even feed/walking foot, open toe foot, cording foot, extension table, bobbins, pack of extra needles, seam ripper/lint brush, thread spool caps, auxiliary spool pin, edge/quilting guide, and soft dust cover. There is little chance of me understanding many of these attachments but over time I expect to learn about the more useful ones for my kind of use.
The auxiliary thread spool post that fits in the top of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ also makes it possible to use twin needles for exacting double-row stitching like you see on jeans and other things. Of course, the upright pin can be used for regular sewing if you prefer the thread spool there. I like the lay-down thread holder but either seems to work just fine.
The Singer 7640 Confidence™ bobbin winding system will be familiar to anyone who has used a sewing machine. Apparently there just is not a lot of improvement for this simple task so Singer wisely skipped trying to fix it. I do like that pushing the bobbin drive to the stop disengages the needle automatically. That eliminates the old “clutch” mechanism on the handwheel that always came loose at the worst time and would draw bad words out of me.
Controls on the front of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ include a sliding speed control and a start/stop button that lets you operate the machine without the included foot control. There is a simple reverse button and my favorite, a button that lets you select the full up or full down “parking position” of the needle when you release the foot pedal. I have found this needle parking to be exceptionally handy. Another simple but very handy feature is the thread cutter on the side of the machine head. It’s dead simple, a little knife with a guard but it is very handy and saves time when you don’t have to find the scissors after every stitch run.
At first, I couldn’t figure out how to set the needle to the left or right of center. My old machine had a mechanical selector for this but the Singer 7640 Confidence™ does not. The Singer 7640 Confidence™ uses pre-programmed stiches for some of this lateral control. We can also use the zig-zag width control button with a straight stitch selected and that moved the needle left and right in relatively small increments. This is another subtle but useful capability for things like placing the stitch line more precisely where a non-centered needle position works best.
One of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ new (to me) features is the lay-down, drop-in bobbin system. I could personally kiss the engineers that developed this bobbin system because during the initial day of testing the Singer 7640 Confidence™ had already sewn far longer than my old machine ever did without the bobbin acting up, locking up, breaking the thread or otherwise frustrating me repeatedly. The drop-in bobbin is literally that simple. You even have a threading track right at the bobbin that sets it up and even trims the thread to the proper length all in one operation. I’ve taken the bobbin out of my Singer 7640 Confidence™ and put it back in just for the fun of it! I have simple needs.
I did find out that you can mess up this bobbin system if you do not hold the bobbin itself with your finger during threading, as the instructions say to do. The bobbin thread goes down between two metal pieces where the tension is applied. If you do not apply just a bit of pressure to prevent the bobbin from spinning the thread can skip over this opening all but assuring a bobbin-thread disaster in your near future. Put your finger on the bobbin while threading and all is right in the bobbin world.
The Singer 7640 Confidence™ also features a built-in needle threader which cures an issue directly related to my 60-something eyesight. I would eventually get my old machine threaded but there were no happy feelings associated with that endeavor. The Singer 7640 Confidence™ has diagrams printed on the machine outer case that guide you through the threading track.
Also on the front of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ is the LCD screen where you choose the stitch or character you want to sew. You get a stitch/character card (plastic, not cardboard) that correlates a number with each stitch and character. The card also shows the currently selected mode from the three available, Straight Stitch, Pattern Mode and Alphanumeric for the rudimentary lettering function. Buttons below the LCD screen are used to enter the number for the stitch, pattern or character that you want to sew. This is one of those computerized functions that really is that simple.
When you select a stitch or character the Singer 7640 Confidence™ automatically sets middle of the road stitch length and width. However, you can tweak these settings within a range specifically set for that stitch. The “brain” in the machine won’t let you get carried away with those adjustments.
Embroidery – Sort Of
The Singer 7640 Confidence™ stitch selection includes alphanumeric characters that can be programmed into words and sewn out using the start/stop button. The Singer 7640 Confidence™ will stop by itself when it finishes the programmed characters. However, this is not embroidery or anything close to it. It’s just a way to add a word here and there in very basic characters when an attractive-looking or specific font is not the goal. After trying this “word” feature of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ I bought a Brother PE-770 Embroidery Machine. A Review of that machine is coming.
When programming up to 40 alphanumeric characters into the Singer 7640 Confidence™ memory you use the buttons below the LCD screen again. There is no display of the letters or numbers you’ve already programmed but you can go back and forth and see the number (from the font/stitch card) for each of the characters already entered. The Singer 7640 Confidence™ can retain the words or string of characters programmed into onboard memory if you need to stitch out more than one copy of this sequence of characters. However, that sequence goes away when you leave the “word” function or shut the Singer 7640 Confidence™ off. The instructions are sketchy at best so remember, the Singer 7640 Confidence™ is not trying to be an embroidery machine. Keep your word-based stitching expectations reasonable. (low)
The big negative regarding the LCD screen is that it is not backlit. I suspect the folks at Singer figure we are not going to be sewing in the dark which is a legitimate point. Perhaps it is my older eyes again, but this screen would be far easier to see with backlighting.
To help you get going the Singer 7640 Confidence™ comes with a nice instruction manual that does a good job of explaining the procedures. In a world filled with poorly-done instructions the Singer manual is definitely closer to the head of that pack than the rear. Singer also has free on-line video lessons/information that you can access to help become familiar with using this machine and learn specific operations.
In the Shop
Using the Singer 7640 Confidence™ turned out to be surprisingly simple to me but remember my previous conditioning courtesy of that 40-year-old, no-tech machine. The Singer 7640 Confidence™ is light-years ahead of that old machine in virtually every way including capability and reliability. It took a while for me to stop anticipating bobbin and other thread-related failures that were so common on the old machine. The Singer 7640 Confidence™ just keeps on stitching away with near perfect reliability despite the heavy use it has seen since I bought it. The few issues I have had can all be traced back to me with the Singer 7640 Confidence™ not deserving any of the blame.
The Singer 7640 Confidence™ offers the option of using the included foot pedal or the speed button on the front of the machine. The On/Off button works fine for the minor letter embroidery the Singer 7640 Confidence™ is capable of but I use the pedal for all other sewing.
The sliding speed control on the front of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ is essentially a top-speed limiter and moves the speed range of the pedal up and down through the available range. The foot pedal remains fully variable which makes it easy for even low-skill operators like myself to slow the overall sewing rate to where I can keep up and place the stitches where I actually wanted them. I hardly ever use the Singer 7640 Confidence™ with the speed control on its fastest setting but I am still finishing sewing jobs way before I ever did with the old machine.
One thing that I wondered about was how easily the Singer 7640 Confidence™ would handle the multiple layers of fabric (light canvas, batting, flannel) involved in making projects like wing bags and tail feather protector/covers for RC airplanes. This turned out to be another “no worry” issue with the Singer 7640 Confidence™. Keep a reasonably sharp needle in it and the Singer 7640 Confidence™ moves right along without any strain, bogging down or producing odd-looking stitches.
The auto needle threading can be a tick finicky and takes a little getting used to, particularly holding the thread against the mechanism correctly but that is small potatoes in the fight between aging eyes and that %$%$#$# little eye in the needle. For this price point, the needle threading system is fine. Besides, there is still an eye in the needle, so we can thread it the old way if the new way gets too frustrating.
Singer’s On-Line “Store”
I thought I would be smart and buy my Singer 7640 Confidence directly from Singers online store. The price was in the ballpark and they offered free shipping. However, despite Singer being a long-trusted manufacturer with a nicely-done corporate website that rightfully touts their products, their store web site appears to be staffed by three people, two of which have enough seniority to sit back and watch the third not do much. Slow is an excessively kind description of the order filling process. So far none of my emails have drawn a response (at this writing well over three months later) and it wasn’t until UPS had the package in their system that I could get any tracking info. It took better than a week, but I did get the Singer 7640 Confidence™ in good shape. I love the machine, hate the online store part of their web presence. Save yourself the frustration and find a local retailer.
After a few months of heavy use putting the Singer 7640 Confidence™ through its paces, including all-day sewing of projects, I can say the Singer 7640 Confidence™ is a great sewing machine for the money with capabilities and a level of reliability that exceeded my expectations. The only function-related problems encountered came from me doing something wrong while threading either the bobbin or upper threads. Those issues went away with a little experience and reading the instruction manual.
The drop-in bobbin is a great addition to the Singer 7640 Confidence™ as is the “needle parking” capability. The included work table extension makes this machine easier to use with larger work pieces, something that is important in the work I do with this machine. Though I was sewing multiple layers of fabric the Singer 7640 Confidence™ never seemed to lack the power to sew efficiently.
With a street price of $199.00 (10-11-2017) the Singer 7640 Confidence™ is a great value for the home sewing world. I am wary whenever something I want costs considerably less than I anticipated. I wonder where they cut costs sufficiently to make that price point. In the case of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ I was happy to find that this sewing machine suffers no cost-saving corner-cutting. That itself is unusual in today’s marketplace but that deviation from the norm is welcomed by my budget which always seems to be less than my needs.
Equipment like the Singer 7640 Confidence™ and its capabilities helps get my work done by simply functioning as it is supposed to with no “work-arounds” needed. The only thing that continues to cause (unfounded) concern is that the Singer 7640 Confidence™ doesn’t break the thread or grow impressive-sized thread balls in the vicinity of the bobbin. My peace of mind grows with each use of the Singer 7640 Confidence™ as I grow accustomed to a sewing machine that works as expected.
If you have an old sewing machine that is giving you fits as did mine, you need to consider the Singer 7640 Confidence™ as a reasonably-priced, therapeutic replacement. This machine provides the trouble-free operation to help your sewing work today and the durability to continue bringing that consistency of function over the long haul.
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Singer store web site (beware) - Click Here
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