Review: Singer 4423 HD

Lemon

The Singer 4423 HD (Alternate View)

My first sewing machine was a Singer 4423 HD. It was a disaster that put back my progress with sewing (that I wanted to take up in 2010) back by several years. Here is my review of the machine, as worded on Pattern Review, for reference:

What demoiselle likes about this machine:

I got this as my first machine after I decided to take up sewing. Because I had been taught the fundamentals in a theatre costume shop, I was used to using simple, hearty sewing machines. Therefore, I wanted a fast, heavy-duty, non-computerized machine that would handle a variety of fabric-weights and offered an array of simple stitches and an automatic buttonhole. I also didn’t want to spend a ton of money until I knew I’d be sewing regularly. The Singer 4423 HD seemed to fit the bill.

When I first got the 4423 HD, I was impressed by its speed and the way it felt “sturdy.” However, that sturdiness was not real: this machine is a lemon.

After attempting to use this machine to relearn sewing, I can confidently say that there is nothing I like about it.

What demoiselle does not like about this machine:

It breaks. A lot. There is a problem with the bobbin timing getting out of alignment with the needle, resulting in ruined fabric, knotted and messy clumps of thread, and hours of tears. This machine meant me huddled over my sewing table (bought at Goodwill and customized by cabinet-maker friends JUST to house this machine so it could fold away in my tiny NYC apartment) or my husband lying on the floor under it working to figure out “what was off.”

We spent ages researching what tensions I’d “gotten wrong” that the machine was so messed up. We checked online for instructions. We researched analyses of how sewing machines work. Very informative, but ultimately useless. There was no “at home” fix for this problem.

That meant that I had to take the machine out of the table and haul it to the nearest NYC sewing machine repair shop (via subway and a long walk). The owner was surprised, said that Singers were usually good, and thought that it was most likely a “new sewer” error, but checked it out.

I was right. It was the bobbin timing that was off. $70 went to the repair man for synchronizing it. I asked if I had a lemon, and the guy said “probably not”–that it might have been jostled in shipping.

Of course, halfway through my next sewing project (a few weeks later), the same problem happened again. Rinse and repeat. By the time I dragged the machine back to the shop, I’d lost several months of sewing time afterhaving waited a year and a half to get the machine + customized table back from the cabinet maker in Virginia.

After having the same problem diagnosed again, I decided that it was not worth throwing another $70 into this machine. I’d hardly managed to finish a skirt and one muslin between breakages. The salesperson looked up the record of me coming in with the machine or questions about fixing the machine and agreed–this was a lemon.

I traded it in for parts and bought a BabyLock Molly (A-Line Series). THAT is a good machine. It doesn’t fit into my customized sewing table, but it works and looks just fine sitting on top of it. If I’d bought the Molly on sale to begin with, I would have spent the same amount as the Singer + repairs + the cost of tears and frustration and lost time.

In summary:

Don’t be taken in by the initial feeling that the Singer 4423 HD is “tough” and “unbreakable” and “fast.” It isn’t. It’s a money-pit. I recommend spending more now for a high-quality machine and suffering less later from repair fees and ruined garments.

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3 thoughts on “Review: Singer 4423 HD

  1. Brooke says:

    Yay for the Baby Lock Molly! That’s the same machine I recently bought myself to replace the one I finally killed after 14 years of crazy costuming jobs. It’s definitely a good one. =)

    They don’t make Singers like they used to – I had a long discussion with my repair guy about them when I needed to replace my machine. The store I go to services old Singers but sells new Baby Locks. That should tell you something right there!

  2. John Finster says:

    The Singer 4423, out of the box, is quite impressive: in terms of speed and its ability to handle heavier fabrics, layers, and bigger needle sizes. It has some fatal flaws though. Mainly, the belt that connects the upper drive to the lower drive has a tendency to jump the gear teeth on the shaft. This will throw your machine out of time. The method for re-timing most machines – namely, checking the feed dog timing and then resetting the needle-bobbin timing, or timing the hook, is often impossible after using the machine for only a short time. The set screws on the bobbin timing gear can be backed out completely and still the gear will not move freely on the shaft, Also, when the bobbin case is snagged and needs to come out for cleaning, it doesn’t just slide out. The front case piece must be unscrewed and put aside. Then the needle plate must come off. Then the retainer in the back on the left with two screws must come off. I look at my Singer 4423 the same way as I look at my Dell 1110 Laser printer. If something were to ever happen to either, I’d chuck either one and buy another. Less expensive. In the case of the Singer 4423 though, save everything you can, like the plastic bobbin case cover, the feet, the plastic thread spool retainers, any screws you can get. Extra bobbin cases always come in handy — you can ease the lower tension so heavier thread isn’t such a wrestling match. Truth be told, I’d pay more for the 4423 if the timing belt were a chain or maybe a shaft with worm gears (you can see the timing belt by taking off the plastic piece on top that holds the handle, or by taking off the bottom shrouds). Eventually, all machines will get bumped out of time. So, in a way, it’s a gamble, a risk, somewhat similar to driving a 1960’s VW: they were great little transportation cars, but you really needed to stay on top of the valves.
    One hates to think machines like the 4423 are where we’re headed. Like exercise equipment, it’s incredibly compact, lightweight and convenient to store away . . .

  3. D. says:

    Thank you for the review. Because of the price difference and the favorable reviews on Amazon, I was about to buy a Singer 4423 or 44S instead of a Baby Lock Molly, but you and John Finster (thank you for the explanation of problems you found) changed my mind.
    As you pointed out, repairs on a cheaper machine can quickly add up to the price of a more expensive machine.

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