A man after my own heart.

Adam Grant recently wrote a piece in the New York Times titled “Why We Should Stop Grading Students on a Curve”.

My feud with the Bell Curve God aside, I also understand the logic of grading on a curve. Mostly, though, my emotions have ranged from frustration to ambivalence.

I think Grant puts it well. I would like to see alternative or modified grading schemes of the sort he proposes – it sounds like it’d be a weight off our shoulders.


Sewing Machines in Singapore


After, oh, about four months of sewing, I decided to hunt around for my first sewing machine. I learnt on a Singer 8280, a Singer 2259 and a very temperamental Sakura machine (Model 9302). These were the machines I sewed on in class and at my grandma’s place. My grandma’s main guy is one of these old Singer machines that everyone used to use in those days, a Singer 15K80. Most of the decals have kept their glossy gold finish, so it’s still a very pretty machine 🙂 I searched up the serial number – it was made in Clydebank, Scotland! That’s such a Iong way away. I sewed a little on it, but couldn’t get the hang of it. I’ll try again another day!

I Googled around a lot for tips on picking out a sewing machine, sewing machine reviews (I leaned heavily on Erin Says Sew and The Sweet Home in particular even though both are US-based sites if I’m not wrong), the different models and Singapore-based locations. Many of the things I learnt are relatively easy to find on the internet, so I’ll focus on the Singapore-based stuff, since that’s the part I had the most trouble with.

Sewing machine retailers/shops in Singapore include:

  • Courts
  • Ban Soon Sewing Machine
  • Guan Lee Long Sewing Machine
  • Sing Mui Heng Pte Ltd
  • Spotlight Singapore
  • Freddy Elect Sewing Machine Service (I didn’t check this one out personally) – it sells a mixture of secondhand and new machines

Courts carries mostly Singer and Brother machines, but also stocks Husqvarna Viking E20 machines. There are a couple overlocker machines too. At the Toa Payoh branch, you can test drive Singer machines, but not the Brother ones. I suppose it’s because they only have the Singer promoter there? I’m not sure if they have a promoter there every day, and even so, there may be different people on different days. The auntie I went to is there every Sunday. I wanted to test drive out the Brother machines, but they told me I’d have to go down to the Courts Tampines branch instead. I didn’t go in the end – call ahead if you’re planning to make the trip down!

Ban Soon Sewing Machine carries a wider variety of machines – embroidery machines are represented. It carries the Janome HD3000 too! It also stocks a cool range of sewing machine feet and other accessories. They sell treadle machines with the attached desk too, as does Guan Lee Long. Guan Lee Long Sewing Machine carries more Janome machines, but I didn’t see the HD3000 when I was there around a month ago. It also carries the Juki HZL-K65.

But if you’re looking for a Singer or Brother, you might have better luck elsewhere. Sing Mui Heng’s Chinatown branch stocks mostly Brother machines, though it also sells the Juki HZL-K65 (the lady I spoke to said they don’t have ready stock, but they will order it in if I’m buying) and a Toyota machine – I think it’s the Toyota Super Jeans.

Spotlight stocks more embroidery machines and Semco sewing machines. IMO, the selection is rather poor and overpriced. And the Brother promoter there was super pushy 😡

Distributors (the ones I researched and/or went down to):

  • Singer – I have two different addresses here, so I’ll just put both of ’em down. If you have the Kaki Bukit Road address, that’s the old one. I didn’t go down personally, but I have the sales promoters’ namecards & enquired about the machines via text.
  1. Regnis (S) Pte Ltd, Lorong Tai Seng, Leong Huat Building
  2. Regnis (S) Pte Ltd, 6 Harper Road #06-04, Leong Huat Building, Singapore (369674)
  • Juki – 20 Bendemeer Road, BS Bendemeer Centre, #04-12

Getting the machines via Singer directly is cheaper: the Singer 2259 retails at around $379 but it’s $299 if you get it directly from the promoter. The Singer 4423 is only slightly less costly: it retails at ~$499 and is sold for $465-$470 from the distributor.

Juki Singapore is more of a warehouse-type area than a shopfront (duh). They don’t sell domestic sewing machines to individual customers directly. They handle industrial machine orders more, I think, but I’m not sure if they will sell industrial machines directly to individuals, or if you have to go through a third party or order in bulk, or something. But they gave me the contact details of the guy who does sell/distribute domestic Juki machines. He’s Mr Mui, tel. 9633 4545. I didn’t look at any more Juki machines, so I didn’t use the contact details they gave me. If anyone reading this does call, let me know how it goes and what the selection’s like! I was really hoping to get my hands on a Juki HZL-35Z, but didn’t see any around.

Other than Singer and Juki, I know there’s a Brother service centre somewhere in Singapore. The address for the Janome distributor and a Bernina shop in Singapore is floating elsewhere in the internet. I didn’t check those out.

Other handy finds:

  • Carousell
  • Gumtree
  • Lazada/Qoo10, etc, what have you – but generally I would prefer to see the machine in person before I purchase one!

Similar to Freddy Elect (mentioned above), Carousell and Gumtree are great for perusing (read: obsessively browsing) secondhand finds. To be honest, I thought the listings were sorta meh, but that also really depends on your needs. If you sift through them carefully you’ll find a gem once in a while.

My shortlisted options, in order of price:

  1. Singer 2259 ($299 from the Singer distributor, $299 during a Courts sale at the time)
  2. Brother FS101 ($399 – can’t remember where I got the price from…a Brother sale?)
  3. Juki HZL-K65 ($450 – at either Sing Mui Heng or Guan Lee Long. I think GLL?)
  4. Singer 4423 ($465-470 from Singer, $480 at Ban Soon, $499 at Courts)

Other options I had:

  • Singer 7256 Fashion-Mate, sold in Singapore as Model 6810 ($599 at Ban Soon)
  • Janome HD1000 ($588 from a listing on Freddy Elect’s Facebook page. Retailers generally don’t stock the HD1000 any more since the HD3000 has come out)
  • Juki HZL-27Z ($239 on Carousell from an old listing. Not sure if still valid…hmm)
  • Janome HD3000 ($661 at Ban Soon, I think the Carousell listing going at $600 has already been snapped up, but whaddya know, I found two listings for the HD3000 the last time I checked. There may still be one more up!)
  • Janome 525S ($799 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Brother LX27NT ($228 at Sing Mui Heng)
  • Brother AS2730 ($198 at Ban Soon; $228 at Sing Mui Heng)
  • Janome 1008 ($450 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Janome 380 ($590 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Janome NS7388 ($550 at Guan Lee Long)
  • Brother GS2500 ($198 at Courts)
  • Brother CS6000i (I estimate $425-ish…but haven’t seen this one anywhere, although I think they are available here. Maybe??)

Most of the machines should have a one-year manufacturer’s warranty. As an aside, if you’re looking to get a sewing machine table for a treadle machine, here are the prices from Guan Lee Long: Original (原装): $228; Malaysian-made: $180. The one from Ban Soon is around $250-$280. $280 if I remember correctly. The shop guy will deliver the table to your home for you. For both shops, there’s no extra delivery charge. Technically, for Ban Soon, I think the delivery charge is already included in the price.

Of all the shops I went to, I like Ban Soon the best. The selection isn’t as extensive as I’d have liked (then I wouldn’t have to go running around everywhere), but let’s face it, the machine shops everywhere else here aren’t known for their wide variety and choice either. The staff at Ban Soon listened to what I wanted for the machine, asked questions and recommended me a couple machines. They answered my noob questions patiently and weren’t pushy.

One last note: Smaller shops usually have to charge an extra credit card fee (1-3%), but bigger merchants can absorb the cost of the fee.

I eventually went with a Singer 4423 because I wanted something mid-range heavy duty that wasn’t a computerised machine (too fiddly, and not worth the extra money, for me). Something portable, a free-arm machine with seam allowance markings on the throat plate. I checked that the basic stitches I needed/wanted on hand just in case were there. Bonus points for having a drop-in bobbin, one-step buttonhole, drop feed capability with a good feed dog system and adjustable thread tension (I like having the option). My only beef with it is that the manual has zilch on maintenance and troubleshooting 😡

Okay, I think that’s it!