Finishing with one of the lower scores of the entire group, the Spiegel SP 3201 is far from earning an award. This sewing machine is very easy to thread and set up, but it is missing many of the convenience features of other machines that make it much easier to sew. On top of that, the stitch quality of the Spiegel isn't exactly amazing, though it does create solid buttonholes. All in all, the Spiegel is one of the more inexpensive machines, but you definitely get what you pay for when it comes to its performance.
Spiegel SP 3201 Review
Pros: Inexpensive, easy to set up
Cons: Mediocre stitches, not the most convenient to use
Our Analysis and Test Results
This machines finished at the back of the pack, just ahead of the Brother ST371HD and the Singer Simple 3232. Both the Brother and the Singer Simple are a bit easier to use and the Simple 3232 has better stitches than the Spiegel, but both the Singer and the Brother cost quite a bit more. However, the Spiegel creates better buttonholes and is easier to set up than either of the other two machines.
To pick out which sewing machine really is the best of them all, we started off by comparing the different specifications of dozens of different products, then bought the most compelling models to compare and test side-by-side. We divided our testing method into four weighted metrics, with the Spiegel's results highlighted below.
Our most important set of tests, our series of sewing assessments account for almost half — 40% — of the final score for each sewing machine. We used four commonplace stitches and sewing tasks — long straight stitch, zigzag, scallop, and attaching a zipper — on a variety of different types of fabric to determine scores, with a panel of experienced users rating the quality and consistency of the stitches. Unfortunately, the Spiegel didn't do amazingly well, earning a 4 out of 10.
The long straight stitches tended to be very loose on most of our test fabrics, only producing above average quality stitches on the polyester charmeuse. In particular, it solidly struggled with the silk or jersey-knit fabric, with the zigzag being on the weaker side and definitely lacking the stretch that other models had with the jersey-knit.
Ease of Use
Our second metric consisted of evaluations that compared the different features and functions that make the Spiegel more convenient and easy to use. Unfortunately, it still did below average, earning another 4 out of 10 in this group of tests, which comprise 30% of the final score for each product.
We started off by rating and comparing the quality of the instructions and labeling that is printed right on the machine. It's fairly intuitive and easy to understand for most people, but there are definitely some symbols that can trip up a complete novice.
We liked that the built-in light is nice and bright — without any weird shadows and the integrated thread cutter is about average, located on the side of the machine. However, this machine lacks the option for pedal-less sewing and the stitch selection method can be a bit confusing and definitely requires you to consult the manual frequently until you are exceptionally comfortable with the Spiegel.
You also can't set where this sewing machine stops the needle, so you have to use the pedal to get the needle to stop in the up or down position.
Ease of Set Up
Responsible for 20% of the overall score, our set up metric covered the amount of hassle it is to wind and install a bobbin and thread the machine. The SP 3201 actually did fairly well in this metric, meriting a 7 out of 10 for its results.
This machine is actually one of the easiest models to thread, with very clear directions that actually make it easy to understand how the thread guide works. Additionally, it also has one of the best manual needle threaders, only rivaled by the single push automatic ones on the fanciest machines.
It is also very clear and easy to install the bobbin in the machine and to thread it for winding. It winds bobbins fairly consistently, though they are just a bit bottom heavy.
For our last metric, responsible for the remaining tenth of the Spiegel's score, we compared and scored the ease of creating and the quality of a buttonhole. This machine finished with a decent performance, earning a 6 out of 10.
It can take a little bit of effort to get set up, but the Spiegel has a 1-step buttonhole process that produces fairly high-quality buttonholes. However, it is a mechanical machine, so you do have to pay attention as it finished the stitch and stop it at the right time to prevent it from balling up the thread.
This machine isn't a fantastic value, as it is a cheap machine that didn't score that well, but it may be attractive if you are shopping on the tightest of budgets.
The Spiegel SP 3201 is one of the least expensive machines, but also one of the lowest scoring. You can get a much better machine for only a little bit more if you are planning on getting into sewing as a hobby, but the Spiegel is a decent choice if you don't expect too much and are shopping on the most restrictive of budgets.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer