Old Sewing Machines: Working Treasures


JudyAnyone who sews, whether a prolific seamstress, or someone who needs a sewing machine for mending a torn seam or hemming a pair of pants now and then knows the value of having a sewing machine that will make a great seam without causing you to pull your hair out just to get it to stitch!

Through the years I've come to realize what a treasure the old sewing machines are. My very favorite machine is the Singer 301. Singer-Sewing-MachineProbably the most popular of collectible sewing machines is the Singer Featherweight. Singer-Featherweight

Both the Featherweight and the 301 are fantastic machines, and in my biased opinion, two of the best machines ever made. The 301 weighs approximately 16 pounds vs. the 11 pound Featherweight. The 301 is gear driven vs. the Featherweight being belt driven.  The feed dogs can be dropped on the 301 for free motion quilting, whereas the Featherweight feed dogs cannot be dropped. Both can come in a convenient carrying case, though the 301 machines were often sold with a cabinet instead of a carrying case. Both only do a straight stitch, though there is an attachment for the 301 that allows it to make a few decorative type stitches.

Almost all of my sewing is done on the 301. The stitch quality is always perfect! There's nothing that can go wrong with either a 301 or a Featherweight that my husband cannot fix, and he is not a sewing machine repairman!

Due to the Featherweight being in such high demand as a collectible, they're often very expensive. In our area, the 301 machines are more readily available for a reasonable price. I've seen them from $30 to $150.

And, if you're a serious lover of sewing machines, you want to be on the lookout for a treadle machine. I have this White model that works great. I don't use it but my grandma had a Singer treadle and she taught me to sew on that old treadle. If ever we're without power for an extended amount of time, you can bet this machine will be sewing up a storm! Treadle

Robyn Swaim
3/11/2013 5:17:47 PM

Did you ever find a manual for your 301?

Hazel Carter
1/18/2013 9:47:19 PM

I call my Singer 503A my "workhorse." I'll never part with it as long as I'm alive. It weighs a ton, unlike my light-weight Viking Lily. Don't get me wrong. I love my Viking. But when the newer machine develops a problem I know the Singer will always work. It has cams for the various stitches. I had the opportunity a couple years back to add to my collection of cams. I think I now have just about every one made for the 506A. I bought mine in the 50s. With a 3-yr. old I was beginning to saw a lot of little dresses for her. I rented another brand for awhile until our friend switched to selling Singers. I've never regretted buying my Singer. For several years I made just about everything that my kids and I wore. I stopped short of underwear! My kids were the best-dressed until they got old enough to feel ashamed of "Ma Made."

1/12/2013 9:24:30 PM

Great article Judy!!! I am looking as you are aware for a 301 now..you are a huge help as always!!!

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