Friday, April 6, 2012

Use It or Lose It: Singer 319W

Singer 319W

I'm up to machine #8 in the inventory of sewing machines in my collection. This is a c.1954 Singer 319W. I thrifted this machine long, long ago and far away, but it needed re-wiring and I just never got around to it - until now. The 319W was one of Singer's first "swing needle" or zig-zag machines ever made. It was equipped with 5 built-in specialty and decorative stitches, each engaged by flipping up a lever on top of the machine near the handwheel.

Singer 319W Levers

The 319W also has a 6th lever, which along with a knob on the front of the machine allows for the use of cams (Fashion Disks) to create additional stitch patterns. Although were originally 30 Fashion Disks available, I only have 8 of them.

Singer 319W Cam

This machine was in an old, broken down cabinet which I trashed after thrifting this machine. The previous owner had re-wired the machine to get it into the cabinet, and there were exposed wires sticking out all over the place. So, first order of business was repairing and correctly wiring the machine which we did a few days ago.

And it sews! I tested out all of the built-in stitches in the 319W. Looks pretty good, but I really had to fiddle with the thread tension. A lot. Ugh, I had a feeling this might happen, because this is what the bobbin case looked like:

Singer 319W Bobbin

This machine takes a very odd needle size, a 206 X 13 instead of the most common 15 X1 needles. The 206 X 13 is a shorter needle, and if you place the 15 X 1 in the machine, not only will it make a really crappy excuse for a stitch, but the needle may hit the bobbin case causing it to crack or bend. Which, obviously, someone has done here. So, second order of business was to order a new bobbin case.

And now it sews MUCH better! Here are stitches from some of the Fashion Disks I've collected. Not too shabby, and an ingenious way to create extra stitches for a machine. If you want more decorative stitches, buy more cams!

Singer 319W Profile

I think this is one of those machines that people either love or hate. Looking around, I saw some reviews on the Singer 319W that called it loud and clunky. But seriously, this machine runs quieter than the many other vintage machines, and makes just the smoothest stitches ever! Makes me wonder if those nay-sayers weren't using the wrong sized needle with their 319W's. I'm definitely loving this machine, and it is definitely a keeper. In fact, I have a cabinet from a broken down Pfaff 130 that only needs a few minor adjustments for the 319W to pop right in. Yay!

If you'd like to see some of the other machines in my collection, you can click back to read about these oldies but goodies:

#7. 1957 Singer 221
#6. 1934 Singer 99-13
#3, #4, and #5. 1922 Singer 66, C.1900 Vibrating Shuttle, and Singer 114K103
#2. 1919 Singer 128


Sarah said...

You've done it again! These machines are lucky to have someone like you who is willing to lovingly restore and use them. Glad this one is a keeper.

Michelle said...

I have not ever seen one of these in the thrift stores, but I love the levers. It reminds me of an old typewriter. Where did you buy your specialty needles? I'm glad you are keeping it!

Faye Lewis said...

What a beautiful machine.

Donna said...

How did you even know there was such a needle size and length? Your patience and attention to these vintage machines are amazing!

MICHELLE said...

Where did you find the special needles at?

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! Donna, thankfully I found a copy of the manual which lists the needle size. Michelle, I bought the needles years ago through a seller on e-bay, I'd suggest looking there.

Jim y Nena said...

Hi, I just got a 306K from Goodwill for $21.65 with cabinet and extra feet. Mine is a beige color, I like the black one better. Do you know how to find the serial number on these models? Thanks. jim

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hi there Jim - I believe the serial number is stamped underneath the machine. That is where I found it on my 319W. Happy stitching!

Thomas Allen said...

i'm helping my grandmother in law clean out her spare bedroom, and we found her old Sing 319 W, its been collecting dust in its table since 1958, she forgot all about it until we found it, it works perfect, i'm not sure on the date it was made, she remembers buying it brand new Aug, 1956, she said they moved in 58 to Japan cause her husband was stationed over there and it went into storage, when they moved home to America, it became a night stand and a tv table and been ever since. I plugged it in today after cleaning off so much dust workes perfect, belt seems to have tiny cracks from old age most likely, but it looks brand new under the table top. i know she said she plans on using it now, but we were trying to figure out if anyone could tell me ruffly how much it is worth

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hi there Thomas Allen! That is a great find from your Grandmother in law. It is very difficult to put a price on a machine, especially without seeing it in person and sewing on it. There are many variables that go into pricing a vintage machine, such as overall condition of the machine, condition of the original case or cabinet for the machine, what original accessories still remain, etc. Sometimes I look online to see what similar machines have SOLD for as a good measure. Be careful, many people PRICE machines to sell online very high. Just because you see a similar machine listed for a high price does not mean that anyone would actually pay that amount, or that the machine is really worth it. Good luck!

John said...

I have a 319 W that runs fantastic! I call it the Sherman tank of sewing machines because it will sew through almost anything.

Your comments about the bobbin case are very accurate. If the standard needles lengths are used, the bobbin case will get all dinged up and the machine won't work very well. My bobbin case works but has a few dings.

Where did you find a good quality replacement bobbin case?

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hi John, nice to hear from you! Yes, this machine is like a tank, isn't it? I bought the replacement bobbin case through this online shop, and I'm including a link right to the page of replacement bobbin cases. I've been using this online shop for replacement Singer parts for many years with great results. Good luck with your 319 and happy stitching!


Arte em Crochê said...

Oi Querida

Quantas Máquinas Lindas
Sou brasileira e já sou sua fã
Venha conhecer o meu blog

Beijos Dani

Anonymous said...

Cindy Peters (stitches in time) carries both the replacement bobbins, needles and the 206 size bobbins. This is a particularly sweet machine.

Stogie said...

What is the largest size needle made for this machine. I want to sew leather with it, but haven't been about to find a needle larger than a #16. The manual says to use a #19 or #21 needle for leather. Help?

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hi Stogie, there were more sizes available when the machine was new, but since that time this size of needle has become obsolete, and there is a very limited choice for what you may still find available. So, although you'd love to find a size larger than a 16, I'm not sure there are any still out there to find. Have you tried searching online to see if there is anyone selling old stock? That may be your last chance.

malissa said...

I have had luck finding needles for my 319W at sewing machine shops that have been in the same place for a good while...they often have old parts in the back. I have size 12, 14, and 16 needles for my machine. The 319 is a lovely machine to use mine is green and I bought it at the thrift for about $23 probably 5 years ago.

Sam Georgen said...

I just bought this machine at a yard sale and there is no book, is anyone willing to scan me a copy of theirs if they have one? I am hoping I didnt waste my money on something that does not work.... :)
But I am thinking if I understood it better maybe I could get it adjusted and be very happy with it! hoping...
thank you!

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Sam, you can find an original scanned, downloadable manual at ISMACS right here: Just click on your model (it is actually listed as the 319K, same model made overseas). Make sure you are using the correct size needles for this machine, standard sized Singer needles are too long and can damage the machine if you try and sew with them. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

I just picked up one of these and am super duper excited to have a vintage that does zigzag, but... the machine came with all the wrong sized needles!! The bobbin case looks fine, but I do see a few scratches on the hook that spins.

Do you know a way I can tell if the previous owner had the timing changed on it?

I am ordering the correct needles and waiting until then to try it out. The sample stitches she gave me looked OK, but I noticed a lot of loose threads or zigs that weren't formed perfect.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hey there Anonymous, congrats on finding an awesome 319W! It is possible that the wrong sized needles are what caused the dings on the bobbin case and the funky stitching. Why not wait until the right sized needles show up and see how she sews with those? Best of luck!

anna said...

I have a 319W and took it out the other day. Sewed a couple of pairs of fleece socks and a fleece dog sweater and was very pleased with how the machine was running.

I then started reading the manual and playing with different feet. I learned how to machine hem- something I've never done.

Everything went sour when I decided to use the ruffler; another presser foot that I've never used. I couldn't get it to work and what's worse, now the thread won't catch the bobbin thread, so no stitches are formed when I try to sew.

I do know that my machine was retimed for regular needles, which is what I was using. They worked fine at first and now nothing. Any advice?

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hi anna, let's see if we can figure this out. My first thought on the ruffler is making sure that it was attached to the machine correctly, with the opening on the arm slipped over the screw on the needle bar. If it wasn't quite on the right way, it wouldn't work correctly.

I'm also thinking if the machine was re-timed (meaning the needle bar was moved from the original position in order to facilitate the needle meeting the hook under the machine at the right time to form a stitch), the ruffler may not work correctly anymore since it relies on the correct movement of the needle bar to help create the ruffles as the machine stitches.

It sounds like the machine was knocked out of time, which may have happened if the needle bar hit the ruffler when you were trying to use it. You may need to have it serviced and re-timed.

There are original needles still available for this model, which you can find by doing an internet search for the correct type/size of needle. I do know that it has been common practice to re-time this machine in order to use standard needles, but my personal feeling is that this model works best when using the original recommended needles and is timed as such. In this way, all accessories work normally in conjunction with the machine, and there's no chance of having an "uh-oh" moment like this one.

Good luck to you with your 319, they are great machines!


Anna said...

Thank you- it now doesn't work with any of the presser feet so I'm thinking that it was indeed knocked out of time. I bought this at an estate sale and the original owner was kind enough to make notes in the manual about when it was retimed. 1991- it was probably very hard to find the needles then in Tennessee, as this was before the internet was really happening. I would prefer it to be original, but since it was running well, didn't bother to have it serviced.

Is it possible that it was knocked back to the original timing? And is it possible to retime it myself?

Anna said...

I just inspected it again, trying to see if I could figure our how to retime it. What I realized was that there was something that looked like a rock stuck in the needle bar. It originally looked like it was part of the metal machinery, but when I pried it out, the machine worked perfectly again! Hooray! It's a real green machine now!

Also, was able to get the ruffler going- that worked also!

Thanks so much! I look forward to reading more of your posts.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hey Anna, that is great news! I love the ruffler, it's one of my very favorite accessories on the sewing machine. I used it a lot to add ruffles to kitchen aprons. Happy stitching with your vintage Singer!

Vicki G. said...

I've had one of these for years, and it does work great! I "borrowed" it from my mom... what I would like to find is the blind hem stitch cam...I have most of the others, but that one would be oh so useful!

Anonymous said...

I have a singer 319w with all the "cams", what I think they are (black shaped disks-30) Ruffler, a green singer box with screw drivers in it, original book, and more. It is in great condition-looks just like your picture. It runs great, as my husband (an electrician) just checked it out and it runs perfect. It has the light with bulb, other attachments I don't know what they are, and it is in a wooden case that opens that it is good condition.
Can someone please help me with an approximate value? I don't know how and don't like to sew.
Any help would be appreciated.

Regina Cade said...

I am looking to sell my singer319w with all cams, toolbox, ?ruffle?, other attachments. Looks exactly like the picture shown. It is in a brown sewing cabinet good condition.
Any help www
Thank you.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hi Regina, you can start by checking out this article, How Much Is My Old Sewing Machine Worth? to find many links to help you research your machine:

While I can't help you personally with finding a value for your machine, the article above has lots of information to help you research to find a value on your own. Best of luck to you!


Regina Cade said...

Thank you! If anyone else can help me, please contact me at

Nancy said...

I just got one and i am new to sowing machines overall, i would love it if you could make a video and cover the basics on this machine 319w. I tried it and it seems to have an issue with the fabric moving, i don't know tha name of the part, but would like to know if you have an idea of what the problem might be, your assistance is greatly appreciated.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hi Nancy, congrats on your newly acquired Singer 319W! You can check the manual for threading instructions, and to make sure you have the bobbin threaded and inserted the right way in the machine. The feed dogs are responsible for moving the fabric forward, and it may be as simple as having the stitch length set at a very small stitch. Try playing with the stitch length knob to see if that helps with the feed dogs.

Nancy said...

Thank you, I will try it, I have not gotten a chance to really inspect what the issue might be, but I do appreciate your help.