Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Use It or Lose It: Singer 301

Singer 301

The 1957 Singer 301, one of my all-time favorite vintage Singer machines. I'm up to #10 in my machine inventory, and there's only a few machines left to look at. Which is good, because I'm about out of storage space! This is a portable machine, a big brother to the 221 Featherweights. The end of the bed folds up for storage in the case, and there were two bed lengths available - this one being the shorter of the two, or a "shortie."

I LOVE the streamlined design of the 301, it is sleek, smooth, minimal and the form of the machine follows its simple function. Compare this to the Singer 319 and you'll notice a lot less happening on the outside of the machine although these two machines were manufactured just three years apart.

Singer 301

Can you find the motor on this machine? On old Singers they are usually mounted right on the back of the machine head, but this model houses the motor INSIDE the metal casing. Instead of a belt drive, the 301 has internal direct-drive gears. The internal direct drive of the 301 makes for a quiet and powerful sewing machine. But don't be fooled - some people incorrectly list the 301's as "Industrial" because of this feature, but it was (and still is) considered nothing but a home sewing machine.

Singer 301 Bobbin 

This machine shares the same bobbin technology as the 221 Featherweight, accessible when the end of the bed is raised. This might also be another reason that the 301 makes such beautiful stitches, this is a great bobbin design.

I also love the funky gizmos and gadgets that go along with this machine!
Singer 301 Attachments

I've managed to collect an entire set of attachments for my 301, including the original box of standard 301 stuff,

Singer 301 Buttonholer

a complete buttonholer attachment with extra buttonhole templates,

Singer 301 Zig Zag Attachment

and an original Zigzagger attachment with cams. All these extras fit conveniently with the 301 in the original case.

Singer 301 storage in case

And now for the only drawback - and the reason why you don't see me sewing on outings more often with the portable 301. The case, with the machine and all the accessories weighs a whopping 30 pounds! Compare that to the mere 19 pounds of the 221 Featherweight and accessories in the case, and you'll figure out why the 301 doesn't often make it out of the house!

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:


Sarah said...

I think my husband is going to buy me a back up sewing machine for my birthday. Luckily he mentioned this to me before he bought the new Singer featherweight he saw on NewEgg! I'd love to get your input. I think I've narrowed the choices to either vintage Singer featherweight or 301, or new Juki (for easier quilting) or small Janome (for easier traveling). Thoughts?

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Oh Sarah, a new back-up machine, how fun! The featherweights are great for portability and ease of use, but you can't really quilt a lot with it because it is so tiny. You can probably find the larger Singer 301 for less money, it sews just as well but it is heavier than the Featherweight. Those new Jukis (like Tricia and Emily had at the retreat) are NICE and sew FAST! You might want to ask one of those gals about the portability of those machines - both gals didn't seem to have any trouble toting them in and setting them up. Good luck!

txvoodoo said...

Found this while looking for info about the 301. We found one tucked into an old, broken down White treadle cabinet, of all things! We wanted the iron base - got it home, and my 301 was in there, pristine!

I oiled & lubed it up, found an era-appropriate cabinet (Kenmore, but hey, it works), hubby retro-fitted it in. It works like a DREAM. Best machine I've ever owned.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hey txvoodoo, that is awesome! Yes, these are great machines, and so happy to hear that you use and love your old 301! ~ Erika

Mimi said...

I came across this post via Pinterest. I have this machine. My mom bought it for $25,at a flea market, oiled it up and gave it to me!! It came with the case and accessories boxes! Love it!! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Hello. My daughter just gave me her Singer 301 machine. She hasn't used it in quite a while and I want to oil and lube it before I use it to avoid damage. SN NA039357. I don't have a manual for the machine to see where it gets oiled and/or lubed! Any suggestions? Thanks!

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hi Anonymous, congrats on your new 301! Try the International Sewing Machine Collector's website to see if they have a free downloadable manual here:

Teresa Hickey said...

I have a 301a my tension ( bottom keeps wrapping around the outside of bobbin the thread does.

Laura Hill said...

Would this be a good machine for sewing draperies? I will be going through pleats with several layers of fabric. Any suggestions? This is for a small home business.

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hey Theresa, that sounds really frustrating. Did you try re-threading the whole machine to see if that helps? If not - it may be time to visit a sewing machine repair shop to have your 301 looked at. :-(

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hello Laura Hill - it's really difficult to say, as I've never sewn heavy draperies with my 301. Maybe, if you find one for sale near you, you could bring samples of what you'd like to sew through and do a quick sewing test to see how the machine handles it? Good luck to you! - Erika

sporter said...

Just got a 301 and finished a set of lined valances for my new she-shed! I LOVE this sewing machine. It is simple, steady, and darn fun to look at! It is my go-to for piecing. Thanks for the comments and the review!

Miss Sews-it-all said...

Hey sporter thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your 301! Happy stitching - Erika

Hailee said...

I'm thinking about buying a 301, so what kind of stores or small shops would have them? I need something nearby though... (I live in bergen county nj)

Lynn Gray said...

Hi there, I just wanted to comment that I have used a Singer 301a for my entire life (since the 1960s) - it became my very own when I was about 10 and my mother got a new machine, around 1971. I love it so much! It's still my only sewing machine (other than my serger). I have lots of attachments for it although I never use them.