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Ev's Sewing Machines

Since May 1999, I have found several old Singer sewing machines. Although I enjoyed the Elna Supermatic, which was my wedding gift in 1954, these old Singers have provided many hours of entertainment. Each machine has its own purpose, and is especially suited for its job. I have used as many as four machines for one quilting project, although my favorites are the 301A and the 15-91. All my Singers were made in Elizabeth, NJ, except the Spartan.

FW 221
Singer 221 Featherweight

This "Featherweight" was manufactured 4/1/1941. I purchased "Dorothy" for $150 at a garage sale. She had a froze-up bobbin case and came with foot controls and case, less the tray. After cleaning and oiling and a trip to the shop costing $50, she runs very smoothly. The FW is constructed of aluminum, weighs about eleven pounds, does precise straight stitching, and is called a semi-precious jewel of sewing machines. It is very portable and comes in its own case.

FW 221 in table
Singer 221 in sewing table

This picture shows the folding sewing machine table I altered to fit the 221 and 301A. I reshaped the cut out, shortened the legs on the top surface, and used a cabinet door for the flip down at the front of the machine. This machine is perfect for piecing quilts. It has a very exact straight stitch and it is a joy to use. I also made an insert tray for the case to hold some of its many short-shank attachments. These same attachments can also be used on the Spartan, 15-91, and Elna. The bobbin case and bobbins are the same as used in the 301A (slant needle).

Singer 301A

This long-bed tan-colored portable slant-needle machine was manufactured between 1953 and 1954. I discovered "George" at a thrift store for $15, while searching for a 221. He came with case, foot controls, grasscloth case, and original manual. The case needed a lot of TLC, but the machine was very clean and, after further cleaning and oiling, he just purred. The case was spruced up with tacky glue and brown shoe polish. I shortened one of the re-wired cords to the foot control by half its length so it would not tangle so much. I also put a little round self-adhesive felt pad (used on cabinet doors for quieter closing) on the left side of the machine so the flip up does not get nicked. I made a separate 15 inch by 20 inch extension table to go around the flip-down, so the 301 and 221 can be used on any table.

301 with quilt

Singer 301A in Table

This shows George in the same folding table used for the FW, with a perfect fit. The machine is like a full-sized featherweight, but is a lightweight (16 pound) aluminum, straight stitch, slant-needle machine, with retractable feed dogs for free-motion quilting, and a built-in folding handle for carrying. It takes the same bobbin case and bobbins as the FW. It has a gear-driven enclosed motor and full rotary hook. Most of my quilting and heavy duty sewing is done on this machine. I got a modified walking foot from our Singer dealer and it works great. The 301A is one of my favorite machines - it can do almost anything!



Singer 192K Spartan

According to Singer records, this Spartan is similar to the 99K, manufactured 12/10/1962 in Clydebank, Scotland (Great Britain); a good strong and heavy weight short-shank, drop-in bobbin, forward-feed with back tack, 3/4 sized, budget model 99, Class 66, made with no case, light or knee lever. I bought "Belle," head only, for $10 at a garage sale. I had to buy a needle clamp and then I constructed a wooden box for a base. Belle is shown in a cabinet bought for $2 at a garage sale. Cabinet was cleaned and polished and Belle fit perfectly. Also added an old Singer light.

Singer 15-91

This reversible feed, oscillating hook shuttle, potted internal motor, heavy machine was manufactured 5/11/1954. I purchased "Dorothy May" for $50 from an elderly lady who could no longer use the machine. The machine came with case, foot control, a few attachments, and original manual. I put her in a $20 cabinet from a thrift store. The Model 15 is called the "Farmer's Machine" or the "Workhorse."



Singer 503A Slant-O-Matic

This is my latest Singer - "Henry," a 503A Slant-O-Matic "Rocketeer." I was searching for a buttonhole attachment for the slant-needle 301A, and found one in a thrift store, but it could not be purchased separately. For $25 I got the buttonholer, zigzag sewing machine, plastic case, cords and foot control, a box of fashion disks, a few attachments, and original manual. The case was very dirty and scuffed, and the machine was rusty and dirty, but after cleaning the 503 and its case, they look like new. The felt under the spool pins looks like it was used very little. This machine was manufactured between 1960 and 1962 .

Elna Supermatic

I no longer own this Swiss-made zigzag free-arm die-cast aluminum machine which was purchased in May 1954. This machine was chosen because of its high ranking in Consumers Report . The only disadvantages were its heavy (for a portable) weight and the need for frequent oiling. It was updated in the shop several times and did a multitude of stitches. The heavy sheet steel carrying case opened up to form a flat-bed table.

Elna was the first automatic decorative-stitch of that era. It used single-height cams to control the side-to-side swing of the needle, and double-height cams to also control forward and backward motion. My Elna had been used for everything from fine fabrics to vinyls and leathers.

Elna with case

Baby Lock

Baby Lock Overlock

Overlock machine Model BL 3200 was purchased in 1985. It is used to finish seams and raw edges, narrow hemming, stitching knit and stretch materials. The serger stitches and trims, and totally encloses the cut edge of the material almost twice as fast as a regular sewing machine. Once I used it for piecing a log cabin quilt. The overlock is a perfect accessory to the regular sewing machine. I also made an 12 inch by 13 inch extension table from a cabinet door to wrap around the machine bed to make sewing easier. The pre-finished doors make perfect working surfaces.

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