Fashion fades, but hardware is forever

Dear Readers, I am officially very happy with myself (and my Singer 201). After CGCouture pointed me to a much cheaper source for parts, I read up more on Singer 201 and realized I was only missing three things — bobbin cover plate, power cord, and class 66 bobbin. I bought all those from sew-classic, plus some sewing machine oil and lube and shipping, it was only about 35 dollars!

Yesterday, I received a bunch of packages and one of them is my singer parts. (The packages also included yet another vintage sewing machine, which I will not talk about just yet to prevent you, my readers, from overdosing on my recent vintage sewing machine addiction and conquers). After putting in all the parts, I took a guess on how to thread the machine, and manually turned the wheel to see if it sews ok, and it does! I then used electrical tape to tape over some exposed wire (a common issue with Singer 201, though if they did touch and short, it is no biggie, your machine just wont stop running!) on the foot petal, then plugged in the machine.Voila! the motor works, even the light works! I haven’t even oiled it and the machine sounded quite smooth. I could not believe my luck — an old Singer that had been literally connecting dust in some old man’s garage, dirty and sad and miss parts, actually works smoothly and sews a nice stitch!

Of course, I could not risk running the machine without cleaning and oiling it, as many of you have warned me. So I carefully unscrewed any external screws I could find and cleaned the machine with oil-dipped towel paper as much as I could. Some parts (especially below the feed dog) of the machine was quite nasty — I couldnt tell if it was mold or just old oil+lint. I hope it was the latter. The feeddog itself was so dirty that I resorted to using the tip of my screw driver to scrape the blackened tar away. As the cleaning goes on, I started having even more appreciation for this beautiful machine — all the smooth gears and stamped metal parts under the hood looks quite steam punk. I could see that this machine was built to last a life time. There were quite a few strategic holes on the body to allow user to insert their oil bottle (which comes with a very long nipple) to put in a few drops of oil.

Most of the decoration and prints on the machine are still intact. There were a few lines etched onto the surface of the bed, possibly because the machine itself did not have any lines to indicate stitch width.

After I had put all the parts back together, I gave myself a major heart attack as the stitches got all unbalanced. It turned out that the flat side of the needle should face the left, not the back like my brother sewing machine (of course, I could have just read the manual instead of debugging it, but I do like a puzzle). Also, the spring mechanism on my bobbin plate catches the threads during sewing. So I have to leave it open in order to sew properly.

Whew! I was so glad when it started working perfectly, note how awesome it is at reverse stitching:

(OK, the video exaggerated the purring of this machine. It actually doesnt sound veryloud in real life!)

Some pictures of my lovely, now cleaned Singer 201:


The bobbin cover plate has to be left open:

Beautiful cover plate for the gears in the front:

I love that sturdy hand wheel:

If you want to see some pictures I took of the inside of the machine during cleaning, click icons:

reasons I love this machine:

  • Its straight stitch is more balanced than my relatively new brother machine!
  • It is beautiful
  • Everything works — the lights, the reverse, the stitch size adjustment, the feet, and even the bobbin winder!
  • It purrs when used, in that deep, calming, i-know-what-i-am-doing way
  • I fixed it up!

10 thoughts on “Fashion fades, but hardware is forever

  1. I’m glad that I could help you! Very cool! You can also find some other information on the sew-classic website to help you figure out how to fix the bobbin case issue, since I’m not sure that you’ll want to leave that door open if you actually use the machine. If you can’t find anything, I’d suggest posting a question on the stitcher’s guild website–I think the address is actually (you might double check that) or try the helpful people at SewForum. 🙂 They both are an awesome group of sewists! 🙂

    1. Thanks again! I probably will contact them! i have talked to the sew-classic lady but she havent had this issue before. maybe ill have beter luck somewhere else!

  2. It’s a real beauty =) I remember threading along those funny loops here and there.

    Question. Why does the thread have to go around in such a long loop before finally going into the needle? And why does that small pedal with the loop have to move up and down? Always wondered why.

    1. i dont know for sure, but i have a feeling it has to do with pulling the right amount of threads from the thread spool.

      now i remember where i first learnt how to use a sewing machine — home eco class in singapore!

  3. Hi Juebejue, I just found your blog and will read regularly.
    very interesting stuff. I now have 3 Singer machines, I just posted not too long abo about my Singer Rocketeer and am seriously contemplating trying to find even older ones.
    I love to clean and oil my sewing machine, makes me feel so self-reliant to keep it ticking just right. And now I am obsessed with
    all the different attachments. Have you started on that?
    also I posted about the Vintage Sewing Machine Attachment book by Charlene Phillips. You may want to check it out, very helpful on how to use the different feet that come with these old Singer machines.
    Nice to meet (virtually) another Bay Area sewing blogger !


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