Monday, February 27, 2012

Newest Member of My Crew

This past weekend, I adopted this beauty:

She's a Singer 301A, born in 1956.  She is so cute and I cannot wait to do whatever I can to get her fully operational.   This machine is solid metal, baby, and comes from a time when the Singer was the go-to for anyone wanting to make home sewing easier and more enjoyable.

Yes, I am totally geeking out on this machine.  I spent the majority of my Friday evening researching the history of this machine and sewing in general and I'm still excited about all the things I have learned.

In case you were wondering about the history of sewing too, I thought I would summarize the coolest things I learned:

- This machine is said to have "revolutionized the sewing machine of tomorrow making home sewing easier and more convenient."  Looking at this beauty compared to my newer machine with all of its bells and whistles (like a gazillion stitches and built in computer), it made me chuckle a little to think that a machine that only does a straight-stitch and weighs 16 lbs in all of its solid metal glory was revolutionary and I was just picturing the happy housewife picking out her brand new, state of the art machine.  It just made me want to put on an apron.  
- Isaac Singer built the first commercially successful machine in the 1850's, and he used the up and down stitch invented by Elias Howe. However, he had not asked Howe if he could use his patented idea so he was sued and Howe won and was paid royalties by Singer (resource).
- Home machines weren't designed and marketed until 1889, electrical machines were being used by 1905.
- Years before Singer, a frenchman, Barthelemy Thimonnier was granted a patent for a sewing machine in 1830.  It was made of wood, used a barbed needle, and was designed for embroidery but then he realized it could potentially be used for sewing.   He was able to get a contract to build more machines and make uniforms for the French army.  He was able to amass 80 machines before a mob of Parisian tailors destroyed his factory and made him flee for his life because they were worried they would be put out of work by his machines.  He fled to England with the one machine he was able to save.
- There are several other attempts to make machines and machine parts between Thimonnier and Singer that you can read more about here or here.
- Singer is also credited with being the first to offer customer payment plans and machine service with sales.

New features of the Singer 301A (This site compares the 301A with its predecessor, the Featherweight):
- Slant-needle.  Even today's traditional machines have a vertical needle shaft.  The slant-needle is supposed to make sewing easier to see and more fun.
- Modern-stream lined design.  The design of this machine is practically the same of the new ones we buy today.  The model made before this one had the traditional old machine look.
- Carrying handle.  This machine has a carrying handle and can be used in a cabinet or is portable.

I need to get her a new bobbin case and hopefully just a little oil and some more research on how she works will have her up and running in the next couple of weeks.  I am thinking she will be my go to machine for tagging and small projects.

Thank you for indulging me geek-dom.  If you appreciated learning something new on a Monday, please let me know.


  1. Thanks Carrie! Really informative and fun article. I will have to show this to my husband. He would be interested in reading the history of the machines. Several years ago, when I had to buy a new sewing machine; he wouldn't buy one until he was able to find one that at least the inside parts were metal. Hope you have fun with your "new" sewing machine. Debbie Dawirs

  2. I totally get it. What kind of machine did you end up getting? When I went searching for the machine I use every day, that was one of my requirements too. I really wanted a machine I could use all the time, grow with and enjoy using. I've been in love with the dependability and functionality of my Bernina ever since I got her. I almost felt like I was cheating on her by bringing this vintage baby into the house, but I bet they will get along just fine. :)