Right now I am in the middle of two sewing projects: one) a dress for me and two) a small autograph quilt for a sick classmate of my daughter's. I wish I were the type of person who finishes one project before beginning another, but I am really short on THINKING time, and I need all my brainpower when I sew. I started the dress several weekends ago but have not had a chance to finish it. The quilt was something I had been cogitating on -- my daughter and I thought it was a good idea, it's just that I have never done something exactly like this so I was not sure if I was biting off more than I could chew. The verdict is still out on that. Anyway, because I didn't want to totally dismantle my dress project, I decided to use a different sewing machine to piece the quilt.
I am using my Singer 301, a precursor to my singer 401. It is a gear-driven straight-stitch only machine from the early 1950s. It is also portable. I love my 401 (blogged about here), but the idea of having a portable machine also appealed to me in the event I ever wanted to sew on a retreat or something (which so far I have not done). I LOVE the look of a featherweight and seriously thought about getting one for my daughter (I didn't -- I got her a Kenmore 1030), but featherweights are highly prized and quite pricey around here.
The 301 appealed to me because it is a slant needle machine, so the feet (at least the straight-stitch ones) are interchangeable with my 401. And the 301 is a full-size machine. I trolled craigslist for awhile since that's where I found my 401. But I also belong to some vintage sewing machine yahoo groups, and one day there was a post that someone in my area was GIVING AWAY a 301 if somebody would just go get it. So I contacted the lady and ended up driving about 30 minutes to her house, where she had this lovely black 301 in a cherry cabinet.
Like I say, she was well-taken care of and required a very minimal tune-up. I did order a new electrical cord from Sew-Classic. If you need vintage machine parts I can highly recommend Sew-Classic. Also The Sew Box carries quite a variety of feet and other supplies. In addition to supplies, both of these sites carry helpful information for vintage machine owners.
Here are some of the 301's features. This is the throat-plate. The feed dogs are slightly narrower than on a zigzag machine, which can be good for piecing with precise seam allowances. Last summer I made a dress for my daughter with lots of ribbon trim that had to be stitched close to the edge. I did all that part on this machine and it worked beautifully.
|The mirror image makes it hard to photograph|
|Sorry about the blurriness|
I know it's kind of geeky of me, but I feel very fortunate to have two great vintage machines like the 301 and 401. (My daughter's little Kenmore is great, too, but that's for another post). I'm trying hard not to become a collector, although I do have to admit I also have a Singer 66 treadle. But that belonged to my granny and will be a huge refurbishing project one of these days. And if I see a featherweight in the wild that's in my pitiful price range, I won't pass it up. (And if anyone else wants to geek out about their sewing machine or some other appliance, please do so. It will make me feel better about myself:)