Machines

Why a Singer 201 will always be a favorite.

Mrs. Knox’s 201

Ah, the Singer 201 sewing machine. Simple, heavy, nearly flawless straight stitching and can be had for less than an elegant dinner for two.

I did not have to look hard to find the ones I now own. Two of them came to me by way of other people and my third was by pure chance at an Estate Sale. The last one had hardly been used, had many parts and accessories and even had the original bill of sale in one of the drawers. I was in heaven. It was like touching a time capsule and then to discover that it could speak to me from the past.

The year was 1947 and Mrs. Sophie Knox purchased her new machine for $274.13, a very large sum of the day. Was it the joy in celebrating the end of World War II? Was it the desire to once again make clothes for pure enjoyment, inspired no doubt by the growing trends towards fuller skirts with yards upon yards of fabric and eventually Dior’s ‘New Look’? She purchased the finest machine there was on the market, complete with all the attachments and every possible accessory.

Bill of Sale for 201

She lived in a house on a property that was certainly a farm during the mid 20th century. The property still held a barn, a laborers cabin, a chicken coup, a machinery garage, a pond and still several acres that had not been gobbled up by developers. Half a Million dollar homes now occupied her property line. I can picture her sewing in the back bedroom of her home enjoying the sound of the soft click, click, click of this beautiful machine as it diligently stitched it’s seams.

I know no one likes to think of what will happen to their ‘things’ once they leave and I’m sure she never dreamt of all her worldly possessions displayed on her front lawn to be had to the highest bidder. I’m sure she would have been embarrassed to know strangers were going through her things, picking up objects and thinking “what the…?”. But there it was among a collection of wooden hangers and an ironing board. The cabinet closed, disguising its inner contents. The day was slightly wet and still cold being March. I didn’t think I’d wanted to come to the auction, after all, it was mostly men after the tools.

The bidding started at $200. No one. Then $150, still not a peep from the mostly male crowd. The auctioneer said “who’ll give me $100?”! I could tell he was getting frustrated but I wanted to stay and watch. Was nobody interested? You know, sometimes people just like to watch. Finally the auctioneer had reluctantly gone down to $20 and a few paddles flew up in the air! He smiled, the game had begun. To his dismay I was left the only one still in at a paltry $45. To me it was pure joy! Ms. Sophie couldn’t have asked for a better steward of her prized possession.

The Top 5 Reasons Why a Singer 201 Will Always Be A Favorite:

  1. Value (I bought mine at auction for $45.00)
  2. Abundance (because it was built so well, and thousands were made during a time where most households sewed, there are thousands available for parts, feet, cabinets, accessories)
  3. The Goodies (All of the machines came with a standard box of presser feet including a ruffler, hemmer, rolled hemmer, binder, and shirring foot which today if you were to buy each of these feet separately on a quality machine such as a Bernina, plan on spending several hundred dollars. The Bernina ruffler foot alone is $100.00)
  4. Smooth Stitching (Probably due to its weight this machine is very quiet and the stitching is reliably straight)
  5. Nostalgia (Owning one is like bonding with a piece of the past. A comforting sense that the previous owner is lingering nearby)

A sampling:
Rolled Hemmer Foot was used to hem this dolls dress.
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The Ruffler Foot was used to pleat these ribbons that were combined with a button for a First Place Show Ribbon.

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139 thoughts on “Why a Singer 201 will always be a favorite.”

  1. I inherited my mothers 1954 model 201, $354 new, I have the original receipt. I haven’t used it very much but it has great sentimental value. I remember watching her do piece work for a manufacturer at home when I was a little boy. I am a professional engineer and have 35 years experience designing things. I must say it is one of the finest machines I have ever operated. When I get the thread tension right and it is humming away it is like driving a ferrari.

  2. Hi
    I have acquired two 201 sewing machines and cannot identify what two of the feet do. Can you help? They are both large and have measurements on them. Any hints would be appreciated.
    Cheers

    Yes..
    If you can describe them or put a link to a photo I can help. πŸ™‚

  3. I inherited my grandmother’s 201 made in 1941 and she taught me to sew my bluejean repairs all through high school (odd thing for a young man to learn !). I had the machine timed, serviced etc about 10 years ago and put it away. I just took it out of storage again and the handwheel would not turn. I found that the grease had hardened and removed the hand wheel, cleaned out the hard grease and re-greased it. Now, it will not sew ! Would removing the handwheel change the timing ? I don’t see how it could, but it will not sew. Any ideas…the service was expensive way back in ’98…I cannot even imagine what it would be now ! Does anyone have a service manual for the 201 that I can borrow ? Thanks

    artie in miami

    1. I’ve only had one machine seize up on me like I think you’ve said but it was an Elna and I got too frustrated that I gave it to Goodwill. I later read somewhere that when the grease gets hard and the machine won’t run that what you need to do is heat up the area. This makes sense, since heating the oil will make it liquid or soften it again.

      I wished I’d known that trick with the Elna. To heat the area use a crafter’s heating gun or a hair dryer with a hot setting.

      Unfortunately I do not know how to re-set your wheel though. Hopefully a reader will know!
      Cathy

  4. I have inherited my grandmother’s 201/ it looks just like the one in the photo. She was a seamstress for many ladies in Western Ne. She is 97 this year and her sewing days are behind her. It sews like a dream. I also have my mothers 1st maching a portable singer from the late 50’s. I like having this link to the past.

  5. Although your review is quite sweet with regards to the 201….don’t you think you might have forgotten something. Perhaps that nasty little fibre gear between the potted motor and the mechanics of the machine, which is very fragile and was known to be nasty even its own day. The same goes for the Singer 15-91, which has the same problem. When that fibre gear stips a tooth, you are done sewing for all time until it is replaced. Although these machines are wonderfull, that nasty fibre gear is prone to stripping when sewing heavy duty stuff, so beware! If, however, you are using a 15 class machine or a 201 without that potted motor, you can pound through leather day after day without worry of that fibre gear, which were not on these machines!

    1. Just acquired a 201. What is a potted motor and how can I tell whether I have the fibre gear or not?
      Did Singer make both types?

      1. Hello, Craig Did you ever find out how to tell which 201 has the fibre gear and which does not have the fibre gear? I am interested in knowing about that also Thanks

      2. If there’s a pulley on the end of the motor, where the drive belt goes, then it’s not “potted” and doesn’t have fibre gears. The potted motor doesn’t use a belt, but a drive shaft that goes straight in the back of the machine and isn’t visible.

  6. Loved reading about your Singer 201. I too got an amazing deal on my 201 at an estate sale. I have all kinds of vintage machines but I always go back to the 201. So quiet. So strong. So handsome. πŸ™‚

      1. the ‘bed’ of a machine is the area that is underneath the pressure foot where the throat plate is all the way over to the control area. Hope that make sense.

  7. i have a 201 treadle, with book and all attachments, i also have the 99k electric, with book and 2 sets of attachments, plus what looks like a new attachment for embroidery, but i need a new tension for the 99k, because mine is missing. if needed i can always scan the book for the 201 and send it to email address.

    1. Hi anne, have just acquired my mother-in-law’s 201K (given to her over 53 years ago and hardly used) with some attachments but no instruction book. Any chance you could scan and email me a copy. I remember my mum having one the same when i was a girl. I am looking forward to using it. I have a more modern Singer but I am sure it would not last 53 years. many thanks, Pam

  8. Craig: I am picking up my 201 this weekend. I don’t know which one I have yet! :::wink, wink::: I did some research and came up with this. Hope it helps.

    Singer produced at least four different versions of the 201:

    201-1 – Treadle version
    201-2 – Potted motor
    and gear-driven
    201-3 – External motor and belt-driven
    201-4 – Hand-crank (original factory, not later conversion)

  9. I just acquired what I believe is a 1941 Singer electric sewing machine in a cabinet with an automatic zigzagger, a button hole attachment, a ruffler and some other parts as well. I for the life of me cannot find how much this machine is worth. It seem to be in almost excellent condition. Any feed back is appreciated!.03

  10. I just stumbled upon a singer 201 when purchasing the slightly broken cabinet that it came in. Actually the cabinet is not original or a singer.Anyway the machine I discovered was a 201! I took it home to clean up and discovered a dirt dobber nest inside the machine and one in the moter too! After cleaning it up and oiling it the machine runs. It needs new wiring but thats all. Hard to believe for 20 dollars. I am now looking for a place to purchase the pedal and a new plug. Please advise. Thanks

    1. That’s great that you found a 201! I think Ebay lists parts on occasion and also try googling for a local sewing machine repair. I believe parts can still be ordered.
      Cathy

  11. wow I never knew my machine had such a following and it is ideal for sewing when the little ones are asleep!

  12. I just got a 201-2 , 1951 Centennial. It is in good condtition, sews like a dream. Was not in an original cabinet but I plan on finding the perfect one for it. Until then will use the one it came in. Paid $125 and although higher than many of you have paid, I think it is well worth it! My two favorites are my 66-16 (1946) nearly mint in original cabinet with attachments and all and now my 201. The two best Singers ever made, in my opinion! I have 9; 185J, 301A, 500A, 15 (-91) I believe, the 66-16, 201-2, 1911 66 treadle (red eye in parlor cabinet), 1976 Athena 2000 (got it brand new, my first Singer) and a Featherweight 221. Love them all!

  13. I am in stitchers heaven! Just purchased a 201-2 (for $175 w/original cabinet). It is in excellent condition but did require a good tune-up and spa treatment. Sews like a dream. This is a machine I will NEVER part with….and I thought my featherweights were fun……The 201-2 is far superior. Whatever happened to this type of quality in today’s offerings???

  14. I have a lovely 1951 201 Centennial! It is nearly mint, sews like a dream! I love it!!!! It was a bargain, $125 in a cabinet, I did not like the cabinet, put it in Queen Anne style that I had. The other cabinet went to my friend down the road for the 15-90 that I am giving her for Christmas. My husband and I refurbish old Singer machines that we find, for my collection, as gifts and to resell.

    1. PS My 201 is a 201-2, potted motor! Also have a 15-125 with a potted motor, it’s mint green, was $20. I got a 201K, handcrank during the summer, looks mint, have not ahd time to sew with it yet, it seems to be cast aluminum and slightly larger than the 201-2. My trusty 221 is going to a quilting class with me next Saturday. Have Singers from 1889 – 1975. Most are from the 40’s. Love them all!!

  15. I just picked up a 201 with what I think is the “potted motor”. I see no belt and the motor is attached directly to the machine and not like my other electrics. I am an engineer and I restore old Volkswagen and Porsche cars. I have never sewn a stitch, but I recently became quite smitten with these beautiful old machines. I think I like them for the same reasons that I love old cars – build quality and connection with the past. I have a very nice old Free-Westinghouse as well as some other Singers (two treadles and three electrics) and a Necci Esperia. I plan to spend the winter in my basement working on these machines while it is too cold to be outside working on the cars. Can anyone recommend good beginner’s instructional books – not just to learn to sew, but to learn how to operate and maintain the machines. First, I want to clean them properly. I have been building engines for years, so I am no stranger to mechanical workings, but I do not want to damage the machines, especially the finish of the paint, decals, and woodwork!

    Thanks in advance. Michael

  16. I would still like to know about sewing denim on the 66-16? Is there any singer that is as tough as the 201? I dont like where the tension is located. I guess it is just so backwards to what I am use to. Thanks

    1. I was taught to sew on industrial machines so initially the 201 seemed a bit ‘lightweight’, however the longer that I have had the machine the more I appreciate what a fantastic machine it actually is (I had no idea that this was the ‘crΓ¨me de la crΓ¨me’ of machines when I bought it!). You wont get a better home machine for sewing denim (or even leather). I have a much newer singer that I use for button holes, zig-zag etc but its not in the same league when it comes to straight stitching. My daughter has recently acquired a Ventura 2000 West German Singer made in the early 70’s that I’m looking forward to using it as this is supposed to be the best of the later ‘proper’ Singers.

  17. Frank! Hello! I have not used denim with my 66-16 (because I have others) but I think most of the older Singer machines can handle it. Use the right needle size and tkae it slow until you know what your machine can do. Make sure it is oiled and the motor is lubed (not oiled) and use Singer oil & lube. if you need a manual, they are available online , I think you can get one free on http://www.ismacs.net
    Happy sewing!!!

  18. Cecilia, I would feel comfortable using most of my old Singers for denim, not a super heavy thickness but I think they can stand up to medium weight.

  19. I have acquired a singer 201 machine in cabinet. Where do you recommend I find a bobbin case for it?

    Thank you
    Jenny

  20. Hello,
    I have been rummaging through my mom’s old sewing accessories. She has manuals and attachments for Bernina Zigzag Sewing Machine 117L and Singer 201 . What’s the value? Thanks for your information.
    Sue

    1. Suzette,
      I like to just follow some Ebay auctions for similar items to give me an idea of what the current value is. That is the best way I know. Let me know if you need help. It’s fairly easy to do.
      Cathy

  21. how lovely to find this discussion. An answer to a question asked – the 201 will sew canvas and leather (through to chiffon and organza)

    1. Hi all,
      Since my previous post I have acquired another another 201K, which I actually prefere to my original to my original ( it has nicer chrome and for some reason is even smoother!) which I bought for Β£25, ( $35) an amazing machine. However in answer to Frank I also have a 66K. These are supposed to be inferior to the 210K and in some ways they are but, hey, there is deffinately something special about the 66! Although it has an osscialating hook & is noisier than the 201 boy will this thing will sew anything when set up correctly. As regards denim, 8 layers is no problem!
      A true story: My daughter who had a multi functional, modern Singer was having trouble sewing heavy duty fabric for a project (studying textiles at Cardiff Uni) tried different needles etc, no result, tried 66K, vintage 1910! NO Problem!

  22. Cecilia, your braking my heart! A 66K is a tough as old boots and although not as smooth as the 201 is deffinately as tough! What are you used to? Many manufactureres coppied the 15K so the tension etc is facing outwards from the machine but most good quality singers (66K , 99K 201K , 222Ketc ) face towards you, this does not make any difference.

  23. I stumbled onto this site while trying to find information about a 201K that I bought here in Dublin Ireland a few weeks ago. It runs beautifully after a good service and is used more than my old Frister Rossman ever was! I bargained with the antique dealer from 90 euro down to 70, not sure what that is in dollars, but to me was a bargain! I was really looking for a cabinet but to find a machine in it was a great bonus, and that it only needed small adjustments another! My machine was made in 1936 and is in a lovely walnut cabinet which we have restored and polished, no foot attachments, but I am still on the hunt for them, and I have just completed my first patchwork duvet cover on it. Great site and loads of information on maintaining it.
    Ann

    1. Wow! That sounds like a really great find! Congrats! I think in USD it is about $100 or so. So that is not bad when these are from an antique dealer. I would think you should be able to find some feet for it without too much trouble.
      ~Cathy

  24. The foot attachments from most pre-1970 Singers (and many other makes) will fit a 201K. I’m not sure what its like in Ireland but in the UK there are always many available on e bay, strangely though sometimes it works out cheaper to purchase a less desirable machine (a 99k 66k 127k 128k etc) that comes with attachments than to purchase the attachments separately! I recently purchase a 99K that came with several attachments for Β£4.99 (6 Euros?)

  25. Thaks for the reply Cathy, I am delighted with my purchase!

    Mike,
    It’s not great here in Dublin for accessories, our main Singer dealer is such a rude person I dread asking him for anything…. I am scouring the flea markets for them, and a friend who deals in one of them is on the look out for me. I am practicing using the treadle by making a patchwork quilt, but chickened out on the quilting until I get the feet and turning it into a duvet cover instead.

  26. I hgave a 201P singer. The machone is in good condotion but the case has seen moire then bettr days. I was considering selling it, but cannot ger a price on it. After reading this page I am concidering keeping it.

  27. Readily available on e bay, they are the same size for mast older Singers and many other makes as well, Novum, Alfa, Jones etc

  28. I managed to get a box of attachments at a flea market last week for 12 Euro!! Now need to figure out how to use them….having a great time making patchwork tote bags for friends and family, no more dragging around shops for presents for them…

    Ann

      1. Getting them out tonight to explore what I can do with them, the ruffler looks interesting and that quilting guide will make stitch in the ditch a pleasure!!

  29. OK, my 201K is still my favorite machine by some distance, however I have just purchased a 401G (very similar to the 401A usually found in the States) and I have to say this is the best multi-functional machine I have used, I needed a machine that would do the things a 201 cant do, zig-zag (tried an attachment, poor), button holes etc so bought a 306K because I like the 50’s look but really couldnt get on with it (clunky & noisy) so sold on and bought the 401, this really is a joy to use and although not quite as smooth as a 201 it is very versatile with a huge range of stitch options & it has all metal gearing. So if any of you 201 users need a versatile machine but dont like the modern plastic machine, the 401 is the one to get.

    1. Ooh I may have to look for a 401, currently a plastic janome does the zigzags for me but it’s so plastic 😦 and I do love my 201 for anything else, from tutu net and light silk to leather and canvas πŸ™‚

  30. I have now bought yet another 201, a 1954 Mk2 Aluminium model, it had enough lint to make a small sweater and had not seen a drop of oil for a while but now sews beautifully, I cant decide which I prefer so obviously will have to keep both! Its a fair bit lighter than my cast iron machine but thats not so important when its kept in a cabinet. i suppose its a matter of taste as they look so different, what do you all think ? I believe I had a bargain at Β£25 ($40)

  31. I am 99% sure that the 201K was never made as a zigzag model (the nearest you willprobably get is a 206 or 306K), however Singer did make a zig zag attachment to fit on the standard 201K, I have one but must admit it is not as good as swewing on a genuine zigzag machine such as a 401 or 306 (please see my previous comment above).

    1. Thank You Mike for responding to inquiries about the 201! I love reading your responses, they are always informative! Thank you again!
      Cathy

  32. Not a problem Cathy, happy to help! I became interested in 201’s and then older sewing machines in general when I took my Singer for a service and the mechanic started enthusing about it (much to my suprise) telling me that the 201was the best domestic ever made, I had never heard of a 201 before this! So ‘googled’ it and became fascinated, some would say obsessed (joking) by the model, I currently have 3 201’s and 10 other antique and vintage sewing machins (that sounds a bit sad) and am currently trying to get the hang of using a 1910 singer 66 treadle machine. I have never used a treadle before but am enjoying learning!

  33. Those old all metal sewing machines are the best ever. The newer ones simply cannot hold a candle to the workmanship and quality of the old machines. The only downside is it’s becoming harder and harder to find replacement parts.

  34. I am so proud of myself… after a long search I found some attachments, and now am the proud owner of 4 different attachment boxes, several repeats of presser feet, and…. finally found a zipper foot last week along with another ruffler…. and a few bobbins for 6 euro…. a famine or a feast. And… have finished a king size quilt which even though I have the odd wonky seam is proudly on my bed and all done on the 201K…

    Ann

  35. Will try to attach one if that is possible??
    I have found a buttonhole attachment but not sure if it is all there, so trying to find one like it on the web, no box just a few hazy instructions. My poor husband is driven mad at flea markets looking out for them, the darning/freemotion foot is next on the list but no luck so far!!

    Ann

    1. Hi Ann,
      I can add your photo to the post if you email me at stitchin.steiner (at) yahoo.com What an accomplishment! I suppose I should start a new page on the blog for the 201 users. With all these comments I think there are a lot of users out there that would find shared information useful!
      Cathy

  36. Hello, I have a 1941 Elizabeth port Mod 201 in a beautiful cabinet looking for a new home. anyone looking for one. I live in Prescott Valley AZ.
    I have pictures to email to you if needed.

    1. Wow, I thought I was a bargain hunter, I have bought a few machines for Β£0.99 ($1.60) but the best I can claim for a 201K is Β£5.00 ($7.60). Still my favorite straight stitch machine by some distance.

  37. I can beat Carmen’s record: I just bought a 201K at a country auction last week in Ontario, Canada, for $1.00. Yes, that’s ONE dollar! It’s in a nice wooden desk cabinet, with knee lever. It was exactly the same as your auction – it was near the end, when most of the crowd had left and all the good stuff had already been sold. Nobody wanted to bid on it, so when the auctioneer asked one dollar I bid, mostly out of pity. I knew that if I didn’t take it, it would end up going for scrap metal. I never really thought about what I’d do with the machine; the desk looked in nice shape, so I figured if they’d taken care of the desk, they’d probably taken care of the machine too.

    When I got it home, I looked up the model online and was astounded to find that this was the absolute top of the line that Singer made for home sewing! I plugged it in and the motor ran fine (sounds like a tank!) so I figured since I’d gotten it for such a bargain I’d spring for a proper cleaning and tuneup, as it probably hadn’t been oiled for years, if not decades.

    I have one machine already – a 70s-era Singer Touch and Sew, which I now discover have a rather poor reputation. I think this 201K may become my favorite machine, and I might use the other for things like zigzag stitching that the 201K can’t do. It’s been fun reading the enthusiastic descriptions of sewing machine enthusiasts, and I’m looking forward to trying this baby out!

  38. Yesterday my wife and I were at a thrift store, looking for something else entirely, when we came across an old sewing machine in a blond wood cabinet marked $30. The owner said, “Furniture’s 25% off today, and I guess that’s furniture, if you’re interested.” So I forked over $22.50 and into the car it went.

    It was covered with dirt and crud, with surface rust on the foot and needle shafts, but I figured what the hell, I can see what it’ll do. She already has a near-mint 1968 Touch & Sew that we got the same way, so I figured it was worth the gamble.

    Once we got it home I looked closely at it. Model 201, with a serial number that worked out to 1957 manufacture. It would barely run at first, but it was trying hard. So I cleaned up the outside, read the manual, opened it up, and did a lot of careful cleaning and oiling. The surface rust came off the metal parts with a little 00 steel wool and some polishing with a piece of jute twine. The internal mechanicals looked clean, some of them almost new. The motor brushes looked good (although I did crack one of the plastic brush caps and had to epoxy it back together). Even the light worked.

    After about 90 minutes of cleaning, oiling, and reassembly, I plugged it in, pressed the pedal, and WHIRRRRRRRR away it went, as if 57 years had not actually elapsed since it rolled off the Singer line.

    I put a new needle on it and turned it over to my wife; she threaded it up (after a couple of false starts) and after a little bit of tension adjustment it was sewing perfectly, quietly, and FAST.

    Now I have to clean up the cabinet. That’ll take longer. But apparently this is quite the find. She’s really happy and excited about her “new” old Singer. I’m happy I brought it back to life, but from what I’m reading here, that has a lot more to do with Singer’s engineering than anything I did.

    1. Wow! That’s awesome. That’s such a great story and congratulations on your new machine. When they are working they are just wonderful. Thanks for restoring your beauty!
      ~Cathy

    2. Its great to hear that these iconic machines are being rescued, cleaned and used. They can be picked up for ridiculously low prices when you consider that mechanically they are far superior to the plastic new machines of today. I picked up a mint 15k (admittedly not as good as a 201 but still a great machine) for Β£10 ($15) that only needed a drop of oil and de-linting and it came with all its accessories! I’ ll bet there are 100ds of 1000nds of vintage and antique sewing machines in attics (lofts?) and cellars all over the UK & US. Basically because they are almost unbreakable!

  39. Thanks. πŸ™‚ The one thing I didn’t do last night was remove and clean the bobbin case, because I didn’t know how to get it apart. But I did some research today and now I know, so I’ll do that tonight. Also I should probably eventually look into what the right type of grease is for the motor grease pots. They have grease in them, but it could probably use a refresh. I also have an idea for how to make permanent seam markings on the throat plate without breaking the chrome, if my wife agrees.

    I’ll post picture links later, if this site’s comments allow that.

    1. On the vintage singer forum they recommend Vaseline (petroleum jelly) for the motor grease potts. So its what I have been using. Some people use automotive grease though.

    2. I got the bobbin case out, easy as pie. It was startlingly clean underneath, just a little dust, so I just wiped a cotton swab around in there and put it back. Gave it one tiny drop of oil. Took five minutes.

      I’m beginning to think this machine was serviced shortly before it stopped being used. Things just look too good inside it for any other explanation.

      1. Hi Barbara, from what I’ve been reading the current production Singer grease is not suitable for the 201 motor. Something to do with a higher melting point interfering with wicking the grease from the grease pot. This information seems to have originated with Sew-Classic; they are recommending Vaseline instead. I’ll email them to find out more.

      1. Thanks, Stitchinstein. πŸ™‚ The cabinet was pretty much trashed by time and neglect, with the finish flaking off and a lot of sun fade, so I wasn’t really worried about ruining it, which let me be more aggressive than I might be with a piece of fine furniture.

        I sanded all the old finish off the top, except for the edges; I left the original enamel on those, because it covers the edges of the veneer. I gave it two coats of stain and six coats of satin polyurethane to make a tough and durable work surface. The base is made of cheaper wood and was not really practical to refinish, so instead it got three coats of dark brown satin enamel for a contrasting appearance. I left the drawer fronts alone for now; the color match to the newly refinished top is pretty close.

        It’s not perfect – you can see wear and old damage in the edges and painted areas if you look closely. But it’s way better than it was, and the wear gives it character.

      2. Oh, and I also cut new cork inserts for the front flap to hold up the machine. Used a wine cork and shaped them on a bench sander. πŸ™‚

      3. Awesome! Do you have a blog link? Or can I post your photos to the blog in a separate post? I’d love for everyone to see your work.
        ~Cathy sewingforlife.wordpress.com

      4. I used to blog, but not really anymore, and not about this kind of stuff. πŸ™‚ But yeah, certainly you can link and/or post the photos. That’d be awesome. πŸ™‚

      1. Great, we only use sewing machine oil and Singer Lube… have no problems so far. I do appreciate the additional info!!!
        Thanks!

  40. Have over 20 old Singer machines and few others in my collection. Most work, the others are awaiting their turn to be refurbished by my hubby. Love them all, like to use different machines…500A and the 201 are my favorites to sew on. My 201 is a treasure, has a blue Singer Centennial badge. Runs like a gem!

  41. So I gather my 1957 201 is not worth much money? What should I do with it–try to sell it, get it tuned up and use it? Help!! I know nothing about this sort of thing.

    1. Maddie, just ask yourself what do YOU want to do with it. Any answer you have will be the right answer although I’m sure everyone on this post will say tuned it up and use it!

      1. The aluminium 201’s are pretty sought after, the black ones sell for slightly more than the beige ones though personally if you want one of the best straight stitch machines made just have it serviced and keep it!

    2. Maddie, just because you’re seeing people like me who scored bargains on old 201s doesn’t mean the machine is not worth much. If you were planning to sell it, you’d do very well on eBay. But you are lucky to have it, and I really recommend you keep it. A 1957 machine has a good chance of the wiring being in good condition; ours is also a 1957 and the wiring is fine. And you will not find any modern machine to match the robust mechanical engineering of your 201.

      My wife has just started using hers in production for her custom teddy bear business, and in her words, she is “in love” with this machine – fast, strong, precise, and smooth. Just google for “Singer 201” and you’ll find literally hundreds of links raving about its quality and durability. Here’s one to start you off: http://www.sewalot.com/singer_201k_sewalot.htm

    3. One more thing, to put it in perspective. The 201 is a serious machine, and it had a serious price tag to match. Yours probably cost its original purchaser around $300 in 1957. That’s over $2500 in today’s dollars. That’s what you own.

      We’re used to old technology becoming junk, but an expensive piece of fine engineering like this is an exception to the rule. Give it a try before you decide to sell it.

  42. Believe it or not, we scored another one:

    This one is a model 15-91. Serial number tells us it was made in 1st quarter of 1948. I haven’t done anything to it yet, but it’s in better shape than the 201 was when we got it, and although we haven’t tried to sew with it yet, it runs and the motor seems strong. Someone has already rewired it, though I might replace that wiring with something that looks less hacky; and you can see someone put a plastic spool post on it, which has to go. πŸ™‚

    I paid $25 for the machine with cabinet, at the same thrift store where we got the 201. I think this cabinet is fully restorable to its original finish; I’ll provide more pictures as I get going on it.

    Do you see the cloth band sewn around the arm, stuck full of pins? Seeing that explains some mysterious scratches in the 201’s arm. That in turn makes me think the owners of these two machines knew each other and shared that tip, or at least learned it from the same person. Antioch was a very small town 60 years ago, and it’s not a stretch to think most of the sewing women of the town knew each other.

    Cathy, I’ll keep you posted on its progress. πŸ™‚

      1. Yes, thanks. We did know, but it’s good to have it out there for other readers. Needle goes in the opposite way from what you’d expect, too – flat side left, again like the 201.

        I’ll be working on it today.

      1. Pictures as promised:

        You can see this machine has had a lot of use; I could try to polish out the cosmetic scratches in the base but I really don’t think I need to. It’s going back into production use, after all.

        I did replace the modern molded-plastic cord with a black rubber cord that looks more “period.” It was too big to fit through the hole in the connector so I cut it down and put heat shrink tubing on it.

  43. One thing I’d like to know is how on earth to get any of those attachments to work! I struggled for days with the hemmer; the best I could do was about 4 inches before it would veer off the fold or else the fabric would unfold and leave me with just a simple folded-over stitched seam. Sometimes I’d end up with the raw edge sticking out from under the folded hem, too; weird. In the end I just gave up and went back to the old-fashioned press, pin and sew method.

  44. Lord no! Just the simple Rolled Hemmer Foot like the one pictured above. My machine came with a box full of attachments, and this looked like the easiest one to try. I read the manual, I watched YouTube videos showing what to do, and I’m still hopeless. They make it look so easy and delicate, but the pressure on my machine’s foot is so heavy I have to wrench the fabric up to try to push it into the foot, and once it starts going, there’s no way of directing the intake. It just runs off the edge.

      1. It’s a 201K (the one I got for one dollar at an auction!). I love it, but I don’t think I can handle it for something this delicate. Now, I do have another Singer – a Stylist from the 1970s, and it’s still a decent machine. I’m intending to use it now just for zigzagging, since the 201K can’t do that, but maybe I could fit this foot to it and try to learn to use it that way. The motor’s not nearly as powerful, nor is the pressure on the foot.

      2. On the top of your machine, at the far left side and toward the back, there is a knurled metal thumbscrew with a felt pad inside it. That’s the foot pressure adjustment. Turn clockwise for more pressure and anticlockwise for less pressure.

        There’s an illustration on page 21 of the manual: http://www.singerco.com/uploads/download/1297_201k.pdf

        There is a zigzag attachment for the 201: http://oldsingersewingmachineblog.com/tag/singer-zig-zag-attachment/

        But it looks like a giant pain in the you-know-where, so if you have another machine that sews zigzag natively, you’re probably better off to use it.

        Here is a good article to help determine if the hemmer foot can be used on your Stylist: http://shop.sew-classic.com/What-shank-style-and-feet-fit-your-machine-scroll-down-Shank-Style.htm

  45. I had a neighbor back in the 90s who gave me an old Singer sewing machine in a carrying case. I put it away and didn’t think much of it. Well, I dragged it out today and found out it’s a 201 from 1941! It’s runs great, purrs like a kitten and is soooo clean. I can’t believe I let this gem sit in storage for so long. I grew up using a featherweight so I know how great these older machines can be and I’m so happy to read the rave reviews for the 201!

  46. Here’s a helpful anecdote regarding our 201.

    My wife complained that suddenly her machine was not picking up the bobbin thread correctly. It would miss the bobbin for an inch or two at a time. She asked me to look at it. I removed, cleaned, oiled, and replaced the bobbin case; no help there. By fiddling with the upper tension I was able to get it to stitch more or less correctly on thin muslin. However, when she tried to stitch thicker fabric, it still missed the bobbin, and sometimes the thread would break and shred at the needle. I was sure it was a tension problem, because I could see it not pulling the thread up, so I took apart the tensioner and cleaned it. No improvement.

    Have you guessed yet?

    Suddenly I had a brainstorm. I knew the problem had started after she hit a pin and replaced the needle, and I kicked myself for not thinking of it sooner. One look confirmed the problem. “You put the needle in backward.” “Doesn’t the flat side go to the right?” “No, to the left.” “D’oh!”

    Turned the needle around, and voila: perfect stitches again. But there was some benefit from all this. The bobbin case and tensioner got a good cleaning out of it, and now we know for the future what to look for if it happens again.

  47. I just purchased a 201k centential treadle with cabinet in mint condition, replete with all assessories and manual at browns bay flea market for $70 and I’m in heaven (I now own 15 machines; my last purchase was a necchi supernova automatica in cabinet for $25: OMG!!!).

  48. Question re 201-3: Is a zipper foot available for this model, since mine does not have one. And if it is available, where can I buy it? Thanks.

    1. Yes Jerry there is a zip foot available for a 201-3. It is the same as any of the zip feet that fit all low shank straight stitch machines including 27, 28, 66. 99,15, 185 etc. They are easily found on e bay but usually part of a set.

  49. I am looking for some guidance. I have a 201-3 that was in terrible non working condition when I recently bought it. I have cleaned it up and lubricated it but I have a problem with sewing and I am hoping someone can suggest a fix. When I sew, the upper thread gets stuck on something down below in the vicinity of the bobbin and while the machine then sews, the thread gets all twisted up. I need to then remove the cover of the feed dog and turn the wheel and then the thread releases. This happens each time I sew. I don’t know what it is getting hung up on and I don’t know how to remedy the problem. Thanks.

    1. Hi Jerry, I’m certainly not an expert but if you can look to see if the upper thread is making it around the bobbin to catch the bobbin thread to pull it up. There may be an adjustment you need to do down below or the timing could be off. Hopefully there is someone here who can help. Also, I’ve had success with video uploads to Youtube. You may try taking a video of the problem and doing that…you never know who you might get a response from! There’s always the professional sewing machine repair too…just a thought.
      Cathy

      1. Thanks for your help. It turns out that there was a burr in the hole of the needle cover plate and once I found that and sanded it down the problem was solved.

  50. I have just inherited a Singer 201P sewing machine in its cabinet. I don’t sew and don’t want to leave such a good sewing machine sitting around collecting dust etc. After reading all the feed back about this machine, I have realized that I have a very good sewing machine. Its in excellent condition and I am interested in selling it. So if anyone is interested in making an offer please call or text me on 0421282235. Regards Jenny

  51. I have a machine similar to yours, i found the serial number but not the model number. Mine has a handle underneath but i’m not sure if it’s connected to my machine through a cord somehow or not. My dad got the handle to move the machine part that itms supposed to but i’m unable to. I need help. My machine was alloted May 22, 1929. I inherited it from my great grandmother just last week. I never met her but my grandmother had it and didn’t use it so she passed it down to me.

      1. I need help with the knee lever on my machine. For some reason i can’t get the lever to move the machine part that it’s supposed to(i still need to learn the parts).

      2. The knee lever on mine presses against the motor start button, the motor then turns and the belt on the motor spindle spins the main fly wheel. I’m unsure whether this is of help to you?

  52. Okay Rodeogirl17. While I’m not at all familiar with the knee lever set-up there probably are others that will read this who may chime in. There are also manuals out there on the web that show the wiring diagrams. It could be that you need to have your machine re-wired. A machine that old most likely would need to be re-wired anyway. There are technicians that could help you. I think I have a link on the blog to the old sewing machine guy.

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