Friday, August 19, 2011

I'm very pleased to introduce...

... my "new" Singer 401 sewing machine!

(Giveaway at the end of this post.)

I've been reading a lot lately about these very durable machines that were made in the 50's. (See: They were the top of the line back then, and in today's money would have cost $2,600. After having some trouble with my Singer 2210, I began looking around for a 401 on E*bay and Craigs*list. A well looked-after machine can sell for hundreds on E*bay. I put a wanted ad online locally, and got a couple of responses. 

Yesterday we went to look at this one. They were asking $50. I don't think the family wanted us inside their home, as the machine was plugged in with an extension cord and demonstrated on the threshold of their front door! But the owner, who seemed about 20 years old, was quite nice and pleasant. She had no needle, so I had no way of seeing stitch quality, but the motor sounded good, and she said it stitched well and that it had belonged to her grandfather. She mentioned a little problem with the bobbin thread, which she thought could be fixed "with a little tune-up". Though a bit of a risky purchase, it seemed too good to pass up, so the transaction was made. Included: manual, cord, foot pedal, box of 5 cams, 5 bobbins, tools, another throat plate, and several different feet. I was pleased as punch and couldn't wait to get home to try it out. 

Once we got home, I gave it a little cleaning - it it was already quite clean. No visible "gunk" anywhere inside that I could see, and very little dust. Only very light surface scratches. Even the light works. The needles from my other Singer fit, so I put one in, threaded the machine, and eagerly tried stitching. Not good. I soon realized I forgot one step in threading it. Much better! Then the bobbin issue became apparent. I decided I should oil it, so spent some time doing that and tried stitching again. Stitching was even better - and after fiddling around with bobbin tension, straight stitching and zig zag look almost perfect. Tried a few decorative stitches, and they look quite good, so I think it will be just fine. I may contact the other person who responded to my ad. He services old Singers and had mentioned that if I found a different machine, he could take care of it for me. I'd like to have him look it over and check everything. I think there may be a little problem with the foot pedal, because sometimes it doesn't seem to want to "go" when I press the button on the pedal, and then all of a sudden it races forward. Also - one of the dials for the decorative stitches is hard to move so maybe he could fix that for me. And I think it may be dirty between the tension disks; I don't want to take that apart myself. I don't have any lubricant either - according to the manual, the gears should be lubed now and then.

All in all, I'm pretty thrilled about this purchase. :)

And now... for those who have stayed with me thus far... I need to name this old girl. I'm taking submissions from my followers. If one of you can come up with a name that I love, I'll throw together a little something for you as a thank you gift. This is for followers only - all 62 of you (hee hee). Open to US and Canada only. This will be my very first giveaway. I'll make a decision at the end of the month. Have fun!


  1. This name is going to have a lot more meaning to me, but here it goes!!! I think you should name in Jenny. My grandmother, who passed about three years ago, used to work at the singer store in downtown Little Rock. Her name was Virginia but everyone called her Grandma Jenny. She was my inspiration to start sewing. I just wished that I would have started when she was still alive (I know that she is looking down in amazement that I even try to quilt)! So every time I see or think of Singer, I think of Jenny!

    (thanks for letting ramble on about my grandmother. I miss her dearly and it feels good to tell even the smallest story of her life)

  2. Hey Robin Lets say 401 Franzola :)

  3. I like Sylvia, but I also thought of "The Wedding" (Singer).

  4. Congrats on a fun purchase! My entry for her name is Sweet Caroline, like the song by Neil Diamond.

  5. I love the name Ava :) I think it would fit this machine.

  6. I think Zippy would be a cool name for a sewing machine!

  7. I think Sarah. Because it's a fine, old fashioned name that's still in style - like your Singer. And because they both start with S, which I noticed someone with many different machine named each machine with the same letter the machine stared with. Probably easier to keep them straight that way.

    Lucky you getting the machine. She's a beauty!!

  8. Hi Robin - I am not in the USA or Canada but...
    a beauty like this one I'd name it - Mercedita!!!
    That's such cool little mercedes (like the big car).


What do you think?