Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Singer 301A in Trapezoid Cabinet

Saturday I found another Singer 301A. I love that model. I surely didn’t need another one, but I didn’t have one in beige. That model came in several variations. Black with short bed extension (made to fit in a cabinet), black with long bed extension (sold as a portable model in a trapezoid carrying case), beige, like this one, and LBOW (light beige, oyster white), also with short bed extension, and LBOW in long bed extension.  The beige ones are the same…short and long bed. This one is a short bed, because it came in a cabinet. There were a couple other exceptions, but color wise, I think that is all the colors offered. I have Embarrassed smile three LBOW machines, because I just think they are beautiful, and I like  how they sew….one is on a shelf with my collection of slant shaft Singer machines, one is on a dresser in my office next to my Featherweight, and one is in a case. I take that to quilting outings. I have one of my black ones on a shelf in my sewing area just looking pretty, and I have a long bed black machine in a carrying case in my quilting room.


The machine in the cabinet was marked $40 at the Salvation Army store. I was going to leave it for someone else to buy. I could live with the fact that I didn’t have a beige one, and I really wasn’t all THAT crazy about the cabinet, but it WAS a trapezoid cabinet, and I don’t see them often. I still decided I could leave it, but then I noticed that it did not have the bobbin case.


This machine takes a special bobbin case that can be a little pricey. My first reaction was to just forget it and leave it, but then I worried about it. If no one bought it because it was missing the bobbin case, what would the store do with it? I KNOW what they do with things that sit around too long. They get thrown in the big metal dumpster. I couldn’t stand the thought that it would go into the dumpster, so I had Louie go tell one of the workers that the bobbin case was missing and ask if they would take any less. They said they priced it at $40 because they knew it wouldn’t sew. I worried more. He went back and told them the replacement bobbin could cost $40-$50, and would they consider taking any less. At this point, I told Louie I did not want the cabinet. We could leave it. The store decided to mark it down to $30. We said we would take it. I asked Louie about taking the machine and leaving the cabinet and he said we would take it and if we didn’t want the cabinet, we would deal with it later. About that time, a very nice shopper offered to give us her 50% off coupon for anything in the store. (I heard Angels singing about that time…..), so we paid $15 for the machine and cabinet.

The legs needed a little tightening up, but not much.


The owner of the machine has just recently replaced both the power cord, and the foot control cord, and her contact information was on a piece of paper with her phone number. I googled her phone number to see where the machine came from, and it came from Iowa City, Iowa. I googled her name and Google told me she is (or was) 89 years old.

The serial number indicates that the machine was made in 1951. If this machine was bought new by the lady on the piece of paper, she was only 25 years old when she bought it. I think that information is just so cool!


We took the machine and cabinet home and pulled the machine out of the cabinet. It was dirty, but not horrible. I cleaned and oiled it, and ran the motor, but I have not tried sewing with it yet, (due to the fact I was getting tired and my feet and legs hurt). I could borrow a bobbin holder from another machine while I wait for the new one to get here, but I just haven’t taken the time to do it yet.


The lid was NOT pretty! It was dried out and had varnish missing….I’m guessing that live plants lived on the top. Many old cabinets get used for plant stands.


I thought I could bring it back to life using olive oil, (me having the ‘I want it fixed yesterday mentality).


It did look better, but the oil soaked up quickly and still revealed the water spots.


I put some olive oil on the inside surface of the cabinet as well. 20150125_091608

The inside looked a little better, and I decided to leave it alone. I think the cabinet needs to tell a little about it’s past.


We did decide to get out the sander though for the top. That was a little tricky since I just poured a bunch of olive oil on it and rubbed it in! Confused smile




I cleaned up the machine while Louie worked on the top.


The top looks a lot better, and this shows it without any finish on it.


The cabinet design works by swinging out the left front leg….


…swinging the lid over to rest on the leg support. Notice that the extension table rests at an angle, rather than straight out like most cabinets….


…then the machine lifts up out of the cabinet and rests on the support board for sewing. The door in the front swings out of the way so you can sit at the machine, and the knee control swings down.



Louie put one coat of tung oil on it and let it sit several hours.


It looked like this.


Last night he put another coat of tung oil on it and now it looks like this. The grain darkened up a bit more.


He says he’s going to let it sit a couple more nights before he decides if it will get another coat, then he will rub it with fine steel wool and wax it. I think it looks pretty good now, and the color seems to blend well with the rest of the cabinet.


I like it, and I’m glad we bought it. I guess it was meant to be.

February 7, 2015

UPDATE: The reproduction bobbin case arrived last week, and the 301 did not like it. The upper thread kept breaking and thread in the bobbin area would wad up and stop the machine. I pulled a bobbin case from one of my other 301 machines, and the machine would sew perfectly. I returned the reproduction bobbin case to the seller, who very kindly refunded my money, and I bought an original SIMANCO bobbin case. It cost about $20 more.

The original Simanco bobbin case arrived today.


The Singer 301 NOW sews perfectly!



The lessons in life which we must (evidently) learn over and over, are, you usually get what you pay for.


Amy, a redeemed sheep said...

Definitely meant to be. It's gorgeous!!!

Renea said...

Really awesome that the contact information of the previous owner was with the machine. Happy you saved it from the dumpster and yes, it was meant to join your collection. Love the cabinet. I have never seen on like this one.

Kristie said...

Love it! Love that cabinet too!

kath001 said...

She's a beauty!

Elizabeth said...

Nice Job, Quite the deal.

Linda Swanekamp said...

I can never pass up a 301 for such a price! I just love the sound of them, the stitch they make, the visibility, the looks....I could just go on and on. LBOW is my favorite.

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

What a neat sewing machine Lou and I am so glad you rescued it! How neat to also have the history of the machine. I heard that Goodwill will no longer accept sewing machines.....I hope that isn't true.

Packrat said...

Such a nice machine & the cabinet is really different. So great that you rescued the whole thing.

Siouxzq64@gmail.com said...

301's are my favorite. I have the art deco rounded blonde cabinet, but love the trapezoid cabinet. I don't think I have seen one in the
wild yet.

Jeanna said...

Wow, what a find - and you can't beat $15!! Good for you, it's beautiful, you and Louie do wonderful things with machines!

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

What a cool cabinet! I've never seen one before! I have 2 301A's (beige, long beds). I'm so glad you rescued the cabinet along with the machine. What a great addition to your collection.

catzndolz said...

What a beauty this machine and it's cabinet both are!

Jules said...

This is so pretty! I'm glad you got it and really enjoyed your info and photos in process, etc.

Phyllis in Iowa said...

Love my Singer 301s. I use my 301 mocha long bed for quilt workshops not needed a machine with zigzag capability.
I have two mahogany spinet cabinets. One was a gift and currently contains a Singer 201 and the other, from a thrift store with a LBOW (light beige oyster white) 301 and matching stool.
I enjoy reading your sewing machine blog posts.

mizlightbulb said...

Is there any chance you would be able to take a few measurements for me? What is the size of the opening? Does it have a place for round hinge extensions to attach machine to cabinet? If so, what is the distance between the two pin holes? What is the height of the machine from fabric bed to top of spool prong? Thanks.

Jennifer said...

beautiful table! I've never seen one like that before. I just bought my first 301a this weekend at a local quiltshow and I'm OVER-THE-MOON EXCITED about it! It's the Beige/Oyster color.

Do you take your's to sew days, etc? I'm planning on doing so and wondering if I need a bag or box for it?

MKB said...

I found your blog googling beige Singer 301. I just bought one of these today, too - like you, my second 301. I already had a black short bed in the #42 cabinet, and a long bed beige machine in the trapezoid case would complete my collection (okay, well my collection is never COMPLETE, but I'm working on it!) The first thing I looked for was the bobbin case. A new one would cost almost as much as I paid for the entire machine ($50). And like you discovered, the reproduction bobbin cases just don't cut it. I also use only the original Class 221 bobbins in my machines - no reproductions - and my new one came with six of them. Yay!


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