1937 Singer 201 Sewing Machine

This is my Singer 201 sewing machine, built in 1937 (serial number AE528394). I bought it on Craigslist to use as my home machine after several frustrating encounters with more modern, secondhand machines. Going vintage is an affordable way to get a quality machine, even if such machines lack modern—if arguably extraneous—features.

A front view of the Singer 201. A small quilt depicting a low-resolution "pixelated" Mario figure is under the presser foot. A view of the machine from the backside. The arm of the machine displays a Singer decal. A closeup of the machine's serial number plate behind the front bobbin winder spool pin.

This model has a “potted” motor that drives the machine through a direct, geared connection. It looks elegant, but I think some folks are under the impression that doing away with a belt is a major improvement. In reality, this motor doesn't do anything that a belted motor can't.

A closeup of the Singer 201 motor.

After I bought this machine, I rewired the motor, cleaned out the gearcase, and replaced the wicks in the grease cups. I then packed the grease cups and the worm gear with petroleum jelly (Vaseline) before reassembling. Vaseline has a low melting point and is suitable for wicks.

For lubricating the rest of the machine, I like to use a thin layer of Super Lube synthetic grease with PTFE on the shaft gears. Everywhere else I like to use Tri-Flow oil (being sure to always shake the bottle before applying). The small “plug” of felt at the top of the presser bar shaft should be removed before applying Tri-Flow oil there—otherwise the felt will filter out the PTFE particles that make the oil work.

The Singer 201 motor is removed from the machine and the grease access ports are visible. A closeup of the Singer decal on the back of the machine's arm. A closeup of the stitch regulator, numbered 30, 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 7, and 6. A closeup of the presser foot, which reads "45321 / SIMANCO USA." A closeup of the decorative access panel from the back of the machine. A profile view of the presser foot and needle bar. A closeup of the needle bar mechanism.

This LED lamp was a very worthwhile upgrade to this machine. This lamp only draws 6 watts but it is theoretically as bright as a 40-watt incandescent lamp. It stays cool, and so does the lamp-holder. The lamp is 16 mm in diameter (0.63 inches) and 63 mm in length (2.5 inches) and has a BA15D base. The color of the light is a pleasant, warm white (3000 K):

A closeup of the lampholder, which has been fitted with a small LED lamp.

This machine has a horizontal rotary hook and makes very elegant stitches.

A closeup of the rotary hook mechanism.

The machine uses readily available class 66 bobbins and generic 15 × 1 needles.

A vintage envelope for  Singer needles. The package reads "Singer / 2020 / (15 x 1) / 3-14 / THE SINGER COMPANY."