Saturday, February 12, 2011

One-Block Wonder

I haven't blogged in quite some time - buying a new house and business travel have occupied most of my spare time in the past year. Today, I had time to fit in a small sewing project. A co-worker who has a phobia of sitting in seats previously used by strangers (rental cars, airline seats, etc.) asked me to make a seat cover for her. She gave me a piece of yoga mat cut to the shape she wanted and I was to make a cover for it. She provided very little guidance, when I asked what color she would like, she said, "surprise me" and when I asked if there was some special quilt pattern she would like, she said, "no, anything quilty".

With that to go by, I started rifling through my wife's quilt fabric stash for raw materials and hit the internet looking for a block pattern I could whip up in a hurry that would still look like I worked real hard. Here is the finished product:


Because piecing quilts is boring to me, I only make small quilt items. My wife calls me a One-Block Wonder.

To keep this on topic, for this project I used my latest acquisition, a Singer 201 from a local thrift shop for the piecing.



I was driving by one day and saw it sitting outside with a $30 price tag on it and had to buy it. I consider the 201 one of Singer's best-made machines. With the rotating hook and gear-drive motor, they run smooth and quiet and produce perfect stitches. The AG2XXXXX serial number places this one's manufacture squarely in 1941. It's not in the best condition, but they are getting harder to find in the wild and I try to keep one around at all times.

21 comments:

Remembrances said...

I, too, love the 201! I have two that I purchased at thrift stores - neither one is in a cabinet and when I got them they were housed in those plastic "one size fits all" sewing machine cases. They are great machines!

Liriopia said...

Love the block! I am not one for Singer machines but yours looks like a beauty! Can you tell me anything about Precision Built machines? I have a refurbished one that I love, a recent acquisition. Made in Japan and the parts are interchangeable with my New Home. Can you tell me anything about them?

Thanks, Liriopia

LimogesBoxCollecgtor.com said...

Antique sewing machines - they look great and if if they work, so much the better!

Tammy said...

Hi Ed,
That is lovely quilted seat cover you made. I thought you were passed the stage of acquiring more vintage machines. Your Singer 201 is gorgeous and for only $30 how could you leave it there homeless!

Ed Lamoureux said...

Exactly! I can't believe myself, but I passed up a Singer 401 in a thrift shop two weeks ago. I am at the point that I can't buy any new machines unless I get rid of the same number of old machines to make room. Any new acquisition has to be VERY special to make me want to replace one of my current machines. - Ed

denise said...

oh, the 201. I learned about them in the past few weeks through your blog and others. Then, voila! searching Craigslist I recognized it right off even with the crummy pictures. $35 later I had a 1941 201-2 and she threw in a Red-Eye treadle head that had been electrified but no longer working.

Then 2 different 301's came up and another 201 that a friend diverted from being tossed into the dumpster -- literally within minutes! I couldn't believe when I saw it and it was a 201. The sewing machine Gods have heard my wishes....I hope they keep listening!

Good for you, great find!

gracely said...

Hi Ed Lamoureux, mostly I saw that the old sewing machines give better performance as compare to new one’s. Now a days modern sewing machines have many features but, they don’t perform in the long run. Old Sewing machines don’t have too many features but they are still working fine, your “singer 201” is one of the best in Sewing Machines.

Don said...

Hi Gracely , I agree with you, we can trust on the old sewing machines, as they can perform the tasks with less margin of errors…

Rachel said...

Hi Ed, I saw an older post where someone could not get the cam off and I was wondering what you told them to do. Mine is a Kenmore and I can not get that thing out! Thanks for any help. Rachel

otilde said...

Hi Ed,
I am the happy owner of a Cessna Super Zig Zag sewing machine. I tried to google a user's manual and your blog popped up. I am kind of hoping you might be able to help me. There is absolutely no information to find about the sewing machine here in Denmark.
It is purring like a cat and is as quiet as a mouse :o) Best regards Otilde. PS. like your quilt block.

Ed Lamoureux said...

Otilde, I have never heard of a Cessna sewing machine, but that's not unusual - many distributors affixed "badges" to machines they sold to differentiate them from the competition. If you could email me a photo of the machine and country of origin, I might be able to find a manual for a similar model. Also, if the machine was made in Japan, there might be a "JA" number somewhere on the underside that would help point to the manufacturer. - Ed StudioLUpholstery@gmail.com

Cathy said...

How do you find the year of an old Singer #AG553433? Would this be considered a 201 if anyone knows, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,

I have really enjoyed reading your blogs, as well as comments of others. I have recently taken a great interest in quilting and will be taking my first quilting class tomorrow.

I have had my great aunt's sewing machine for nearly 7 years and have never used it, nor do I know how to use it (hence the class). The machine is a Universal, model KAT, made by Koyo Machine Industries in Osaka, Japan. After reading your blog, it seems this is a good machine. There is no manual and I definitely need one because there about 14 different stitches and several other knobs on the front of the machine that I have no clue what to do with. I'm really excited to get started using it. Do you have any tips about finding a manual?
Thanks,
Dana
thoman_oaps@hotmail.com

otilde said...

Hi Ed,

I have finally taken some pictures of my vintage sewing machine.

The machine was made in Japan and has the No. 7Z 6504848

Also I am not sure about the position of the needle arm (I don't what is is called in english Cool ) When I thread the needle the thread has to be inserted from left to right (never seen that before - always from front to back).

I have tried to experiment a little with the different nobs and diales and I just cannot make the machine sew a simple straight seem without any zig zag.

I do hope that you can help me.
:o)

Sew Machines said...

My neighbor really loves the vintage sewing machine. She never buy a new one because the antique sewing machine is durable, and i think she's right. By the way, that's a lovely quilted seat cover..

zees5 said...

I LOVE your collection! I have quite a few myself including a Necchi BU, Singer 201. I am undecided about which of these I should convert to treadle (I also have a Singer 15-91 and Supernovas). I have heard the 201 makes the best treadle ever. But your praises of how quiet and well machined the Necchi is. Which would you choose to treadle? Thank you (: ~Page

Ed Lamoureux said...

First, it depends on which model of 201 you have. If it is the American 201-3 with the gear drive, there is no groove on the balance wheel to accept a treadle belt. You would need to remove the motor, find something to fill that hole, find a balance wheel from a belt-driven machine to replace the current balance wheel. Even then, I believe the main shaft tail is longer on a 201 than on belt-driven machines so the balance wheel would not line up with the treadle wheel.

If you have the British 201, it has an external belt so conversion is much easier.

That said, the BU is zig zag and the 201 is straight stitch only so I would opt for the BU all other things being equal. -Ed

Bonnie said...

Cathy is you go to sandman-collectibles.com you can see pictures on machine and click on the one that applies to your machine to see if you have a 201k.if you are still unsure you can e-mail on contact them and they will get back to you. I sent pics of a machine i wanted to buy is it was a 201k and they comfermed that it was one and with the number that you mentioned they even told when it was made.
I 'm looking for a copy manual for a 201k. I have manuals for the following machines and am willing to share if anyone needs them. they are:15-88 and 15-89, two different ones;128-13;the other on only has the pages from 9-48 not sure the machine though.

Bonnie said...

Could anyone tell me if there is a difference between the uk 201k and the american? I would like to use this machine to do free motion quilting is this possible? If so how do I go about doing it. It is one with a belt. I've been that the feed dogs can be lowered, is this true? I have three other machines that I have been quilting with and they have been in the shop more than at home with the amount of free motion quilting. burnt the motor out of one and the other not sure yet waiting to get it back. I have had 4 other singers in the past and have loved them but ran out of room so I'm down to one hand crank which i have quilted with at the cottage with no hydro. thanks for any help I can get.

Anonymous said...

I love the sound of the 201 motor. I prefer a vertical bobbin set up as opposed to the horizontal drop-in bobbin of the 201, but heck, I'll use my 201 just to hear that low whirr, strong and steady motor.

Northcoast Bev

Anonymous said...

I have the same machine and the same problem. I've done some research and this is the first time I've even heard mention of this particular machine. Any info would be appriciated.