Tag Archives: Singer Automatic Zigzagger

Vintage Singer Automatic Zigzagger 160985


I just put this US-made black zigzagger up for sale on the Accessories page together with a couple of spare cams, and that’s reminded me to post this commercial for it from 1956 …


Note how the zigzagger’s first of all demonstrated on a Model 15 but at 2.20 it changes to a Featherweight (before it changes again to a Slant-o-Matic).  I wonder if even back then they kept getting FW-owners asking if it was too big to go on their machine, as they still do nowadays?

Whatever, that’s how Singer set about convincing the women of America that their lives could hardly be complete without this new toy, although quite what he with the accent is all about at the end, I can’t imagine …

The Singer Automatic Zigzagger and its cam sets


Wow.  I finally got it together to take these pictures!  Somebody asked ages ago about the extra sets of cams (or as Singer called them, “stitch patterns”) for the big black zigzagger, and I’ve been meaning to do this post ever since.

And now it’s happened, because I’ve just listed a blue set for sale on the Bits ‘n’ Bobs page and I needed to get the camera out for that.

The zigzagger pictured above is actually Elsie’s own 161157, but it could just as easily be a 161102 or even a 160985.  They’re the same dog with different spots, and few of us are blessed with the ability to tell them apart without reading the number on the actuating arm.

Set 1 is the 4 red cams which came with the attachment.  Set 2 is white, 3 is blue, 4 is yellow, and the part numbers for both the sets and the individual cams depend on whether they’re the earlier heavy ones or the later lighter ones made of so-called pot metal.

Elsie’s volunteered to run off stitch samples with all 16 cams, so I’ll photograph those and do a post on them in due course.

If that hasn’t happened by the middle of May, can somebody give us a poke please?

Singer Automatic Zigzagger 161157


Here’s a picture of a Singer Automatic Zigzagger 161157 ready for action yesterday on Elsie’s treadle 201K Mk2.  Check out how it clamps to the bottom of the presser bar just like any presser foot does, and how it’s driven by that chromed arm which comes forward and slots round the needle clamp …

Picture of Singer Automatic Zigzagger 161157 fitted to Singer 201K

So how, you ask, does this marvellous all-metal, all-mechanical device make a straight-stitch machine do a zigzag stitch?  Easy – the needle stays put and the work zigzags.  No, seriously, that’s how it does it, and it works a whole lot better than you’re thinking it will.  Admittedly it does take a bit of faffing about to get your tension and presser foot pressure spot on, but that’s really just fine-tuning the stitch it makes straight out the box.  Here’s a quick video taken while Elsie was testing one on her 201K Mk2 treadle machine …

The stitch length control on your machine works as normal to set how many zigs ‘n’ zags to the inch, bight (width of zigzag) is set and locked on the attachment itself, and once you get the hang of it, you can go at quite a pace

The nature of the stitch it makes is determined by a cam, the red knob of which can be seen in the picture above. The attachment was sold with a set of four of those red top cams, which make an ordinary zigzag stitch and what Singer called a blind stitch, a domino stitch and an arrowhead stitch.

Three other cam sets were also available, the knobs of which are coloured blue, yellow and white, and each of these sets produces four different decorative stitches of the kind you might find useful if you’re making a cute little retro frock for your first grand-daughter and you’re in a silly mood.  But gosh, you should see the prices those cam sets go for!

Anyhow, here’s some more pictures.  Both these and that video are actually of the one I’ve just listed for sale on the accessories page, and hopefully this marks the start of me finally getting that page organised …

Picture of Singer Automatic Zigzagger 161157 with cams in box

Picture of Singer Automatic Zigzagger 161157

Different picture of Singer Automatic Zigzagger 161157

Picture of Singer Automatic Zigzagger 161157 with cam removed