A vintage Singer 201K leaflet



This is another of Syd’s leaflets which he kindly let me scan a week or two ago, and it’s another one which we hadn’t seen before.  I’ve no idea of its exact date, but a pound to a penny says it’s the second half of the 1930’s.

201_bAt top right of the centre pages we see the stitch length regulating lever in its vertical slot, and to its left the thumbscrew which invariably baffles folk who are new to the 201 and haven’t read the book of words.  The text below that picture explains the mystery …

Perfect stitches of a desired length are made either forward or backward, by movement of the lever “B”.  The figures alongside the slot indicate the number of stitches per inch that the machine will make.  When the top of the lever is moved level with any one of the  figures shown, and the screw “A” is raised an tightened, the machine makes the length of stitch wished for in a forward.  By moving the lever up, as far as it will go, the same size stitch is made backward.

Or, translated for the benefit of readers not used to Singer’s idiosyncratic way of explaining things …

Lever “B” sets the stitch length.  As shown it’s set for the longest stitch, and for normal forward stitching.  As you move the lever upwards in the slot, the stitch length gets shorter and shorter until the lever’s level with that line over the numbers.  At that point, the stitch length is zero, so the work doesn’t get fed under the presser foot.  Keep moving the lever up and you’re in reverse, with the stitch length gradually getting longer.  When the lever’s at the top of the slot, the stitch length is the same as it was when the lever was at the bottom of the slot, but you’re sewing backwards.

The thumbscrew and that curved slot is the clever bit.  Let’s say we want to sew roughly 12 stitches per inch.  We move lever “B” upwards until the top of it’s level with the “12” marking, and off we go.  If we’re happy with that length of stitch, we can then slacken the thumbscrew “A”, move it up that curved slot as far as it’ll go, which won’t be very far, and then tighten it.

Having done that, if we then move lever “B” upwards, we find that it won’t go all the way up to the top of the slot.  It now stops at “12”.  That’s because by moving the thumbscrew like we did, we’ve set the stitch length the same in both forward and reverse.

And that’s all there is to it – the thumbscrew is the means whereby you can set it so that when you want to back-tack or whatever, you just pull lever “B” up as far as it’ll go, and continue sewing with the same length stitch but in reverse!


Top picture on the back page explains feed dog drop, but it’s the wording immediately below the bottom picture that I think is lovely and so very much of its time …

View of the Machine head illustrating its particularly chaste ornamentation

Next week we’ll probably be looking at the third and final one of Syd’s brochures, plus what may or may not be some fascinating facts about the Singer building in London town and what used to be the Singer shop in downtown Tunbridge Wells, whence came this very leaflet we’ve just been looking at.



4 responses

  1. Ben, that sounds like the early-pattern 201 tension setup, which would be right for a 1936 machine. Providing it’s all kept clean, it should work as well as the later one.

  2. Enjoyed the X-ray view, would like to see it larger. Thanks. Why is your site snowing?

  3. Hello Syd and Elsie,

    Coincidence or what… I only yesterday picked up a 1936, 201 treadle version, “Fabriqué En Grande Bretagne”. Scarce as hen’s teeth over here, been on the look-out for a couple of years, (since I figured I’d never convince you to ship) and had pretty much convinced myself that I didn’t want one since I’m not crazy about my 401 which sounds a bit like a cash register drawer opening and closing (for those of us who remember cash registers with drawers that rattled the change). But I decided since the Grasshopper is so smooth and quiet, there was still hope for a horizontal bobin that didn’t shake, rattle, and roll. And then there is that “itch” for another machine.

    But as I cleaned her up and got her running, I didn’t feel like the “check” spring in the tension mechanism was behaving properly. It also has a tension mechanism that might have been changed at some point because it is very similar to the tension control on a … Grasshopper! Have you ever seen that style of tension on a 201??? (The little thumb which moves from front to back in a slot as you turn the knob.) It isn’t exactly the same, but it functions the same way as the little Elna.

    Anyway, when I received your blog/email I thought it was an interesting coincidence, particularly since I was thinking about contacting you for a buttonholer to use with the machine, and maybe the accessories in general. The original ones probably got lost during years of languishing in garages and barns.

    Sorry to be so talkative, but I couldn’t resist. And I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the early marketing images. Best to all.