Tag Archives: vintage Singer stitch patterns

Vintage Singer “Stitch Patterns” and Swiss zigzagger cams – cont’d


Elsie ‘s been rummaging about in The Sewing Room again and has discovered some spare red cams for the big black zigzaggers.  Funnily enough, I had a rush of blood to the head and a bit of a tidy up of my desk yesterday, and I found a few more of them lurking down the side of the printer, so I’ve added them all to the “Accessories” page.  So, if you need any red “Stitch Patterns” to complete either the standard set or the same-as-the-white-ones set (Set No.2, part no. 161008), drop us an email and we’ll gladly see what we can do for you.

That set of 10 cams for the Swiss zigzagger with the snail shell (160991) is probably for sale too, but frankly we’re still trying to decide what we want to do with it.  We normally just see if we can remember what an item cost us, then add a modest profit to cover our time doing whatever it took to get it ready for sale, but sometimes the figure we come up with does leave us wondering.

This set of Swiss cams is a good example of where our difficulty lies.  Given that anything which supplements my state pension is most welcome, common sense says we should do the obvious and put it on Ebay.  The problem is, though, that Elsie and I don’t see the blog and the sales we make through it as a money-maker (which is probably as well, because it certainly isn’t), so if we put it on Ebay, one of our readers will probably miss out.  And we’d be happier if that didn’t happen.

So what to do?  Who knows, but while we’re still prevaricating, if you fancy a perfect set of nice shiny cams for your Swiss zigzagger, you could do a lot worse than make us an offer for this one.

Anyhow … talking of Ebay and Swiss zigzaggers, we’re much obliged to Alice for drawing our attention to three that sold recently on Ebay UK.    The first of those was a 160991 with a full set of 10 cams, a less-than-perfect snail shell, no instruction book and an 86663 feed cover plate (complete with clearly visible rust) instead of the correct one.

The second was a 160990 with its instruction book and the correct set of 5 cams, but its box was broken and it too had an 86663 cover plate, albeit one seemingly without the rust.  Lest you be wondering, the significance of the 86663 is that it’s the really common cover plate that was supplied with buttonholers like the 86662, and although it’ll work OK with the zigzagger, it won’t fit in its box!   Only the correct one will.  That’s why the Swiss zigzagger cover plate is unique to it.

The third example was what looked to be a very nice 160991 complete with good snail shell and all its cams.  This one didn’t have its instruction book, but it did have the right cover plate.

Now, what I found most interesting about those three Ebay listings was firstly that a seller’s happy to sell, and buyers are willing to buy, a Swiss zigzagger with a cover plate which won’t go in the box.  Next, neither Elsie nor I could confidently have said which of those three would go for the lowest and for the highest price.

And we certainly wouldn’t have predicted that they would sell for £100, £114 and £137.93 respectively …

Vintage Singer Zigzagger cams or “Stitch Patterns”


Why “Stitch Patterns” I have no idea, but that’s what the cams for the big black zigzagger are called.  The cams for the Swiss Zigzagger, however, are called “cams”, and if you’re wondering where this is leading, all is about to be revealed …

So we have here a picture of the Stitch Pattern set 161008 which I listed on our “Accessories” page yesterday, and it is of course for the Singer Automatic Zigzagger a.k.a. Big Black Zigzagger.  That Big Black Zigzagger can be a model 160985, or it can be a 161102, or indeed a 161157, but they’re the same dog with different spots so it makes no difference here.  As long as it’s big, it’s black, it says “SINGER” on it in gold and it’s a zigzagger, it’ll take those Stitch Patterns.  And hereinafter “Stitch Patterns” will be “cams” because just I can’t be doing with the “Stitch Patterns” all the time.

Now, if you have your very own Big Black Zigzagger, you may well be thinking “Yep, mine came with one of those red cams in it and the other three were in the box”, and you might wonder what was the point of those same cams also being available as a boxed set.  Well, they weren’t.  These red cams are different from your red cams, because your red cams are the red red cams and these red cams are the red white cams.

Confused?  I was too at one time, but it’s actually easy enough to get your head round if you take it slowly.  In the beginning, to coin a phrase, was the Big Black Zigzagger, and it was sold with four red cams.  Those cams are numbered on the back 161000, 161001, 161002 and 161003 and they make stitches called zigzag, blind, domino and arrowhead respectively.

If you turn to page 20 of your Singer Automatic Zigzagger instruction book, you will see that “Additional stitch patterns may be purchased”.  Gosh.  I wonder just how exciting that prospect was in 1955.  Whatever, those additional cams are numbered 161004, 161005, 161006 and 161007, they make stitches called scallop, multiple, walls of Troy, and icicle respectively, they are also red and the part number for the set of four is 161008.  That’s it in the picture.

I don’t know what’s with the “walls of Troy” either, but I do know that the confusion starts with this set, because the cams in it are painted the same red as the four which came with the zigzagger.  No doubt it made sense at the time to have eight different cams all the same colour, but before long Singer decided to introduce first one then two further additional cam sets, and obviously a total of sixteen different red cams would hardly be user-friendly, even if the term had been invented by then.

So what did Singer do?  They did about the only thing they could do, really.  They got some different paint.  The next cam set on the market, which if you start counting from the the standard set was the third, is called Set No. 3.  It’s part number 161076, the cams are numbered 161067 to 161070, and those cams are blue.

The next set to be introduced is called Set No. 4, the part number for it is 161077, the cams are numbered 161071 to 161074 and they are yellow.  So including the standard four cams, that gives us two different red sets, a blue set and a yellow set.

Wait for it …

They then changed the colour of the first additional set from red to white, and called that Set No. 2.  But they didn’t change the numbers on the underside of the cams, and neither did they revise the accompanying leaflet!  This explains why Elsie’s Set No. 2, which I have in front of me as I type, has a red cam on the front of the leaflet, and contains four white cams which are identical to, and numbered the same as, the four red cams in the set in the above picture.

Fascinating though this may be, you’re no doubt eager to learn now the relevance of it to those of us into vintage Singers, so here you go.  If you’re a completist, you need Set 161008 as well as the blue, yellow and white sets because Set 2 is the one referred to in the zigzagger instruction book.  But if you just fancy an extra cam set for the fun of it, that red white set is (or at least ought to be) cheaper than the white white set.

More about red cams as well as yellow ones and about those for the Swiss zigzagger too in another post, but while I’m on the subject of Set No.2, if you know for sure what its part number is, we’d love to hear from you because neither the box nor the leaflet tells us!

Edited to add – Thanks to Heather, we now know that Singer didn’t change the part number when they changed the colour of the red white set.  The white white set is 161008 as well!

Singer zigzagger cams, the everlasting washing-up brush, and other stuff


Late last year, it finally dawned on me that we were buying a new washing-up brush every 4-5 weeks.

At one time, their short lifespan wasn’t particularly a problem, because we used to buy the blue 5-for-not-very-much-at-all ones from Ikea whenever we resigned ourselves to going in the place.  But then, oh happy day, it dawned on us that now we didn’t need anything else from Ikea, ever.  So we stopped going there.  Sure, we miss out on the entertainment provided by the young couples arguing over whether to get the FYRKANTIGS or the DAGSTORPS, and the mothers freaking out in the checkout queue because their objectionable child needs to go to the toilet now, but actually life’s still pretty good without Ikea.

However, it started really getting to me that every month or so, “wupbrush” appeared on the shopping-list blackboard in the kitchen so next time I went shopping I spent 70p or so on another one.  There had to be an alternative.

And there is!  It is the Lakeland Professional Washing-up Brush, which comes in a pack of two for £5.99.  These things seem to be indestructible.  The one pictured just now on the draining board has been used every single day for the last 9 months, during which time I’d have spent something like £4 on vastly inferior supermarket brushes,  it is still as good as new – and we do the dishes in seriously hot water in this house!  So if you’re in the UK, I really do commend this product to you, especially if, like us, you delight in frugality.

Amazing what you read about on here, isn’t it?

Anyhow, Singer zigzagger cams.  Elsie’s found some zigzagger cams which we didn’t realise we had, so we need to have a good old sort out of what’s what and I need to take some pictures so we can get them on the “Parts” page.  Meanwhile, if you’re short of any cams for your Swiss Zigzagger, let us know what you’re after and we’ll see what we can do.  I know that apart from anything else, we have one complete cased set of 10 as supplied with the snail-shell version (160991).

We also have some spare cams (or what Singer called “stitch patterns”) for the big black zigzaggers, including one or two from 161008 sets i.e. those early red versions of the white cams.  Again, let us know if you’re after any.

Moving on, it seems that Elsie and I are now closer to achieving a state of carlessness (as opposed to carelessness), about which there’s bound to be more in due course, and before much longer I’ll be coming out of the closet and revealing an interest in some vintage Singers which don’t have a single gold decal anywhere on them.  Gosh.

But right now, I need to set to and write Part Two of what’s in danger of turning into Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Singer 201K Tension But Were Afraid To Ask, so I’ll get the kettle on.  I need another coffee, and Elsie’s about due back from her first brambling expedition of the year.  She’s bound to be in need of a camomile tea …