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Singer 301a or New Mechanical Machine?

Singer 301a or New Mechanical Machine?

Old 04-19-2021, 07:21 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 6
Question Singer 301a or New Mechanical Machine?

Good morning! I have used these boards for information for a while now but finally joined to get the advice of the experienced sewists here.

I have been sewing for years off and on but quilting steadily for about five. My mom passed down her Bernina Activa 131 to me, and I've been sewing on it since. I love how solid a machine it is, but I've been considering a straight-stitch machine because this one pulls a lot when I'm piecing. I'll keep it regardless, but I began saving up some money for a Juki or similar machine. My mom put the idea of a vintage machine in my head, so I have had alerts set for them on FB. Today, I found a Singer 301a, black, in what looks like pristine condition with many accessories, in its original cabinet. The seller is asking $300.

From what I have read, this is an excellent machine, so I'm wondering what, if anything, I'm forgetting about what a new machine offers over a vintage one? A lot of things I like can be added - thread cutter, better light, etc.

Any insight?

tldr; Was thinking of a new mechanical machine, but a Singer 301a popped up in my area. Any disadvantages to a vintage machine?
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Old 04-19-2021, 07:42 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 169
Default Yes to 301

I have sewn on multiple 301s in the past 10 years. I love them. The visibility around the foot, the speed of the machine, the absolute perfect straight stitch and the durable machining made my decision easy. As long as you oil the machine regularly, keep the bobbin area clean of lint and thread, it is the perfect machine. The machining of the parts is phenomenal and enduring. I changed the light bulb with an LED and it is great. I still use the button foot- adjusted it easily so it does not run hot. I quilt and piece on it. I carry it to classes and retreats. I think $300 is too much unless it was ultra like new. The highest I paid is about $150. You really don't need many accessories. I have bought them from ebay, facebook marketplace and craigslist and made sure the wiring was good and that it came with the original bobbin case. I use vintage bobbins. They are sewn on just about every day. I can't recommend a machine any higher than this machine.
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Old 04-19-2021, 08:09 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2021
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Thank you @lswan , this is a ringing endorsement. The price seemed high to me too except that it comes with the original cabinet - which I don't necessarily want. Looking online, machine-only prices seem to be more in the $250 range.
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Old 04-19-2021, 09:11 AM
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Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 771

Hello jennigens! Listed prices are what they are...you never know what a seller might really *sell* it for? I bought my 301 with a card table (woohoo!) and paid that price. Several years later? I probably would have paid that price for the machine. She is the love of my life (sorry hubby ) and is the go-to machine when I need rock solid stitching. She has gone through *many* layers of batting and fabric when I've tested her mettle.
Two cautions:
-Be *sure* the original (or a good quality repro) bobbin case is included -not impossible to find, but an extra cost.
-Finding an even feed foot can be a challenge since she is a slant-shank. I've seen some videos where folks have altered the ones they have to 'work'. I have yet to find one that truly works.

I hope you are able to get one to enjoy!

I have had some good luck using a 'darning' (free motion) foot on my 301. I'm still terrible at it, lol...but the foot can't be blamed. That's a plus for me.
You might want to look into getting one of the 'fabric guides' as well, they can either be the original style that screws into the bed/surface of the machine with a single screw, or even a magnetic one. I find it super helpful for piecing, and getting a consistent 1/4"
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Old 04-19-2021, 09:18 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2021
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My mom *just* gave me a magnetic guide @Cheshirepat ! She bought one, and it came with an extra. She was kind enough to give it to me. Thanks for giving me things to look for - I asked as many questions as I knew, but I will definitely check about the bobbin case. Just a few Google searches have shown me how much people love these machines - and it's certainly less than I would pay for a Juki.
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Old 04-19-2021, 11:38 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Alturas, CA
Posts: 9,393

I would definitely go for the 301. There are walking feet made for the slant machines, so don't let that help decide for you.
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Old 04-19-2021, 12:29 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 8,763

I have a 301 and it's a wonderful machine. I"m not sure I'd pay $300 for it though. I just saw one last Saturday at a garage sale that was in beautiful condition in a cabinet that was also in good condition for $125. I probably could have gotten it for $100. But it depends on your area. That might be the going price where you live.

A lot will depend on what you want to do and how much you want to spend. I have a Juki 2200 QVP Mini (very similar to the TL 2010) that I bought to do FMQ. It's an excellent straight stitch machine and has the added benefit of a large throat space for quilting larger quilts. I paid around $1,000 for it 3 or 4 years ago.

If you don't need the larger throat space for quilting your quilts or have another machine to quilt them on, I'd definitely go for the 301. Mine is one of my main piecing machines. Good luck and let us know what you decide.
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Old 04-19-2021, 12:38 PM
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Location: Mississippi
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The 301 is a great machine! But not at $300... Keep looking. They show up now and then. I bought two from two different estate sales in Memphis TN, both in original cabinets and one with the stool, plus all the parts, including zig zag and buttonholer attachments. I paid $70 for one, and $25 for the second. No one wanted it and the seller was kind of desperate to get it out of her house. Silly woman. Both machines are black shortbeds.
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Old 04-21-2021, 08:30 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2021
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I got her! Picked her up last night and already started cleaning her. I can't wait to get home today to get back to it and start disassembling the metal parts for cleaning.

Attached Thumbnails img_20210421_080102.jpg   img_20210421_080120.jpg   img_20210421_080133.jpg  

Last edited by jennigens; 04-21-2021 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 04-21-2021, 08:38 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 455

Congratulations on your "new" 301!
A few tips:1) my 301 is thirstier than many of my other machines, and likes to be oiled every 4-6 hours of sewing. 2) you'll find the 301 has an aluminum housing, the magnetic seam guide will not stick. The needle plate should be marked for 1/8" increments, and is very accurate. 3) it is worth it to open the foot controller, clean out dust and lint, and inspect the wire insulation.
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