Friday, November 10, 2017

The Slant-O-Matic Special

I was reading the manual that came with my favorite machine, the Singer 503A, and came across a lovely list of reasons to choose that machine, the Slant-O-Matic Special.

I'd like to go through some of the points on the list and explain.

• "Double Easy Threading. Face plate swings open to reveal threading chart. Handy "drop-in" bobbin located in front of the needle where it's easy to reach."
 It is very handy to be able to just swing the face plate open and see how to thread the machine. The drop in bobbin is what I really love. It's not under the machine and you don't have to put the bobbin in a removable bobbin case and then into the machine; you just drop it right in. Love it.

• "Slant needle and gear drive...seeing is easier, sewing smoothest ever. Gear drive ensures trouble-free operation at all speeds without slipping or stalling."
I do like the slant needle because of the added visibility. There is so much space between the machine and the throat plate that makes it easier to see what you're working on.

• "Built-in, eye level stitch chart for easy reference while you are sewing. Information at a glance, that lets you select the fancy stitch you want."
Sure. Quick reference is always good.

• "Elevator Type calibrated throat plates, lever operated. Easy to remove and replace."
This is one thing I really like. You don't have to find a separate cover to cover the feed dogs, you can just raise the plate and they are out of the way. I also switch to the straight stitch plate and it's super easy to make the change.

• "Hinged Face Plate houses threading charge and swings open for easy access to oiling points."
We already talked about the threading chart but the bit about easy access to oiling points is great. I love being able to get the oil in there just by popping the door open and not having to remove any screws.

• "Superfine Control of stitch length ensures perfect satin stitch adjustment."
I really like the number system Singer uses. If you set your stitch length at a 12 that means you are getting 12 stitches per inch. It's not vague like some machines with their scale from 1-4.

• "Perfect straight stitching."
Seriously. I love it. I sew a lot of super tiny doll clothes and it's key to have really straight, even stitches when you are doing 1/32" top stitching. I love being able to click the straight stitch plate in without taking out any screws or having to access the underneath of the machine.

• "Built-In Light focused on sewing area."
Pretty straight forward. It's in the right place. It does get hot, however and I have burned myself on it a time or two.

• "Needle Clamp holds one or two regular needles--same or different sizes for exciting two-needle stitching."
This is something I am looking forward to trying. I have never used the two-needle set up but I will be trying it and I'll let you know what I think.

• "All Mechanism Completely Enclosed for maximum safety."
I like that there are no exposed belts to catch hair or anything; keeping all your fingers is important.

• "Aluminum Construction, durable and light weight."
I'm not sure I'd call twenty-ish pounds light weight but it was pretty light for a good sewing machine back in the day. It's not light weight like the plastic machines of today but that's a lot of what I love about it; it's sturdy. It's not convenient for a portable machine but the functions and design simply can't be beat.

• "Interchangeable Fashion Discs, one piece and easy to handle."
The discs simply click in and out for fun fancy decorative stitches, no additional attachment necessary.

• "Peephole Bobbins show thread supply at a glance with bobbin in place."
It hadn't occurred to me that they did this on purpose. The holes on the bobbin make it so you can peer in there and see how much thread is left on the bobbin. Nobody likes running out of thread in the middle of a line of stitching.

• "Automatic Thread Control ensures a smooth flow of thread from spool to needle for uniform stitch setting."
Yep. Easy to adjust tension, too.

• "Concealed Automatic Bobbin Winder."
The bobbin winder for the 400 series is on the outside of the machine but starting with the 500s they enclosed the winder. The tire is still there like on the 400s but it's on the inside of the machine. The bobbin winding latch clicks in place easily and I love it that when the bobbin is full it automatically releases so it can't get over filled.

• "Dial-Operated pressure adjustment, calibrated to eliminate guesswork in duplicating settings.
This can be changed to keep your machine to feed the fabric smoothly. The numbers are right on there so you can set it to whatever amount of pressure you need and return it back to your normal setting when done. According to the manual "Generally heavy fabrics require heavy pressure; fine fabrics require light pressure." You can just turn to a higher number to increase pressure and turn to a lower number to decrease pressure. Pretty user friendly.

• "Stitch Length Regulator with double pointers for easy, accurate stitch length adjustment."
I assume they're talking about the numbers to the left and right of the regulator, which makes it clear how long your stitches are. You can tighten the thumb nut to hold it at your selected stitch length so you don't have to fuss with it after back stitching.

• "Hinged Nylon Spool Pins, self-positioning and self storing."
These little guys fold themselves flat when you close the door on the top and pop back up when you open it. They are also easy to replace if needed.

• "Thread Cutter built into presser bar for added safety and convenience."
This is helpful for a quick cutting of the threads at the end of a seam when you don't have your scissors handy. It's right on the presser bar so it's not in the way and doesn't break off.

There you have it. So many reasons to fall in love with the Singer Slant-O-Matic!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Singer Student's Manuals

As I mentioned before, I love Singer's Teacher's Textbook of Machine Sewing. There is a companion set of student manuals that went with the Teacher's Textbook of Machine Sewing. There are 6 of them, published around 1962. I have been wanting them for some time. They are available on eBay from time to time and I have been drooling over them.

My husband got me the whole set for me. Yay for birthdays!

Like the title says, they are the student manuals for the Singer sewing course. The six manuals are short, from 4 pages to about 20. They cover everything from maintenance of your machine, sewing simple projects, and how to use the fashion discs, feet, and attachments. And there is a little quiz on the back of a couple of the to see if you've been paying attention in class. It's awesome.

Like the Fanatic I am I did a side by side comparison of the Teacher's Textbook and the Student Manual. Interestingly enough, they are very close and if you get all six of the Student Manuals you just about have all the information in the Teacher's Textbook, although the Teacher's Textbook goes further in depth in some areas.

I will be posting a comparison in the future. Nerdy, I know. But I love it.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

Singer Teacher's Textbook of Machine Sewing

Maybe you have heard of it: Singer's Teacher's Textbook of Machine Sewing. This edition (the best edition) was published in 1960. It's the holy grail of sewing machine manuals, particularly if you have a Slant-O-Matic from the 400 or 500 series.

It was the manual they used to teach the courses at the Singer Sewing Center. It covers everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) you want to know about your sewing machine, attachments, sewing techniques, maintenance, and even history of the sewing machine.

The tricky part is it's rare and usually costs about $150.00 to get a copy.

But lucky me! My husband got it for me for Valentine's Day. So romantic. :)

And it is amazing. Seriously amazing.

I have spent hours reading it and re-reading it. It's super fun for a Slant-O-Matic Fanatic like me.

I will be sharing some of my favorite bits and some of the most useful information from the book in future posts.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Plush Felt Kitty Craft using Fashion Discs

I have decided from time to time I will be showing a few little projects I have done with my Slant-O-Matics. These will be anything from simple crafts to Halloween costumes to formal wear.

Here is one of my projects: Plush Felt Kitties.

I made these little guys for my niece's birthday. They are a fun way to actually use those fancy stitches the Slant-O-Matic is so good at.

If you are interested in a tutorial it can be found at

I used the Singer Fashion Discs to do the kitties' stripes. Pretty adorable.

503A For Parts (Or so I thought)

I was out of town visiting my sister and came across a VERY ragged Singer carrying case at her local thrift store.  I peeked inside only to find a decrepit 503A, my favorite model of all the Slant-O-Matics. It was missing the hinged top of the cover and didn't have a cord or foot pedal. The case was broken and had no clasps. The machine was filthy and grimy and dusty. It did, however have a cam inside, disk number 0, which I think is the best disk to have and worth a few dollars by itself. They were asking $10.00 for him. A great deal for a parts machine, I thought. I bought it, not believing it could be functional because it was so beat up, and thinking I would keep it around for parts just in case my own 503A ever needed organ donation.

I brought the poor guy home and took a better look at him. He was splattered with what appeared to be spaghetti sauce and a good amount of dirt. I gave him a good scrub. He polished up very well. (Of course I did not take a before photo, darn it). I cleaned the inside, put in a bobbin, threaded the machine, and plugged it in using the cord for my 503A.

The machine fired right up and made a smooth, even, beautiful stitch the first try. I didn't even have to adjust the tension. Nothing. It was just perfect.

So of course he's not going to be for parts.

He's a survivor.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Singer 301A

As I've mentioned before my Singer Slant-O-Matic 503A is my favorite machine. I have a confession for you. I've been using another machine.

My lightbulb burned out my my precious 503 and I was forced to use another machine for a bit until I replaced the bulb (which really isn't that hard as it turns out. The bulbs are readily available at JoAnn's for less than $3.00 and are really easy to replace). I am a late night sewing person so the lightbulb is really very key so I had to use another machine for a while. I pulled out my Singer 301A, also a slant needle machine like the Slant-O-Matics. The 301 was the first slant machine. Mine is from 1956 and he's a beauty. (I'll post a photo of him soon. Promise).

I found him on an online classified ad. The seller wanted $60.00 for him plus all his accessories. I'll admit, I was first drawn to him only for his accessories (which work on the other slant machines; you just have to remember they're made for a straight stitch machine). He was decked out with just about every original accessory he would have come with: his original trapezoid case (which is awesome in itself), a buttonholer, automatic zigzagger with the original 4 cams plus an additional 4 optional cams, all of which are in their original boxes with original instructions. He also came with his original manual, which was the old one with the black cover, his original green accessories box packed with feet, and 6 original vintage bobbins. I wanted his accessories but had also wanted to try out one of the original slant machines. And at $60.00 that can't be beat.

I gave him a quick test drive and he was amazing. Very smooth. Very quiet. Very cute. $60.00 later the adoption was complete and he was a member of my (ever growing) sewing machine family.

The 301 is sometimes called the big sister of the little Singer Featherweight sewng machine. Like the Featherweight, the 301 is a portable machine but it's a bit bigger. The 301 is a 3/4 size machine, which means it's lighter and more portable. Lighter compared to other solid metal machines, that is. It still weighs in at about 16 pounds plus the accessories and case. There are tables for the 301's but mine is strictly a portable machine; I keep him savely tucked in his case when not in use. He's a straight stich only machine, which of course means there's no zigzagging with out the automatic zigzagger attachment. I have found that my current sewing projects (mostly super small doll clothes) do not require much zigzagging and the straight stitch machine fills my needs well.

The bobbin winder for the 301A is on the front of the machine. It's really pretty genius. You push the bobbin up against the handwheel and that is what fills the bobbin.  In theory I guess you could be filling a bobbin while you were sewing. If you really wanted to.

Anyway, when theh lightbulb on Sinclair (my delightful 503) went out I dragged out the 301A, set him up, and have been using him for a while now. It's great because he's so portable I can sew anywhere in the house without much trouble setting him up. I can sew at night in the living room, which is way from the kiddies, and not worry about waking them.

There certainly are times when a zigzag machine are key. I haven't yet tried the zigzagger or buttonholer on the 301A yet but will let you know what I think of them when I do. It's so simple to switch from straight stitching to zigzag on the 503, 401, and 500 machines that I go to them when I need zigzagging capabilities.

But I am really liking my 301A.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Awesome Antique Singer Sewing Sign


Check out this gorgeous present my mom gave me for my birthday!!!

It's glorious.

It's a vintage tin Singer Sewing litho sign.

I did some research on this beauty. There weren't many clues but I came to the conclusion it was made before 1928 because the company that made the sign shut down that year.  I compared the machine, which I believe is a Singer model 66K. Judging by the hair and clothes of the girl in the logo it's probably from about 1905, which means it's not only super cool but also super old.

Turns out it was a calendar. The little arms on the front would hold the calendar parts.

I was thinking I could duplicate the calendar pages and have it be a calendar again but I have an even cooler use for it: It's a magnet board. It's tin so the magnets stick right to it. That way I don't have to use any tape or mess with it's finish at all. It's perfect.

I've decided to keep my project ideas on there. It hangs on the wall right above my Singer Slant-O-Matic 503A where I can see it when I sew.

I've been collecting odd vintage sewing bits to be magnets. There will be more to come about that. You're going to love it.

"For Every Stitching Operation." Awesome.