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.