Learn the history of the Singer 301 sewing machine and see it in action. Get answers to FAQs about the Singer 301, and more.
The most sought-after vintage sewing machine is the Singer 221, aka the Featherweight. This causes the prices to go up but it’s a true portable vintage sewing machine so quilters love it. If you are looking for a more affordable alternative look no further than the Singer 301! It’s just a couple of pounds heavier but still completely portable while being about a quarter of the cost.
The first one that we brought home was a HOT MESS! Seriously, we got two bodies and a bag of parts. At the time this was my dream machine and while Paul has become an amazing sewing machine repairman, I was questioning his abilities at that moment. Once he got it together I took it to a retreat and fell in love with the 301. Now, I don’t go to a retreat or class without it, even if it is my backup sewing machine. Yes, I take two sewing machines with me!
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When I first did this post all the way back in 2015 I was afraid I would never be able to get my own 301 sewing machine so while we had my sister-in-law’s machine I filmed a quick demo. Since then we’ve added 4 to our herd of vintage sewing machines. It’s time for a full-blown demo and review of this sweet little sewing machine.
Singer 301 Sewing Machine Variations
The 301 came in three different colors, black, chocolate brown, and LBOW or light brown, oyster white. There is a theory out there that the LBOW is faster than the other two versions, we have not tested this theory scientifically. It does appear that the LBOW is faster than our chocolate brown we just haven’t counted stitches over a set time period.
The Singer 301 also came in short bed and long bed versions. When you originally purchased a 301 you could have it in a table or as a portable. There are a variety of tables that the 301 will work in but you need a cradle for the cabinet. You can read more about the 301 tables and cradle here. We don’t have a long bed version of this machine but we have one in a cabinet, one in a carrying case, and two that have been separated from their cases.
Singer 301 Sewing Machine History
You might notice on your machine it says 301A instead of just 301. The A stands for where it was made, Anderson, South Carolina, they were also made in Elizabeth, New Jersey but only briefly. Singer allotted the first 301 on March 27, 1951. The first batch was only 30 machines. This was Singer Sewing Machine Company’s first slant needle machine and I’m sure they were worried if this new design would work. The design worked and approximately 700,000 machines were made in total. The last group of Singer 301s was made in 1957 but sold until 1959. The 301 uses a standard sewing machine needle, 15×1. It also uses the same bobbin as the 221 Singer Featherweight.
Where is the serial number on my Singer 301 sewing machine?
The serial number is located on the underside of the machine. Sadly, ISMACS doesn’t include the NA and NB serial numbers in their list. The best list I could find was here. It isn’t as detailed as ISMACS but with it being the only list on the web, it is the best we have.
Where can I get a manual for my Singer 301 sewing machine?
If you sign-up for our newsletter above we will send you the manual for your 301 to your inbox. If you don’t see the form above you can click here to sign-up.
Where can I get a bobbin case or bobbins for my Singer 301?
The popularity of both the 301 and the Singer Featherweight means you can get reproduction bobbin cases and bobbins but with the current supply chain issues though you might have to wait. I use this bobbin case and these bobbins.
I love how the end up the machine flips up so you have easy access to the bobbin area. It makes changing the bobbin so easy.
Where can I get feet for the 301?
My friends at Sewing Machines Plus have you covered. They have a great selection of slank shank sewing machine feet. Just make sure it says slant shank, I noticed a few marked low shank in the mix now. Before purchasing any feet be sure to read my post on slant shank feet. Since the 301 was the first slant needle machine there was a minor change in the slant and a couple of new feet that I have needed minor adjustments to fit the 301.
What needles do I need for my Singer 301 sewing machine?
The 301 takes 15×1 needles. The 15×1 is standard or universal needles. There is a myth that you must use a Singer needle in a Singer sewing machine. This is completely false! As long as it is the correct needle size, 15×1, any brand of needle will work. Here at The Quilting Room we prefer Schmetz needles and Klasse Needles. Klasse is what Nancy Zieman sold in her shop and they are what my local quilt shop sells as well. I adored Nancy so there’s a bit of sentiment in using those needles.
Video Demonstration of Singer 301 Sewing Machine
In the video below I will show you how to wind a bobbin, how to thread the bobbin case and the machine, how to adjust the stitch length, and just how fast the Singer 301 sews.
If you would like to know more about Singer sewing machines we have all of our posts in this handy location. We also have all of Singer’s sewing machine models by year. If you are ready to use your Singer 301 sewing machine be sure to check out our free quilt patterns and our paid quilt patterns.