My husband went to the feed store to buy chicken feed, and when he got home he showed me a couple of little things he picked up at a thrift store on the way back. Then he said, “Come out and see your new sewing machine!” So, I’m thinking oh no, a random thrift store sewing machine, what am I going to do with that? I mean, it was sweet of him to think of me, but, really? He doesn’t know anything about sewing machines.
So we bring it inside, and I open up the cabinet. It’s all metal, so that’s a good sign. Then I open up the inside, and that’s all metal, too. And everything is gear driven; no belts. So now I’m thinking this could be the jeans machine I’ve been needing! Score! It’s a Singer 401A. Out of curiosity I looked these sewing machines up on ebay, and they can sell for over 10 times what my husband paid, and that’s without the original cabinet and stool.
I had to
bang gently tap on the innards a bit to un-stick the stitch selectors, but now it’s oiled up and working smoothly. The red arrows in the picture below point to the parts that were stuck. The metal parts are very well made and survived my less than gentle repair efforts. I think I maybe knocked something out of alignment, though, because one of the stitch selector knobs won’t go to the last setting, and I can’t figure out how to fix it. I don’t think I’ll ever actually want to use the “J” stitch settings, but it still bugs me anyway.
Here are the stitch settings. I found it odd that instead of a 3-step zig-zag stitch, it has a 4-step multiple zig-zag stitch. The quality of the straight stitches wasn’t that great at first, but the stitches got more even when I increased the presser foot tension. So hopefully it will do nice topstitching on jeans. One interesting feature this machine has is you can put in two regular needles side-by-side, so you can do narrow double needle stitching without having to buy expensive twin needles.
It came with all of the accessories, but only one bobbin. Luckily, I just happened to have a set of these bobbins that came with my Singer 252. I have a bunch of plastic bobbins I use in the 252, and they work just fine, but I don’t like to alternate between metal and plastic since the bobbin tension might need to be adjusted differently, so I’ll keep the metal ones with the 401A.
Now I just have to get used to using an electric machine again, and I can sew jeans without worrying about breaking my sewing machine. I’m so spoiled by the perfect speed control I have on my treadle-mounted Singer 252. The 401A starts and stops smoothly, so I’m not too worried. I’ve never had a machine with a knee lever before, though.
I spent the weekend re-arranging my sewing area to make room for the new machine, and the new arrangement actually works better despite the additional sewing machine I squeezed in. The 401A’s cabinet doubles as a serger table next to my primary sewing machine.
How about a little more sewing machine porn? Want to see those metal gears she’s got under her cover?