On Saturday night, I saw the above listing on Craigslist for an "Antique Portable Singer Sewing Machine," only blocks from my apartment, and I immediately emailed the seller to express my interest. You think I'm crazy, right? Keep reading. I arranged to pick it up yesterday evening, but after spending a lovely day hiking near Cold Spring, I came to my senses. I do not need that machine. I do not want that machine. I sent an email to the seller telling her I had decided to pass, but I also told her that she really needed to list it as a Singer 201 (since that's what it is) which was the top-of-the-line Singer back in the day. She'd have an easier time selling it that way. She thanked me and sure enough, this morning I saw the same machine listed like this.
Aren't I nice?
I don't know how many of my New York readers are interested in a Singer 201, nor do I know what condition the wiring is in, but $70 for a working Singer 201 is not bad, and you might be able to talk the seller down to $50. You should know that a Singer 201 is about as portable as a set of encyclopedias, if anyone remembers what those are.
I was proud of myself, not only for being helpful, but also for resisting another sewing machine. I've decided that if I'm going to buy another black Singer, it has to be one that's convertible to a hand crank. The 201 and 15-91, fabulous machines though they are, are gear-driven, and hence not convertible. If anyone has information to the contrary please let me know.
My interest in buying vintage sewing machines ebbs and flows like the tide, and after a long ebb, it has started to flow again, I'm afraid. I passed on the cutest vintage Seventies Elna "Elnita ZZ" zigzagger on eBay over the weekend -- but it was close! The "ZZ" looks remarkably like an Elna Lotus. Do you know it?
There weren't a whole lot of sewing machines at the flea market this weekend but there were a few.
This is a very nice Singer 66 in a table, but it was missing its stitch regulator doohicky. I think that's just a screw-in piece you could buy online, however.
I also stumbled upon this -- a Singer Futura; not the kind of thing I'd ever buy but it did cross my mind (before I crossed it out). It was missing the plastic horizontal "pin" that holds the thread spool but I'm sure you could replace it.
The whole Craigslist experience got me thinking. You could spend $100 on a cheap plastic Singer, probably made in China...
Or for $70 get that solid metal Singer 201 that was built to last for generations. Go figure.
Here are a few other machines I was drawn to, and they might still be available. Friends, can you imagine listing a Singer Featherweight simply as a "Singer Sewing Machine"? The price isn't bad; I wonder if it comes with a case?
How about this Russian sewing machine! I was recently reading a book about the Soviet economy, and they never got into the "planned obsolescence" thing since there was no incentive to profit from increased sales, so this sewing machine is probably built to last several lifetimes. Unfortunately, I'm not intrigued enough to go to Brooklyn to get it.
Not only have I bought sewing machines on Craigslist (The Pfaff 30 I sold to MPB reader Kimberly, my Singer 99K -- also departed --and my Singer 66 treadle), but we also found our sofa, our living room rug, our bed, the dog treadmill, even the dogs (no joke), on Craigslist!
Readers, do you ever shop on Craigslist? If so, I'd love to hear about your best Craigslist score, even if it isn't a sewing machine. If you don't have Craigslist where you live (Isn't it International?), do you have something similar?
I often get emails from readers asking me what I think of various machines they've seen for sale on their local Craigslist site (a free service I offer my blog readers), and it's always fun to see what's for sale there. Note: I cannot comment on furniture, pets, or potential partner listings.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!