My personal 221 Featherweight finally has a 301 Slant Needle "Big Sister!"
However, by the dates their relationship might be better described as Mother and Daughter.
Singer 301 Slant Needle & 221 Featherweight
Let's take a closer look at the Featherweight. This particular machine came to me from one of my mother's closest friends. She can't sew anymore due to her eyesight, but she knew how much we loved these old machines so she gifted it to us. It's a lovely little thing and it turns out it's one of the earliest 221 Featherweights produced!
1933-1934 Singer 221 Featherweight
How do we know? The serial number stamped in the bottom of the machine is AD542703. According to Singer's records, the first batch of 10,000 serial numbers for model 221 was allocated on October 3, 1933, starting with #AD541546 and ending with #AD551545. The next batch of Featherweight serial numbers were issued on September 10, 1934, which solidly dates this machine to 1933-1934, making it the 1157th Featherweight produced.
These early Featherweights had the bobbin-winder tension mounted on the front of the machine below the sewing platform. The tensioner was moved to the sewing platform surface within a couple of years to allow the machine to be used in a card table or cabinet.
Featherweights are prized for their size, light weight portability and surprising power. Not to mention, they're pretty dang cute!
18 years after the introduction of the 221 Featherweight, Singer hit another home run with the launch of the 301 Slant Needle. While mechanically very different, the 301 shares a number of features with the 221 which have earned it the nicknames "Featherweight Big Sister" and "Full-Size Featherweight."
Singer 301 Serial Number NA039596
Like the 221, the 301 is made of light weight aluminum with a flip-up extension table for access to the bobbin compartment. Both machines use the same bobbin case (Simanco Part Number 45750) and bobbins. The 301 has a built-in carry handle for portability.
However, the two machines are vastly different in size and power and mechanical design. The 301's full size is combined with a direct-drive motor and steel gears, while the 221 is half-size with a belt drive. Both machines pack a punch when it comes to tough projects. And of course the 301 is a slant needle while the 221 is a vertical low-shank machine.
So while the 301 is a "big sister" in size, this particular machine is about 19 years junior in age. Serial Number NA039596 was allocated in 1951, but according to Singer301.com's excellent charts, this machine dates to 1952.
Singer was seeking a more modern image, however, so it wasn't long before the classic black and gold gave way to new colors. Later 301's were produced in mocha and a two-tone cream and tan. (Check out the Singer Machine Gallery for photos of all three colors.)
Hope you've enjoyed learning a little more about these fabulous machines.
Happy Sewing! Barbara OldSewinGear...dedicated to helping you get the most out of your old sewing gear.
OldSewinGear is the collaborative effort of retired repairman Gary and daughter Barbara. We love old sewing gear and enjoy sharing what we've learned in our vintage sewing machine adventures. We are located in Roseburg, Oregon.