Just the other day I received a phone call from a guy with a question about one my sewing machines for sale.
So I prepared myself to answer some highly technical question.
Instead, the question was "What's a slant needle?"
Wow...I almost didn't know what to say...
Then I realized I'd gotten so close to the trees I'd forgotten how many folks out there are still trying to find the forest!
Slant Needle, Slant-o-Matic...we hear these words so often that we take for granted everyone knows what they mean.
But how can they, if they've never been told?
So here's the scoop on what "slant needle" means and why they're so desirable.
Singer 15-91 Vertical Needle
For the first 100 years of sewing machine production, sewing machines had a vertical or perpendicular needle. In other words, the needle goes up and down at a right angle to the sewing surface.
Singer 404 Slant Needle
But in the 1950's, Singer changed all of that by introducing the model 301 Slant Needle Sewing Machine. Not only was it a lightweight full size portable, but the needle angled forward...it was slanted.
Wow, how cool is that!
Looks really neat, but how does it affect the price of camels in Turkey?
Simply stated, the slant needle makes it easier to see what you sew. How? Let's compare a slant needle machine (left) with a vertical needle machine (right):
Singer 404A Slant Needle Sewing Machine
Singer 327K Vertical Needle Sewing Machine
As you can see, the presser foot on the slant needle machine is closer to the front of the sewing platform. It's not hidden under the machinery. How much difference does this make?
The standard sewing platform measures 7 inches from front to back. The vertical needle is placed dead center, but the slant needle moves the presser foot an inch closer to the front of the machine. Not only does it make it easier to see, but it also provides easier access the bobbin compartment.
But it isn't just the slant of the needle that makes "slant needle" machines so special. It's actually the direct drive motor and steel gears that go along with the slant needle.
The 301 was just the beginning of a legendary family of Singer slant needle machines. It was followed by the 401A, 403A, 404A, 401G, 411G, 500A, 503A, 600E, 603E, & 604E, all of which used the same steel gears and direct drive motor.
So how do you know if your machine is a "slant needle?" Take a look at it from the needle end. If the needle is straight up and down you have a vertical needle machine. If it angles forward then your machine is a slant needle.
Such a simple question, with a very simple answer, but it really made me stop and think about what makes these machines so great.
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.