Singer 201K – An Iconic Machine
Do you love vintage sewing machines – the Singer 201K is one of those iconic models that sewing enthusiasts rave about.
The 201 series comprised of full-size sewing machines mainly made in the USA and UK. They were first introduced in the 1930s and production continued until 1961. Experts often view the Singer 201K as the finest domestic sewing machine ever made, and the models that exist today still work perfectly well – sewing and hemming in the same way they did all those years ago.
The 201 was the most expensive model – according to singersewinginfo.co.uk, the electric model cost £28-11s-6d in 1947. In 1950, for example, the average salary in the UK was just over £100, so the sewing machine cost most than your average worker would earn in three months.
However, Singer was famous for something other than sewing machines, and that was hire purchase. Tailors or seamstresses could buy the machine and pay for it over some years while they made their living from the sewing they did.
The Singer 201K would have been used as a hand machine or treadle for domestic work, but professionals could use it with a motor attached so that the machine could produce more than 1,100 stitches per minute.
Singer produced lots of attachments too – buttonholers, blind stitchers, zig-zag attachments. Professionals liked the large ‘harp’ space, as this made it easy to work with bulky fabrics. It was also an easy machine to use. Needle insertion and threading differed from other models. With the 201K, you had to insert the needle with the flat side facing to the left and then threaded from right to left.
Some of the 201 models (201D) were made in Germany, but the factory was closed at the end of the Second World War, while the 201P models were assembled in Australia from parts made in Singer’s Clydebank factory and bases and cases produced locally.
One of the fascinating facts about the 201K, as noted by sewing enthusiast Alex Askaroff, is that Singer presented the model to the then Princess Elizabeth to mark her wedding in 1947. A Pathe newsreel of the time shows the presents for the royal event, and there is a Singer 201K displayed next to the jewellery and other gifts given to the couple.
As Alex says, a smart piece of marketing on the part of the Singer, as the folks watching at the time must have thought to themselves the Singer 201K was a machine fit for a princess!
We love the Singer 201K, and if you want one for yourself, why not check out one of our fully refurbished models here?