Singer 201-2 Named Birdie

If you read Male Pattern Boldness, no doubt you are familiar with the virtues of vintage sewing machines. I myself have considered owning a vintage machine, but I decided I wanted a modern zigzag machine to be my primary machine as long as I feel I’m a beginner. I didn’t want to overwhelm myself with learning garment construction and an unfamiliar machine at the same time. I secured a basic and wonderful mechanical Janome last summer to be my #1 machine–very similar to the machines I learned on in middle school sewing class and my most recent personal machine (a basic modern Singer.) After recently reading about Peter’s latest Featherweight acquisition, I browsed Craigslist for local vintage Singers. I’ve browsed before, and there are rarely machines within 20 miles of where I live. However, this particular time, there was a vintage Singer listed nearby for $75. There weren’t many details listed other than it worked and came in a cabinet with attachments.
I could tell from the photos that the machine looked like a 201-2, and the internet had good things to say about the 201-2, so I arranged to test drive the machine.
Well, she sewed rather nicely, and home she came. Thankfully my mister is big and strong, because these machines plus cabinets are heavy!! He hauled her home and upstairs for me.

After a little more Internet research, I ordered some new oil and grease, and a marked needle plate.

I had a great time reading through the original manual and finding all the places to clean and oil. And then there was the grease. I used cotton swabs to wipe out the old green grease, and then refilled the pots with fresh grease. It wasn’t difficult to do, and I rather enjoyed it! It seemed there were more than 20 spots to oil, compared to my modern machine that only has about 3 places to oil and only requires oiling 2-3 times a year.

I received several crazy looking feet for the 201-2, as well as a buttonholer. I have yet to figure all these feet out, but they look rather impressive to me. The original oil can and grease tube were included to, which is kinda fun. The machine operates with a knee lever. This takes a little getting used to, but so far I really like it. My chair is a tad high for the cabinet, so now I need to get a little stool to go with the cabinet.

I made a top with Birdie already, and I have to agree that she is a smooth operator. I found she easily maneuvers around curves and corners, better than my Janome. She is quiet and ladylike, but don’t be fooled by the svelte figure–girl is heavy. I lift her with both hands when tucking her into the cabinet.

I’m very happy to have added a vintage machine to my collection, and I look forward to mastering the buttonholer.


  1. OMG. OMGOMGOMG. It is SO beautiful.

    Just wanted to let you know that I’d like to nominate you for some awards: The Liebster Award, for blogs with less than 200 followers, the One Lovely Blog Award, The Premio Award (for those who comment on other blogs) and the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I hope that’s ok, and I’ll put it in a post soon!

  2. Congratulations! I’ve been enjoying my 1947 201-2 for so many years, it’s spent almost half its life with me. Someone has posted a manual on line, and it shows all the attachments. I have yet to take time to try any of them, but I’ve built several wardrobes with my machine (which was a gift from a friend whose mother owned it), and I love it. It is the best machine I’ve ever used – old or new.

  3. I have my grandmother’s 1947 Singer 201-2 and your sewing machine & cabinet look identical to mine. I treasure this machine so much and have the original book and the attachments and button holder. I was so happy to hear your experiences lubricating the motor as that is what I will be doing as soon as I receive my Singer lubricant in the mail. I have sewed so many things over the years and it is so quiet and runs so smoothly. I’ve only had it repaired once, when it needed a new plug. The repairman said it would never wear out as the parts were all metal and today they are all plastic. I would not buy a new machine for anything as I love this one so much. Thanks so much for your story and your pictures.

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