Wednesday, September 3, 2008

1958 Singer Slant-O-Matic Sewing Machine

Well heres the story. When I was growing up if I needed something sewed my mom or grandma could stitch it right up for me. Now I live in a different town. EVERY pair of pants I own is ripped.

When I showed up to work last week I came walking up to my office and my daughters mom was there. The pants I had on were ripped on the right side seam. They were ripped about 12 inches. My pant leg was flopping around and my leg was clearly visible.

I was having had bad day and my ribs hurt like hell from an accident I had. I dont recall the exact conversation but I basically said ALL of my pants are ripped and nobody in this town sews.

I mean I have asked many people. In the past I have paid someone a few bucks for a quicky sew job or to slap a patch on an old pair of jeans. For some reason now I could find no one.'

At work i taped my pant legs up. Yes I taped them up. My ex laughed but I did what I had to do.

I ride my bicycle or walk everywhere. When I ride my bike I catch my pants in the chain and rip the seam. Thats why all of my pants are ripped. I don't have much expendable income so I can't just go buy new pants.

That weekend I was at my exes house spending time with her and my daughter. She mentioned that her aunt did have an old sewing machine for sale and she would call to see if she still had it or had sold it. I said I would definitely be interested.

SO over the weekend I ended up buying a 1958 Singer SlantO-Matic sewing machine for $15.00 .
Yesterday evening I busted it out and set it up. It still has the original manual. Thank god for that or I never would of got past plugging it in. 

It took me about 4 hours to get my first pair of pants sewed up. I spent forever trying to get the thread and bobbin set up. When I finally got it working the thread busted. I would rethread it and go again. Same results. I finally got it going and stithed up my first pair of pants. It wasn't pretty but it will work perfectly fine for me. I was so excited I got them stitched up and the sewing  machine working.

I was so stoked up I grabbed another pair of khaki pants to sew up. I immediately ran into problems. My thread was busting and it was not sewing. "WTF"...I thought. I just had it going fine. I realized I had forgot to lower my Presser Foot. I lowered it and my needle thread busted again. I changed needles and put in a brand new size 14 needle.

I rethreaded everything and I was back in business.

I have no scrap material so after I stitched up my two pair of pants I grabbed an old ball cap. I picked out one of the fancy stitches and tested it out. It came out looking EXACTLY like the picture in the Singer manual! Yeah Baby!

My two stitching jobs would of took an average sewer 10 to 15 minutes at most. It took me about 4 1/2 hours. If I would of had someone here to ask questions it would of gone a lot smoother and faster.

I ran into multiple problems and overcame them all with patience. The biggest problem I had was with the thread from the bobbin. The manual said to lower the needle until it picked up the thread from the bobbin. It never happened. I tried everything. Still not sure whats wrong. I overcame the problem by removing the throat plate and then feeding the thread up.

I'll find a good forum on the web and ask a few questions there. I will also be going to visit my mom in 9 days and will ask her for some tips too. 

The sewing machine has already paid for itself. The last time I paid someone to do some mending work for me I paid $15.00. $15.00 is how much I paid for my 1958 Singer Slant-O-Matic sewing machine. 

As the manual says "The Slant-O-Matic - The Greatest sewing Machine Ever Built!" Or at least it was in 1958. 50 years later this American made sewing machine still works. Do you think a Chinese built sewing machine would last 50 years?


homesteadcat said...

Wow! what a great story! I must commend you on your dilligence and being able to figure it all out...from not having any sewing expericence at all to actually fixing your own pants is a wonderful achivement. On first reading it, I thought you were a chick, but as I read it, I was surprized to find out you were a guy. Sewing machines are wonderful tools and being able to work them opens up a whole world of constuction. I gave my brother my spare sewing machine and he is about to try and sew a cover for his outdoor patio heater. It's a wonderful feeling to make something instead for just going to Walmart. I ran across this blog because I was interested in buying the same machine on eBay... I also have the 301A from my mom and it works better than great. I bought a new heavy duty Singer (all plastic parts and noisy and does not sew as smooth as the old machine). It was a mistake buying a new one - the belt broke twice and I had to take it in to get it fixed. I am fed up and now I want an old machine so I am doing research on the 401A... Good story and I think you got a great machine... they don't make them how they use to anymore.

MaryAnn said...

I have my mom's 401 Slant o Matic that she received as a Christmas gift from my dad in 1958. She designed and made all of my clothes and I was the envy at one had outfits like mine!! I still use the machine and have made my own daughters clothes, costumes, draperies and anything else I could think of...
I am convinced that this was the "greatest machine ever made" and would not ever sew on anything else. It has been well-maintained through the years (dusted and oiled after every sewing project). Nothing has ever required repair or adjustment. I also have a singer model 247 purchased in the 1984 or thereabouts. It works well, but does not have the same stitch quality as the 401.
I love my Singer is a good friend and I am totally emotionally attached to it!!

Karen said...

Have you ever considered either investing in bicycle clips to tuck your trousers in, or having a chain guard fitted to your bike?

stacey said...

Oh My I just purchased the 401a sewing machine and I am so excited about using it. I am looking on the internet for a downloadable manual.Do you know if this even exsist? I have always wanted to have and old school singer, now I do just confused on where to start. If anyone can help please?

Craig said...

This comment is for MaryAnn. You stated that you have a Singer 247, I was wondering if you wouldn't by chance have an extra copy of the user manual? My wife recently acquired her mothers old 247 but didn't come with a user manual. Surprisingly we have a parts manual but no user manual. My wife thought we could save $$ by hemming our children's pants her self. Every little bit we can save helps. Especially in today's economy. Thanks for your time. btw - you can contact me at if you have any questions.

lori said...

I have a 1958 Singer Slant-O-Matic 401 table model, and I am just starting out sewing. I have the manual, but it's still a mystery to me. I don't know what the different feet are for. I don't know when to tighten or loosen needle tension, or any of that. I can thread it, wind the bobbin, and sew a straight line with average-weight fabric. I have tons of drawings for ideas of clothing, but no technical skills to make actual patterns, or execute the sewing process properly. I can barely sew straight. If you learn more about this machine and how to sew, you will be the most helpful blog I've ever read!!!

Blackbird said...

I just got a singer 201P from my great uncle for 10$!
i have made attempts to thread it up but got too frustrated..
but i will be vigilant like you and try and try again!
this was good inspiration for me to get my sewing machine going..
you really should name the sewing machine, i think it would enjoy having a name..
my machine is called
the groovemachine ^__^!

Blackbird said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jake Sterling said...

I am a little late with this comment, but maybe it will be useful to someone. If your thread keeps breaking and it doesn't seem to want to pick up the bobbin thread, maybe you are are threading the needle in the wrong direction. This is often a problem with Singer machines that are threaded right to left or left to right, some are threaded one way, some the other; not a problem with machines that use the front to back needle position because almost no one would try to thread the needle from the back.

Debbie said...

Awesome story! Thanks for sharing!

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Elizabeth J. Neal said...

I don't want the hassle of changing thread etc to be able to piece while I'm on quilting breaks. I treat my machines with care and clean, oil and change needles regularly. I cover them when not in use to keep the dust away. this blog

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James Gerber said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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Judy Dyer said...

Bought this machine in 1959. I have sewn almost everything I wore, suits, coats, bikinis!,plus curtains... for about 15 years until I started working. Now I only sew easier things like bias skirts and simple tops. It's been a dream machine, I oil and grease it every 6 months or so. I brought it to Mexico with me and use it frequently. I bought a newer Singer last year, nothing fancy, new but made it China. I had to take it to a rear shop the 1st time I used it and again after a little use. I am going to replace that dud with a used 1958/59 Singer.

Judy Dyer said...

I forgot to say that I am buying the used 2nd Singer for my Colorado summer home....The one I bought in '59 is still going strong here in Mexico.

Robert Zurborg said...

I see many comments about the tried and true Singer Slant-O-Matic 401A. I have my mother's. It's been sitting around since she passed about 10 yrs ago. I like to find it a good home where it can be used. She bought it new in the late 50's. It needs a good cleaning (she was a smoker). I cleaned it some but it needs to be done correctly. It is in a cabinet. There were attachments but I'm not sure where they would be. The last time I turned it on it ran smooth as silk. If there is anyone out there interested please let me know.

Robert Zurborg said...

I guess I might as well add this machine as well. I also have her commercial machine (she was a seamstress by trade with a Cincinnati company). When she retired, they gave her the machine she had used for years. Only mod was to swap out the 220 volt motor for a 110 volt. It's a Singer Model 241-2, Serial# AF838095, built in 1941 at the Elizabeth, NJ Plant. It's a self-oiling machine mounted in an adjustable table. It still runs great. Please contact me if interested. Make me an offer.

Unknown said...

I just recently picked up a slant o magic 401 inside of the original table all original part plus extras ( feet bobbins oil parts. All manuals inside inscribed on the back cover paid 152.00 in 1958. Oh and a tiny square patch of cloth resting under the presser foot. I am in Heaven can't wait to crank this baby up and get to work.