These are all 1950's cam machines and represent some of the earliest Singers to provide decorative stitches to the domestic sewing machine market. Reason #1 why I love these machines: I love decorative stitches. I love cam machines because all you have to do is pop the cams in and out. (Cam stack machines make decorative stitches also, but I always have to get the manual out to re-teach myself how to use them. Not a problem if you only own one machine, btw.)
They all use the flat black Singer cams, which sit on the front of the machine where you can watch them turning. Reason #2 why I love these machines: this is just adorable. Not to mention that this is the easiest cam system to use that I have ever seen.
|Singer 319, reviewed in more detail recently|
They are all reported to treadle beautifully, and I have confirmed this on the 306s. Reason #3 why I love these machines: everyone needs a treadle-able machine that makes decorative stitches. I know I do.
They have the loveliest "song". All sewing machines have their own song. Sometimes they howl or growl if they are unhappy, and you had better pay attention to that. Some just hum quietly to themselves. Reason #4 why I love these machines: This class of machine sings "tickety tickety tickety" and it is a very friendly sound, especially when treadling.
Are you ready to rush out and buy one? Better think again...there are issues.
Issue #1: The 306 and 319 both take a class 206 bobbin, which is readily available (see links to Jenny or Cindy) but you can't just run out to Joann's to pick some up. To me this is no big deal: once you have enough bobbins, you have enough bobbins.
Issue #2: The 306 and 319 both take class 206 sewing machine needles (see the same vendors). Also readily, but not inexpensively, available. A much bigger deal, and one that prevents me from using either of these models as my "go-to" machine. I'm not a tame and timid seamstress. I break needles. I'm willing to attempt to sew just about anything that I can shove under a presser foot. And in my younger, much stupider, days, I even took the presser foot off at times. Until I sewed through my thumb.
Fortunately, I discovered the German Singer 316 and it was love at first sight. The first one I saw was a muscular black one, very masculine. I was lucky enough to buy a mocha and beige one from McKenna Linn, and although I paid more than I have ever paid for any other vintage machine, it cost no more than a low end plastic wonder. Including shipping. This is the great secret that vintage sewing machine owners know: you can get fabulous machines, far better than the most expensive machines being made today, for a song.
|Singer 316G, the love of my life|
Her name is Brunhilde, the name of one of the Norse Valkyries, and it means "Battle Bright". Very appropriate given the hand-to-hand combat nature of some of my sewing adventures. So far she has handled everything I have thrown at her without a grumble, including a couple more pieces of soft sided luggage. And Brunhilde, the 316, takes a regular class 15 bobbin and regular sewing machine needles. And that adjustable light! Gosh, real light, lots of it, and right where you want it, wherever you want it. Sewing machine light heaven.
You can set the maximum and minimum width of the decorative stitches with the happy-face-elephant-nose thingy. And it makes me smile every time I sit down at the machine.
|Singer 316G in a Singer Hampden Court cabinet--look at all that drawer space! Look at all that mess!|
|and now you know how the photo magic really happens. Cut a tri-fold display board in half (think "science fair" board) and you will have two photo backdrops.|
And the motor controller (aka foot pedal) is another wonder. For the first time I truly understand the meaning of "controller". I can sew at any speed, including so slow that it is really one stitch at a time, and the machine just tickety ticks along. No grumbling. No hesitation. Ultimate, absolute, instantaneous control. Kind of like cooking with a gas range after using an electric.
She does, however, share with the 306 and 319
Issue #3: the only way to access the bobbin is to tilt the machine back. What WERE they thinking?
This is the reason I installed a coil spring belt on my treadle. When I have the 306 (or, later, the 319) in there I can tilt the machine back to change the bobbin without undoing the belt.
There is another potential issue with the 306 and the 319, and another reason to think seriously about whether you want one or not:
Potential Issue #4: They may have been re-timed in order to take the common sewing machine needles. Sounds good, yes? No, THIS IS A BAD THING. But it can be corrected.
What does this mean? I barely understand it myself, but here goes. A properly functioning sewing machine is a masterpiece of synchronicity. Think about it: You've got thread in a needle on the top, thread in the bobbin on the bobbin, and feed dogs pushing the fabric along, and they all have to work together PERFECTLY. Timing, as I understand it, is the coordination of these three things.
So if you take a machine designed to work perfectly with a certain size of needle and disrupt that synchronicity, you no longer have a machine designed to work perfectly. It has been messed up. And sooner or later, you will pay.
If the machine comes with a needle, take it out and put it side by side with a regular needle. Same length? The machine may have been re-timed. Shorter? It's probably in the original condition.
My lovely 319 has been subjected to re-timing and now she is sitting around waiting for me to either learn a new skill or spend money on taking her to a technician. I have gotten as far as reading through the instructions in the service manual, and it sounds do-able. Stay tuned to this channel for the next thrilling development. But don't hold your breath while you are doing it. There are dozens of machines here and I am easily distracted.