Friday, January 6, 2012

Hans and the Singer 206, Part 2

Here's Part 2 of Hans from Chicago's questions about his Singer 206.

Is there any type of regular maintenance a 206 requires (oiling?) to care for them?
Of course. Every vintage Singer requires regular oiling at a minimum (click here to learn how to oil your machine), and I always check the wiring and the motor for safety’s sake. You'll also want to check that the belt is properly adjusted.

This machine came with a needle, bobbin and bobbin case, so I believe it is operable. Are there other attachments that are needed/beneficial?
Needed or beneficial for what? Please understand it is impossible to answer vague questions like this.

I have read this machine uses an unusual needle (206x13) and using the wrong one will nick up the bobbin case.

That’s absolutely true, a 15x1 needle should not be used on this machine. The 206x13 needle is a bit more expensive than the more common 15x1 needles used by model 15s, 201s, 221s et cetera. For that reason, some people muck with the timing on the 206 (and related 306) to use the 15x1 needle, but based on what I’ve read from those more experienced than I, this is not a good idea and ought not be done.

For your edification on this topic, I recommend you join the Vintage Singers Yahoo Group and search through the archives to read up on it. I do not recommend you pose questions to the group on that topic until you have read through the archives, as it has already been discussed to death; many of the kind and knowledgeable folks on the forum have dedicated much of their time to explaining it, and I think it would be inconsiderate to ask them to repeat themselves.

Do you know of a good supplier for these needles?
There are tons of suppliers, but I haven’t ordered enough 206x13 needles to know which is better than another. I’m not the best person to answer this question, you’re better off poking around on forums that deal more heavily with actual sewing.

Is the 206 really "The Singer That Should Be Forgotten"?
Hans, like many people you're sending me a question seeking a factual answer to a matter that is rooted in opinion. You might as well ask me "Is France really a good place to live?"

The link you’ve provided is to the blog written by Ed L., a well-respected vintage sewing machine aficionado who founded the Vintage Singers group. I’ve never had the pleasure of corresponding with Ed, but I believe he would tell you the same thing I would: That a sewing machine becomes an intensely personal item to the user, and that there’s no accounting for taste. If you spend time around them you’ll find there’s a model you ought to hate that you simply love, and vice versa. Ed clearly states his reasons for why he dislikes the 206.

Another vintage sewing machine aficionado was the dearly departed Ray W., a longtime contributor to various sewing machine forums, and he has stated that the 206 was one of his favorite machines and his main machine for many years.

Whether or not the 206 should be forgotten by you is entirely up to you.


  1. Hi Rain, thanks for another great post!

    "Needed or beneficial for what? Please understand it is impossible to answer vague questions like this."

    Sorry for my vagueness. Honestly, it stems from knowing nearly nothing about sewing, let alone care or use of vintage machines. It might sound obvious, but with no needle, the machine won't sew. The same is true for bobbin and case. I assumed I had what I needed, but truly had no idea. The "other attachments" is admittedly subjective. But it was rooted in a situation such as adding a button hole attachment. Are they even available? Will one fit all machines or only vintage Singers? Just 206'es? Only 206k25's? Are there differences between between machines from different factories or changes made during the production run? It's probably obvious, but for someone coming in from the outside, it's all a little confusing as to which attachments will fit. It will be a fun journey as I start to figure all this out.

  2. HI Rain
    This 206 looks a bit different from mine. The stitch length regulator on mine looks more like the SLR (stitch length regulator not single lens reflex)on my 306.
    PS One can google 206X13 needle and find lots of suppliers. That's what I did.

    I would suggest that Hans consider finding someone who could teach them all basic sewing and how the machine works. Then much of the mystery will disappear and be replaced by fun and adventure.

  3. I have a 319K which is similar (I totally don't understand the model numbers though!). It's my favourite machine, feels so solid and sews smoothly and reliably. It has zigzag and a number of other stitches 'built in'. I would imagine zigzag would be a good idea on a machine to teach a child, since at some point you'll want to be finishing some seams so they don't unravel and a zigzag stitch is a good, simple way to do this.
    My older boys aged 10 and 9 both use this machine - always supervised - but they seem pretty comfortable with it.

    The one other thing I might look for in a machine to teach a child is that it could sew at a very slow pace. I have an old Husqvarna that is 'supposed' to have a kind of gear change which enables it to sew very slowly but this feature seems to not be working. I guess as an alternative to that, the hand-crank idea might be good. My boys have both used the hand wheel on my machine to go very slowly around some curves.

    On the subject of needles - that's the one drawback of my 319K, the needles are expensive and in a limited range of sizes and types. However, I have a local repair shop that sells them, and I have also ordered them on the internet. They are Schmetz brand.

    As for attachments, any low-shank standard attachment should work. I have used an old Singer buttonholer with mine, as well as a generic walking foot which is useful when handling slippery or stretchy fabrics.

    I hope some of this information is of help!

  4. Elizabeth & Jane, thanks much for your kind words and helpful advice. I think we're going to enjoy this machine and the discoveries that come with learning a new hobby. I was mildly distressed when the knee bar did not work only to later discover the clip which holds the foot pedal in place; allowing it to work just as designed.