Saturday, June 30, 2012

Zig Zag through the years with Singer

This is my little family of Singer zig zag attachments and here are samples of the stitching (begging pardon for my sloppy, crooked rows). 

Stitch quality is almost the same - in fact the two earlier models actually make a slightly better satin stitch.  But all make a perfectly nice zig zag.   Here is the difference in operation.  The oldest model works like this (bight is adjust by a screw in the back): 

This one runs a tad smoother, I think, but the main advantage is that you can change bights to N-M-W with a gauge on the side rather than just a screw on the back like the older model.

  These two models both come with an edge stitcher which can be attached so that you can stitch on the very edge of the fabric or join a piece of lace right to the edge like this: 

And they also have a cording slot so you can zigzag over a cord or thread for gathering.  Very useful!

The most contemporary model is also the biggest.  It is actually rather huge!  This is the Singer Automatic Zig Zag Attachment which takes cams to make different decorative stitches.  Here it is in operation doing the zig zag stitch and a deco stitch:

This is a rather amusing gadget which makes surprisingly nice stitching.  It comes with a set of four cams, and three more sets of four are available.  But the drawback, apart from the clunky size, is that it does not have the edging attachment.  That makes it very difficult to do some of the tasks that you would normally do with a zigzag such as stitching very close to fabric edges to finish seams, doing lace insertions, or zigzagging over cording.   I look at this model primarily as a decorative stitcher.  

The first model - the oldest one - not only works great, but is small enough to pop into my Featherweight case.  Actually it isn't any bigger than the standard issue ruffler attachment, and somehow it's dainty size just seems more suited to the FW.

So why do I even keep all these around when I have a Slant-o-Matic to do my zigzagging?  If you have to ask, then you just haven't played with vintage sewing machine attachments enough to know how fun it is to use them!  :)


  1. Back in the 70's all I had was a 501A with all of the attachments. I used the buttonholer all the time, and nothing makes better buttonholer.
    when my friends were making appliqued pictures with their $99.00 zig-zag machines, I broke out the zig-zag attachment. I had the big clunky one with all of the cams.
    It did beautiful work. I was young and fearless and did amazing things with it. I love the way it moved the fabric back and forth to make the zig-zag stitch. Noisy and clunky, but it stitched beautifully.
    I no longer have it.
    I wish I did have it for buttonholes.
    It's keyhole buttonhole was elegant!

  2. Thanks for posting these videos and information. I have the zig zagger attachment like the one in the middle which I have yet to play with. I am a bit worried about scratching my repainted featherweight. Perhaps I could try it on a 128 handcrank instead that is already a bit scratched up, incase the worst happens.
    Have you ever tried that?

  3. I also don't use it on my Featherweight for the same reason. I've used it on my 15-91 and 201 and honestly I have never scratched the machines with it, but I still worry about dings whenever I used my FW for anything. The ZZer will work equally well on any other low shank, straight stitch machine - although I don't have a 128 handcrank so I can't vouch for that model specifically.

  4. Hi there,

    Is this a low-shank singer you are using? I'm wondering if the middle zigzagger (the one that's not the oldest or newest) would work on low-shank singer machines?

  5. Yes these are all low shank attachments. There is a zigzagger made for slant shank for the one or two slant shank stitchers like the 301.

    1. Thanks!! I have 2 more questions....what are the part numbers for these and does the middle model have different 'disks' that can be changed? Any info is much appreciated, I've bought 2 of the wrong attachments s far and spent over 100$ on everything.... :(

  6. The only one with changeable cams - that does decorative stitches - is the big one with the red cam on top, the Automatic Zigzagger. The others just do zigzag and you adjust the width with a lever on the attachment, that's it. (As far as I know those ONLY come in low shank.) The Automatic ZZ is the one that comes in a slant shank version and it is very hard to differentiate from the low shank. Somewhere on the attachment and on the box it says 301 and that's the only clue you have!

    What sewing machine are you trying to find a zigzagger for?

  7. Thanks! I have a 15-91 low-shank, (I did find an automatic zz, but unfortunately it was the slant type). As far as I know, there are always serial numbers etched on singer attachments, (but they are hard to see sometimes)

  8. Its funny you got the slant shank attachment since the vast majority of them are for low shank! Yes, with this attachment in particular, it is hard to differentiate which is which. But the low shank Automatic Zigzaggers are all over eBay for about $20 (and you can sell the ones you don't need while you're at it.) And of course any of the earlier model zigzaggers - the ones that don't use cams - are ONLY low shank so you can go wrong with those but they won't make the decorative stitches.

  9. Thanks for all the advice, I just received my low-shank and it's amazing! The part # on it is 161102 (As I found out from the little booklet from the wrong attachment-apperanty part number 161103 is 301s and 161102 for low shank)

  10. What stitch length do you use when using the middle attachment? I can't find much info on it.

    1. Gosh, it was so long ago that I did it, I don't remember which one I was using. But you can use any stitch length you want, the smaller the stitch length the closer together the zigzags will be.