Hi! I am writing this post to help someone who has acquired a vintage (or "old") Singer sewing machine with no manual and is anxious to start sewing. Others have told her to order her manual. I agree, reading your manual is the number one first thing to do to start sewing.
But if you must wait to get your manual, I have taken some pictures which I hope will help you to get started right away. Because really, the best way to learn to sew is to sew. And I want you to get started as soon as you can!
Your Singer may be different than mine, of course, but hopefully you might be able to figure out what to do for your machine from seeing how mine (ca. 1960) is set up.
Step 1: Wind the Bobbin
The first thing to do is to loosen the stop motion screw (so the needle will not go up and down while the motor is winding the bobbin). You do this by turning the larger disc on the handwheel away from you, while simultaneously turning the smaller wheel towards you.
Use two hands for this, I am using one in the picture because I needed the other hand for the camera.
Then you will set a spool of thread on the spool pin in the front of the machine, making sure the thread is leaving the spool at the front. Pull the thread through the tension discs to the right of the spool. Place an empty bobbin on the bobbin pin, which is on the top right of the machine in front of the handwheel. Pull the thread up (making sure it is engaged in the tension discs), and bring it through the inside of the bobbin and out through a hole on the left side of the bobbin.
Hold onto the thread tail, and then press the bobbin winder down towards the handwheel. Then start the machine, using either the foot pedal or the knee pedal, if your machine has one. Hold onto the thread end until the bobbin has wound around a few times, after which you can stop winding, clip the thread end and keep winding until your bobbin is full.
Then you will stop the machine, of course, and lift the bobbin winder back up, away from the handwheel. Cut the thread, and remove the bobbin. Tighten the stop motion screw by turning it in the opposite direction as before. That is, turn the larger wheel towards you and the smaller screw/ wheel away from you.
Step 2: Inserting the Bobbin
The way the bobbin fits into the machine is probably the biggest difference between machines, and I don't think that all Singers have a drop in bobbin like mine does. For this kind, you simply inset the bobbin with the thread leading forward from the left side. Pull the thread first towards the front and then towards the left to engage it in the slot under the spring. Pull out a few inches of thread.
The needle is already threaded in that photo; I am about to tell you how to do that!
If your bobbin is not top loading like this one, then you will need to remove the bobbin cover and place the bobbin in that casing, thread it through the slot, and replace the bobbin cover....it looks completely different than this! Hopefully you can see how it is assembled when you unassemble it and then reassemble it again in the right way! Good luck!
Step 3: Threading the Machine
Turn the power to the machine OFF.
Turn the handwheel towards you to bring the needle to its highest position. Place a spool of thread on the top spool pin, making sure the thread is unwinding from the front. Thread it through the first thread guide, at the top of the machine. Then take the thread down, running it behind the next thread guide, on the front of the machine. Then thread it between the tension discs and back up, pulling it to engage the little hook
Here is a closer picture to show you how the thread will look when properly engaged and threaded through the tension discs:
You see, it will come up under the tension discs, and then it falls behind the little metal finger and down through the little round hook to the left of the discs...then it goes up and you thread it through the take up lever (see previous photo), which is the metal "eye" you will see sticking out in he front of the top of the machine.
Then the thread heads down towards the needle. On this machine, the next thread guide is to the left on the outside of the machine. Then you pull it down and behind the guide at the top of the needle clamp. Then you will thread the needle and pull the thread under the (raised) presser foot. You will find the lever for raising and lowering the presser foot on the back of the machine behind the needle.
The thread guides on your machine may be slightly different than mine, though! You just want to make sure that you pass the thread behind every single guide, because if you miss one you might lose your thread and frustrate yourself.
Step 4: Raising the bobbin thread
Pull several inches of needle thread off to the left of the needle. Hold onto the end of the thread and turn the handwheel toward you, lowering the needle into the machine, keep turning until the needle comes back up, bringing a loop of bobbin thread up with it as well. Pull out this loop until you have a few inches of bobbin thread coming out of the machine, pulled towards the left with the needle thread.
Step 5: Starting to Sew
Place your fabric under the needle, and lower the presser foot. Turn the handwheel towards you to lower the needle into the fabric.
Use your left hand to gently guide your fabric. Turn the power to the machine on.
Use your foot or knee pedal to sew a couple of stitches forward, and then sew in reverse to "lock" your stitch. To do this, just lift the stitch length regulator upwards using your right hand, and hold it a couple seconds to sew in reverse, then press it back down to begin sewing forward again.
When you reach the end of your seam, sew in reverse for a couple of stitches again to lock the stitch down on that end as well.
And now (I hope) you are sewing! I hope this helped and good luck!