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May 1, 2012

Whatever happened to the Singer Featherweight?



Sewing machines are a lot like cars.  How we feel about them is entirely subjective.  Regardless of the official product description or what online reviewers may say, if we like it, we like it and if we don't, we don't.

And just like a car, nearly any of them will get you where you need to go, more or less.  But you wouldn't drive a Yugo up Mt. Washington or on the backroads of Montana, and likewise, you wouldn't expect to sew a leather jacket with a Hello Kitty Janome.

I've written a lot about sewing machines, both here and in Vogue Patterns, and what I write is based on my own experience.  No matter how many machines I've sewn with, there will always be many, many others I'm not familiar with.  I love reading other people's sewing machine reviews on sites like Pattern Review, but I always take them with a grain of salt.  Again, it's subjective.

It's fair to say that the original Singer Featherweight, in production from roughly 1933 to 1964 (you can read more about the history here), is the machine most beloved among vintage sewing machine fanatics and quilters -- not mutually exclusive groups, of course.   I resisted this machine for a long time due to the high price (you're lucky to find one that's complete for less than $150) and all the hype.

I bought my first Featherweight a little over a year ago on eBay, and it needed work -- a new hook assembly to be exact.  I bought my second, also on eBay, a few months later, and it was perfect right out of the box -- and cost less than the other one!  And you know something?  They lived up to the hype, a rare thing.





Among the many projects I've sewn on my Featherweights over the last year was Cathy's entire maternity outfit, opera coat included.  I've made shirts and pants on it too, though for jeans I prefer my Singer 201 -- it's more powerful and faster; the Featherweight can certainly handle multiple layers of denim, however.

What I like most about the Featherweight, aside from it's light weight and cute design, excellent piercing power and ease of use and maintenance, is that it is virtually silent.  You hear the soft click clack of the hook assembly, but the motor is quiet as can be.  One of the things I didn't like about my old Seventies-era Singer Genie, for example, was how noisy it ran.  Many other vintage and contemporary machines have loud motors too.  I'm not sure what makes a motor loud.  Do you?


There were two main kinds of Featherweights: the 221 and the rarer 222, which was a free arm machine (above), and every day on eBay there are literally dozens for sale at auction and for immediate purchase.  The Featherweight isn't rare but Singer is not making any more, obviously.  And there's enormous interest and demand.  There are even sellers who have made careers restoring vintage Featherweights, some even painted unusual colors!


There were a few Featherweight competitors, which often show up on eBay.  Cute, but I've never tried one.  Have you?







So let's say you are Singer (which is currently owned by SVP Worldwide, which also owns Pfaff and Husqvarna Viking, which is in turn owned by Kohlberg and Company, which bought Singer in 2004).  Given the enormous and (arguably) growing popularity of the original Featherweight model, what would you do?  You might try to restore the nameplate (think Ford Mustang), and Singer has done just that, numerous times.  The results?  Generic plastic zigzaggers.







You can purchase a metal Chinese repro Featherweight, though I'm not sure why you'd bother, when you can find the real thing at the same price or less.





Readers, a few questions:

1) Do you own or have you ever sewn with a vintage Featherweight?  If so, what do you like most about it? 

2) Have you ever tried any of the newer Featherweights, clones, or vintage competitors?  How do they compare?

2) Is it time to retire the Featherweight name, in honor of a model that cannot be replicated today? 

Featherweight fans, I want to hear from you!

74 comments:

  1. I agree with you Peter! They are so quiet and just so lovely. I have 7 (I think) and know that I don't need anymore....but sometimes I can't help but search CL and ebay....just to see. I never have an issue with any of mine. They sure don't make them like they used to! I can't believe they keep making plastic pieces of crap and slapping that name on them - sacrilege!!! :)

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  2. Well, I only have one Featherweight, but it was my mom's, and I learned to sew on it. What I like best (besides its quiet efficiency): the beautiful buttonholes and its ability to fearlessly tackle thick seams. Also all the nifty attachments (some of which are really wild looking)! I haven't tried any of the imitators and agree that using the Featherweight name on, uh, *lightweight* imitations is sacrilege.

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  3. I love love love my Featherweight and would never get rid of it. It has great piercing power and has a beautiful straight stitch. It doesn't take up much room and is so cute. If I want to do some topstitching, I will set it up as a secondary machine because my much more expensive computerized machine just doesn't come close in stitch quality.

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  4. I have one! My mom gifted it to me. Is it total heresy to say that what I love most about it is how beautiful it is?

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  5. I agree with everyone here; I love my Featherweight and although I don't sew on it all the time, at times it's the only thing I really want to sew on. It's quiet and easily controlled, never gives me a bit of trouble and it somehow makes me feel that I can do more precise sewing just because it's so small and cute.

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    1. I think you CAN sew more precisely on a straight stitch machine that can sew slowly -- just like the FW.

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  6. I've never used one, but now I surely want one :)

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  7. My first featherweight was the cream with the green case. She is so pretty. Then my mother decided it was time for her to pass down 3 of her 4 Featherweights. Two from the mid 40's and a Centennial issue. I cleaned them up and oiled their parts and just can't find any difference in how they sound and run. So for all the years they were made the quality never slipped in the workmanship. Peter, I was a bit suprised you didn't mention the "latest" Singer Featherweight. ...no comment, but can't possibly compare.

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    1. Laurie Lou, are you referring to the black Singer 160 "Limited Edition"? I don't think that's supposed to be a Featherweight machine -- am I wrong?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96cjw7BRY5o&feature=related

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  8. I have my Grandmother's Featherweight (and my Oma's is out in the garage awaiting repair). I received the 1950ish beauty in PERFECT condition and it had NEVER been sewn on! CRAZY! My favorite thing about it is how quiet it is and how ridiculously accurate the feed system is. The stitches are straight as an arrow and always even. I have another bigger, more modern machine but I prefer the Featherweight to sew things that require accuracy (paper piecing, clothing, etc.).

    As for trying a repro...why? The old ones never wear out and if they do, they're easily repaired. At least that's what the guy told me when I went to get mine serviced (You know, 60+ years sitting in a box, I had no idea what I was looking at!) They're meant to run forever with little to no maintenance (minus the oiling).

    The guy at Featherweight Poppy is a great resource if you've got questions (he actually lives a few hours from me) and he has a great service manual that I believe he sells.

    Anyway, they're great and I don't know that you can replace (or remake) 'em!

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  9. I learned to sew on my mom's Featherweight and I inherited it when she passed away. I learned in 4-H at LeeAnn Peterson's house where we met and sewed on 3 Featherweights belonging to various girls mothers. I can't think of a better machine to learn to sew on. I have 2 other machines, a 1970's Singer and a 1980's Pfaff. The other machines have their advantages, like a choice of stitches and a free arm, but I was able to make the majority of my clothes in high school on the Featherweight. I love the portability of a metal machine. I also like the quite motor and I like that distinctive smell. I know yours was a little too smelly at first Peter, but a little of that smell is great. There is no way they should use the name on new, plastic machines. It only confuses the novice since they are the same thing. I have never sewn on any clones. I can't imagine that they would be as good.

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  10. I bought my 1948 featherweight in 1969 for $80, and had to take out a loan to do so. I saw it in a shop window at night and knew right away it was the machine for me. I loved its simplicity and compactness, its ability to sew almost anything, and its easy care. Also just the tactile pleasure of a well-designed tool. It was the only machine I used for many years, but I think in the end I asked too much of it by upholstering a sofa and chair in heavy velvet, sewing too many layers. It still works, but slower than before. Like you say, with the Yugo up a mountain: you gotta use the right tool for the job.

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  11. I always poo-pooed the featherweight cult following. Until I saw an irresistible posting on Craigslist. I snapped up a featherweight for a song! It is now my machine of choice. The perfect straight stitch has me hypnotized into a lovers trance! Yes I have been converted! Previously I purchased the Janome 3/4 size Machine. (AQS 2009) It sews very well also, not one complaint. So my preference is simply subjective. The cadence of the old machine sweeps me off to sewing bliss!

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  12. I was originally drawn to the Singer Featherweight when I began to search for a vintage sewing machine to use. I had wanted a vintage singer sewing machine to use that was light weight and compact for storage when not in use.

    After some research - I came across a picture of a Featherweight with its carrying case and its removable tray for storing attachments and foot pedal. It immediately appealed to my organizational sensibilities and meet all my sewing requirements. I just loved it and purchased a featherweight made in 1941 with a chrome hand wheel. It sews perfectly!

    I have since purchased (it can get a little addictive) the Singer 222k free arm, the card table with extension leaf and a vast array common and rare vintage Singer Low shank attachments to use with my two my Featherweights.

    It is indeed one of Singers best made and designed Sewing Machines!


    Ricardo Aleixo

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  13. Peter, To the above comment...I stand corrected, yes you are right. That was a close one. I'm glad they didn't do that to a Featherweight....put it in a bulbous black plastic body. :)

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  14. I have a featherweight, but haven't used it yet for a project. A friend of mine told me he wanted one and once he found one, he bought it, saved it and on our next visit, GAVE it to me ! Hubby has gone through the full cleaning process and I've run through some test seams but soon it'll sew a garment - soon.

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  15. I've worked on many Featherweights (original Singers) and what I find interesting is the nuances in engineering they had over the years. Without a doubt, the older ones (pre-WWII) are better than the newer ones (late 1950's-60's).

    The best one I ever worked on was one of the original models, issued in early 1934. It had sewn many many miles, but to this day is still the smoothest and quietest running Featherweight I've had the privilege to work on. A distinguishing feature was the bobbin winder "tire". Most Featherweights have a stamped metal wheel that is painted black. The newest ones (including the colored machines) have a cheap plastic disk. This machine from 1934 had a machined (not cast or stamped) solid metal wheel that had some heft and ran VERY smooth and quiet against the motor drive belt. Best machine ever!!

    I currently have one of those "FeatherLite" machines on my bench..... has a good class-15 hook system and surprisingly, the machine has a fair amount of heft to it from the cast metal (mostly) frame/cover. Unfortunately, it has those !@#$ plastic gears in it that have all blown apart from just sitting around. It looks like it might use common generic parts so I'm hoping to find some new gears and get it running again. I'm curious to see, feel and hear how it runs.

    You asked what makes a motor noisy. My observation is, like most things mechanical, mass (as in metal), design (bearings) and quality of fabrication all have a part to play. In the 1950's when Singer was desperate to sell machines and reduce costs, they changed the design of their motors.

    A good example is the Singer 306 machine - a "cottage industrial" cast aluminum body/frame with a decent rotary hook, but a lousy cheap plastic motor. With the original motor it rumbles, groans and shudders. Change out the motor to an all metal one from a cheap Japanese CL-15 clone and it purrs like a kitten.

    I'm so glad we still have these older vintage machines and that people are re-discovering their value and merit. Thanks Peter, for helping to educate sewers and promote their use.

    Steve P aka "Bobbin Doctor"

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  16. I have never thought it could happen, but since four years I am the owner of a beautiful 1948 221K made in Clydebank! It is in a great shape, came with the manual in French and complete attachment set! My sister fell in love with my FW and found one for herself and got one for my mom, so we are a family full of FWs!

    I have sewn an entire project for a friend with her Singer model 324, or Featherweight Plus (your first picture). IMO it makes an awnful noise of cheap plastic, but I believe that for many people this is the normal sound of a sewing machine, right? It has no light and for straight stitch sewing, the needle position stays on the left, which I found wierd. But it has a nice selection of basic stitch, two speed options(good for beginners) and good piercing power.

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  17. I learned on the Featherweight as a child and sewed on it for many years. Later I purchased another Singer thinking I was trading up. Wrong. I have several brands and models of machines but I purchased two Featherweights for nostalgic reasons. And all the cool attachments except I am still looking for a buttonholer.

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  18. SeamsterEast@aol.comMay 1, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    The Major Religious Experience that is the Singer Featherweight -- machines now 50 to 80 years old, all of them -- has always astounded me because virtually every last one of them for sale seems virtually spotless and unscratched.

    My Pfaff 130 showed signs of 50 years of heavy usage when I bought it. Likewise, my Elna Lotus looks well used. Even my ten year old Sailrite LSZ looks well worn by comparison.

    I am surprised to hear the Featherweight actually sews pretty well. The pristine condition of all those old machines lead me to believe they were handed down -- used but twice -- from mother to daughter to granddaughter to now great-granddaughter.

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  19. I bought mine to carry to quilting classes (since it only weighs 11 lbs.) I use it for quilt piecing, mostly, and sometimes to hem garments.

    A friend gave me his mother's original Featherweight when he was cleaning his house out so he could relocate. I offered to buy it, but he wanted to give it to someone who would use it. It needs a new hook assembly (it's breaking thread) but is otherwise perfect, and seems like it didn't get a lot of use.

    While I love both machines for piecing, and you can't beat them for "cute" I find I most often use my Singer 301 for other things.

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  20. I don't have a featherweight, but that is the one machine I really want. What years were your machines made Peter?

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    1. My first is a Centennial, so that's 1951, and my second is 1948.

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  21. When my Grandma passed , her FW was the only thing I wanted , I told the family they could take anything else when they arrived . I keep it closed up to save that special old sewing machine smell & open it to mentally visit Grandma when I breath it in . So of course that meant buying one to use , and a 222k free arm is the handiest thing EVER for after thought trim add-ons & millinery work . Then there is the cool blackside ones , added one of those , and all the attachments ! Have almost every one of those now ( phase two of addiction ) Then there is that adorable little SewHandy that came out before the FW , and they came in fab CoLoRs !!! Added one beautiful blue one to the growing herd . And sew it goes ... and the collection grows !

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/8961860@N07/sets/

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    1. OMG, Arlene, those dresses you've made -- astounding! (Oh, the machines are great too.)

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    2. agreed, dresses are amazing

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    3. You can have all the machines you want sewing dresses like these.

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  22. I don't own one, but it is my dream. I just think one will show up at my door one day. The free armed one would be perfect!!!

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  23. I adore my featherweight. They should start making them again!

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  24. Hi Peter - I think I have three of them (all Craigslist purchases, most memorable meeting someone in a Burger King parking lot to make the exchange. My son who was with me said it looked like a drug deal, trunks open to make the switch). They are great to take to class for their weight and lack of space requirements. Both my nieces started sewing on my embroidery machine but now choose "the cute little machine" because there is only one choice of stitches.

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    1. You've enriched your child's youth beyond measure.

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  25. I love my Featherweight! I love the looks of the Featherweight 222. They seem to be pricey. Do you have one?

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  26. I adore my Featherweight - which you, Peter, convinced me to buy! It was an ebay buy, for about $220 CAD; I got it from a vendor who specializes in featherweights (iquilt22) who services them before shipping them out. It sewed beautifully right out of the box. I have since bought, via ebay, a buttonholer with 9 cams (!) in its original box (!!).

    I love how powerful it is for how diminutive it is :) And I love how it purrs. It's my mighty mouse!

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  27. My mother made our clothes on a Singer Featherweight. I learned to sew on it, and I used it to make my prom dress and wedding dress. I still use it when I visit her, and it will be mine eventually as none of my siblings can sew. However, for at least 30 years it has been moody and hard to get along with. It will sew like a dream and then the tension will go whacko and long loops will form on the underside. Do you think it needs a new hook assembly? This machine is built for North American electricity. What modifications would I need to do to use it in Australia (240 volt power supply)?

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    1. Hi Mae!

      I thought I maybe could help you here. I had similar problem with the tension, not on my Featherweight, but on my 185K... After I removed the whole tension assembly, cleaned and readjusted it was gone.

      To turn a 110V machine in a 240V is easy... you just need to buy an adapter that connects the plug to the power.

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    2. Hi Mae,
      I have difference advice than Andrea, re the power source. My electrical engineer OH told me when i was thinking of using a power adapter if i bought a 110V machine for our 240v power it would burn the motor out very quickly as old machines were not built to adapt to multiple power voltages with an adapter.

      The best solution would be to have the machine rewired for a 240v power supply.

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    3. Thanks for the advice. I don't think that Singer has been cleaned or serviced in my lifetime, and I'm 60! I'm visiting my parents in September and I'll find someone to clean and readjust the tension assembly while I'm there.

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    4. Most of the Singer domestic machines of this era used the same electric-motor system. The motor, lamp, and control pedal can be easily replaced as a unit. Here in the UK (also 240v) new units can be bought from several sources, and they will be safety tested.

      Old electrical hardware should be treated with extreme care. Insulation can have failed.

      I have heard a few stories about the Chinese replicas. Treat them like an original, a careful check and clean before use, and they should be OK. But at the price, that isn't a positive point.

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  28. I have a white green that I got a few months ago. One thing that I particularly like about it is that somehow using it is less fatiguing than sewing on my full size Kenmore. I don't know why, but visibility seems a little better, and I end up doing less neck craning. Aside from that, it just sews a lovely straight stitch. Mine is not almost silent though, I have heard these are a bit louder than the older ones.

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  29. One day I will get one . I love sewing on my Singer Slantomatic which has a straight stitching plate and foot . The quality is great but i is noisy as it runs on gears rather than belts.. Its also absolutely wonderful for sewing tricky fabrics like chiffon and satin which my computerized machine just has a nervous breakdown over or I need to use a walking foot.

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  30. I should preface this by saying that I'm still working with the make and model I learned to sew on. I've never sewn on a Singer, I'm a Pfaff chick.

    My Dad purchased my Mom's Pfaff in the seventies. At the time, the 1222 and the 1222E were top of the line, and her 1222 cost him a hefty $600. Fast forward to now, the same machine is available on ebay... for around $600. So Peter, while it's probably subjective, $150 isn't that much for a machine!

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  31. i love both of my Featherweights: a 1955 221 and a 1953 221. Although, last night the tension was playing up on the 221 and we parted in the wee hours far from friends.

    I like to piece my quilts on them and make clothes. If any more come my way for the right price they'll be added to the collection. One day, if i have grandchildren i'd like to give them a Featherweight each and teach them to sew on it....

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  32. I have one, and probably paid waaay to much. She's a great little machine though, and I should use her more than I do. Not that any of my machines are in danger of being overworked lately. I've never used the imitators. For all I know, they may be fine machines for sewing on, but they lack the cute factor. As for the new "featherweights", I say do it right or don't do it. I don't know that the new black machine is a Featherweight tribute as much as a nod to all the old black machines (66, 15, 201, etc) that made Singer a household name and tied to Singer's 140th anniversary.

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    1. Peter's post about the Featherweight table got me researching the Featherweights and from there I happily plummeted down the slippery slope. I probably paid too much also, but bought one with a rebuilt motor, sweet smelling British case, and raring to sew. I've had it a few weeks and cranked out hats, quilts, and purses. I'm astounded at the quiet operation. To my surprise, I love cleaning and oiling it.

      I can't wait to try sewing something gossamer with it, like a lovely retro blouse.

      I suppose I've learned that each machine has its place and charms. In my stable, my serger is invaluable, the computerized Elna does my bidding to embroider and complete mid-weight projects requiring needle positiioning, but the Featherweight "untethers" me. I find I'll sew almost anywhere and at the drop of a hat.

      I've got a 3/4 size Kenmore 1040 which has tackled clothing and draperies. It is a wonderful little workhorse as well, but not as quiet as a Featherweight.

      I am a convert.

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  33. Hi Peter. I saw your posting about sewing jeans with your Singer 201, and decided THAT was what I needed for my own jeans project. So, a few weeks back I bought my very first vintage Singer, a 201-2. Since then, I have quickly picked up six other vintage Singer machines (15-91, 66 red eye, 66-16, 99k, 201k, 27 - I think I might be developing an addiction...). I have "long" (= a few weeks) held back on buying a FW, because, as you said, I think it is overpriced. But I caved in a few days back as I got one for a reasonable price. It should arrive in the mail today or tomorrow. After reading the very positive comments here, I look forward to try it out!

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  34. My new sewing addiction is all your fault, and thank you for getting me sewing again. I found your blog somewhere and became a daily reader, then read your blog on the FW 221. I wanted one badly because my 5-year-old Singer was no pleasure to use. My husband heard me complaining about the new Singer, went up to the loft, and came down with a circa 1950 FW 221 in perfect condition. I have been in sewing heaven ever since. I have not tried the new versions and don't even want to.

    With my new itch to sew, I have used the FW to make a housecoat, a poncho, five pairs of slacks, pajama bottoms, a winter white wool cape and slacks, a purple washed silk top and capris, and another summer outfit. All on the FW 221!

    The 221 sews a great straight stitch, has nice piercing power, is very quiet, and never gives me a single problem. It is a dream to sew on. It is also so small that I don't need a lot of room to leave it out on my desk so I can just start sewing any time I get the urge.

    The only thing I miss is a zigzag stitch, and I don't know if I will have to buy a new machine for that or if those cams I keep hearing about would work on my 221.

    Yes to the 221, and thanks for getting me sewing again!

    Gypsyatheart

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  35. Hi Peter!
    I own a Featherweight, and have not used it much as I just recently got it back from my daughter (lives in Brooklyn). I do plan to use it for a project or two, and mainly bought it because I am such a huge sewing nerd I had to have one. Now that I teach sewing, having extra machines around for students is useful too.

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  36. I bought a 1947 Featherweight (in great condition, at a fabulous price) from an estate clearance last year, and I love it! It is (in many ways) the polar opposite to my BIG, modern, computerized machine (a Janome Horizon), and an absolute pleasure to use. I love the fact that it belonged to a quilter and I have now pieced a few quilts on it myself.

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  37. All this talk about Featherweights has me in a frenzy about getting one!!

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    1. Be careful: they're a little like Lays potato chips...

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    2. If I can get my hands on one I'd be the luckiest person.......I just finished looking on Craigslist and there was only one in a neighboring town (I live in Hartford, CT. ) and they wanted $455! Obviously they know all too well how hot they are!!! I have to find other resources to check into.

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  38. The connection of Featherweights to mothers and grandmothers is very touching. I inherited my mother's FW, and have so many fond memories of her sewing so MANY things with it. Of course, I like to use it now, but I have a question: Do you have to use cotton thread with this machine? I am ready to invest in all new cotton thread if the answer is yes . . .

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    1. Absolutely not! I use the 100% poly Coats & Clark thread most of the time and I have no problem.

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    2. Thank you, Peter - I am ready to sew!

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  39. I bought one for my mother on trademe (NZ's own answer to ebay) for $360 (that's $NZ, around US$240) and it doesn't work. Gutted! Am going to have to get my favourite technician to try and make it work. IT's just the electrics. I wish there really was machine as small as this or the Elna Lotus on the market that was of the same quality. Quilters love them for being so portable, given the gregarious nature of the average quilter and their love of sewing retreats and get togethers!

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  40. 1. I love me some Featherweight!

    2. I do not quilt, I'm not interested in quilting, I will never quilt.

    Just so I got that out of the way. ;) Nothing against quilting, but plenty of us sew and love Featherweights without ever rolling out the batting, so to speak.

    Why do I love it? It is unbearably cute, of course, all tucked into it's little carrying case, with the foot pedal and accessories in their own place. Then pop it out, plug it in, and you have a LITTLE dog that thinks it's a BIG dog! This is one fine sewing machine with a perfect straight stitch and surprising power. I have sewn entire projects on my FW and I think the only limitation I ever had with it is that when sewing something truly HUGE and BULKY (like those quilts, I imagine) it can be a little difficult to maneuver with this tiny machine. But as far as the stitching goes, it has never let me down. It does buttonholes to die for - like all vintage straight stitch Singers, with the buttonhole attachment - and it can even do zigzag and decorative stitching with another clunky, vintage Singer attachment (the zigzag stitch it makes is more for the novelty value than for being truly useful...just know that it can be done.)

    From my understanding, this is a machine that simply cannot be reproduced today. There are some replicas that appear the same, but the quality of the originals can never be duplicated. That pretty much goes for all vintage Singers of that era...the production costs would be prohibitive today. Flimsy knock offs are NOT an acceptable substitute!

    We vintage sm lovers are like vintage car enthusiasts. We don't want a reproduction, we want the real thing and we love to tinker, repair and restore these beauties and then "drive them around" and show them off!

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  41. Peter how i love my grandmothers FW. Everytime i use my mordern machine i get frustrated with the jiggle of the needle. I love it and try to use it far any and all straight stitching. The power and lack of noise are fantastic. At this point i have 4 machines. The fw forlarge amounts of straight stitching. A computerized machine for stretch and quick hacks. A broken again Kenmore that was for jeans and good zigzag and a serger. I keep saying i want an industrial machine with a walking foot for leather crafts. I would give the all away to keep my FW.

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  42. I have never sewn on a featherweight or thought about getting one. Now, after reading all this FW love, I'm thinking I might just start looking at eBay etc to see what comes up.

    Just in case....

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  43. I learned to sew on my mother's FW after we moved overseas. Our FW did all the sewing for a family of five, including home dec, for many years. Unfortunately it fell into the hands of my nonsewing sister, who keeps it as a memento (almost all the decal is worn off) and in a damp closet! Woe is me! Many attempts to trade her for it, or rescue the poor FW, have failed, so I have resigned myself to its rusting. I have used a Lotus and loved it; but few other machines of the FW size and weight compare. I'm not anti-plastic, either--it's the smoothness and reliability that are so captivating. I think I'm going to have to buy one for myself...

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  44. I own a 221 and the 222. I have all of the attachments. Darning is a breeze. I collect linens and can mend anything with ease.

    My favorite attachments are the embroidery attachment and the penguin walking foot. OMG, what simple tools that can ease creating anything. I own 5 machines, but the FWs are my favorites.

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  45. You posts about your Featherweight inspired me to take mine back from my mom! I had one that she bought at a yard sale years ago and I sewed all kinds of things on it. Then she turned up with a brand new in the box 1980s J C Penney model that she bought at a yard sale for $15, so I traded her the FW for it. I like the JC just fine - it's been a peach of a machine, actually, but then I read your posts and realized what I had done! This has been over 10 years ago now. I asked mom if she might still have it and she did! So now I have it back and I do remember how much I liked it. Am currently obsessing over attachments because mine is sadly lacking of those. But they are pretty easy to find. Happy sewing, Peter. ~Kelly

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  46. My mom's machine is a beige FW, and that's the machine on which I learned to sew. Recently my long-time friend died and I asked to buy her FW machine (which the family gave to me). It is special in many ways: it's a k model - there was a hand crank! This was because my friend knew she would be moving around the world with her husband who worked in Trinidad and Peru for his first jobs. She knew that electrical service may have been iffy and the current would be a question, too. Later she bought a motor and had that added to the machine. The other sentimental quality of the machine is that she bought it with war-reparations money. She had been interned in the Dutch East Indies by the Japanese govt when they invaded during WWII. She was given enough to buy a sewing machine (which is so insulting!) in exchange for two years of her childhood.

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  47. A singer featherweight is what sewing sounds like in my mind. I grew up hearing the sound of my mom's featherweight going in the dining room while I was falling asleep in my bedroom down the hall. That machine was the one I learned on, and when I wanted a machine of my own to take to college with me it was a featherweight 222k that we picked up at a garage sale for $25. After changing out the electrical cord it was as good as new.

    I got a new machine last year, with a variety of stitches. I love the convenience, but I'd never give up having at least one featherweight in the house.

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  48. The Singer Featherweight as well as any of the older Singer straight stitch machines are built to last 100 years or so. Between my Bernia, Janome and Kenmore, the Singer FW straight stitch is the hands-down best! I love the click-clack sound as I sew, very comforting. The older Singers are especially fond in my heart as my maternal great-grandpa was a machinist at the Bridgeport, CT Singer factory.

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  49. I have just purchased a cute FW Plus 324 Model today :) I haven't tried it yet!
    Please can anyone tell me where to download a (free) manual? I found one site but it requires paypal payment. I was wondering how you might oil the machine, as it doesn't appear to open anywhere?
    I also am disappointed it doesn't have a light. I guess this is only a minor gripe.
    Thank you

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  50. You won't believe this, but I just flew back home to Austin today with my Mom's 1956 featherweight...in the case, with all the manuals, accessories (except the oil can), buttonhole attachment AND the original receipt dated September 23, 1961 with my parent's old address.My Mom hasn't used her FW since buying a Bernina back in 1985, so she gave me her "old" FW. My Dad paid $149.50 - a fortune back then! It's in excellent condition, just a little dusty. Even the decals are intact. A question; how do I clean this beauty without damaging the finish?

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  51. I just found this post, and have to admit that I have one FW (1950), and just purchased a 1955. In addition to the Featherweights, I have tthree other Singer machines (two antiques and one reproduction treadle from 1990 or so). Nothing else, in my humble opinion, tops the old Singers for performance!

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  52. I just bought the retro Singer 160 anniversary addition from Costco.com. They had it in their coupon book for $199.00. I have an old Kenmore from the mid 80s, which still works great, but I love the look of the old black Singers. I wanted today's technology with the vintage look. Well, it arrived yesterday, and I am very disappointed. It is made out of plastic and looks so cheap!! And it is enormous!! I think I am going to take it back and buy the "real thing" from ebay. I can still use my 80s Kenmore, which has 12 different stitches, and set my beautiful vintage singer out on display (when I get one), and use it when I only need the one stitch, which in all honesty is usually all I use on my Kenmore!! After reading everyone's posts, I just have to have a vintage black featherweight!!!

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  53. I so love, Love, LOVE the featherweights! I just got mine -she is white and I found a scroll faceplate to bling her up a lil bit! LOL. I've named her Ms. bobbins and can't wait to start ny first project with her. I plan on starting a Grandmother's flower garden quilt with her )with fabrics inherited from my partner's mom) . . . At any rate I couldn't find one here in TN(in good condition) So, My partner bought me one off Ebay for Valentine's(Manpoints!!!!!!)I;m currently looking for the decals(singer_ also . . . I love the hunt and enjoy refurbishing the old singers . . . I so enjoy your blog!! Enjoy your new machine!

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations! I really should start naming mine... ;)

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  54. I recently purchase my first featherweight sewing machine, and just love it. I have been collecting all the little attachments. (buttonhole attachment, zigzagger, tucker, binder, hemmer etc). It is much better than my Jamone.
    If you have the time, take a look at this website- it goes to show that the featherweight does a whole lot more than just straight stitch.
    http://www.april1930s.com.
    It also has videos on how to use attachments, and sells parts for featherweights etc.

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  55. Hi

    I have a Singer Featherweight 324. The exact copy of the one above in your original post. It's the '70's plastic model of your gorgeous originals. Now, I don't have lots of experience, just got sewing last year. I started on a Singer that my mum bought me, a modern beginners machine that we got second hand. When I got better at it, my wonderful father in law gave me his mothers 1927 Singer which is now undergoing a refurb, but still sewed beautifully when we got it out of the loft! Then I came upon this little compact singer in a charity shop and bought it for ten pounds. It may not have the style of its predecessors but I'm here to say it is by far the best sewing machine I have used so far. It is so neat and precise in its stitching, and so versatile for such an uncomplicated machine. I absolutely adore it. I choose it above my other machine time and again. It has a character all of its own. Look past the plastic I urge you, because underneath beats the heart of the original! It is coming to school with me on Friday mornings where I am teaching my daughters class to handset appliqué Owls onto bunting flags and we will then use this little machine to teach the kids to sew up their flags as it can be restricted to 'slow'. Pure magic. I'm sure I will end up looking for the original in years to come but for now, I will keep my seventies zigzagger. Great blog, thanks. Merrymac.

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