Friends, who knew that USPS makes parcel deliveries on a national holiday? I wasn't expecting this on MLK Day (i.e., Monday), but was delighted to receive it. I'm glad I was home!
The seller had done an excellent job packing it: plenty of tape, styrofoam peanuts, and bubble wrap. It shipped from Georgia.
Cosmetically, the case looked very good and the machine was nearly perfect. As you can see, it's not really white but rather a very pale green. Lovely.
Most of the original accessories were included, along with an extra light bulb,an extra zipper foot, vintage Singer needles, and an unopened plastic tube of Singer sewing machine oil. There were also some newer tools: a cool screwdriver with changeable heads, cheap scissors, and a seam ripper. My hunch is that this sewing machine was hardly used by the original
owner but had changed hands at least once since then.
Mechanically the machine had problems, none of them major, but there were a lot of them. Whoever used this machine last didn't know what they were doing and could not have sewn with it successfully.
1) First, the needle had been installed backwards. An easy fix.
2) Next, the numbered needle plate had been screwed on wrong in relation to the rotating hook assembly, which caused the feed dogs to hit the needle plate as they rotated.
3) The hook assembly itself was put together wrong, so the needle didn't pick up the bobbin thread but rather hit the hook itself. Dismantling the assembly also revealed a knotty nest of old thread.
I am fortunate to already own two black featherweights in excellent working condition, so I was able to compare the correct position of all the parts (the manual doesn't go into great detail) and adjust them on the new machine.
4) Meanwhile, the outer spring in the tension assembly (the one the thread yanks as the machine sews) was on the wrong side (see below). I had to dismantle the tension assembly, rotate the spring, and reassemble it.
5) Finally, the old light bulb (which for all I know was the original) blew as soon as I turned it on, and I discovered that the glass had separated from its metal base. I had to use needle nose pliers to remove the base and then install a new bulb.
Fortunately the motor sounded fine and the belt was in decent shape, if a bit
dry. I'll replace that eventually. Inside and out, all was pristine. I
oiled the innards generously. Hours later, it was working at last.
And how does it sew? Like a champ.
Here's one very visible difference between the black and white featherweights: look how much shorter the fold-down bed is on the white machine. And no decals.
So is there a qualitative difference between these two machines? As a few MPB readers who've used both models have commented, the black machines tend to run slightly smoother and more quietly. The white featherweight is hardly clunky, but it doesn't feel or sound quite as refined as my two black ones. That said, it's a gorgeous machine and I'm happy to have it. And I intend to use it!
I'll make a better video down the line, but I wanted to let you see it in action.
In closing, I'd say I was lucky: I had just enough knowledge of featherweights to be able to repair what needed repairing. It's always a good idea to get detailed information from the seller on the exact condition of the machine ("It works" does not really say much.). Also, a stitch sample.
It's nice when things work out, but like I always say, caveat emptor!
You can see more photos of the machine and its accessories here.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!