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Oct 21, 2011

Friday Featherweight Fun-Fest!

Friends, I recognize that this week, MPB has been a little -- how shall I put this?  -- sewing-machine-heavy.  Please believe that I have new projects in the pipeline and I will return to sewing soon.

A brief recap:  If you've been following the daily drama, you know that I bought a vintage Viking 6020 on eBay on October 6th, when my other vintage Viking, a 3240 -- seized up on me all of a sudden and I didn't think I could do anything to fix it.  Well, the 6020 arrived damaged, having been dreadfully packed, and I requested a full refund from the eBay seller.

In the meantime, however, I succeeded in lubricating my 3240 and returning it to full functionality, which meant that I didn't need the 6020 in the first place.  (Whether I ever really needed either machine is not a topic we will be discussing today, thank you very much.)

In the meantime, I successfully bid on a Kenmore 158.1040, a vintage 3/4-size machine, not to be confused with a Frister & Rossmann Cub 4.  That one joined the family on Tuesday, and though it needed considerable oiling, it's a keeper, and, considering it's a zigzagger, actually has an excellent straight stitch, due to its separate straight-stitch plate and excellent straight stitch presser foot.  (I have since learned that any Kenmore low shank zigzagger can use a vintage Singer straight stitch presser foot, but I digress...)

Meanwhile, despondent over my damaged Viking 6020 and not completely lucid, I bid on and won another Singer Featherweight on eBay last Saturday night.  I took a chance with this machine, friends.  The bidding started high-ish (at $125 -- a bad selling strategy for a highly coveted item, imo) but it received a mere three bids and I got it for about $140.  The photos of the machine were poor and the description briefer than brief -- basically, that what you (can hardly) see is what you get.  Nevertheless, the seller had 100% positive feedback (as did the seller of my Viking...) and was located nearby, so the shipping was low.

Well, the Featherweight arrived yesterday, and guess what -- it's fabulous!  This is the first and only time that an eBay machine has sewn perfectly right out of the box, requiring no oiling, no adjusting, no belt or wire replacement, nothing.  Amazing.

It's positively lustrous and dates from 1948.

My first Featherweight -- which I love today, of course -- arrived last March with a host of problems.  Yards of what looked like fishing wire were wrapped around the shaft behind the shuttle.  Even after removing it, thread kept getting snagged under the feed dogs.  Ancient thread, moreover, was tangled up in the handwheel.

A screw was missing in the bobbin case and I had to replace it.  But it still wasn't sewing right.  With Rain's help, we figured out the machine needed a new hook assembly -- the old hook had burrs on it which Rain didn't have the tools to smooth down -- and I was able to find a vintage one for sale on eBay.

All told, and not counting labor (which didn't cost me anything, but still), that Featherweight ended up costing me $100+ more than my new one.  You may also recall that its carrying case was so moldy it made me sneeze every time I opened it.  Achoo!

Many weeks later, I finally got this Singer working right, and it has performed flawlessly ever since.  That's why I wanted another one, plus it seemed like a good place to park some cash till interest rates go up.

My first Featherweight came with no accessories except a buttonholer, which I didn't need, but was still nice to get.

This second Featherweight came with a whole host of accessories and a vintage Singer oil can.

And did I mention that the case -- which has a lovely leather handle and just a few minor scuffs -- smells...well, OK, we're not talking Chanel No. 5, but it doesn't smell moldy in the least.  Just a little like gun cleaner.  Refreshing!

As I mentioned, it stitches beautifully.  I feel very lucky.

Now, many of you are no doubt wondering what is to become of the damaged Viking 6020, for which I have indeed received a full refund after persistent pestering.  You're probably thinking, Wouldn't Peter -- given his familiarity with vintage Vikings, success with loosening up stuck machines, willingness to wrap exposed wires with electrical tape, and overall cheapness -- try to get that machine running? 

Friends, upon my attorneys' advice, I  shall refrain from answering that question.  Let's just say I did only what you would have done, and leave it at that.

In closing, I will stop talking about sewing machines now.  Oh, one more thing:  a while back, I was kvetching about the straight stitch on my Kenmore 158.141 zigzagger, and MPB reader Wingamajig reminded me that my machine has "a flipping straight-stitch/zigzag plate."  Oh, joy!  I flipped the plate, and after attaching an old Singer straight stitch presser foot, it too is now an excellent straight stitcher.  My $20 flea market workhorse and I are back together again!  Now if only I could loosen the clutch from the handwheel -- a problem I have with both Kenmores, actually.

And that, as they say, is that!

Have a great day, everybody, and remember: Friends don't let friends bid on eBay in the middle of the night.


  1. You tossed the 6020 in the bin?

  2. Ahhh... but the question is: are your friends *there* in the middle of the night to stop you from bidding?

  3. I love all these sewing machine posts. I'd like a vintage heavy duty workhorse some day, and all this info is invaluable as I haven't the faintest idea where to start!

  4. The fact that you got the oil can is a HUGE deal. they are not that easy to come by from what I understand. Happy, happy to you. I love my FW which my daddy got me when I started sewing (in about 1967)

  5. What does one do with an old oil can, exactly?

  6. Peter, you are skating on thin ice my friend ;P

    i STILL haven't managed to the be successful bidder on a Featherweight 222 and it's driving me batty. Until i too am the owner of, at very least, a 221 (but preferably a 222) please please refrain from, however unintentionally, rubbing it in that you now have TWO because it's like rubbing salt in an open wound. *sigh* ;)

  7. Suzi, I recommend eSnipe. I know some people (like Michael) think it goes against the "spirit" of eBay, but I use it all the time.

  8. At this point in time Peter, ethics nor the "spirit of eBay" are a part of my value system...greed, jealousy and desire rule me LOL

  9. Nice FW and an amazing deal! Congrats! As for the oil can, you just own it LOL! Oil cans are very collectable. I hope to have the green one someday to complete my FW. I do have an older refillable Singer oil can my husband found in an old fridge on his parent's farm. I may actually use it I dunno.

  10. One should NEVER be on Ebay past 10pm. Ever. Last time I did that I ended up with a year's worth of old Burda magazines. Granted, I had been diligently searching for 6 of them for quite some time. However, at 3am it just seemed such a shame to break up the entire set...

    Your new Featherweight is fabulous, and I guess all's well that ends well. Unless you are a Viking 6020.

  11. Congrats on the 221 in perfect condition! It gives us all hope.

  12. Add Amazon to the "friends shouldn't let friends" list. We ended up with this when my husband drunk-dialed Amazon. When it showed up, he said, "I remember looking at this..."

  13. You know, Peter, all of this talk about singer featherweights has me thinking that I really should start looking out for one. It's all your fault. That would bring my grand total of machines to 12 :)

    Have you ever used or seen a Morse machine? I was given a funky blue straight stitch only Morse machine circa 1956. It is MEGA heavy and I think would be great for jeans, leather and the like. The motor is seized up and hubby hasn't had time to fix it yet!!

  14. How on earth did you get so lucky? $140 for a featherweight!!!
    I was told at a quilt show in Florida, by a man that sells and services Featherweights that there are 2 kinds of cases. One made with horsehair that stinks, one without horsehair that doesn't stink. One case was made in the USA and one in England. Of course I can't remember which is which, but it sounds like a reasonable answer as to why they stink or not.
    By the way, I love your blog, it is very informative and funny. A good combination.

  15. Congratulations on that little Black Beauty! What a great buy and I am sooo jealous of that oil can!

  16. I see that in the latest issues of Vogue Patterns magazine, they are publishing an article by you on "Why you can never have too many sewing machines". I guess I'd better buy that magazine- and any other publishers who want my business just need to get you to write an article!

  17. That article is going to ruin my reputation as a master de-clutterer. Yikes!

  18. Love the new Featherweight 221,its paint work on the bed and harp have such a good gloss.I've found it a good idea to change the rubber feet if they are perished.which they usually are, save scratching your the way have you a Singer Rubber mat for under your machine.Helps keep any of your machines from moving about. Cris

  19. What a beauty and what a score!!! Bidding at any hour of the day that ends up with a score like that makes it all worthwhile :) You know, of course, that I'm referring to the Feather :).

    Oh, as far as what to do with an old oil can? Send it to me. ;-D


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