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Singer Featherweights: Still Stitching After All These Years

Dec 31, 2012

by Linzee McCray handmade and vintage goods

Last year, my husband hinted broadly about giving me jewelry for Christmas. I’m a late-bloomer when it comes to appreciating fine stones and metals — decades ago I deemed an engagement ring an unnecessary expense and my wedding ring was the narrowest sliver of gold. Though I’ve come to appreciate a little bling — indeed, I now sport a sparkly “engagement” ring that I joke took me 30 years to get — I told my husband that while the object of my Christmas desire was indeed metallic, what I really wanted was a Singer Featherweight sewing machine.

I’m not alone in my fascination with these robust, 11-pound wonders. Around 2.5 million were manufactured from 1933 to 1964 in Elizabethport, New Jersey; Clydebank, Scotland; and St. John’s, Canada. Their sturdiness means they’re often passed from one sewing generation to the next. Compared with today’s high-end, computerized machines that include truly thrilling and time-saving features like automatic thread cutters, high-speed sewing, and 200-plus stitches, Featherweights are almost laughable — they basically go forward and back with a straight stitch — but that simplicity is part of their charm. It’s also part of why they’re still in existence.

Singer Featherweight Supply

Vintage Singer Featherweight advertising.

“There are just a few things that go wrong with them, and if there’s a problem, cleaning is often all it takes to get them running right,” says Roger Hicks, who teaches Featherweight maintenance classes at fabric shops near his Iowa City, Iowa, home. He notes that his students, mostly women who are used to calling in expert repairpersons and don’t think of themselves as mechanically inclined, are pleasantly surprised to learn they can maintain their Featherweights themselves. “There are a few little tricks I teach, but mostly it doesn’t take anything to clean ‘em up and it costs maybe a whole buck,” he says. “You just need some Singer lube, cotton balls, and Q-tips.”

Bjorn Hermans

An excited sewer uses a Featherweight for the first time.

Roger got interested in Featherweights (also known by their model number, 221) when his wife Colleen got one 12 years ago. The worn but still-running 1930s model was purchased from a man whose deceased wife had been a dressmaker and sewn on it for years. Colleen named it Helena, after its former owner. Today Colleen has nine Featherweights, including one made in the same year she was born; a white machine and a tan machine (these were manufactured near the end of the Featherweight’s run); and a coveted free-arm machine, the Singer 222 (free-arms expanded the sewing capabilities of Featherweights by making it possible to stitch narrow tubes of fabric, such as sleeves and pant legs). While she considers herself a sewing machine collector — Colleen’s Featherweights fill a lighted display case in her living room — her machines are more than decorative: she is an avid quilter and regularly takes a Featherweight or two to workshops and sewing retreats.

Humble Labor

A 1951 Featherweight, all packed up.

“They’re so reliable, and if you’re piecing quilts, you don’t need fancy stitches,” says Colleen, who notes that the machines’ hard-sided, black storage cases provide plenty of protection and can be easily tucked into a car.

Indeed, today’s Featherweight owners appreciate many of the same qualities as the (mostly women) who purchased the machines when they were new: decorative accents like the gleaming gold decals and swirly Art Deco or striated face plates, and the fact that, despite its diminutive size, a Featherweight is a real workhorse. Although the machines are limited to straight stitching, attachments make it possible to create buttonholes, ruffles, and hems. It’s lightweight, and the sewing platform’s fold-down extension enable those without a dedicated sewing room to easily set up on a kitchen table and then store their machine in a closet.

Linzee McCray

The iconic Featherweight medallion, which adorns each machine.

There’s more than versatility that attracts sewists to Featherweights, however: their quiet motor makes stitching on one an almost meditative experience.

“That has to do with the quality of the materials they used and how tightly they fit together,” says Steve Pauling, aka The Bobbin Doctor, who repairs antique and vintage sewing machines in Minneapolis, Minnesota and notes that the early Featherweights are the quietest of the bunch. “The motors were top-quality and they used good bearings, armatures, and windings. Today’s machines are DC-powered, which means they’ve got strong power at high speeds but they’re not manufactured with heavy goods like the old machines. Mass and heaviness can dampen sounds — if it’s heavier, it’s smoother and quieter.”

Steve says his appreciation for Featherweights is firmly embedded in their utility.

“Tools are important for every artisan, as is knowing how to resolve a problem if something is wrong,” he says. “I’m a sewer and do tailoring, and it gives me such satisfaction to understand how my tools work and to be totally in sync with them. These new computerized machines with their plastic parts will never be heirlooms to hand down. People are rediscovering the intrinsic value of wonderful old machines and getting out grandma’s to sew on.”

So that sparkly engagement ring? Yes, someday it will be passed along to one of my daughters. But so will the Singer Featherweight my husband gave me last Christmas.

3 Featured Comments

  • recycledideas

    recycledideas from recycledideas said 8 years ago Featured

    There is something absolutely gorgeous about a machine designed and made so well that it can theoretically be used forever. It would be on my list for 10 essential items to have after an apocalypse!

  • ImaginAprons

    Kellie E. Edwards from ImaginAprons said 8 years ago Featured

    My mother taught me how to sew on the Singer Featherweight she bought when she married my dad in 1954. She sewed all my clothes on it when I was a child, and I sewed my own clothes with it through my teens. Now I have inherited it, and plan to have it reconditioned so I can pass it on to one of my daughters. My Singer Featherweight evokes so many wonderful childhood memories for me, but also continues to be a really useful tool. How many things can you say that about?

  • lkmccray

    Linzee from lkmccray said 8 years ago Featured

    For those of you with Featherweight maintenance issues: there is lots of information about Featherweight care and maintenance online, including groups interested in old sewing machines who have great files you can use to help figure out problems. The International Sewing Machine Collector's Society has a lot of technical information on parts, repair, etc for all kinds of vintage machines, not only Featherweights: Love hearing all these Featherweight stories, especially that people sewed wedding dresses on them!


  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 8 years ago

    My dad gave my mother a singer sewing machine the Christmas after they got married, and she didn't even know how to sew. She has since become a blue-ribbon-winning quilter and can sew just about anything with it... using the same sewing machine to this day! My scout merit badges where all in good hands with her and that Singer. It was built like a rock, which you can't say the same for the rickety, disposable contraptions made today.

  • rorymosman

    Rory Mosman from FeatherKeeper said 8 years ago

    This is an excellent reminder of how quality products continue to perform with quality for great lengths of time! It gives me a inspiration to create lasting and well made items. Thanks for sharing. I might be looking to find one of these!

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 8 years ago

    These machines are just amazing to work with. My grandmother bought one for my mom and she passed it down to me when I really got into learning to sew. I took it in for maintence and had to use a newer singer in the meantime. It worked ok but nothing compared to my good old vintage singer. I'm just so comfortable with it. When my husband worked in waste management he told me how many of these machines were just thrown away. It's such a shame since they are such great machines and probably only needed some tlc.

  • PennyBirchWilliams

    Penny Birch-Williams from PennyBirchWilliams said 8 years ago

    What beautiful machines the Singer Featherweights are! I have a Singer I bought 24 years ago after I was married, to make things for our home and kids. I've made costumes, curtains, ballroom dance dresses, and all kinds of stuff with it. It's a very heavy, basic machine, solid and sturdy, with few stitch options, but it keeps running! I've had it repaired a few times but usually I can clean, lubricate, and adjust it myself. Last time I had it fixed the repairman said I was much better off keeping it because the quality of new machines is so much lower, at least in my price range! So I say, love and keep the old things that last!

  • ArtDecoDame

    Desiree from ArtDecoDame said 8 years ago

    Absolutely beautiful machines!

  • JulieMeyer

    Julie Meyer from JulieMeyer said 8 years ago

    I learned to sew on my Grandma's machine. It's no longer in running condition, but it certainly started me on my path of sewing.

  • ArigigiPixel

    Gina from ArigigiPixel said 8 years ago

    I have one , it isn't portable but it is Singer. My grandmother bought it second-hand. I only have to figure out how to thread it.

  • danpickedminerals

    Daniel Burke from DanPickedMinerals said 8 years ago

    Fantastic story!!

  • WhisperingOak

    Quality Handmade Items from WhisperingOak said 8 years ago

    Brings back so many memories. My grandmother had one in the corner of her room. I learned to sew with it under my grandmother's guidance. And I made my first doll dresses. My uncle used to clean the Singer every so often since lint will build up.Those were great times. I wish I had inherited the Singer.

  • leoneill

    Lucy said 8 years ago

    My grandma gave me her featherweight, which I believe was her mothers at one point in time. I sew on it all the time, and it works wonderfully. The only problem is finding someone who can fix it if something does go wrong - it's getting harder and harder!

  • LivingVintage

    LivingVintage from LivingVintage said 8 years ago

    Great article. Had one that was passed on, but I was no longer interested in sewing. Gave it to a Romanian refugee who was a seamstress without a machine. Now, I'm back into sewing, and although I did a good deed, it would be nice to have it again.

  • TheSilverPlatter

    Denise from TheSilverPlatter said 8 years ago

    Simply love this little machine! Wonderful article.

  • recycledideas

    recycledideas from recycledideas said 8 years ago Featured

    There is something absolutely gorgeous about a machine designed and made so well that it can theoretically be used forever. It would be on my list for 10 essential items to have after an apocalypse!

  • Auntiemcreations

    Amy Cichowski from Auntiemcreations said 8 years ago

    I've got a 1952 Featherweight that my mom bought when she was first married. I don't use it for my business, which demands sewing for 8 hour stretches at a time, but I do pull it out and sew on it when I'm making things for myself. Love this machine!

  • LineaLina

    Susanne Major from LineaLina said 8 years ago

    I don't have a "Singer" but I own two very old machines from my grandma and her sister. Both German (Anker and Mundlos). And they were so beautifully made in those days! And it' so true: you can see how they work and repair everything! Oh, I love these machines! Thank you for the article and all the beautiful photos!

  • susanmack3

    Susan Mack from HappyValleyHerbs said 8 years ago

    This article makes me want to go get one! My Mother in law had the base of a singer cabinet (black iron scroll work) We turned it into a sink for our guest bathroom. Simply wonderful!

  • CuriousPortraits

    Lisa Zador from CuriousPortraits said 8 years ago

    I am a huge fan of old fashioned sewing machines. They were made to last. I learned to sew on my Mother's cast iron Singer treadle machine and I still sew on a sturdy portable from the 1950's. You really only need straight stitch and buttonhole (zig zag), all the new fancy digital features are so unnecessary! Thanks for a great story.

  • phydeauxdesigns

    Brenda from phydeauxdesigns said 8 years ago

    I learned to sew in grade school on my Mom's old Singer (it might have been her Mom's before her, not sure now). I sewed all of my own clothes through Jr High and High school on that Singer. And used it through my 20's and 30's, until she wanted it back (because her new machine kept breaking down, ha!). So I now have a newfangled sewing machine, but rarely use it. It just doesn't have the history, story, cache and chops that my old Singer did. They are the best!

  • JessieArch

    Jessie Archambault from 1509Partridgeberry said 8 years ago

    Wow, what a great little (and good looking) machine! I'm currently in need of using my sewing machine which is a great old Signature passed down by my mom (who now uses her mom's) and I need to relearn how to use it. It's a tad intimidating and I've been hand sewing for the past 8 or so years to avoid this task, haha. But I truly love these old machines and have such respect for fine seamstress work. Loved reading this article!

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    Mary Robertson from MaggiesInn said 8 years ago

    I love old sewing machines. I actually have 7 machines now.. two new and 5 old. I have my mother's 1956 Kenmore which reminds me of this one. It needs a new motor but still works great. It is such a beautiful machine. This was a great article and it makes me feel good to see these machines getting the respect and care they deserve.

  • MyColourfulTexture

    Malgorzata Sikora from MyColourfulTexture said 8 years ago

    I love the story and the elegant look of this beautiful machine! I am using a Bernina sewing machine and I love it but would love to have one of the vintage singer machines too^_^

  • ohhhlulu

    Sarah Elaine from ohhhlulu said 8 years ago

    Great article! I have two old singers, one treadle and one that had been upgraded to electric, both still run beautifully. They really do not quit!

  • hmmills

    Helen Mills from 1820BagCo said 8 years ago

    What a treasury. I have a few sewing machines, and I think I would have that machine up on a mantel to show off instead of use....

  • gardenmis

    Priscilla from Gardenmis said 8 years ago

    I dream of one day having one of these beauties for my own! Wonderful post! :)

  • HuellaHuella

    Fabiola Friedman from HuellaHuella said 8 years ago

    My love for old sewing machines encouraged me to take sewing lessons! Great post on the beauties! :)

  • elleandpea

    elleandpea from elleandpea said 8 years ago

    I made my wedding dress on one of these!

  • memckeen

    LovelySquid from LovelySquid said 8 years ago

    I love the old Singer machines. I hope to have one of these someday! Thank you for the great post.

  • LadyLa

    Larissa King said 8 years ago

    I have my great-grandmother's featherweight from 1955, and it served me well, all through fashion school and beyond. I've sewn everything from corsets (through 4+ layers of coutil and satin) to chiffon on it, and it has never given me a moment's trouble.

  • Chukkal

    Chukkal from Chukkal said 8 years ago

    I have 5 sewing machines. Four of them are modern zig-zag fancy stitching machines. The Singer Featherweight is my favorite. It is indestructible and always does what I ask it to. I fell in love with it when I started quilting but I use it for everything. It's now listed in my will.

  • PattiTrostle

    Patti Trostle from PattiTrostle said 8 years ago

    I have a machine,not like this one, but a Singer my mother bought in the early '60's. It's still going strong!!

  • birdie1

    Laurie from BirdinHandVTG said 8 years ago

    I'm with you, Linzee - never been much for jewelry and gems but give me a classic, functional, vintage piece and I swoon :)

  • OopisNein

    Gretchen Lewis from OopisNein said 8 years ago

    Yes! My 1954 Singer Featherweight was my first machine, given to me by my grandmother on my 18th birthday. I was thrilled to own my own sewing machine after tears of coveting my mothers old Singer that had sat dusty and idle for years in the closet. And here was my own shiny lovely darling, just as pretty as the big one in the closet, but tiny to match my own small stature! I babied the thing, and taught myself to sew on what would become one of my all-time favorite possessions. Now, five years, billions of stitches and hundreds of strange handmade plush monsters later, I am finally stumped on how to fix a problem with the one machine I was always able to take apart and fix with ease, even with my nonexistent mechanical skills. I took apart the feed dog plate to remove a stubborn thread a couple months ago, and I haven't been able to put it back on right. I have since substituted my Featherweight for a beast of a 1948 rusty Singer cinderblock that gets the job done, but I definitely miss my trusty little trooper, and I'll have to find some way to fix it soon. I miss it. Thanks for the reminder of how much I love my Featherweight (and if anyone here knows to to fix the plate, shoot me a message?) (:

  • AlpineGypsy

    Heidi from AlpineGypsy said 8 years ago

    This was my first sewing machine! My grandmother's Featherweight became my mum's, and I used it a lot when I first discovered that you could redesign jeans with it, is an absolutely lovely work of Art. And my new Brother has fancier stitch options, but still doesn't hold the same love for me. :)

  • sherrycarter330

    Sherry Carter said 8 years ago

    I inherited my mother's black singer featherweight that came with a wooden cabinet that looks like a piece of furniture. I think it was her mothers. I also have the matching sewing stand for all the threads and attachments. I have sewed many lined suits and hundreds of other outfits on this machine. I purchased a bobbin holder replacement but they are hard to find.

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 8 years ago

    I am so lucky i have one too :) Absolutely beautiful machines!

  • blueflowervintage

    blueflowervintage from blueflowervintage said 8 years ago

    Love, love love this post! One of these may be in my future!

  • AKingsThings

    Pamela King from AKingsThings said 8 years ago

    I've had mine for over 35's on my short list of favorite things. I will surely have room for it in my bug out bag.!

  • InMaterial

    Peggy McCallum from InMaterial said 8 years ago

    What are the chances I can convince my sister to give me the one she somehow got from my mom? I know, zero. We all learned to sew on that Singer. I don't recall it ever having to be repaired. All we did was brush out the lint and oil it.

  • morechenillechateau

    morechenillechateau from moreChenilleChateau said 8 years ago

    Thank you for your tribute to this amazing machine!

  • StayArtisan

    J.K. Ramirez from HudsonBlueArtisans said 8 years ago

    Ahh... I love things that work and are made to last...

  • JillianReneDecor

    Jillian Carmine from JillianReneDecor said 8 years ago

    Great article! This is a true reminder of quality and the legacy of Singer.

  • Attractive1

    Elena Fom from Attractive1 said 8 years ago

    I got Singer from my grandmother. I pray it sew!

  • HandcraftedorVintage

    Nelleke from HandcraftedorVintage said 8 years ago

    I have a Singer machine which is build into a wonderful elegant wooden sewing table on a cast iron foot. It is still working great and you can sew by hand using the top wheel or by foot using a wonderful decorated iron cast large pedel. My father bought it for my mother in 1948. Spare parts are still available for it. I had to replace the leather string that drive's the cast iron wheel of the pedal a few years ago. My TV has been standing for decades on this sewing table as I prefer to sew by hand, so hardly use the Singer. But I take good care of it and use it now and then to keep it going. It still stands in my livingroom as a wonderful example of real craftmanship. I am sad that I can't mention it in my will, non of my relative's left want it. It might be time to search for a true lover or collector of these outstanding machine's.

  • PruAtelier

    Jeanne B from PruAtelier said 8 years ago

    A GREAT article on one of my favorite subjects.....the old black Singer machines....specifically the "featherweights"! I had one that I regretfully sold to the home furnishings store where I was working in the 90s, but I have a Singer 201 and a few other of the black machines - one is pictured on my "about" page. NO machine today compares with the quality of the stitch, the range of attachments available and the solid sturdiness and workhorse-ability that these machines have. I tried threading one of the new Singers that belonged to a sewing student of mine, and like most of the new machines, they have all kinds of "stuff" built into them so trying to get your hand practically way underneath to access the needle which is set WAY back, is nearly cannot GIVE me one of these! I would though LOVE to get my hands on one of the white featherweights...that would be a dream!

  • daeschek

    Kimberly Daeschel from AnUnfamiliarRing said 8 years ago

    Jealous! I just got a new Singer for Christmas but these look amazing.

  • Motleycouture

    Motleycouture from Motleycouture said 8 years ago

    When I was a little girl I had a toy Singer machine that really sewed. I wish I had it today. Now I have a heavy weight Singer sewing my son found for me and I love it. It was being thrown out. I had a more modern sewing machine but I love the Singer so much I got rid of the newer one. Interesting feature. I never knew that Singer made a feather weight machine.

  • WearAreTheyNow

    WearAreTheyNow from WearAreTheyNow said 8 years ago

    I just bought one of these for $10 at an estate sale – can't wait to get it running!

  • FranceGallery

    France Gallery from FranceGallery said 8 years ago


  • vinylclockwork

    Scott from vinylclockwork said 8 years ago

    They Are Great Machines

  • j5acdesigns

    Miss T from j5acdesigns said 8 years ago

    My great aunt had that wonderful piece of machinery. She made some great outfits too. Awesome!

  • bedouin

    Nicole from KarmaCodeOne said 8 years ago

    Built to last !! its great to see how many people prefer their older machines to their newer ones.

  • yellowjacketvintage

    Jennifer from yellowjacketvintage said 8 years ago

    great article.

  • mlezcano

    Mary Lezcano from BellaBboutique said 8 years ago

    Simple, durable, and good at what it was made for, what else could you ask for.

  • sharonkaplan1

    Sharon Kaplan said 8 years ago

    Thank you for bringing back a memory of my mom. I don't know that her machine was the Featherweight, but definitely a similar looking Singer machine. Yes, she stored it in my bedroom closet, which also meant I was the one to drag it to the kitchen table. I say drag because her machine came in a hard wooden case, which was beautiful, but too me weighed a ton! She spent many hours at her machine. This was probably one of her favorite parts of homemaking. Happy sewing.

  • AnnealedHeart

    Amanda from AnnealedHeart said 8 years ago

    Great article... I too have a Singer featherweight. Just hemmed a pair of pants with it in fact! It belonged to my grandmother, and it reminds me of her every time I sit down to sew something. Needless to say it is priceless to me- I feel so lucky to have her machine. I am not much of a sewer, so I rather like the simplicity of the mechanics. It definitely gets the job done- sews through several layers of thick denim with ease. It is such a gorgeous little machine too with its intricate gold details and exposed belt. Love it :)

  • Parachute425

    Terry from Parachute425 said 8 years ago

    What a beauty! I miss the days when machines were built to last. sigh

  • paulajeansgarden

    Paula from paulajeansgarden said 8 years ago

    I love my 1956 featherweight. It made my heart race just to see this blog:) My mother used it during my childhood for everything and I sewed all of my own clothes on it when I was 10. It still makes a beautiful straight stitch that you just can't get on a zigzag machine. Beautiful, functional and meditative indeed.

  • GisieArt

    Giselle from MyArtAndFashion said 8 years ago

    Very nice story! My mom and my aunt both had Singer sewing machines that's how and I learned to sew. Thanks for sharing. And happy 2013!!

  • KMalinka

    Natalia from KMalinkaVintage said 8 years ago

    Great story!

  • TreadleLady

    Donna Kohler from TreadleLady said 8 years ago

    Vintage machines!!! Right up my alley but I prefer going motor free, nothing beats machines that don't have to be pampered and taken in for servicing every time you turn around. Brush out lint, add a little oil and they go on for years with nothing more. Featherweights are adorable in their compact little cases.

  • TheBeautyofBoredom

    Gracie from TheBeautyofBoredom said 8 years ago

    Nice story, thanks for sharing! Wish I had a vintage sewing machine...

  • violetsobsession

    Violet from violetsobsession said 8 years ago

    What a beautiful machine! I would take it over a fancy ring any day of the week :)

  • BlackStar

    Katie McClanahan from WearYourWild said 8 years ago

    My MIL gave me one. I love it!

  • paramountvintage

    kristin from blackmoonsky said 8 years ago

    a perfect design! i love the classic singer sewing machines. i work on one from 1935 and it's works beautifully. thank you so much for this article! **************************************************************************************i would love to see more articles about the machines and tools that etsy crafters use.

  • ScoutHarper

    Claudia and Meredith from ScoutHarper said 8 years ago

    I had the opportunity to piece a quilt on a friend's Featherweight a few years ago and ever since then I've wanted one. I finally found one and it was my birthday present this year. It's gorgeous and everything I hoped it would be.

  • purplekylady

    purplekylady said 8 years ago

    I still use the portable Singer that my mother gave me, which she called "Little Jewel." It has a domed wooden top that locks. It really is a dependable Little Jewel.

  • zigzagstitches

    Catherine from zigzagstitches said 8 years ago

    My mother still uses her beloved circa 1950 Singer Featherweight. It has sewn wedding dresses, draperies, upholstery, and many many clothes. It's the machine I learned to sew on.

  • ImaginAprons

    Kellie E. Edwards from ImaginAprons said 8 years ago Featured

    My mother taught me how to sew on the Singer Featherweight she bought when she married my dad in 1954. She sewed all my clothes on it when I was a child, and I sewed my own clothes with it through my teens. Now I have inherited it, and plan to have it reconditioned so I can pass it on to one of my daughters. My Singer Featherweight evokes so many wonderful childhood memories for me, but also continues to be a really useful tool. How many things can you say that about?

  • SavonsFrais

    Susann Weinberg from SavonsFrais said 8 years ago

    Just loved my mom's Featherweight! When we were little girls, my mother made my sister and I our dancing school recital outfits on them. Later, I inherited it (before she even passed on) and made curtains for my school bus camper. So versatile! Loved its little train case that it came in.

  • WintersWoods

    Chrissi Catherwood - Fisher from WintersWoods said 8 years ago

    Fab article! I have three Featherweights, two purchased from a reputable dealer and one found at a yard sale. Only machines I used when sewing mohair teddy bears and now my woolen wears. I have a modern serger that I love using, but nothing compares to the Featherweight. I honestly look forward to the light maintenance that keeps them purring. Happy machine = happy me!

  • koreyaverill

    Korey Averill from kaStudios said 8 years ago

    I have my grandmother's Featherweight, along with the card/sewing table it fits into. I just love this machine. It's such a joy to sew with, and easy peasy to maintain. I think I have all the attachments now, but my favorite has to be the zigzagger. It's so funny to watch it go!

  • PrayerNotes

    Prayer Notes by Cynthia from PrayerNotes said 8 years ago

    Love this article. My grandmother used a Singer. I think she received her first Singer through the S & H Green Stamps Ideabook, in the 1940's or 30's. My mom still has the machine and it still works like a charm. I have one of the newer versions. It's okay, but it doesn't handle as well as the old Singers. Enjoyed the article and the walk down memory lane. ~cynthia

  • kcparade

    Kim from TimeNSeasonTreasures said 8 years ago

    They are such wonderful machines. I cringe at the number of times I've passed them up at auctions just for my only personal use. Other than possibly a zig zag stich, so much of what is on the newer machines is bells and whistles.

  • lkmccray

    Linzee from lkmccray said 8 years ago Featured

    For those of you with Featherweight maintenance issues: there is lots of information about Featherweight care and maintenance online, including groups interested in old sewing machines who have great files you can use to help figure out problems. The International Sewing Machine Collector's Society has a lot of technical information on parts, repair, etc for all kinds of vintage machines, not only Featherweights: Love hearing all these Featherweight stories, especially that people sewed wedding dresses on them!

  • BayMoonDesign

    Kathy Lindemer from BayMoonDesign said 8 years ago

    My mother had one just like this. I enjoyed seeing it again in this blog. Sure wish I had it.

  • leslieholz

    Leslie Holz from leslieholz said 8 years ago

    I've wanted one of these like forever. Maybe 2013 will be the year..........

  • BizzieLane

    BizzieLane from BizzieLane said 8 years ago

    My grandmother bought one for my mother, which is now mine. It is the sewing machine that I learned on. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE IT!

  • gothicreations

    Joanna from RainGirlDesigns said 8 years ago

    I learned to sew on a Singer Featherweight when I was 7. My mom had to put the pedal on a box so my foot could reach it. I have one that has seen better days and I hope to repaint it some fun color and get it into working order this year.

  • LittleMissDressUp

    Natalie Fanell from LittleMissDressUp said 8 years ago

    Ha- this is the only kind of machine I have ever loved. It is very basic- but it is a easy machine and well built. Had a serger once- what a headache!! It was my grandmother's, my mother's and now mine. I made my wedding dress on it, my children's bibs, blankets and christening gowns on it. . . truly a treasure.

  • gescate

    Gino Escate from Gygante said 8 years ago

    I have one at home and still works

  • christineshmisteen

    CHRISTINE SHMISTEEN from TheArtOfFinerThings said 8 years ago

    I've had a couple new machines break almost right away.... maybe I need one of these :P

  • opendoorstudio

    Martha Layton Smith from opendoorstudio said 8 years ago

    I love reading this. I have my grandma's featherweight. I remember she would create beautiful barbie doll clothes, and lovely flannel PJ's on it at Christmas for my sister and I... I adore the uncomplicated settings of forward and reverse. Things seem a little sweeter when sewn on her machine, with love! I am happy i have it!

  • kvolle62

    Kevin Volle from ChloesMosaics said 8 years ago

    Do they still sell repair parts for them? or do you have to scavenge from other machines?

  • finethreadz

    SharonH from FineThreadz said 8 years ago

    Loved this article. I actually did my first sewing on older one with a petal pump. But I did go one later to do lots of sewing on the featherweight model.

  • CafePrimrose

    Amanda Gynther from CafePrimrose said 8 years ago

    Fabulous! I love these sewing machines too.

  • aressa

    aressa from OriginalBridalHanger said 8 years ago

    It is amazing how much longer older products last, than then newbies...We were just talking about that earlier today....

  • PeonySTBebe

    Bebe from 14PeonyStreet said 8 years ago

    Nice article: I can personally vouch on the accuracy of these fine little machines. I own one and use it too. It makes the best straight stitch EVER. I have two other Singers and I really love them. The older machines are very well made. I'll not part with my featherweight!

  • WintersWoods

    Chrissi Catherwood - Fisher from WintersWoods said 8 years ago

    Kevin, you can find original and reproduction parts pretty easily online. ___________________________________________________________ Kevin Volle from ChloesMosaics says: Do they still sell repair parts for them? or do you have to scavenge from other machines? 51 minutes ago

  • EmSewCrazy

    Emily from EmSewCrazy said 8 years ago

    Beautiful! I got handed down a lovely Featherweight this summer and am excited to learn to use it. It's nice to hear some history about them!

  • refugium

    jodi from refugium said 8 years ago

    I love my 1954 Featherweight. I live in a wee little house and love the fact that I can tuck it away when it's not in use. Truly a beauty and a champ. Thanks for the article, Linzee!

  • LeatherheadOriginals

    LeatherheadOriginals from LeatherheadOriginals said 8 years ago

    I saw one of those machines in our local antiques store a few years ago! Had the black case and everything! Didn't have the $$$ to buy :(... Now I know more about them thanks to this great article!

  • ToucheCroche

    Mona Shores from ForestCottageArts said 8 years ago

    These machines have such an advantage over the new ones in that they are not just practical but so beautiful in form also. I learned to sew at the age of 12 on my grandmother's Featherweight and was fortunate enough to have it passed down to me. I love that machine and it has sewn many of my children's clothes, still works and now is prominently displayed in my sewing/guest room on top of my non-working antique treadle machine next to it's mini-me toy machine that was my husband's grandmothers. It's truly a collection I cherish.

  • melissamunsterman

    Melissa Munsterman from ZOBESTUDIO said 8 years ago

    I have one that was my mothers. Still works beautifully. Thing is my mother always bought in 3's. She bought me one and her sister one when she purchased hers. I believe hers is the only one left. I lost mine in a move years ago. I will always treasure it and will pass it down to one of my granddaughters. These little worker machines are a thing of the past when products were made to last.

  • lizsee4043

    EL (Elizabeth) Chaz from lizsee4043 said 8 years ago

    I bet this sewing machine gives more women in something in common than anything! My mom got the first one in Idaho after WWII. She sewed on it for many years and was going to trade it in for something newer in the mid '70's. The sewing machine store worker actually talked her out of it!! When I was a teen in the later '70's, I learned to sew on it. My mom passed away in 1998, this little machine was the only thing I cared to inherit. I got this and many other things, but this machine I grabbed it and it's been in my possession (and it sews beautifully still) and in my heart to this day. IF anybody here wants one, there are a few for sale on Craigslist Seattle, for under $350. Go for it, you won't be sorry! Thank you for this wonderful sharing story and all of the comments I can't wait to read :)

  • ginacrg

    ginacrg said 8 years ago

    I have 2 Singers, 1 is a Featherweight, the other is also a small Singer but has a cover that has fits over the top so it's portable. I love them both! Even thought there is no zigzag, it fits all my jobs. They also work every time I need them to work. I have to admit, Gretchen, I have the same problem. I finally got it back on, backwards, but, it works.

  • ArtDelivered

    ArtDelivered from ArtDelivered said 8 years ago

    I LOVE my Singer Featherweight. I will never part with it. Many years ago my mom & I replaced a canvas tent zipper with it. I also sewed my silk grad dress with it.

  • wrapbracelets

    wrapbracelets from wrapbracelets said 8 years ago

    ours is still in the family; it's attached to an actual sewing table, along with the built in wrought iron food pedal; the sewing machine stores under the table, turned upside down when not in use, so it converts to a desk.....amazing

  • ananemone

    Sara Boatright from ananemone said 8 years ago

    They're great machines, the Singers from the 40s and 50s. I have a 201-2 (the Dressmaker) that runs smoothly and reliably and makes a great stitch. It's a little heftier than the Featherweight but a very nice machine. The amazing thing is that these machines cost about $200-$300 when new in the 40s/50s, the equivalent of a couple thousand in today's dollars. And yet so many were sold, and they are so sturdy, that you can buy a decent one on craigslist for $100 or less today (if you're lucky). Great value!

  • LynnyA

    Lynn Heigh from VineAndBranchStudio said 8 years ago

    I have both a treadle machine and the Singer featherweight I inherited from my mom---and she learned to sew on the featherweight--and then so did I. Both machines still work, and I love that little power tool!

  • OceansideCastle

    Laura from OceansideCastle said 8 years ago

    Fabulous read! My Singer is an oak cabinet trundle. Works like magic. Thanks for a great article about an American vintage icon.

  • thewoodendarner

    kathy said 8 years ago

    I am loving the responses to the machine! I just got my first Featherweight after sewing for almost 60 years! Couldn't be happier.

  • isewcute

    June from isewcute said 8 years ago

    I love sewing on my Nana's featherweight machine! No machine I've ever used stitches so smoothly. Those machines were made to stand the test of time.

  • ElainaLouiseStudios

    Lisa Steiner from ElainaLouiseStudios said 8 years ago

    Great article. I wouldn't trade my old machine for anything. It's not a singer featherweight but it's solid and made with metal parts. Doesn't even compare to the newer machines coming out today.

  • AlisaDesign

    Alisa from AlisaDesign said 8 years ago

    Best machines!

  • zoezloft

    Carol Chidlow from ZOEZLOFT said 8 years ago

    My Featherweight is one of my most prized possessions . It sews true every time and is easy to keep maintained. Yes, I have other machines and they do a bunch of fancy stuff but my Featherweight is my go to machine for great straight stitching. Love it.

  • imrosebud

    Rose from RTOriginalDesigns said 8 years ago

    My mother purchased her Featherweight back in the mid 1960's - made a living with it. She passed it down to me in the early 80's - I made a lot of my clothes back then. And here it is 2013 and the maching still out sews the other machines I have had in the past. My Featherweight is the only machine I now have, although I don't sew a lot today, I will never part with it. They just don't make them like this.

  • sweetvintagegal

    sweetvintagegal from SweetVintageGal said 8 years ago

    I have a Singer machine that was my grandmother's. It is build into a very beautiful wooden sewing table and still works great. Thank you for your fab article!

  • plasticfashion

    Laura from PlasticFashion said 8 years ago

    I sew exclusively on my Singer Featherweight. Rarely does it give me trouble. It's my dream sewing machine.

  • RoughMagicCreations

    Mollie Ann Meserve from RoughMagicCreations said 8 years ago

    Throughout my childhood my mother made all my clothes on her trusty Singer Featherweight. Now, all these years (ahem) later, I think if I had a Featherweight of my own ... I might just learn to sew!

  • Leatherworks4U

    Leatherworks4U from Leatherworks4U said 8 years ago

    I have my mother's Singer featherweight and have just had a new table built for it. I would have been a naked child if not for that trusty machine and my mother's great skill. I hope to use it again soon, although I'll never come close to matching her amazing abilities. Sewing truly was her God given talent. I also have my grandmother's Singer treadle machine. I could never part with either one. Thanks for the great feature that touches so many of our lives.

  • gardenleafdesign

    gardenleafdesign from GardenLeafDesign said 8 years ago

    I have the old Singer Treadle in cabinet......anyone interested?

  • jennys227

    jennys227 said 8 years ago

    I received my Featherweight for high school graduation in '73. Years later I took it in for maintenance. I asked the technician why the case smelled moldy. My Mom and sister also have them and they smell moldy too. He said that the glue they used to paper the inside of the black case would attract mold. Does anyone else have this problem? It still works beautifully and I still use it. My mom still has the table that it fits down in. Forget the diamonds and furs. I want the Singer sewing table!

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 8 years ago

    My grandma has one!

  • GardenAngels

    GardenAngels from GardenAngels said 8 years ago

    Oh how I love my Featherweight. Heirloom indeed! Definately a prized possession.

  • birribe

    Britta from Birribe said 8 years ago

    I´m a proud owner of the same Singer machine I use it in the summerhouse. It´s the best sewing machine I have much better than my brand new one with all fancy stiches. Also it´s so beautiful.....

  • DrewAndOlive

    Ruth Paranick from DrewAndOlivePetites said 8 years ago

    I was fortunate enough to spend a day with my grandmother while I was home visiting my family for the holidays. We did some sewing on her Singer Featherweight, a machine she's had since she the 1950's, soon after she was married. She's an avid quilter and she's been using the very same machine to produce all of her intricate textiles. I would take the machinery over the fancy ring any day. Have a healthy and happy 2013! All the best, -Amber Ruth

  • SnuggleOfLove

    Emily Georgiou from TwiiceLoved said 8 years ago

    Such beautfiul machines. Mine takes pride of place in my sewing room!

  • studio2355

    Margaret from studio2355 said 8 years ago

    I have one, my son found over 20 years ago, I have six machines set up at all times and the feather weight is my favorite, it is not fussy and I love its small foot.

  • NellieFellow

    NellieFellow from NellieFellow said 8 years ago

    Old machines are the greatest. I don't have a Singer, but a Bernina was passed to me from my Grandma and that thing is AMAZING. When I first picked it up I was skeptical, expecting it to be a hunk of scrap metal but it has proved me wrong again and again.

  • knitfitt

    Cate Fitt said 8 years ago

    My pale green Featherweight was a high school graduation gift in 1963. I plan to keep it as long as I am able to sew. My sister has our mother's Featherweight & I am just a tiny bit jealous because it is one of the beautiful black with gold decoration versions.

  • Waterrose

    Rose Waterrose from Waterrose said 8 years ago

    Thank you for highlighting this wonderful sewing tool. I have one as well and love using it.

  • chasestreetsoapco

    Jess from chasestreetsoapco said 8 years ago

    I was given my great-grandmothers singer machine this past summer-and even after sitting in my grandparents attic for who knows how long, it still works! Its a bigger one, not the Featherweight, but cherished just the same. Thanks for sharing this story!

  • studiorandom

    Dana Seilhan from studiorandom said 8 years ago

    Can I just say that I cannot stand the word "sewist"? Nails on a chalkboard do not bother me. "Sewist" sets my teeth on edge. Were people not happy with "tailor", even if they thought "seamstress" was too gendered? Even "seamer" would have made more sense. I'm sorry, I just had to say something. My bad.

  • accentonvintage

    accentonvintage from accentonvintage said 8 years ago

    Great article!

  • econica

    Natallia from econica said 8 years ago

    Oh I want one so badly!!!

  • texturable

    Claudia Rosillo from texturable said 8 years ago

    I have one and I really love it!! Is the more cute thing in the world:)) I didn´t know all the history so is nice to know about it. Thanks!!

  • zepepettes

    Alexandra from wandashop said 8 years ago

    I have found a Singer 191 B from the mid century in a vintage shop in South France, my husband , a former mechanic showed me how it works , and I do use it for 5 years now !!! Works perfectly and how simple it is !!

  • L2Country

    L2Country from L2Country said 8 years ago

    Linzee....What a FUN article...TXS so much!...HAPPY 2013!...XoXo, Lina

  • andreanne12

    Andree Anne M from rosemauve said 8 years ago

    Wow! I wish I had one! These do not compare with my 13 years old Singer. Thanks for sharing!

  • noellizotte

    Noel Lizotte from ApronFreeCooking said 8 years ago

    love it! This sewing machine is a family tradition in my family ... my grandma, mother, sister and me! Go Featherweights!

  • hasincla

    hasincla from travelwanderings said 8 years ago

    I've never had a Featherweight machine, but as a person who's used a sewing machine, I can agree that simple, reliable machines are tough to beat! Very interesting article about the history of this (still) useful machine.

  • honeyzchild

    Roach from ErmaJewelsVintage said 8 years ago

    Linzee, I love this story. I HAVE ONE! Lucky me. I inherited it and I too have named mine after its previous owner, "Margaret". I prefer this little machine over my new (mostly plastic) Singer. I love the sound of it and the energy and power of it. It has such a soulful feel to it, its little motor hums along instead of cranking. I'm so happy to read this article, because recently my machine stopped catching stitches. It's great to know that there are experts who can help with maintenance. I'm sure the problem with mine is an easy fix, but I want to consult someone who knows this machine because it is precious to me. It is amazing that prior to me receiving it, the machine had been sitting in a box for at least 20-30 years. I took it out, plugged it in and it WORKED! Margaret (the original owner) sewed all of her children's clothing, her kitchen curtains, xmas presents, quilts, everything, and all with love and care. She'd attach her labels "Made By Mother, With Love" in every garment. I feel honored to be working with this little piece of history especially because it carries with it so much love and such good vibrations. Lucky me. Thank you Linzee and Long Live Etsy!!!!! It is so good to know, that in this pre-fab world, there are those of us who prefer to take, needle in hand to stitch, and tool in hand to create.

  • lkmccray

    Linzee from lkmccray said 8 years ago

    Dana (studiorandom): As an editor, I understand your issue with the word "sewist." But seamstress IS gendered and tailor means something else altogether. Tailoring is a specific kind of sewing (clothing) and the word "sewist" refers more generally to one who sews all kinds of items. As someone who writes frequently for the sewing world, I've watched "sewist" creep in over the past few years and assumed it's in response to the issues that are created when using the word "sewer," which is non-gendered but can also be confused with those places beneath the ground where sewage flows. "Sewist" is an imperfect solution. Thoroughly enjoying these stories about Featherweights! Thanks so much for sharing your comments. Love that you named yours, honeyzchild, just like Colleen Hicks did, and that the names connect you with the original owner.

  • GracefullyGirly

    Kimberlee from GracefullyGirly said 8 years ago

    I've had a love of old sewing machines literally forever! My mom inherited an old treadle base and we used it as a tale for years. When I was little I would push the foot pedal and just watch the gears in amazement! My mom still has and uses the machine she got as a present from her mom 50 years ago. I used it for a while too and loved it so much for its fabulous simplicity that I ended up getting an even older machine (black with pretty wooden case) and used that until I just gave in and got my brand new Bernina. It's computerized and occasionally needs love, so this article definitely gets me reminiscing about my oldy but goodie!

  • inturquoisesky

    asu from THEFAIRYTHINGS said 8 years ago

    My mom has a similiar one, and I'd sewn a few stitches on my finger when I was 4 or 5. Now she asks ' Do you want to use it?', because I make accessories. ...Thanks...

  • StudioMizzle

    Lydia Louw from StudioMizzle said 8 years ago

    oh those wonderfull stories.. I had one.. sitting in my parent's house, waiting for me to pick it up. My parents moved and figured I didn't want / needed / had the room for it; so they just threw it away. I've never knew wether the singer was still working or not. :(

  • KuriosaTea

    B. Thomas from KuriosaTea said 8 years ago

    I would love one of these..... I was raised at no.2 Singer Street,Clydebank, Strathclyde,Scotland ; the Singers work horn blew at 7.30am.. it was our alarm clock. A great memory as most of our neighbours worked there....we would toddle off to school and they work. I would like one from 1969 from Clydebank - that's if they were still in production.

  • KandeKwilts

    Kathy Anderson from KandeKwilts said 8 years ago

    I considered myself so fortunate to find a good deal on a lovely featherweight about three and a half years ago on ebay. I bought this lovely little thing with a case in very good condition and with the original instructions and several attachments, bobbins etc. It has traveled to quilting classes with me and sit and sew sessions. I have pieced a couple of quilts on it with pure pleasure listening to the little train engine sound it makes. It is quite the workhorse. I am also fortunate enough to have inherited my grandmothers treadle singer machine and will probably soon recieve my mothers kennmore that she used to make many of my childhood garments. Well built machines and timeless crafts are some of the purest forms of joy for fiber addicts. If I had the space and the money to spare, I'l probably have a classroom sized room full of antique sewing machines and teach with them they are just so much fun with little worry over expensive repairs.

  • ZhivanaDesigns

    ZhivanaDesigns from ZhivanaDesigns said 8 years ago

    Love this article! I have such great memories of making a lot of my own clothing on my mother's Singer Featherweight as a teenager, and I'm lucky enough to still have it now. They are wonderful machines that were built to last!

  • designlab443

    Tracy from designlab443 said 8 years ago

    I have a 1938 Singer machine and I LOVE it, wouldn't trade it for anything!

  • lindaslinger

    Linda from FabulouslyHomemade said 8 years ago

    OMG! I just got one for Christmas this year, too! It's a 1957 model. And it's fabulous!

  • beeattitudes4

    Daisy from PeaceCords said 8 years ago

    My mother made costumes and prom dresses with her featherweight that she received as a high school graduation gift. My mother's sister received one for graduation as well. My aunt taught me to sew on it when I was ten and then later gave me the machine after I graduated from college. I have made many quilts on her machine. I was fortunate to receive the wooden sewing table that came with her machine. It is a sturdy card table with a cut out for the featherweight. It is still in good shape and is used in my sewing room today.

  • beverleylynneharris

    BEVERLEY LYNNE HARRIS said 8 years ago

    Love the article. Will watch out for the machines. I think I had possession at one point of a button-holer attachment for an ancient Singer machine - gave it to my sister who has my aunt's old peddle-version cabinetted Singer.

  • lacyknitsdaily

    Lacy Province said 8 years ago

    Great little workers these Featherweight's. I own two and wouldn't part with either one. When electronic sewing machines go belly up, the Featherweight will still be working.

  • rosebudsvintage

    rosebudsvintage from WillowsWear said 8 years ago

    Your nostalgic story brought back so many fond memories of all the dresses, Easter suits & more that my mother had made for me on her trusty Singer. Considering it only went back & forth, sewed zippers in, made buttonholes, and was absolutely quiet for her daily sewing. I would be amazed over the years Mom would sew coats, pocketbooks, design hats, etc. for herself and be the envy of all. On Sundays she would go to church, always with a hat and outfit for herself and me and when asked where she bought them, my mom would blush and quietly say, "I made them." Over the years growing up I would spend many a day with Mom at the 5 & 10, Newburys, or the large fabric store searching for the right piece of yard goods at the cheapest price to rush home to watch her with her Singer turn it into the most lovely items. Mom & her Singer were not only a great team for the family but she was asked by the priest if she would make him a white robe. She had her machine working morning, noon, and night to turn an enormous flat piece of material into a work of art to be worn proudly on Sundays at my families church. Over the years, between Mom and watching my nearly blind Grandma on her pedal Singer, I too have been passed the honor of using my old trusty friend, Singer to follow in their footsteps for my family. Thank you so much for the moment to stop and remember & appreciate Singer for being there for us.

  • nativestrandsjewelry

    Rachel from PeppersJewelry said 8 years ago

    I always find these sewing machines to be interesting.

  • barbjack2000

    Barbara Jackson said 8 years ago

    I have my mom's featherweight. Haven't used it for years. I have the case too, but the latch is broken. My mom always said it had a smooth stitch. Ps, the last time I used it I made a pair of shorts, with one leg opening.....

  • GrowingUpWild

    Kelly Engel from GrowingUpWild said 8 years ago

    Reminds me if sewing with my grandma. I wish everything was built to last the way these were. Newer is often not better and not every company takes as much pride in their products

  • SouthernMoonJewelry

    Carol Walker from SouthernMoonJewelry said 8 years ago

    I am amazed at how many people have this featherweight Singer Sewing Machine. My mother used ours to make matching coats for my brother and I when we were little, many of the clothes I wore over the years and even used it to tackle heavy weight material to reupholster our couch in the '60s and a recliner in the '70s. It still works like a charm and I love it. It's sturdy and a real workhorse. My mother's father was a tailor. I'd put money on it he used one of these machines as well. I love mine. Thanks for writing such an interesting article about an interesting machine. Whodathunk there would be so many still in use at the beginning of 2013? One heck of a great sewing machine!!!

  • DreamingInCraft

    Marci Peterson from PlanetSeymour said 8 years ago

    For Christmas this year my mom gave me the white featherweight she used when she learned to sew as a child. Best gift ever! I can't wait to spend the year sewing up new plush characters on my "new" machine! :-)

  • centerstagevintage

    Cindy from CenterStageVintage said 8 years ago

    Big Singer fan here, too. My mother tells me that the first letters I learned as a child were learned while watching her sew ...S, I, N, G, E, R, on the front of the machine.

  • brenniequilts

    Bren McCloskey from brenniequilts said 8 years ago

    For a long time, it was the only machine I used. Loved piecing for hours with it and took it to seminar workshops with me all the time. In fact, I took a machine quilting class with Sue Nichols many years ago and I brought this machine with me and with a stitchplate I purchased to cover the feed dogs, and a darning foot that we fit, we actually set it up and machine quilted with it--and it worked! She did some lovely feathering quilting with it that I saved. I pulled mine out yesterday thinking maybe I should set it up to do some piecing again. I have two other machines that I love, but it will be fun to do some work on this one again.

  • ka1231

    Kari from ThoughtofYouFabricAc said 8 years ago

    Oh how I loved this article! I love the idea of using a piece of equipment that has stood the test of time. I am sure I could get lost daydreaming of the people that have used the machine and the beauties they must have created!

  • pickstitchvintage

    pickstitchvintage from pickstitchvintage said 8 years ago

    I had one, the table too, and never used it so it went to someone who would use it. Then I had a torrid affair with a grasshopper but he has moved On to another lover. Although the Elna was a much better machine the 221 owners are a reverent group that love their machines more than any other collectible group that I have ever seen and have done a lot for the preservation of all non-electronic machines. I like,old things.

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty from bellasparty said 8 years ago

    I love antics! This sewing machine is beautiful!

  • GillyLynn

    Gilly Lynn from GillyLynn said 8 years ago

    I sew all of the leather handbags in my shop is on a 1968 industrial Singer. I also have a vintage Fleetwood, modeled after the Singer Featherweights that works perfectly. I love the older machines. Not only do they sew well, but they're gorgeous to have sitting in the studio.

  • masonke

    masonke from masonke said 8 years ago

    My mother gave me hers, and I love only being able to go forward and backward! I've used it for years and wouldn't dream of ever getting rid of it! Thanks for sharing your story!

  • 95slug

    95slug said 8 years ago

    My mother bought her Featherweight in 1951. It was the first item she bought on credit ($8.81 a month) and had to have my grandfather cosign. She had basic sewing skills, and I remember her sewing her shirts and pants for work (she worked in an elementary school kitchen). I learn to sew on it, and made all of my prom dresses, and clothes for school. I have had it cleaned and rewired (the cord to the foot pedal was getting frayed) and it still works like a champ. I recently purchased the 160th anniversary edition Singer which is electronic but pays homage to the 221. But it's the original I always pull out for craft sewing and repairs. I will be teaching my 7 year old great niece how to sew on it this summer, as someday it will be hers. Thanks so much for the article, it brought back many happy memories.

  • FarmgirlsCreations

    Debbie Bruns from FarmgirlsCreations said 8 years ago

    I purchased a white/green Singer Featherweight at a Barn sale 3 years ago for only $10. It was only used once and no nicks, scratches and even the case is in mint condition. It even came with the original white belt! I purchased a replacement belt just so not to use that pretty white belt. I love it! It's a great size for travel and I only use it if needed. I have 4 other machines in my sewing room that I regularly use so my featherweight is a cherished machine that I want to keep around for my grandchildren to enjoy.

  • kathyscraftroom55

    Kathylee from kathyscraftroom55 said 8 years ago

    I have one of those featherweight Singer Sewing Machine. It was my Mom's and I haven't used it yet, still sitting in the attic. But now I will get it out and sew away on it.And think of my Mom!! Thank you for such a great article*. :o)

  • drsdesch

    drsdesch said 8 years ago

    This is the only sewing machine my mother-in-law had during her entire adult life, bought from a door-to-door salesman, and I was fortunate enough to get it after she was gone. It's a wonderful keepsake, and a great little machine!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    Victoria Baker from LittleWrenPottery said 8 years ago

    I always find these old sewing machines a bit intimidating but I'm sure they're much better built than their modern counterparts!

  • KateATexan

    Kate Anderson said 8 years ago

    I don't have the portable Featherweight, I have the treadle machine from the 1920's - on the cast-iron stand. It was my grandmother's and I remember playing with the treadle as a child. Unfortunately, the person who had it before it came to me, let many of the parts get rusty and my aunt thought you had to take the belt off to fold it into the cabinet. Now I can't get the thing back on! I still love it, even though I can't use it.

  • NinisHandmades

    Nini from NinisHandmades said 8 years ago

    Well...I have a very personal memory of the old Singer sewing machine. One year in 1983 I had the chance to spend an entire year with my Grandparents in Turkey, and that's where I discovered the old Singer sewing maching with the handle to the side, which wasn't powered electrically at all, and my Grandma was sewing away. :) She had walls stacked with beautiful Silk quilts and was always so eager to create new things. :) That year in 1983 has become unforgettable for me. So seeing a old Singer machine is so special for me. :) And today I have my own business, it's not silk quilts, but its being creative just like my Grandma. :)

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 8 years ago

    I used a vintage Singer to make an art project at school in third grade. I don't know what year or model it was, but it had a foot pedal to power it, and it worked perfectly! These machines are built to last.

  • OceanPatch

    Susan from OceanPatch said 8 years ago

    This is my sewing machine and it is a keeper! I've sewn miles and miles on it and it's like an old friend. This little workhorse has served me well and I've never even considered getting something else, What a wonderful article highlighting a real gem!

  • Lakeperson1

    Sue Cloutman from Emmasdollshop said 8 years ago

    I have my Mother's Featherweight that she taught me to sew on and I taught my daughter to sew on when she was 5 ei. 30 years ago. I must admit I just can't part with it and would like to teach my grandkids to sew on it. My older daughter did a gorgeous painting of mine when she was in Art school. I wish I could send you a picture of it somehow.

  • gracegutzler

    Grace Gutzler from GraciesHomemadeGifts said 8 years ago

    I have an old singer machine in the same cabinet. This belonged to my grand-mother and I remember seeing it in her bedroom as a child. I also remember her having a old womans shoe from way back. My machine must be about 100 years old or so. After reading your blog it makes me want to try and see if it works. I have a newer machine I got from a yard sale and I am having problems with it. I want to make Pillow and other things and may have to get the old faithful going.

  • galstudio

    galstudio from reddotscycling said 8 years ago

    I totally understand the LOVE for the all metal older Singer sewing machines. I have a FashionMate 257 I received as a little girl. I have been sewing all my life with it and I now have a handmade cycling cap business... lovingly making thousands of caps with my old friend!

  • butikonline83

    Hendri . from butikonline83 said 8 years ago

    great!!! I can see that you are putting a lots of efforts into your blog. Keep posting the good work.Some really helpful information in there. Bookmarked. Nice to see your site. Thanks!

  • susanhathaway1

    Susan Hathaway from OddsnEndsSusie said 8 years ago

    I have my grandmothers Featherweight, my mother also had one which I learned to sew on. Moms as traded in when I was a youngster after learning to sew for another Singer. Am so Happy I have my grandmothers and that it was not lost to trade in. Wish I still had my moms then I would have two of them. My daughter also learned how to sew on her Great Grandmothers Featherweight. Such a Wonderful Machine!! :)

  • beadinbythesea

    Debora from BeadinByTheSea said 8 years ago

    What a wonderful article! I want one now!

  • poplovedesigns

    Andrea Hughes from PopLoveHers said 8 years ago

    I've occasionally seen these beauties in vintage shops and boutique windows (although I've never been able to figure out how the boutiques could resist using them rather than displaying them!). While my little home machine isn't nearly as quiet, lightweight or elegant than this beauty, she'll have to do for now. Definitely a coveted piece I'd love to have though...

  • DamsonTreePottery

    Marieanne Cavaciuti from damsontreepottery said 8 years ago

    Thanks for this feature - just bought one for my daughter on Ebay! Then she can pass on to the next generation along with our 1920's foot pedal Singer!

  • rpreserved

    Robyn Jarrell from rpreserved said 8 years ago

    I love reading all these stories about vintage Singer's. Featherweights and all. I am the proud owner of 3, 2 that I uses all the time , I upholster with and many other things too. I also have 2 direct drive singer's that are also top notch machines that will sew anything! Right now I am recovering a potoon boat covers with vinyl and piping. You can not go wrong with a real singer made of metal not plastic. They will sew it all... I try to sew everyday but the days I do not get to, I will sew even more the next day. Maybe 6 to 8 hours. You can never have to many sewing machines. I also have a few of the 99k machines. Another great vintage metal singer. Thanks for sharing all the stories about featherweights.

  • TinyPainter

    Patricia Ann Rizzo from TinyPainter said 8 years ago

    My little Singer is in a fine wooden cabinet. My mom bought it for me at a yard sale back in the late 60's. I love this machine and sewed things on it for myself and my son. I don't do much sewing these days but the old Singer stands ready when needed and has never failed.

  • rachel9gamache

    RACHEL GAMACHE from RaCycled said 8 years ago

    I inherited my Mother's machine....and like an idiot, sold it at a garage sale. Kick myself daily, especially after my brother found one for $5 at GoodWill in Wisconsin. I NEVER see one at a reasonable price. :(

  • SeaKnightsCraft

    Rose Gonella from SeaKnightsCraft said 8 years ago

    The guy I took my boots to for repair had a truly antique wrought-iron sewing machine that he used. It was awesome.

  • EurekaGuides

    Eureka Internet Guides from EurekaGuides said 8 years ago

    I'm amazed that these machines are still being used today. If only we could buy machines today that lasted that long! I hate this throw-away society we live in today.

  • patriciasmithdesigns

    Patricia Smith from patriciasmithdesigns said 8 years ago

    I always wonder wherever find all their machines that line the windows of every store! There must be 000's! If anyone knows I'd love to hear. Every time I pass I want to own just one!! I was taught to sew by my Grandmother on a Singer treadle and I can still recall the solid-ness of it. Also the way it folded down into the cabinet....then the lid came over and it was a table in the corner of the room! I do have a Singer my husband rescued from a skip (small, really ancient, looks like one of the very first made) just on a shelf to look at now and then in my workshop!!

  • ulovejewelry

    Universal Love Jewelry from ULoveJewelry said 8 years ago

    I'd really like to have one of these beauties!!!!!

  • ZiBagz

    Lisa Zinza from ZiBagz said 8 years ago

    Excellent article ... on the lookout now! :o)

  • teeball35

    Tammy S. from TheGypsyChixCompany said 8 years ago

    I love to hear about the history of a vintage item. This is why I love vintage, things were built to stand the test of time!

  • pookdesignz

    Amanda Gwynne-Farrish from pookdesignz said 8 years ago

    Wonderful article, makes me want to return to sewing and tune up my 1970's Singer Athena 2000 machine - it cost my Mom nearly $1000 in 1979 - and I have been told its a good machine to hold onto - sadly it sits in my basement - this article has made me reconsider its dormant state!

  • rscproducts

    Norma Gibbs from NormaCreativeJewelry said 8 years ago

    I love this article. I have one. My great grandmother passed it down to my grandmother who passed it down to my father who passed it on to me and that was the first sewing machine that I learned how to sew on :-)

  • FascinatingHobbies

    FascinatingHobbies from FascinatingHobbies said 8 years ago

    it took a long time for me to read carefully and with great interest the fantastic article and all the threads about the wonderful featherweight Singer sewing machine and its opened us a "new door" as we have inherited many years ago, of several ones 221, 222 with their cases, from Canada, Uk in 110 v with their tools I was not able to sew, very busy travelling and working and they are still with us. When we received them, we were very surprised and appreciated how nice, very elegant they were.....wrapped them very carefully to protect and put them thinking one day we will take our time to do something with them. This very interesting article gave some links we did not know and reading your threads we understood that they are wonderfull machines even for young people, remembering their childhood with their grandmother......very sentimental, another way to look at our machines !!!!

  • beadeddragons

    Brittany from beadeddragons said 8 years ago

    I just bought an older sewing machine table (my boyfriend's mom has one similar to the featured one, I am not so lucky). I hope to have my dad teach me to sew soon, but he has been busy with work. I thought it would be some fun winter father/daughter time since he is interested from afar with my jewelry making, but has experience with sewing. :)

  • KatKi59

    Ruth Hoover from LemonBlossomStudio said 8 years ago

    I just loved all of these comments!! I have inherited my mothers, aunts and have purchased two. They are the most wonderful machines I have found. completely portable so can be taken to classes easily, sew anything you have and are just a good basic machine. My oldest one was made in the 1930"s.

  • JoyceAlice2

    JoyceAlice from JoyceAlice2 said 8 years ago

    Nice article. Haven't read all the many comments thoroughly but the sentence about "seamstress" and "sewist" did catch my eye... there's nothing wrong with gendered words. Gender IS part of being human. All of us are born either male or female, of equal value in God's sight but designed by Him for different and complementary roles. I will stick with "seamstress". I have a Featherweight from the 1940s which I love. It is the only sewing machine I own and I've had it since my mother bought one each for my sister and I, from the used section of a Singer shop,back when I was a teen. Other than having the foot pedal replaced, it has NEVER had to be repaired. It has lots of attachments, which I have never used :) Just the straight stitch back and forward is all I need, and it is truly a workhorse. Old-fashioned words and machines --- they work beautifully.

  • robertsjaro

    James Roberts from JamesRDesign said 8 years ago

    I bought a table mounted singer about two years ago from a college surplus shop and it has performed wonderfully. I have sewed some heavy stuff and light stuff too. A beautiful machine. I looked up the serial number, and found it was produced in 1946! That's awesome! And there isn't any visible wear on any of the small-car-like parts. The motor has been refurbished I can tell, but other than that... Singer really screwed themselves I guess because I probably won't need to buy a new sewing machine for the rest of my life. Unless I want to do something other than straight stitch, that is. But really a great tool.

  • takeapicturedesigns

    Lynne from RiverSpring said 8 years ago

    My mom made many of my clothes and i have great memories of her sewing. Now I have given her machine to my daughter and she is now a major player here on Etsy, making her tiny top hats handmade by bonnie. Thanks for a wonderful article!

  • margiemelendy

    Margie Melendy from JandMMasterpieces said 8 years ago

    when a tree fell on our house in 2010 the only thing I grabbed out of my quilting room was the singer sewing machine . the case had gotten a little wet but the machine was protected & still runs like a dream even though I lost all my fabric, other machine and my quilting frame. I'm thankful my finished quilts weren't in there. After 18 months we finally got back in our house but haven' t went back to the quilting but have the featherweight in my closet!

  • cabraford10

    C.A. Braford from OnImpulseDesigns said 8 years ago

    I love when someone talk about something so dear to their heart. Products made back then were made to last. Its amazing to see how much they can really endure. I wish today we could go back to a time when things were made with blood, sweat, tears, and pride and ACTUALLY lasted. Now, things just crumble apart with the slightest touch. No one take pride in making a solid product anymore. I think we all need to take a step back and learn from the past : )

  • FreakyPeas

    FreakyPeas from FreakyPeas said 8 years ago

    if only I could sew............

  • rashmithakur

    Rashmi Thakur from RTStyles said 8 years ago

    My mom has one of these machines which is not portable and has a leg paddle.It works absolutely wonderful even today. She used to make dresses for me when I was a baby. I learned to stitch in one of these machines. My aunt had one of the portable versions with manual hand roll which she used to roll every time she stitched( now a days everything is motorized). Love these the blog!! Thanks for sharing.

  • bryonraper

    Bryon Raper from PEOPLESLEATHER said 8 years ago

    Love my singer model 66 purchased by my Great Grandmother in 1907. It is still a work horse. Can't imagine working with out it. I'm glad to see there are so many folks who still recognize them.

  • lifeasquilt

    Colleen Story from lifeasquilt said 8 years ago

    Inherited my mom's this year, stitches and winds bobbins great, I love it!

  • happyshopper4

    Happy Shopper said 8 years ago

    I just wanted to let Linzee know that after seeing this blog I was compelled to own a vintage Singer Featherweight and began a thorough search to find "the one". I am awaiting delivery on a 1940 model and cannot wait to receive it. It must have been fate that brought me to this article. I have never sewn on one of these machines before, let alone even seen one in person. No matter. I am thrilled at the very discovery of their existence and know I was meant to pursue it. I am sure many other readers will be bitten by the bug as well. Thank you Linzee for the start of a wonderful adventure! Do you happen to know any statistics on the thickness of materials that can be sew with this machine?

  • TheCatsMeowAntiques

    TheCatsMeowAntiques from TheCatsMeowAntiques said 8 years ago

    There are many reasons to love the Featherweight, but my favorite reason is the size. I love smaller versions of originals. I've stood in museums for hours looking at miniature art. Anyone can do something well large, but small details on something of below average size is just amazing to me! Also, of a personal note, I'm restricted to lifting items that weigh 20 lbs or less after a significant back injury. Larger machines can't come home with me when I'm out hunting for awesome vintage and antique items.

  • blainedesign

    Karen Brown from blainedesign said 8 years ago

    I am a little embarrassed to admit it, but I didn't know what a Featherweight was until I read this article. Now I want one! When I bought my last sewing machine, I had to hunt and hunt for a simple model without computer controls. I wound up buying a discontinued floor model, the last of a breed. But now I know I shouldn't have been in a conventional store at all, but searching vintage somewhere for a Featherweight. It will be my next machine. Thanks, Linzee.

  • zakiahomar

    Zakiah Omar from maiinmaiin said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much Linzee for this piece. You have touched many people. It is so good to see how many remember their mums and their childhood, just like I do. My mum, an avid sewer, has a Singer, a heavyweight though, at home in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She turns 80 this year and, and apart from doing all kinds of other crafting like cross-stitching, still sews traditional Malay dresses on the machine for my six-year-old daughter. She sew so many clothes on that machine, for her five kids and her many sisters and their kids and friends and their kids. I remember doing my needlework class projects on this machine. I used to hate the electric machines cos they seemed to "run away", which I found scary as a little girl; my stitching went haywire. The old Singers I could control better. I do use a computerised machine now. Definitely will look out for a Featherweight. Might find one here in Berlin. I shared your piece with my family.

  • theresaalexander1

    Theresa Alexander from SomethingElsePurses said 8 years ago

    I also have a featherweight in working order as a decoration in my shop as well as an old heavyweight that is in disrepair. They make me think back to when my mother started to teach me to sew. What a wonderful time. Once I started, I couldn't stop.

  • theresaalexander1

    Theresa Alexander from SomethingElsePurses said 8 years ago

    I also have a feather weight in working order and a heavyweight, but unfortunately does not work. They make me think back to when my mother began to teach me to sew. What a wonderful time. I would use all her scraps and sew them together in strips. What a great beginning and I haven't stopped yet.

  • theresaalexander1

    Theresa Alexander from SomethingElsePurses said 8 years ago

    I also have a featheweight that works and a heavyweight that doesn't. They are such wonderful reminders of my childhood. Remembering when my Mom began teaching me to sew. I would take all her scraps and sew them into strips.I haven't stopped sewing. From beginning, to 4-H to home economics. Right up to my Etsy Shop of purses. What a gift she gave me.

  • FiberArtsFascination

    Jane Yarbrough from FiberArtsFascination said 8 years ago

    I have two featherweight machines that I inherited, one from each grandmother. I love using them both and have only had to repair the older of the two once. I have a 1951 model and a 1954 model.

  • kg3983

    Kathleen said 7 years ago

    I recently recovered an AF (1939?) Featherweight still in its black carrying box while cleaning out my mother's house. I sewed many things on it many years ago, and recall her telling how she carried that machine from the east coast back to Hawaii after WWII broke out. It has not been used in quite a few years---but I ran it and it stitched perfectly so now I plan to put it back into action. I too did not know about all the people who loved these machines, but am happy that I can be part of a group of people who love something old but reliable, and I hope my daughter will learn to love it too.

  • islenest

    islenest said 4 years ago

    Stunning all the old blk featherweights-BUT some of the repainted/refurbished ones done in colors,like BLUSH PINK are simply gorgeous.Anyone know of a tutorial?D

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