|1951 Singer Featherweight 221|
I bought this Singer Featherweight 221 sight unseen from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore located about an hour away from where I live. They had listed it on Craig's List for $200 with a 30-day guarantee, and I was afraid someone else might snatch it up before I was able to get up to Salisbury to take a look at the machine. My son Lars told me I should just buy it over the phone -- "Mom, if you don't like it, you can just sell it on eBay." And he was absolutely right.
|1951 Singer Ad for My Exact Machine, the Same Year Mine Was Made|
According to the Serial Number Chart on the Singer web site here, my Featherweight was manufactured in the U.K. in 1951, then sent to the Canadian Singer factory to be fitted with a 110-120 volt motor so it could be sold in the United States. She came to me with her original Type 3 black leatherette carrying case, which has one broken latch, an intact original handle, and no keys. The case smells like something died in there, like the something that died is still IN THERE, actually, rotting away... I'll deal with that later.
Unfortunately, the machine did not come with any accessories or with the instruction manual, but I was able to purchase a reproduction manual from an online Featherweight parts dealer -- and then I discovered that I could download the Featherweight owner's manual from the Singer web site for free, here. I printed it out so I can highlight and take notes. As for the original accessories, they would have added value if I wanted to sell the machine, but I don't need rufflers or hemmers for what I plan to do with this Featherweight. She's in great working condition, but cosmetically she's not up-to-snuff as a collector's item and she isn't one of those really rare iterations that would command a high price in any condition. The machine hasn't been abused, just used well over the years, as attested to by the finish wear and all the pin scratches on the flat bed of the machine. Did she sew children's clothing? Hem trousers? Someone's wedding gown, or treasured quilt? What stories could she tell if she could talk to me?
The original straight stitching presser foot is on the machine, and the various quarter inch patchwork feet that most quilters use on Featherweights are all after market parts, anyway.
|Hmmm... Is That Nancy Drew with her Featherweight?|
I'm in the process of learning how to clean out the gook and shine her up again. I have read that the factory clear coat finish on a Featherweight is a shellac that is very vulnerable to water and most contemporary cleaning products, as are the mostly intact gold decorative decals on my machine. Since she's not so shiny to begin with, I certainly don't want worsen that problem or accidentally remove any of the decals in my cleaning zeal!
|Nancy Drew Again, or Is This Trixie Belden?|
She's a cute little machine, an icon of an era when machinery was built to last a lifetime. She only sews forwards and backwards, but Featherweights are legendary for their perfect straight stitch and reliability. I will use this machine as it was intended, as a portable sewing machine that I could take on vacation or to a workshop, and it will also be convenient when I'm doing crazy quilting with bobbinwork decorative stitch embellishment on the seams, because I can stitch the seam on the Featherweight, flip it open, and then stitch the decorative stitch pattern on my snazzy Bernina 750 QE without having to change settings, rethread, and monkey with the bobbin tension after each and every seam. Sewing on this machine is like traveling backwards through time.
The Singer 221 Featherweight was a modern marvel of design and engineering when it was unveiled at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, just like my Bernina is in 2013. But I don't think for a minute that anyone will want to sew on my Bernina 80 years from now. When it comes to sewing machines, they really don't make them like they used to!