Eleven Pounds of Fun

I bought a sewing machine this week. It all started because of frustration with my sewing, some of which is a lack of confidence and ability, some of which is just sheer irritation with fighting my machine. It skips stitches, jams up easily with wads of thread barf, and rocks back and forth as I sew. I do appreciate all of the many projects I have wrestled with over my little blue plastic hobby machine, but the relationship has grown stale.

I had pondered going the modern route and getting a fancy new Bernina, but that's not really my style (or within my budget) so a while back I started thinking about old machines and read most of the Zigzaggers reviews, among others. I wanted something simple and reliable and built to last with metal parts, not plastic like my current (cute but cheap) machine. I knocked around a few potential brands including Elna, Singer, and Husqvarna Viking but didn't come to a decision.

Cathy of Calfornia's recent blog post interview with Heather Ross renewed my interest in getting a vintage machine, and I started shopping around online and pretty soon I was the winning bidder on a rather vague auction for this cutie, a circa 1940 Singer Featherweight.

I picked it up on Wednesday and got to work fiddling around with it and polishing it up. Heck, I even shined the carrying case. It has some worn decals and minor paint loss, but overall it's in really decent shape for the modest price that I paid.

Some geekery about my model that wasn't apparent in the auction listing (but doesn't affect my enjoyment of the machine): I can't find a thread cutter, though later models do have this feature. It has a numbered tension dial and even earlier models have no numbers. It has the early style scroll face plate.

Because it is an earlier model it doesn't have the graduated throat plate marking for measuring your seam allowance. The manual is copyrighted about 12 years after my machine was produced, so that isn't original. It is an earlier style case with the top tray for accessories, and it came with plenty of bobbins and a number of feet, including the ruffler, which I am intrigued to try but frankly a little intimidated.

The surprising thing (to me) in talking about Featherweights is how common they were. Several people had a mom or grandma or aunt that owned one. Since my mom's family emigrated to the US in the 60's we don't many old possessions laying around, so there wasn't much chance I'd find one in a family attic. I had never even seen one in person, but I knew I'd like it. It purrs along with sweet little clicks and takes curves with such ease and makes really tidy even stitches. And keep in mind that's all a Featherweight does, straight stitches, but that's fine with me. I can still bust out old blue for zigzagging.

The really funny thing is that on Thursday, exactly one day after I brought home the Featherweight, my Mother-In-Law comes over to take care of the kids--bearing in mind I've known her for 20 years-- she picks that day to show up with her Featherweight machine in tow, to do a little sewing with the girls. And not only does she have a Featherweight that I didn't know she owned (circa 1951, with the Centennial medallion) that belonged to her Aunt Lillian, but she apparently owns an elusive Featherweight sewing table no less!

double your pleasure--double your fun!


amanda said...

Love it! Even though I am a Bernina girl, I would love to have a Featherweight, too. I learned to sew on my mom's which she bought at a rummage sale when she was in college - late 60s or so.

Rebecca said...

That is gorgeous! Scott's grandmother has promised me one of her two Featherweights and I want it NOW! I feel greedy asking about it though. I'll have to work up my courage because that is gorgeous!

Jessica said...

That's crazy.
I learned to sew on my grandfather's featherweight. My mom stole it during the divorce. Grrr.

Krista said...

Gorgeous! Please come back to Zigzaggers and review it once you've had some time to play!

Meg said...

My mom has 5 - yes 5 Featherweight sewing machines! She "collects" them and uses them all the time on her quilts. She says that one is actually for me, but that she's "keeping it safe for me." I'm not sure what that means, but I think I'll have to pry mine out of her hands one day. She has made many lovely things on her Featherweight and I know you will too!