Cute. Petite. Lightweight. Sometimes classy in black or white, sometimes colorful. Comparable to the Energizer bunny – it just keeps going and going. What am I talking about? Just the best sewing machine ever – the Singer Featherweight! Basically, it is everything I want to be! (Cute, lightweight, and classy? Yes!)
This sewing machine is quite possibly the coolest sewing machine ever made. I love these machines like Cookie Monster loves cookies. I want them all! I want more and more and more! And my husband says why, why, and why? Ha!
Are you familiar with Singer Featherweights? Do you own one? If not, you may be on the hunt for one soon. Because, they are fabulous and you are going to fall in love.
What Even Is a Featherweight?
A Singer Featherweight is perhaps the most sought-after American sewing machine in history. It was manufactured by the Singer Sewing Machine Co. between the years of 1933 to 1968. It is called a Featherweight because of its portability and light weight of only 11 pounds, 1 ounce. There are two types of Featherweights – Model 221 and Model 222. Both of these models look very similar, however, the 222 is not as common and it has a removable bed that allows it to become a free-arm. There are also some other minor differences that are harder to spot.
So, what makes these machines so special?
In a time when sewing machines were incredibly heavy and difficult to maneuver, these small machines came out and basically became instant best friends with homemakers, seamstresses, and mothers. It was the perfect machine to keep at home. It is strong enough to sew through denim and other heavy fabrics, but also sensitive enough to handle something as flimsy as chiffon beautifully. It was the perfect multi-purpose sewing machine to keep at home and was lightweight enough to keep it stored away when not in use. All of that holds true for today, as well. These machines have a simple straight stitch – and it is a darn good one! They are known for their beautiful and perfectly straight stitches.
Where can I find one?
Now this is a good question! Since these machines are no longer being manufactured, where can one be bought? A good place to start is Ebay. There are always some listed there. However, be an informed buyer because there are a lot of scammers out there. Ask plenty of questions and do your research. If an online deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is! Other places to look are at local quilt shops. Some shops have a few that they have acquired along the way and are re-selling. Also, antique shops are known to have them. I have acquired two from antique shops and gotten a great deal on both. It is my dream to walk into my local resale shop and find one for $10 that some clueless person dropped off and had no idea what they even had in their possession.
Caution: You May Get Sticker Shock…
Yeah, I’m going to warn you newbies now, these machines aren’t cheap! Prepare to spend some money, honey. (But just know, that you won’t be disappointed! These little workhorses are so worth it!) Prices vary depending on the year of manufacture, color, etc. Once you dig into the research of these little beauties, you will find so much more information than I can fit into this one article. There is a database online that matches up serial numbers to dates of manufacture. Many people like to try to buy one that shares their birth year. So fun! Others look for specific models, like Centennial models. Whether or not the machine comes with the original bobbin case, cord, and case are also factors in the price. It’s not unusual for them to be $1000 or more. If you’re lucky, you may get one for $500. I saw one that recently sold for almost $15,000!
The Featherweight Sewing Machine came in three colors – black, white, and beige. However, sometimes some of the whites and beiges are in different shades of white and beige – some have even had a green tint in the white. It all depends on how the paint was mixed in the factory. So know that there are variations of the three colors – black, white, and beige. Those were the original colors, but these days you can have one painted in whatever color you want! And many sewists have done just that! You can find Featherweights in beautifully painted colors. Many purists, would never advise you to paint a sewing machine. However, many of these old machines need a little TLC and a paint job only enhances the machine. There is no right or wrong answer to having one painted. It’s a personal decision about your machine. You do you, Boo.
If you want to learn more about the Singer Featherweight sewing machines, a great place to start is with this book, Featherweight 221 The Perfect Portable and Its Stitches Across History by Nancy Johnson-Srebro. It is an amazing resource! Another great resource is The Featherweight Shop. This online store has tons of information, helpful tutorials, replacement parts, and even sells Featherweight machines. It is definitely worth checking out!
Hello? Are you still here? Oh, I see you heading out the door to go check your local antique store! But be careful! These bad boys are addictive! You may end up with more than one! (Ask me how I know that?) LOL! Anywho, have fun diving into the world of Featherweights!
‘Til next time,
P.S. For those of us that love Featherweights (regardless of if you own one or not!), how cute are these socks?? Love!