The Mythical Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine Print E-mail
Written by Steffani McChesney   
Monday, 23 February 2009 00:00

Quilters just love their Singer Featherweight sewing machines. Even people who don’t sew love Featherweights. There are even people who collect Featherweights. Some have as many as forty of them. As a quilter I find that sacrilegious. Featherweights need to belong to quilters so they can go to class and retreats and make beautiful quilts. I can see someone owning one or two Featherweights, but forty? Please. Let’s put those machines back into circulation so that they can be used by deserving quilters who promise to make patches, go to retreats and classes, and pursue other quilterly pursuits such as making Isolettes and Painted Turtle Quilts.

The Featherweight Model 221 was manufactured in various permutations between 1933 and 1964 in both the US at Elizabethport, New Jersey and Kilbowie, Scotland. Machines for the Canadian market made in Scotland were exported to St. Johns, Quebec, Canada to be fitted with 110-120 volts AC motors to work on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

Most Featherweights were painted a shiny black with gold decals, though there have been models manufactured in a beige color and a very pale green, actually a white color with a green tinge. These machines have a smaller fold-down shelf than the black ones. I have seen Featherweights for sale on eBay that have been repainted in metallic teal and a bright pink. The bidding for these fancy, repainted machines got astronomical real fast. The teal one was going for $1150.00 the last time I checked. So much for a pretty face. I’m sure it didn’t sew any better than a black one whose decals are a little worse for wear but can sew a good straight stitch with the best of them.

Even though Featherweights are in high demand they are not rare. A good one can range from around $300 to $600. They can be found on the Internet, in the newspaper want ads, yard sales and estate auctions. Some quilt shops carry them on a semi-regular basis. And be sure to check with your favorite sewing machine dealer. Sometimes they come in as trade-ins. I got one through word-of-mouth from a friend in my friendship group. So if you want one, with a little effort, you can find one at a reasonable price.

There are a lot of sources of information on Featherweights on the Internet. Just type Singer Featherweight in your search engine and get a long list of sites to check out. There is also a wonderful book by Nancy Johnson-Srebro called Featherweight 221 The Perfect Portable and Its Stitches Across History. This book is in its third edition it has been so popular. I read it cover to cover because it was so full of interesting facts and helpful information. It even has a partial reprint of a 1947 machine manual.

Parts for the Featherweight are readily available and inexpensive so you don’t have to worry about getting it repaired. Again look on the Internet or talk to your sewing machine repair shop. I got some neat things for my new baby at Singer Featherweight Supply Check it out if you need anything. They are bound to have it plus some other goodies too such as quarter-inch feet, needles, a soft-side carrying case, and other toys.

If you already have a Featherweight you know how wonderful they are. If you don’t have one, be on the lookout. A Featherweight could be in your future.


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