Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Going Vintage

I've been wanting a Singer Featherweight for a while. Truth be told, I really wanted one that had been painted some wild color. If a machine needs to be repainted do to hard use, I have no problem with repainting it whatever color you please. I've looked on ebay, looked at various dealers, and I just couldn't bring myself to spend that kind of money. My MIL had a featherweight that was given to her (I think by a family member, I really should find out), and she said I could have hers.

So here she is, my new-to-me featherweight 221, and the price couldn't be beat! There is no case, and no accessories, but I am pretty sure the Singer feet I picked up in Flagstaff will work. According to the serial number, this baby was manufactured in 1955, one of the featherweights biggest years. I know it hasn't been used in years, and the cord had a nasty spot covered in ancient electrical tape, so she went straight to the repairman for servicing. I wasn't willing to risk bad electrical just so I could play with my new toy.

I plan on mainly using the featherweight as my travel machine, so although I could get a reproduction case easily enough, I plan on just making a cloth cover and storing her in  my sewing machine trolley. I will play with the featherweight at other times too, but since the sewing machine trolley takes up space no matter if it's empty or full, it may as well hold a machine.

DH is willing to pay for it to be painted the color of my choice, but really the paint is in good shape, some minor chips on the handwheel, and one chip on the light cover. I am leaning towards leaving it as is, color- wise.

I ordered some bobbins for the featherweight today, and a foot that said it was 1/4". We'll see how that works out. I'll have to take another pic of the featherweight when it is all cleaned up.

While I was thinking vintage, I decided I have waited long enough to get my grandmother's (my father's mother) treadle up and going. I knew our repairman would look at it if we took it out of the cabinet. After a little fiddling, DH got it out.

Obviously it wasn't very cleaned up at this point, though we had knocked some of the dust off. I didn't take a photo of the cabinet, but you can see it in this ad
The cabinet I have is the 560. It is a very pretty cabinet, and it's been in my living room for years. Everyone just thinks it is an antique table, and no one ever guesses it is a sewing machine cabinet.

I am missing an important piece to this machine, and that is the screw assembly to hold the needle in. We brought this to the repairman at the same time we dropped off the featherweight, and he said he thinks he can come up with something that will work. I will need to buy a treadle belt, but most of those are interchangeable.

I found the manual online, (thanks to this blog post ) which is great since I've never sewn on this machine before. I didn't recognize all the accessories I had for it, but thankfully, the manual tells me what they are. It looks like of the original accessories, I am missing the two screwdrivers, the stiletto, one of the hemming feet, and the braiding foot. I have far more accessories than I am missing. There is a long bobbin in the shuttle, and I have one spare, which is all I am likely to ever have unless I get incredibly lucky. Long bobbins varied drastically in size, and since Free is not a major brand, I am unlikely to be able to come up with more the same size. I do know of an antique store with a jar of bobbins I can look through, and I know there are long bobbins in the jar, so I will likely see if I can come up with another.

I had planned on quilting a baby quilt today, but instead I spent all day online, learning all I could about the featherweight and the Free treadle. I learned you have to thread the featherweight backwards from my Bernina, and the needle is inserted opposite as well. Finding the age of the featherweight was easy, the treadle not so much. I have figured out the treadle was made sometime between 1913 (the latest patent date on the machine and 1925, when Free merged with Westinghouse, and became Free-Westinghouse. A couple years later than that they were bought out by New Home. I couldn't find a serial number on the machine, but I read about where to look, which I will do when I get it back from being serviced.

I would like to have the cabinet completely restored, but so far I haven't found anyone local who will do it. I still have a couple calls to make. The front of the cabinet looks great, the top is badly scratched, and one of the cubbies had the bottom fall out of it. The backing is in poor shape as well. I would really like to get it looking better if I can find someone with some experience in jobs like this. That being said, the lift works great, and when you pull up the top the machine pops right up. It is not heavy or hard to work at all.

I am so excited at the thought of getting these vintage beauties up and running! It has been my dream for a while to piece a quilt on my grandmother's machine. I just think that would be amazing. Maybe I will break out the 30's repros for that project. If I can piece on the treadle and the featherweight, it will be just such a fun link with history, and having family machines from mine and DH's families makes it all the sweeter.


angelindisguise said...

I'm so jealous... these two machines look fabulous!!!

Kristie said...

How exciting! I have an early 30's model featherweight that I bought at a thrift store for $5!! I brought it home and hubby took it all apart and cleaned and adjusted it and it sews like a brand new machine! I don't use it much, I need to get extra bobbins for it.

You are so lucky to have those family machines, I would have loved to had my grandmothers treadle. I can remember her using it a little, but my aunt ended up with it and put it in her barn!!!! :(

Stephanie Newman said...

Gorgeous Machines, bet you'll sew up a storm with them. Have fun!