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Featherweight Frenzy

Updated: Jan 25, 2023

Featherweight Sarah arrived in style last month to curate her own exhibit on the second floor of The Missouri Quilt Museum. She created a beautiful exhibit displaying *most* of her Singer Featherweight Collection. Of course, she had to keep at least one at home to sew on!!

This exhibit includes a large variety of Singer Featherweight machines, in many different years. It also includes a few of Sarah's quilts including her first EVER quilt, the first one made on her featherweight, and a few additional completed with featherweight favorites!

A true collector, Sarah has been going strong for the last 6 years. When she fell in love with featherweights - she fell hard- as you can see! Not only does she have a large collection, but her passion has led to a lot of research and a vast knowledge of their inner workings, their differences between years and of course their amazing stitch! One of Sarah's favorite resources of information is Carmon and his family/team at The Featherweight Shop. They provide a lot of education classes and free information as well in their "schoolhouse".

You can get to know Sarah better in guest blog spot at The Featherweight Shop. You can also enjoy her teaching by making the Sweet Trellis Mini Quilt featured on the same blog!

Meet Tiffany! She is adorable, as you can see. She was inspired by the Tiffany company and the iconic "Tiffany blue".

This 1951 blue badged Centennial machine has been custom painted “Tiffany blue” after the famed color of the Tiffany & Company gift boxes. The black decals are period correct with the prism design, however they are obviously not the period correct gold color. When an owner decides to change the look of the machine from anything but original, the sky’s the limit on what s/he may add or subtract from the look.

The face plate on Tiffany has been replaced with the scrollwork design plate, not the original striated design that was standard on the 1951 model. Several removable parts have been replaced with “blackside” pieces vs. the original chrome color.

There are many variables when painting any vintage machine. The owner should do extensive research before any decision, prepare a budget, and be ready to wait. Many reputable painters have wait lists over 2 years long.

1957 Black Singer Featherweight

This machine features the striated faceplate.

The striated faceplate was used in the US from 1947-1957.

It was used in the UK from 1952-1961. It was used on both the 221 and the 222 models in the UK.

Reminiscent of "art deco", yet sleek and modern for the time period.

The White Featherweight

Singer produced this white, pale turquoise or celery colored machine from the mid 1960s to approximately 1968/9. They were manufactured in the Kilbowie, Scotland plant. There are several distinctions between the black 221 featherweights and the white featherweights. Most notably is the shorter extension bed, interior toothed belt, and the electrical cords hard wired into the machine. In addition, the cases came in different colors based on selling origin. Most common is the two tone green 1 latch case. Many machines sold in Canada had a soft-side vinyl case in blue or red. Some of the fine details for the white machines are officially inconclusive; the serial numbers were either misrecorded, applied to the wrong batch or the records were lost/destroyed with the old factories. Historians have done their best to provide as accurate information as available.

Tan FW: Circa 1961

This is one of the first "colored" Featherweights that Singer produced besides the traditional black Featherweight. Mechanically, the tan Featherweight is identical to the black. The 'J' after the model 221 simply means the machine was manufactured in St. John's, Quebec, Canada. Most tan Featherweights have the 221J plate, but a few are noted as having a 221K model plate, manufactured in Kilbowie, Scotland. There are far fewer tan Featherweights than any of the other model Featherweights today, making it one of the more collectible machines to have. An exact number for production has not been determined and dating is rather obscure with incomplete records, but commissioning began around 1961. Finding one in meticulous condition is difficult because the paint did not usually withstand use and wear as well as the black machines - and the contrast of the light colored paint has a tendency to show flaws more easily. The tan machine does not have decals, but rather dark brown painted letters and words on the light housing and on the back arm. The tan light housing has a unique shape vs the black version. It was considered sleek and modern, fitting with the 1960s. One last notable difference of the tan machine is the bobbin winder. This bobbin winder has a different shape than all other Featherweight bobbin winders. The tan Featherweight bobbin winder has a thumb tab to help hold it down against the belt, if necessary.

Singer has made quite a variety of attachments for their machines. A few of them are shown here. Many more are in the exhibit! Seven Basic Attachments that came standard with Singer Sewing Machines: Ruffler, rolled/narrow hemmer, cording or zipper foot, adjustable hemmer, binder, edge stitcher, shirring/gathering.

Other dressmaker attachments often found with vintage machines:

Quilting foot, tuckmarker, cloth guide

Speaking of attachments... have you ever seen a PENGUIN ? I had only every seen pictures. It is so fun to see it in person, and watch it do its thing in this interactive area of the exhibit!

The "Penguin" as it has been called is a Walking Presser Foot. It is used to pre-folded hems or freehand hems in fabrics or plastics.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

"Rusty May” is a Centennial (blue) badged machine that has extensive aluminum rot. This happens to machines stored in excessively damp conditions. Although the finish on this machine is unsightly, after a good cleaning, she sews beautifully. This machine will need to be remediated to avoid further damage and deterioration.

Notice the condition of the motor does not match the finish of the machine. During cleaning, the wires inside Rusty’s motor snapped from rot and brittleness. To test Rusty’s capabilities, a motor from another machine was installed.

Join Sarah in the Omaha Featherweight Club. They meet the 2nd Monday of each month at Mangelsen's It is one of the largest featherweight groups in the nation!

You can follow Sarah on Facebook and Instagram

This exhibit will be with us for a few months and we know that you will enjoy it thoroughly! See you soon!

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