Tuesday, June 7, 2011


All retrotechnologists know that Interesting Things are found in leatherette cases:This one's layered:Finally! Looks a little crowded......But it unfolds! It's a Singer Featherweight, a remarkably small, full-function sewing machine, still very popular today despite not having been in production for a generation.Here's a look at the other side:This is a fairly recent auction-site purchase; initial checks showed it functioning, which is a good thing, as I've some mending to get to.

Ever since Mrs. Shoames showed up at a BlogMeet with one of these, I've wanted one. My old machine (a thrift-shop 1960s Kenmore, which is to say a rebadged Singer) works well but weighs so much as to be off-putting and is in need of a new speed control. The little Featherweight is very highly spoken of and is a lot easier to carry.

That green plastic box is a buttonhole attachment. --And the next time y'all are inclined to think the distaff set is lacking in mechanical aptitude, you try setting up one of those gadgets, same as your grandmother or mother did, and see how it goes.

I was delighted to find it at an only mildly painful price. Best of all, it's got the same wonderful looks as the (nearly full-size) Singer 99 I learned on -- Mom had one, old when it came to her. Between that and Vibroplex telegraph keys, I think I was left with a lasting impression that all really good technology was enamelled black, with gold striping.


  1. Sweeeeeet. I don't sew, but I appreciate fine machinery, and that machinery looks fine indeed.

    By the way, I seem to recall you picking up a boat anchor that you haven't shown us yet. I only mention it so you know we're reading, right?

  2. I told Mrs. Drang, and she has told friends, that a sewing machine is a fascinating piece of machinery and if guys only knew that...

    (I learned how to operate hers because the deerhide dress she was making herself for our first rendezvous was taking so long, she told me if I wanted those drop-front britches done, I' have to do them myself.)

  3. A Featherweight *with* the button-hole attachment set? Dang woman, thou art an excellent shopper. Great find.

  4. I remember my mother had one looong ago. She gave to my sister after she was married. I have no idea where it is now. Last time I saw it was 1955.

    Hers was in a carrier too, now that I think on it...sorta pale, greyish green color.

  5. My wife has a Singer, and last summer when it wasn't working, I got to fix it. It needed a new belt, and a good cleaning and lube, but I was amazed at how well it's built.
    These things are truly precision machines, with precision ground, hardened shafts running in oilite bushings, and every pivot and shaft has a way to lubricate it. When I went and bought the belts, I talked to the little old guy behind the counter about what to use to clean and relube the bushings. He said he wouldn't bother to clean them unless they were really gummy from the wrong oil being used, and suggested gun oil to relube them.
    After finishing up my wife's old Singer, it works perfectly, and is probably good for another 50 years.
    They sure don't build them like that anymore!

  6. I don't care who you are, that puppy is awesome!

  7. I just bought a Featherlight for my wife for this past Christmass. There is a shop in London (UK) that refurbs them, including converting the European 240 v motors to 120 v for US and then reselling them over here. She is very happy with it. It was not cheap, but I expect it to be good for another 50 years at the very least. It was made on her birthday in 1954 when she was 6 years old (they can provide the actual date the machine was made).

  8. Now you need to find the Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine Card Table that holds the machine. See: http://www.patented-antiques.com/Sewing_Machines_Fw.htm

    Singer Featherweight machines are popular with quilters.

  9. Good find! We just picked up the opposite. A Singer 111, the original industrial machine.

  10. I just heard Bob Pease passed away.


    Sad news.

  11. I found a similar leatherette case in an apartment that I rented in the late 1970s when I was first out on my own. It contained a Necchi sewing machine, and I'm still using it for repairs and simple stuff.