I am blessed.  I own two featherweight machines. 

I can remember the day I found this machine at a City-Wide Garage Sale, here in Austin.  I saw it and drooled on it a bit and then walked away.  I shopped, and looked, and it was one of those rare days when I just didn’t find anything that I liked.  So, we went back and looked at the featherweight again.  And, I ended up bringing it home.  I knew nothing about the featherweight or about the craze that surrounds them.


Then, one day, while hoping I’d find a Singer 501 “Rocketeer”, I found this one in a Goodwill auction case.


They wouldn’t let me take it out and look at it before the auction, but they assured me it had been tested by them and it worked fine.  There was another lady there and she wanted it and it turned into a bidding war and we went crazy and the bidding went higher and higher and when I won, the audience applauded.  I’d paid just under the full price for it.  (Let that be a warning.)

They offered to let me test it out while we were there and I declined.  That meant I didn’t get a warranty.  I got it home and there was just something wrong.  Turned out it had been dropped.  The handwheel was slightly chipped, but it wobbled like heck.  I took it apart and replaced the main drive shaft and broke a connection.  I replaced that and the new drive shaft didn’t fit the old stop wheel.  I replaced that and  thought it was just ready to go and set it back up and was about to start sewing on it and the motor housing fell off, broken from the post that it requires to mount to the machine.  It must have been cracked in the fall.

A white featherweight housing can’t be found without a motor and together, they $100, including shipping, and took months to find. 

So, I named her Alba Tross, and I’ll never sell her because I’ll never, ever, ever get my money back from her. 

Now, she’s a great machine, and the new motor was even stronger than the old one, so she’s got plenty of power.  But, she is not as good as the black machine, and it doesn’t have anything to do with her fall or my repairs.  And, please note, I didn’t say anything is wrong with her.  She’s just not as good. 

The black machine is from 1952.  The white one, from 1967. 

In those years, lots changed.  The company went from gears


To a belt drive.


She just lacks the…sureness and solidness and quiet of the gear driven machine.  There will always be a whir from the belt and if you sew for a really long time, the belt gets hot and stretches just enough that it gets hard to control her speed. 

The other thing I don’t like is the non-detachable power cord. 


Doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, except when you’re trying to put her in her case and you have to deal with both pieces.  It’s easier for me to avoid scratches if I can put one piece in at a time.

So, that’s my thought on a featherweight.  I’ll say this, I’ve only heard from one person of the many that I’ve encountered that owns one that didn’t like it.  She couldn’t say why.  She just didn’t like it and said she had kept it and tried and tried to use it and ended up selling at a loss.  But, she is the only one.

Everybody have a great Sunday.  It’s Rob’s birthday and I don’t know what we’re going to do.  Last night, we had dinner with my boss and his wife, and a co-worker at his level and his wife.   My boss is from India and they cooked Indian “home cooking” for us.  We had shrimp for appetizers and a dish of chips made from chickpea flour, broken up and topped with seasoned potatoes, yogurt, and two kinds of chutney.  Dinner was Turmeric colored yellow rice, delicious meatballs cooked in onions and tomatoes, Kashmiri sweet and sour eggplant, Chicken Korma (who knew the ingredients I can’t find and leave out made such a difference) and Paneer, which was ricotta cheese, cooked in tomatoes.  MMMMMMMMMMMMmmmmmmm.  We all stuffed ourselves. 

It’s so nice to have a kid that is an adventurous eater. 


She sat and visited with the adults, and later went and played with the little kids so their parents could visit with the adults.

Rob and I took her dress shopping yesterday for her Basketball banquet on Thursday.  She had a style in her mind and I disagree and I swallowed my thoughts and helped her put together a cute outfit, sandals, skirt, and top.  The top in the picture above was the alternate that I had to replace because it overpowered the skirt. 

I really wanted to say NO, you CAN’T have that.  I hate it and I won’t pay for it. 

It was hard to let go of that and help her make it work instead.  And, she gave some, too and was open to my suggestions. 

In the shoe department, we coined a new phrase. 

“Shop like a man!”



Michelle said...

Such a beautiful girl you have, inside and out. Happy birthday to Rob! Have a wonderful day!

lw said...

Your description of the Indian home cooking made my mouth water-- so glad Sydney is adventurous, it's great when they don't have to miss opporunities that that.

She looks lovely in the photo-- I like the top on her.

Linda in TX said...

My first Featherweight was a 1951 baby and she worked like a dream till I dropped her - and she couldn't come back from that. So I immediately got another one - this one from 1939 and she's even better than my first one. You're right about the mechanics.

Sydney is gorgeous. I love to hear you talk about her and the frustrations involved in raising a kid - particularly a girl. As I've said before, you and Rob are doing a great job as parents even if it doesn't feel like it sometimes!

Kath said...

you meal sounds great, I'm pleased you had a great time and your lovely daughter made you proud x

Norma said...

Hubby just bought a black 1952 feather weight off of Craigs list for me. I had decided I really didn't want one, have three 301s and a japan knock off that runs like a dream from Design a Stitch. But, Mom had a feather weight, made my school clothes on it. I asked my stepfather for it when she died and did not get it, not sure where it went. So this one is in memory of Mom. Needs some work on the tension and then we will see if I love sewing on it or not. Love to see your daughter find her way.........and watch your struggle while she does. Circle of life......

smiledarlin said...

I am still on the hunt for my 1st Featherweight. I am NOT willing to get sucked into overpaying- I have friends who have found them at garage & estate sales for under $50. I can wait. I did just buy a 1962 Rocketeer for $35 including the nice wooden cabinet at a local Thrift shop- sold it to a friend who needed a machine- I cleaned it up for her so it is running great.
I also got a beautiful 1937 66 class that is a RAF- Royal Air Force and is stunning decal. I also got a 1942 201 that is SO sweet.... all $35. each and cabinets. My Singer collection now stands at 12 and 2 other vintage. I really hate the new machines. My favorite is my treadles, a 127, 15 class and 66 class- 4 of them total and use them nearly daily.

Rebecca Grace said...

I didn't know you had TWO of them, Lane! If the white one is Alba, what did you name the black one?

Also, did you have to do any major cleaning of either or your machines? You know so much more about vintage machines than I do. My "new-to-me" Featherweight from the Habitat ReStore looks like whoever got the machine running for them cleaned off grime from most of the exterior, but there is still a lot of brown slimy gook and tarnish on parts that are difficult to get to and I'm not sure how to clean them safely. Like inside the needle tension assembly -- if I take that off and dismantle it so I can clean the parts, oil them, and put them back on again, as some internet FW sources advocate, will I be able to get my lovely tension back again? Other sites talk about drastic measures like showering the Featherweight's innards with kerosene, or wrapping the bed of the machine in plastic grocery bags and then spraying Simply Green inside the machine head (faceplate removed) to clean off those inner parts. One guy described a terrifying procedure wherein he uses dish soap and rubbing alcohol in the sink to clean the inside of his Featherweights and then BAKES THEM DRY in a warm oven. All of these scenarios make my tummy hurt! Any suggestions? Should I be leaving this to a pro, and if so, where would I find him or her?


Elizabeth said...

That Sydney. She is such a beautiful young lady. I can't believe how grown up she is.

If you have TLC, watch a few "What Not To Wear" episodes with her. They show re-runs all the time so you don't have to wait for a current season. Point out women on the show who have her body type (broader shoulders, narrower hips) and have her watch how they dress these women. As she sees the transformations and how good the women look when they buy clothes that work for them, you won't have to stop yourself from saying "No, you can't have that" because she'll be picking clothes that flatter her figure. (Note: you kind of have to detach yourself from the notion that if something looks cute on a mannequin but doesn't on you, then there is something wrong with you.)

Love to hear about your machines.

xo -E