by Robbie Brewington, a Texan collector/repairer of vintage machines, whose brand-new sewing blog (complete with rhyming poetry!) is here
Love them, hate them, or something in between? I absolutely love my Singer Featherweights! I have two of them -- one from 1951 that I bought (in the rear in the photograph), and the other, made in 1953, that was my mom’s machine (in front). I learned to sew on my mom’s Featherweight. They are 57 and 55 years old, respectively, and still going strong!
When did you get these sewing machines? I bought the 1951 Featherweight about 6 years ago (2003). I inherited the 1953 Featherweight when my mom passed away in 1991.
Where did you buy them? I bought the 1951 machine on eBay. We were living on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, when Mom got her machine, so she likely purchased it in Dayton (unless she got it on a visit home, which was in Houston, Texas). I was only 4 at the time, so I sure don’t remember, and dad said she’d always had it.
How much did you pay for them? I paid around $175 for the 1951 machine, plus about $35.00 for shipping. It came with the basic attachments (zipper, hemmer, binder feet, and a Singer buttonholer).
According to the information here, mom would have paid around $150 for hers (1953 dollars, of course).
How many projects have you done on this machine? Lots and lots and lots!
Describe the kind of work you've done with it. I’m going to include what I know Mom made with her Featherweight, just to give an idea of how versatile they are. Besides clothing, I remember her doing a bit of embroidery with her Featherweight (personalizing several of Dad’s shirts) and using it to make lined pinch-pleated drapes for our house in New Mexico. While we were still in Ohio, she made sails for a little dinghy-style sailboat Dad built and sail covers for a larger sailboat we bought. After we moved to New Mexico, she made another set of sail covers (different boat!) and cushion covers. When we moved to California, she made her third set of sail covers (boat #4) and second set of cushion covers. (When I hear that some people only use their Featherweights for piecing quilts, I have to laugh!) My dad ended his Air Force career by spending 3 years in Lima, Peru, and the little Featherweight came along. We had a seamstress who came to the house and had her choice of using the Featherweight or an up-to-date Read’s Sailmaker (which I’ll review later), and she much preferred the little Singer. She wanted to buy the machine, but it wasn’t for sale.
Since I’ve owned the machines, I’ve mostly used them for clothing and purse construction, but I did make two canvas generator covers on the 1953 machine and have to say that that baby hadn’t lost her touch!
What do you like and what do you hate about it? I guess it’s pretty easy to understand how I feel about Featherweights! Here are the things I like: They're easy to use; easy to maintain & do your own repairs on; easy to carry with you; easy to understand the workings of; easy to get parts for; lots of accessories are available; and it makes the greatest buttonholes ever. There’s a reverse lever, so you don’t have to hold a button in with one hand while you are sewing in reverse
Plus, it’s so cute!