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Singer Featherweight 221

As promised!

My Grandpa bought this Singer Featherweight sewing machine for my Grandma in 1951. I know the exact year because it has a special Centennial badge on it, as described in this post:

This photo shows the original instruction booklet and all the accessories:

The funny-looking thing is a buttonhole attachment. This machine only sews a straight lockstitch, forwards and backwards — no zig-zag or other fancy modern stitches. The buttonhole attachment actually moves the fabric back-and-forth under the needle while sewing. Amazing. You can see it in action in the first video here:

At some point over the last SEVENTY YEARS, Grandma lost one of the buttonhole cams and the TINY black screw that holds the feed-cover in place, but the wonderful sold me vintage replacements for these parts for just a few dollars! From them I also bought motor lubricant (specially formulated for this machine), a pretty little matching seam guide, which you can see attached to the machine in the first photo, and a thread guide for modern cone thread.

I have set my big modern Pfaff aside and am attempting to do all my sewing with just my serger and the Featherweight. It’s sort of challenging because I sew with knits a lot, which usually require a zig-zag stitch; however, with the serger for stretchy seams I’ve been managing ok. In the 70s Grandma bought a little zig-zag attachment for the Featherweight. It doesn’t work perfectly, but I think it might be good enough for the occasional hem. I need to experiment a bit more.

Here are a few of my recent sewing projects. Sorry for crappy selfies — I no longer have Henry at my beck-and-call for photographer duty :)

Practice Blackwood Cardigan (before I cut into the luscious plum-colored cotton/bamboo/lycra fleece that Steve gave me)

My third pair of Avery Leggings. This adorable striped cotton/lycra is from The Fabric Fairy:

Underlovelies, sewn without a zig-zag! I stretched the hell out of the elastic while sewing it on with a straight stitch. Worked great! Pattern is from Klimpergross. I’ve sewn about 6 pairs so far and I love them. Elli sent me the fabric, and she also gave me all three Klimper books over the past few years. Wonderful Elli. <3

This suit for Lulu is made of two layers of cotton flannel. So thick and warm! Pattern is based on Babyanzug from Kinderleicht. The matching cap is Ohrenklappenmütze by Schnabelina.

This little flannel jumper for Lulu has extra-long straps with extra snaps for growing room. Pattern is based on the Mikey Strampelhose.

Ok! How’s THAT for a real blog post? With photos, even! :)

Category: Blog, Handmade 3 comments »

3 Responses to “Singer Featherweight 221”

  1. Gillian

    That takes me back! My very first sewing machine was my Great Aunt’s pre-war Singer. At some point a motor and foot pedal had been added to what was originally a hand-turned machine. It was even more basic than your model – straight stitch, forward only. Not even a reverse, let alone zig-zag. But what it lacked in stitch variety, it made up for with mechanical ingenuity. I never plucked up the courage to use the terrifyingly complicated button-hole maker. But I did have fun with the foot that automatically sewed pin-tucks. And the one that did very neat hemming. I have to say though that my nice modern machine is much easier to use, even if I only ever use a fraction of its built in fancy stitches!

  2. Suzan

    Phenomenal, I have no other words. I love you.

  3. ceastman

    OMG! My first sewing machine was my mom-in-law’s machine (which had been her mother’s) which was THAT SAME MACHINE. She didn’t have the buttonhole attachment though.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying using it! I eventually decided I really wanted a machine that could do a zigzag stitch and upgraded to a Babylock Esante, which does both embroidery and regular sewing, and I continue to have a blast with it, several years after purchase.

    I love the various things you’re making!!!

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