Sunday, November 10, 2013

Know Thy Featherweight...

What is it that makes these little vintage Singer machines so captivating to quilters? It may be due in part to their diminutive size, light-weight portability, work horse attitude, and nostalgic good looks. They are a legend. I've had this 1951 model since trading in a beautiful antique treadle machine for it several years ago. But I didn't use it very often. For some reason I was a bit intimidated by it! I think I considered it too fragile. But it's far from that. So today I enrolled in a Featherweight class taught by The Old Sewing Machine Man, Johnny Johnston, who repairs and restores vintage machines and specializes in Featherweights. There were 7 of us in the class held at his home and workshop, and we did hands-on oiling and use of the machine. Plus we learned some interesting history of the machines that were first available in the early 1930s. Johnny and his wife Debra have a wonderful personal collection of all types of old machines.

While you might think that one Featherweight is quite like all the others, there are some distinguishing characteristics upon a closer look. For instance on this model the chrome end plate has a striated pattern.

While earlier models had this fancier scroll pattern. Several of the machines in class had a similar scroll design end plate. Also, the oval badge on the bottom right of my machine has a blue border which indicates that it was a 100-year anniversary issue from the Singer company. Johnny told us that the model that has a red badge for the Texas centennial is a much sought after machine. So keep your eyes open!

This was the oldest model of those brought by students and it was a machine owned by the quilter's great aunt, so she's keeping it in the family. The tension dial on this early model has no number markings for adjusting the tension. Johnny told us that the Featherweight is still the most popular sewing machine. So after cleaning and oiling, removing and replacing pieces and parts, all of us "bonded" with our little machines. I know mine will get more use from today on!

Debra and Johnny have done a great job arranging little vignettes like this one all around the workshop. On the treadle and at the left you can see the unfolding "puzzle box" that contained all of the feet and attachments for one of the vintage machines. Debra's quilts add a beautiful backdrop. You could spend a good bit of time enjoying all the machines on display. We all learned a lot and had great fun at the workshop.

And just after I posted showing the animals that live here at Oak View Farm, this adorable pup wandered into a neighbor's yard. She was going out of town and could not take care of her, so the little dog wound up here. We gave her a flea bath, a meal, and a warm bed for the night. She was in pretty good shape and had a collar but no contact info. However, the next day, before I could get her to the vet to see if she had an ID chip, she squeezed out of the gate in the fenced yard and took off like a streak. I guess we can see how she wandered so far from home. She was super-fast for a little dog- it was almost as if she remembered something. I hope she remembered where she lives and returned there because I was unable to find her. I did learn from another neighbor that she'd seen a poster up about a small white dog about a mile down the main road, and that the poster is down now. And that's the direction I saw her running. So hoping "Maddie" (that's what I was calling her in case she stayed!) got back to her owners. She's a sweet thing.


Susan said...

I'm glad you are using your featherweight. Until I gave it to my daughter a few years ago, I had the one my mother bought for me in 1961 for $28.00. I took it to college, and it was my primary machine until I had children and wanted to do machine applique. My daughter has it now and loves it. They are just so adorable. and I'm so glad you took care of that precious little dog.

sonja said...

Me too! took my mom's to college(in 196something) and still have it, what a willing two that hoarding? third one came from Goodwill for 25 bucks 30 years ago and is my "newest" FW,sews paper, jeans, hems, and makes a great straight seam for my quilting process. it is white and from U K I think. love that they were made is such a way that owner can care for it. delint, oil and change that needle! and it loves to got to retreats. Lucky you took a class in FW wellness!
loved seeing your horses in last post.
hope that little Maddy went straight home.
be well

Robbie said...

First, that little dog is adorable!!! Oh, how I hope she makes it back to her home!!! But if she comes your way again, just keep her!!! It would be obvious folks who have her aren't watching her closely.
Thanks for the history on the Featherweight!! How cool you were able to have a class using the machine! And now that you can take care of it, she'll last you forever!!! They are work horses aren't they!