Sunday, September 24 - Saturday, September 30
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 1995 06:43:10 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/25/95
Yesterday I picked up my first FW machine, it's an AH 1947 model and
that was the year I was born. It has the manuel, button hole attachment
and every other kind of attachment you could imagine. I'm stoked, as the
teenagers say. But my three teenagers just look at the machine and then
look at me like I've totally lost it. The smell of the case has permiated
the house, even the red snapper supper didn't cut it. It smells good,
old, and she's a real honey. My 19 year old son wanted to know what you
did with it. I told him the story I'd read on the board last week
about we're like dudes that collect old corvettes. He just shook his
head! The dealer I work for has promised me that he will sit down and go
through the total inventory of FW's, treadles and other antique machines.
Right now the only two I could get info on was a fiddle base, long
shuttle, hand cranked Singer. The date is 1860+ ??? The price was $700.
and there was a Pfaff-Model 130 (1946-47), case for $450. Buttonholers
for the FW were $20. He had two machines in his office, not for sale but
just of interest that had a curved top and were $15,000. Of course I
liked those. But the are from the 1800's and I'll try and write down the
name. All I remember is something like Brite and Harbison, but I know
that's not what it was. I'm also waiting to get the grand tour of the
treadle floor. I want one that is like my grandmothers, I learned to sew
on that machine as a child and found it great fun getting the right
rhythm with the treadle. I'm excited about moving into the antique
machines. I love selling the computerized models and all but his oldies
are most certainly goodies. MaryElaine of course I want all info on your
treadle and it's history and Anne in Canada isn't it exciting. I'm
wondering how many machines some of the members have and maybe some talk
about how you got into these antique machines and FW's. I am new at all
this and wonder what I should know but don't. Zsux
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 1995 09:43:57 -1000 (HST)
Subject: Model 66-6
Hey you FW fantastics out there! Are you having a good FW day?
Saved another black Singer from being trashed. Disappointingly, my sister
is the guilty party. She didn't care for a 1947 Singer from our Aunty.
Unbelievable! It was parked outside exposed to the elements. Had to
exchange the poor thing with an annually maintained Riccar buddy of 10
years. Hated to give up my little pal but had to save the Singer.
It's a 1947 Singer Model 66-6. The handbook is missing. The gal at
Singer's 1-800 number says it's available but it has to be ordered thru a
Singer dealership. Poopee. Would if I could. The only dealership in
Oahu went belly-up a few months ago.
So here I am--searching and hoping that one of you can help me find or
share a copy. What surprises me is that the bobbin is a drop-in
architecture. I thought this design started in the mid-50s. Please
email me privately (email@example.com).
Gail P: Appreciate the baby oil info. It's perfect for our little
babies. I'll add it to my FW faq sig.
FW FAQs (and growing):
Call Singer for FW place of birth &date: 1-800-877-7762
Call for FW accessories: Mr. Dale Pickens; (405) 765-6125
Current handbook available: FW 221, The Perfect Portable by
Lightly apply baby oil to make FW shine. Then wipe most of it off
with a dry rag. This will not hurt your fabrics.
Other applications: Carefully use Turtle Wax or Goddard Metal Polish
When not using FW, place fabric between foot and feed dog.
If you store your foot pedal on the bed of your FW, avoid direct
contact of the rubber feet and FW platform.
Date: Sun, 24 Sep 1995 21:00:49 EDT
Subject: The Victorian
Your old machine is probably a Singer Model 128. Bobbins can be
obtained from a Singer dealer (part number 8228) but will be expensive,
probably about $1.00ea. You can get a copy of the instruction book from
Singer. Call them at 1-800-877-7762 and give them the serial number of
your machine. They will also tell you when it was made.
Date: 25 Sep 95 00:11:17 EDT
Subject: FW search
I finally pushed myself out this weekend to go to garage and estate sales by
myself.Can't take my quilting buddies since we'd be after the same things. It
was fun looking at old machines, but no fws sighthed. I was pointed to an 'old
singer portable' at the estate sale. It was no portable.. It had a '22' embossed
on the bottom. Is the 221 designation anywhere on the FWs?
Saw some other machines, interesting and not so interesting. It was fun poking
around these machines, but next time I better have diaper wipes in the car ...
Ci Ci : Thanks for the 301 slant vs.straight needle info. I didn't know there
was a difference.
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 09:29:58 -0400
Subject: Various FW stuff
I am still utterly fascinated by this list. It's the first thing I read
every day. Last night my daughter finally started getting the rows together
on her 9 patch quilt she started 6 months ago. Of course, she is using my #1
machine which I call "The Queen". My # 2 machine is in such nice shape that
I call her the princess. I checked my serial numbers too and find that the
Princess was made in 1950 and the Queen was made 1953-1955 - I was hoping to
someday get a 1954, like me, but this is close enough. I was talking to a
member from IQ, Kris, who drove all the way to see me yesterday from Albany,
and we were looking at the case for the 1950 model. It has the bracket in
the lid for the foot control, and a metal box that fits on the left side
which has a place for bobbins and the box of attachments. It does not have a
tray like my other one. Well, on the left side there is also a clip of some
kind and Kris suggested that this may have held the oil can. Can anyone
describe this oil can to me so that I can pick one up if I see one somewhere?
TIA for your help and keep on quilting.
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 08:53:48 -0400
Subject: Old Davis Treadle
I am interested in receiving your newsletter about Featherweights, and was
told that I might get some information from you about an old machine that
At my in-laws cabin, there is an old Davis treadle machine in a cabinet.
There are many attachments with the machine, and on one of them was a patent
date of August 1889 or 1889.
I am interested in learning more about the Davis sewing machine company, and
in learning where to buy a belt which needs replacing on the machine. I
believe that if the machine's belt was replaced, the machine would work well.
Any help that anyone could offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you. JILL G
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 10:49:18 -0400
Greetings fellow Fanatics!
A BIG THANKS to Al for sending me enough information to get me headed in the
Lynda, I took Mimi's class in March at the Cotton Patch...When did you take
it? Wasn't the collection fun to look at! I seriously recommend everybody
take a class, there is nothing mysterious or intimidating about our little
babies and they like to be cleaned and oiled. It just strengthens the bond.
Krisi, I was at the Gaithersburg show too...I didn't see any FWs, (but I did
see two toy sewing machines) Perhaps I was too late, perhaps you scooped
them all up!! Maybe the cold just numbed my homing device...
Now, I need a little more help...my 1934 FW has been acting up. It seems
like when I am running at a high speed, the feed dogs will periodically fail
to feed. This just started. The belt isn't slipping and no other part is
affected. Any ideas?
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 95 09:11:51 -0700
Subject: FEATHERWEIGHTS &STANDARD SEWHANDYS
Dear Fellow FW Fans
I, too, am a big fan of the miniature vintage sewing machines,
and I have been fortunate to find a couple good ones. I have a
few questions, though, I'd like feedback on from other FW fans,
if they can help me.
I have found a Canadian-made beige Featherweight--Model 221J (NOT
the off-white or pale green that's often mentioned). It even has
a tan-color foot control and tan electric wiring. No gold
decals, and a slightly different bobbin-winder than the typical
black 221. I learned from Singer Customer Service that it was
made between 1961 and July 1966. The factory location was St.
Johns, PQ, Canada. Is this an unusual machine...I haven't seen
or heard mention of it before from others, and I'd like to know
if many were made. More details about the beige ones, please.
About the often discussed pale green and/or off-white FW's - have
we yet decided if both these colors were made, or was there just
one whitish/greenish color that's perceived differently by
different people? I'm confused about that.
STANDARD SEWHANDY - found a tan one with the original case,
owner's manual, etc., and it looks to be in better condition than
the one Nancy S-J depicted in her wonderful FW book. (Can't wait
for her next edition!) I also found a machine I didn't know even
existed--a General Electric that looks exactly like the Sewhandy,
but it's blue and has the G.E. name on the faceplate, rather than
the Standard name.
I'd love to hear from anyone who owns any of these machines or
knows more about them. I am aware that the Sewhandy was the
forerunner of the FW, etc., but would like to know how many were
manufactured and meet other owners or admirers. I only know the
G.E. "might" be from 1924, but I am not sure of that. They're
all incredible little machines to people who love and appreciate
them. I have only been able to find one book (published in
Germany) that covers this era of early electric sewing machines,
and I would like to find a book(s) that covers these and possibly
up through the 50's or 60's. If there isn't one available, then
we ought to write one!
Please keep up the wonderful notes--we can and do all learn from
each other, and this is the best possible way in the world!
Lynda's note with all the Singer manufacturing dates was
great--took her a while to key-in all that, and we appreciate it
very much. (Would like to know more about Mimi's FW maintenance
class--does she still conduct them...has she done any videos on
Date: Mon, 25 Sep 1995 23:57:41 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/24/95
Well, Saturday was a day to remember in this household. The neighborhood
garage sale was on-and DH had picked up the new furniture for our office in
the living room. DH wanted to sale the old furniture and various odd pieces
of furniture we had. WELL, while he was out bargaining with the buyers I was
on the phone concerning a treadle sewing machine that I had found the day
before. The woman agreed to have it at her shop that afternoon for me to
see. Of course, she said it was in 'mint condition'. In order to help DH
out I went outside to expedite the sales so everything would sale and I could
go see this treasure. Husband said he would go in and begin putting together
the furniture for the office. "Oh Well", I thought. He came out in a few
minutes and said the furniture would not fit and we started comtemplating how
we change things around. We brought out more furniture to sale. A quilter
friend stopped by the garage sale (who has our same house plan) mention how
they had their office setup in an upstairs bedroom. Off he went to measure.
In a short period of time he came out said it would not fit in that room but
would in the one across the hall. Two bedrooms of furniture and one living
room of office furniture later the office began to take shape but I was more
interested in selling the old desk which happened to be behind the car on the
driveway. I finally realized that if I did some manuevering I could back the
car out of the garage at an angle and off I would go. Well, to make a
loooong story short I bought the treadle sewing machine, no belt but was told
where I could buy one. Off I went to find the belt. Found it - NO not the
belt but one FW MINT condition. The lady who was selling it was not there
but would call me that evening. She called later that evening, while we were
moving books and books, and books upstairs. Sunday afternoon we (DH and me)
went to look at this machine. MINT does not describe this machine. It was
perfect. NO gold design missing, case emmaculate, attachments, however belt
did slip and tension was off. The neatest thing was that it is a centennial
machine. It looks like it has never been used. I walked away from this
treasure because I had bought my treadle the day before and could not justify
another purchase that day. The short or long of the matter is everyone
usually does a garage sale, or puts furniture together, or rearranges rooms
of furniture, or searches for sewing machine but noooo, we do it all in one
day. Now I need to know how to clean the outside of the treadle. The
cabinet is beautiful but the head is dirty. It does have most of its gold
leaf edging and I am really proud of it. Any suggestions as how to remove 90
years of dirt and grime would be appreciated. Happy FW searching. Judy PS:
I do not own a FW but love them from a far (until the desk sells).
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 08:25:41 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/21/95
I've heard lots of requests and questions about attachments for
featherweights. Mine came with I think the usual ones (ruffler, binder, and
several others), but my solution to the problem is to buy old singer
attachments whenever I see them at garage sales or thrift shops. I've
discovered that I do have the buttonhole attachment with the feed dog cover
and didn't really know how useful it would be when I bought it. I figure at
the price of $1-$2, I can't go far wrong and may be lucky someday. I'm kind
of nervous about actually using the attachments with my featherweight in case
something should go wrong, but I guess that is what they're intended for. The
booklet that came with my buttonholer is dated 1948 and the illustrations
show the Egyptian scroll type faceplate (I don't know if other Singer
machines from that era had them or just featherweights). Sue M.
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 07:48:44 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/27
In reading the digest I did get a tip from my boss on the plastic spools
causing trouble. I have a round felt base, and then a plastic tube that
goes over the spool holder. It looks like a tootise roll stick, a little
bigger and hollow to over the metal. I've sewed and had lovely stitches,
and the new baby purrs like a kitten. I too, really am happy with the
digest and feel that it was a needed happening. I also support the idea
of a data base. Piece! Zsuxxa
Subject: Bobbin Winding
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 10:47:31 -0400
Hi to all. I am new to the FW world. I just my baby about 1 month ago from
a fellow quilter. It has the AD serial # which makes a 1934 baby. It looks
show-room clean. The only problem I am having is in winding the bobbin. I
can loosen the knob on the wheel, but the needle still goes up and down when
I am winding the bobbin. Any thoughts on what I can do to remedy this? Or
should I take it to the mechanic? TIA
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 95 10:32:40 EDT
Subject: White FWs
In answer to Shirley S's question about whether the white and green
FWs could be the same color &perceived differently. I can't speak for
anyone else but mine doesn't have even a twinge of green. It might be
off-white, but definitely not green. My case, however, is cream with
green trim. Madeline H
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 11:08:54 -0500
Subject: Featherweight info
Saw the item about clips in the FW cases. There are two types of FW cases one
with the lift out tray and one with the tray fastened to the left inside wall.
Both types have a clip which takes an oval shaped oil can. Also on the
inside of the tray are some little hooks. These are for hanging the Singer
screwdriver, which is formed from heavy wire and looks something like a button
hook. I've found both items in antique shops usually the oil can is pricey
and the screwdriver can be found in the "smalls" box with button hooks and
As far as I can tell most Singer attachments are interchangeble with a
Featherweight. If you "shopping" sales or shops look in the cabinet drawers
of old machines for bobbins, screwdrivers, oil cans or attachments. Most of
the time they can be purchased separately.
On tables there also seems to be two 4 types. The variations are walnut or
gummwood veneer tops and wooden or metal legs. I have 3 tables for sale if
any one is interested. I sell them for $200 refinished. I don't sell them in
the rough or ship (I think you should see one before you buy it) and take only
cash. If anyone is in the Mpls./St. Paul area I would be happy to show them
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 14:18:51 -0400
Subject: Model 66 #AD581400
This morning I thought that I discovered a featherweight in
my garage. After reading all your notes on how you hooked up with your
addition to the family it made me think do I have a story waiting to be
told? The sewing machine had been given to me about a year ago ( before
having featherweight knowledge,ha!) by my Mother -in -law. The wooden cabinet
that it came in needed alittle work so I kept putting it aside thinking some
day I'd get to it to fix it up. Well after doing a little research this
morning I found out my little black machine with the gold scrolls on it was
born on April 19,1927. This is seven years prior to the year Singer began
making featherweights. Should I have known it wasn't a featherweight because
it wasn't a portable? I tell you it sure looks like a featherweight. :) So
does anyone have any info on this model 66? Is it as valuable as the
featherweight? It's in pretty good shape small flecks of rust hear and there
but I sapose that could be taken care of. I plugged it in and the light came
on so that is a good sign. Any info would be much appreciated.
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 95 15:04:16 -700
Subject: 99K Featherweight
I recently inherited a 99K Singer Featherweight and I would like
help to determine the year it was made as well as obtain a manual
for it. Any information would be appreciated.
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 17:59:36 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/22/95
In response to the question about the 301a, I own two of these machines and
really like them. True they do have a slant needle, but have the same bobbin
mechanism as the featherweight and seem to sew almost as well. They are
fairly light (16lb.vs.11lb for the featherweight and have a built in handle
for carrying. Mine are brown, but I know some people who have black ones(
these may be 301's). I have the attachments (they are exactly the same as the
ones that came with my featherweight) and an instruction manual. I highly
recommend this machine as an alternative to featherweights - I've been
wondering for some time why they hadn't gotten more recognition. Love all the
notes about featherweights - so informative and interesting. Sue M.
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 18:27:10 -0400 (EDT)
Shelley: The oil can that fits in the clip in your Featherweight case is
about 3" high (half of this is the nozzle), painted green and says
"Singer Sewing Machine Oil" with the Singer logo. It is oval shaped, like
the bracket. I also have green tubes of "Singer Motor Lubricant" in green
boxes. I don't know if there may have been others. Apparently, the oil
cans are rather expensive if you can find one.
Shirley: I'll bet the blue G.E. machine you mentioned is the
blue"Featherweight I have heard about. Was it by any chance made in Germany?
About the tan Singer Featherweight: Apparantly they are not that uncommon
(so how come I can't find one?). The gentleman I bought a freearm from in
Toronto said he gets them in all the time and cannabalizes them for parts
for the black machines. Another woman in Texas said between the white and
the tan she has personally destroyed over fifty of those "pieces of
junk". Then she hung up. Wow. A dealer had one at the Ft. Washington show
for $345, but sold it for$275. She said she couldn't believe she got that
much for it. I almost cried. I think that most "normal people", unlike us
fanatics, feel the black is more romantic, and if they are only going to
have one, want a black. Of course this is ridiculous, as *we* know they
are like potato chips and you can't buy just one, and the "collection" is
much more interesting if you can have "one of each", whatever that is
proving to mean. Of course if the dealers are destroying the tan
machines maybe they are rare now.
Krisi , where my DH has called himself an Internet Widower,ever
since I subscribed to this addictive list.
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 21:00:42 EDT
Subject: FWFantics Digest 9/25/95
Has anyone tried the Customer Relations Toll-Free number at Singer
lately? It may be coincidental, but it seems that since the
beginning of this digest, that number is awfully busy. I recently
picked up three machines that I am waiting to date, and I cannot
access the line. (they're not FW's) One treadle, one Stylist and a
Blue Seal that, obviously, I just need to I.D. the model.
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 1995 21:53:00 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: motor question...and WANTED
Hi! I just found this group, and I'm *glad*. I've been unsuccessfully
fighting off Featherweight fever and now I need to find a cure... ;D
First, the motor question: I have located a fw (AL) that is in pretty
good shape, doesn't make any grinding/scraping noises when the wheel is
turned manually. When you use the foot-pedal, though, it makes a loud
buzz-y noise (sort of like stereo feedback, or such), then starts sewing
smoothly although sluggishly. The noise diminishes while actually sewing
but it doesn't really vanish. I don't know *anything* about electric
motors...does this sound like something that will respond to Nancy's
blow-dryer trick and some lube, or does it sound like a motor that soon
will refuse to motate? And, if the motor is shot, is it possible to have
it replaced...and at what $$$?
Second, WANTED: A functioning Featherweight, of course! At this point, I'm
putting performance higher than appearance...I want one to *use*, gently, for
piecing. Any leads are welcome!
Thanks in advance--looking forward to lots of fw fun!
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 12:04:00 -0400
Subject: Featherweight age
I finally was able to get through to the singer 800 number this morning, and
did I have a big surprise. I had thought that the scrollwork face plates
were all pre war vintage. My oldest machine is an AG98 # so I was confident
that this machine was circa 1941. Imagine my surprise when I was told that
it was manufactures on 19 Feb 1947. I still love it but am now more
understanding of how well it has held its shape. Unlike me I might add.
well at least it is still older than me. Interestingly enough, it is just
20 days shy of being exactly 10 years older than my other featherweight. I
called at 8:30 am PST, and was worried that I had been cut off after I read
them my serial numbers. Eventually they came back on the line with my dates.
They do not date tables despite the serial numbers. Good luck getting
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 95 09:24:05 PDT
Subject: bobbin winding on a 1934
> I can loosen the knob on the wheel, but the needle still goes up and down
> when I am winding the bobbin.
My 1934 does the same thing, but only at the start of bobbin winding. When
I get the speed up, the needle stops. I don't worry about it.
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 08:30:22 -1000 (HST)
Subject: FW Chats
Greetings Fanatics! Have you stroked your FW today?
>LOL< Krisi --my DH thinks an association of Internet Widowers
should be formed.
Lisa, about your Model 66. You ask if it's as valuable as a FW. IMHO, I
say it is because it's a black Singer. Alas! In the real world, the
plusses and demands of a FW have increased the original cost of the
machine. A lady bought hers for $125 back in the '50s which included the
table and case. Today she can sell the whole package for over $500.
Other Singer models are not as portable and weigh a ton. Speaking of
portable, a Featherweight fits under the seat in front of you if you do
any air traveling. Question: Do you have the handbook for your Model 66?
Does it have a drop-in bobbin? I have a Model 66-6 (1947 year) and
seeking a copy of the handbook. Please email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks..keeping my fingers crossed.
Speaking of demands, cost of treadles will start to rise. My sister
bought hers for $100. It's a 1917 model made in Scotland. Beautiful
Rita (not Tom), find a doc for your FW. The beauty of these motors is
that they're fixable. Brushes are available if they need changing. Have
it checked just in case the motor is dry. Listen to your FW. It's
telling you it needs tending to. These rugged machines are very simple to
fix. Parts are hard to find so if it's ailing, don't continue to use it.
Get it to the hospital for examination. And it could be something as
simple as changing the belt and not the motor at all.
Sue, you're right. A Singer 301 is the best alternative for a FW. Larry,
my little old Singer man, is using parts from a Singer 301 to fix
featherweights. The New Home Center in Honolulu is asking $299 for the
one they have. As to their popularity, preference over the straight
instead of slant may be the cause of lack of 301 popularity. How
lucky that you have two of them. But brown? I've seen only the black
ones. Aren't these old Singers fascinating? ;-)
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 12:44:35 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/26/95
I have the original gel tubes and oil can in the FW I just bought.
And this may be a really dumb question, but I'm assuming I wouldn't
lubricate or oil with 50 year old stuff because it may be settled and
contaminated. ??? I need to hook up with that maintenance class
somewwhere and see what I should be doing eventhouh my boss did have the
mechanic go over it and the stitch and sounds is perfect. Sue I also have
the 1948 buttonholer in the box with the manuel. Since this machine will
go to my daughter when I pass, she has put all the manuels in protective
envelopes and if I tell her that oil can is worth something she'll
probably sack that baby up too. She's the organized one all ducks in a row.
Now I'm feeling I need the treadle next and can see this is going to be a
real collection hobby. I really enjoy reading everyones posts, what
they've bought, what they find price wise and problem sharing. Piece! Zsux
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 95 14:49:19 -0700
Subject: FOLLOW-UP ON STANDARD SEWHANDY &G.E. SEWING MACHINES
Dear FW Cybernauts,
I'm happy to find I'm getting some responses to my questions of a
couple days ago--thanks a lot!
To Krisi - I can't be sure, but I don't think my
greenish/blue (kind of turquoise or light teal in color) G.E.
really is any kind of Singer Featherweight. It looks, for the
world, exactly like the Standard Sewhandy, but is a different
color and has the General Electric name on the head. I can't see
anywhere that it was made in Germany--it has a G.E. light and
motor made in the USA, just like the Standard Sewhandy has. A
couple features that characterize both these machines is the tiny
balance wheel that's located practically on the base of these
machines--not up high as with the FW's and most machines since.
Also, the stitch-length regulator is on the base of the machine
and is located directly in from of the needle/bobbin area. As I
said before, the G.E. is really a duplicate of the Sewhandy, but
in a different color and with the General Electric name on it.
I'd still like to know more about how many were made of each of
these machines and how many might have survived. They're
cute--smaller in size than the FW's, but a little heavier since
they're made of iron (so NS-J's book says).
It's a shame that so few of the white and tan FW's have been
spared from slaughter. I have been told by my local Singer
dealer, who is a FW expert, that the light color machines are not
as good, mechanically, as the black ones. I think Singer totally
changed the mechanism when they went to these later models. But
to us collectors, they're still dear little machines to have.
I have a dream of someday owning a FW free-arm, if I can find a
decent one at an affordable price. My local dealer has a couple
for $1,000 each -- what do you think of that price? It sounded
like more than I wanted to pay, but maybe that's a fair price; I
don't know. Please let me know, if you hear of any selling for
less and where they are. I'd really appreciate that info.
Thanks, all you fellow FW fans!
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 17:08:22 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: FW list
Hi there from Eugene, Oregon where it is cool and drizzly today. I would
love to be added to the list to receive your very interesting
Featherweight news and notes. A good friend printed out several recent
copies for me and I've already learned some helpful things. Thanks!
I promise to oil my beloved Featherweight and call Singer to find out its
Date: Wed, 27 Sep 1995 19:53:25 -0700
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/26/95
My DH just surprised me with a FW having searched the ads for weeks
(unbeknownst to me). I was thrilled to say the least. I am now the proud
owner of a 221 K made in England, off white, perfect condition, with a
button holer and green and white carrying case. Love it!!! I have been
quilting like mad.
Hint: I had purchased a Little Foot for my Pfaff a year or two ago. It is
so wonderful for those 1/4" seams that I thought that I would try it on my
FW. Voila!!! It works beautifully. There is a guide on the plate giving
the various measurements, but the LF is SOOOO much easier.
I loved your letters. Having just had my FW for 4 days, I am a bit new to
the posting, but I am learning from all of you.
Aren't our DH's wonderful?
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 09:40:34 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/26/95
In a message dated 95-09-28 07:04:20 EDT, you write:
> The only problem I am having is in winding the bobbin. I
>can loosen the knob on the wheel, but the needle still goes up and down when
>I am winding the bobbin. Any thoughts on what I can do to remedy this?
I have had this to happen occasionally, but give the wheel a extra twist or
two, and it stops. It's not good to have the needle going up and down, I
guess, but I wouldn't take it to the mechanic.
Holly<-------whose baby has been working hard lately and still going strong!
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 09:47:00 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/26/95
A little fw news is in order. I (gulp) shelled out another $300 for another
fw. It is I believe an older model than I have now. It is in the older case
and I think it is an AK. It was taken in for trade at a local sewing store,
not Singer and it has really been babied. Cosmetically better that my other
two machines by far. It has a square oil can which I think is junk. Still
would like to get a round old one.
I also went and paid off the white one I had on layaway. It is in a green
case w/white trim. When I took it out, I realized that it is more like very
light green. Not white, really at all. I want to check Nancy's book on this
because I am hoping it is a 'green' machine maybe not the white one at all.
The sewing store has several more machines that are or will be for sale.
There is a centennial w/ a lot of enamel damage on the front but working
great for $200. There is a white one waiting for a bobbin case to be fixed.
There is another black one waiting for parts. I was told these would be
considerably less than the one I bought because they have been fixed. Also
one of them has had the motor replaced. It was weird seeing a new little
motor on a fw. The place is called "House of Sewing and Vacuums" and the
phone # is 518-561-7955. They also had a toy machine, I believe an early
Pfaff, but alas it was not for sale. It even had a little foot control, so
cute. They had a LOT of old machines including some Elna's, Pfaffs, and
Singers as well as some industrial sewing machines. It was fun to look at
them all, but I really didn't know what I was looking at. Regarding 99k's -
they are NOT featherweights. I just sold two for $40 each. Yes, they run
great but not like a true fw. Also they weigh a ton. Might be good for
machine quilting I think. That's all for today. Have a great FW day.
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 09:56:35 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/27/95
Just a short note to let you know that the local singer store has about 10 of
the white machines at $300 each. All have cases and some have attachements.
Each is different. The phone # is 518-561-7230. Ask for Mr. Wood. Please
tell him Shelley sent you. No affiliation just a satisfied customer.
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 10:52:35 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics and Friends
I call the 800 number yesterday and found out my threadle sewing machine was
born on 12/18/1912. I am so excited. I need to clean her up so I can bring
her inside. I found someone who will clean her up (Head only) for $40.00.
As to the 301A - I have one. In fact it is my second one to own. I paid
189.00 for my second one. I bought it from a dealer here. When I could not
find a FW to travel with I bought the 301A. Sews like a dream. Is quieter
than a FW, gear driven and is light weight. Not as quite as light as a FW
but almost. I carried it on the plane and put in under the seat in front of
me. I put it in a soft-sided bag. As an alternative it is a great machine.
There was a black 301A, then the beige. Mine is the beige. Someone asked
about a model 66 machine. What most people realize that alot of treadle
machines had an electric motor put on them to modernize them. So yours may
be a treadle machine. I wonder if Singer could tell you when it call for its
birthday date. Happy stitching. Judy
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 12:05:09 -0400
Subject: Bobbin Winding and "reproduction Featherweights"
I bet everyone is getting sick of this, but "MIMI SAYS' , When we were in
class, Mimi mentioned that it is very common for the needle to still go up
and down when winding a bobbin despite having lossened the wheel. Apparently
she couldn't find any good solution for this problem.
Here is a message I posted on the AOL quilting board re "reproduction
Featherweights" about a week ago. On Sept 9, a message was posted re
reissuance of "featherweight in bent wood case" seen at Costco. I'd like to
clear up a little of the story. the machine that was copied was what my
machine guy refers to as a 3/4 head (between a featherweight and a cabinet
model machine) They, the copies were poorly made and withdrawn from Costco.
A good reconditioned 3/4 head with original cover and Knee lifter attachment
cost me $100 2 years ago in a reputable sewing machine shop in the San
Francisco area. I've seen several messages about Costco selling
featherweight copies and so the rumor is spreading. Costco was selling a
poorly made reproduction machine, but it was NOT a featherweight.
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 95 16:18:01 EST
Subject: FOR SALE
Singer model 66-6, "born" in Elisabeth Post, NJ, on November 20, 1939.
Has straight-stitch needleplate; perfect for freehand machine quilting!
Comes with what seems like a zillion feet (I can look up and list them
if you are interested), a knee control, and the ORIGINAL manual (not a
copy or a reproduction).
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 16:42:42 -0400
Subject: Motor Lubricant
In the manual, it talks about refilling the motor lubricant holes. I do not
have any motor lubricant. Does Singer still make it? What is everyone doing
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 18:38:22 -0400
Subject: Cute story
Greetings to all my fellow Featherweight Fanatics, and sewing machine
collectors! Reading some of your notes about your "collections" reminded me
of a cute story: When my oldest son was in 8th grade, he took a class called
Family and Consumer Sciences (it was just Home Ec when I was in Junior High,
of course, that is now called Middle School :). When they were starting the
sewing unit, they were talking about different kinds of sewing machines and
sergers. She asked if anyone had sewing machines at home. Jake said that
his mom was trading in a sewing machine to get a serger. The teacher said,
what will she do without a sewing machine? Jake replied, Oh, she's got 5
left! (Pfaff, 2 FW's, Singer treadle, and a toy machine that I got for
Christmas when I was about 8 years old). I probably have more machines than
they have at school!
Later, in the same class, the student teacher was demonstrating how to use
the serger. Jake said she was running the threads out about 6 inches after
the fabric was through, so she could cut the thread with a scissor. I had
purchased my serger by then, and he had (evidently) watched me running it (I
sure hadn't allowed him to use it!). He suggested the student teacher try
just swinging the thread back so the cutting blade on the serger would cut
it, which doesn't take as much thread &time as cutting with a scissors.
Poor girl was probably humiliated, to have a 14 year old boy point that out!
I don't allow my kids to sew on my FW's. They both have used my Pfaff-
but I am very possesive of my FW's. I have 2 boys, and since they are done
with the F &CS class, they haven't shown much interest in sewing, anyway.
Do the rest of you feel as possesive of your FW's a I do? Time to get back
to my Quilting.....Karan
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 18:37:34 -0700
Subject: Attachments, etc.
I spoke two days ago to the man who serviced my Featherweight last year after I
bought it. He runs a shop that repairs and sells old sewing machines, and
specializes in Singers. His shop has lots of old sewing machines (no FWs) and
he has lots of spare parts for them. He was also the first one to tell me about
the Centennial version. I asked him about a zig zag attachment, but he didn't
have any on hand. He took my name and will call if he ever gets any. He did
give me a few insights about attachments. He said the Buttonholer and ruffler
(originals) are going for fairly hefty prices, between $75 - $100 each. I have
no idea what the zig zag will cost, he didn't quote a price for me. I asked him
about using the buttonholer for a zig zag, and he said it would be possible. He
also said that each one would not give you a "true" zig zag as it is a straight
stitch machine. It will look like a zig zag stitch on the top, but the bottom
will look somewhat odd, not like a mac!
hine that is capable of a true zig
zag where the top and bottom are imaged the same. Perhaps anyone who has this
attachemnt and used it can comment on this. He also said that any low shank zig
zag attachment should work on the FW.
About a week ago someone commented about the chrome flywheel and I had forgot
about it until a few days ago when I looked at mine. I have one that was
manufactured in 1937 and has a chrome flywheel. I guess I thought they all
looked like that, I know I've seen others, but never recalled the differences on
the flyhweels. Next time I run across one, I'll look.
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 1995 21:48:36 -0400
Subject: Re: FWFantics Digest 9/25/95
>I finally pushed myself out this weekend to go to garage and estate sales by
myself.... but next time I better have diaper wipes in the car ...
It DOES get better Julie. Someday, you WILL find the featherweight of your
dreams. Right now it's sitting in a closet of some Estate-in-Waiting
thinking about the day when it will be recognized for what it is, will see
daylight once again, and the warm touch of loving hands and turtle wax. My
son, now 5, was asked by his babysitter what he wanted to do--he said "go to
a garage sale." He's a veteran now, and can spot a good deal on an X-Man
plastic figure from the curb.
Subject: Hi everyone!
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 95 21:31:13 -0500
I am the proud owner of a 1950 fw (born 6-1-50) and I love reading this list
. I bought mine
at a sewing machine repair shop for $250. I have the case, ruffler, two
zipper foots (feet?) and
a regular foot. I have been looking for a fw at garage sales as well as I
would like to have
one for my daughter. She is seven years old and she is just starting to
learn how to
sew. We will start with a simple four patch quilt for her dolls. She picked
out her fabrics
last week, and like a true fabric-aholic she wanted MORE! I recently sat
down to sew with
her and my machine didn't work!!! Didn't matter which way I plugged it in it
just did not
work! I called my DH (my knight with the shining screwdriver) in a panic and
he would look at it when he came home. What he found was that the plug
needed to be
replaced. I guess 45 years of being pulled out by the cord finally broke it.
It feels better
now. I called Singer at 1-800-4-singer and I was able to get through just
fine, they were
very nice too.
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 07:22:23 -0400
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/27/95
Does anyone know anything about the Singer 290 model? There is one
advertised in my local paper. JILL
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 09:00:18 -0400
Subject: Re: FWFantics Digest 9/25/95
I just love this topic - it is so interesting to hear the stories about all
the other" babies" out there. I have lately developed a bug for toy sewing
machines, so much so that I bought two from antique dealers a few weeks ago,
paying much more than I should have, but they were so cute I couldn't resist.
They are both tan Singers - one from the 1950's and one from the 1960's. Just
what I need - more sewing machines! AQS has a wonderful book on the toy
machines, with great pictures and a price guide - it even mentions our
Featherweights with a pix and price range of $250-500, saying it's NOT a toy.
Does anyone know if most attachments (especially Singer ones) for low shank
machines will work on the Featherweight? I have some called Greist that look
like they'd work. My tan machines are called 301A, I think the black ones are
301. Sue M.
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 09:37:12 -0400
Subject: Re: Autumn and FW Fever
Good morning, all you Featherbrains! Ahhhhhh, don't you just love the smell
of those wonderful boxes first thing in the morning? Some folks try hard to
get rid of it; I, on the other hand, love it! It kinda' reminds me of
grandma's attic....the smell of things ancient, mysterious....telling a
thousand stories no one will ever hear. But the machine remembers!!! It's
survived through wars, deaths, births, family tragedy, women's opression and
subsequent depression, etc., etc., etc. I think that's why it refuses to
give up. The test of time has made it one of the few remaining American
icons that bespeaks quality of craftsmanship designed to last a lifetime (or
several, in this case!). Wow!!! You guys must think I'm nuts! I'm not
usually this philosophical, but I love these little machines! I currently
only own one, a black AH, born October 1, 1948. Obviously, it's getting
ready to celebrate a birthday. I think it's planning to invite it's best
friend, Bernina, to it's celebration. Anyway, I bought it from the Sunday
newspaper. It was advertised as a Singer portable 221. There probably were
folks who didn't realize it was an FW! I got it for $180 with an original
book, green accessory box, a buttonholer, ruffler and 4 extra bobbins (also a
few packs of steel needles). The carrying case was a new portable case, but
that's okay. I have a 1938 in MINT condition with a perfect case, original
book &all accessories on layaway right now. I am in the process of paying
$425 for it. My 1948 is in "good" condition. All of the gold scrolling is
there, but there is an ugly scar to the right of the throat plate. It's a
gouge that goes all the way to the metal, but she purrs like a kitten. I
could use a little help on something, though, it doesn't seem to run as fast
as my friend's machine. We've done the blow dryer thing suggested in Nancy
Johnson-Srebro's book, gotten it cleaned, replaced the belt, checked the
motor brushes, and it still runs slow. Do the motors actually burn out on
these? If so, is there a source for replacement motors anyone knows of?
Well, I'd better get to work...my DH just came in to remind me I am in the
office! See you guys later!!!
Date: 29 Sep 95 10:31:44 EDT
Subject: FW Fanatics Digest 9/28/95
This is about the good things that come out of FW searches....
Earlier this week, I called about an advertised 'sewing machine'. She didn't
have one, but said she had some other things collected over the years and some
linens. I asked if by any chance she had a quilt top or quilts. She said she had
forgotten about the quilt she had, would dig it out and call me back. She did,
I bought a 1920's top AND quilt. When I asked about her daughter/grandaughter
wanting them, she said she was at peace with her decision and they didn't want
them any way. I was so thrilled ( my ancestors didn't quilt)...and I can add a
label to the quilt since I found out who,when and where it was made!
Well, my fw fund is lower, but I'm wearing a big grin...
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 11:03:51 -0400
Hello fellow fanatics,
I think it is terribly amusing that we can distinguish the ages of these
machines by subtle differences in their appearances. My DH must ROTFL at
me - you see, he is a Volkswagon owner. He has a cherry red 1972 beetle
that he adores driving for all the attention it brings (a poor mans sports
car I suppose). Now I too like the bug. It reminds me of my youth and of
learning to drive. But I am not as astute at the tiny little differences
from model to model. Now we're talking headlights and shape of windshields
here, but DH at a glance can tell the year they were born.
Ah, I am beginning to undertand - you see my darling FW is post war,
straight lined end plate, with the Egyptian style gold leaf and a black
flywheel. It's birthday is Sunday, October 1, 1948 - the same year my parents
married. It was adopted by me early in December 1992. Does that mean we
celebrate twice? She came home to a fifites era table, metal legs that had
been purchased before I had found my FW and I use her a whole lot more than I
do the computerized Kenmore that had come home six years earlier.
I purchased a second one at an estate sale auction but resold it to a dear
friend that gives it proper care and attention. My goal now is a working
treadle. Where do you suggest I do that kind of hunting?
Happy stitching friends - may all of your FWs gleam!
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 10:32:46 -0700
Subject: Need FW Reference Book
I found a reference to a FW book on the Quiltnet that I would like to have.
Do any of you know where I can find the book "Featherweight 221, The
Perfect Portable" by Nancy Johnson-Srebro? The publisher is Silver Star
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 08:02:43 -1000 (HST)
Subject: Chrome Flywheel
Someone mentioned flywheels. The earlier models have the chrome
flywheels. Sometime in the 40s, Singer switched to the totally black
Another chat was Singer lubricant. It is still being marketed. Look for
it in a red and white tube. I have a tube that came with one of my old
Singers. I dare not use it just in case it has turned gummy.
It's not too good to have the needle go up and down while you fill the
bobbin. Maybe lubing the well that's directly beneath the thread holder
will help. The next time I see my service man, I'll ask. But see if
oiling all those points around the flywheel helps.
About those oiling wells, do get Nancy Johnson-Srebro's book. All oiling
points are illustrated. Even if you do have an original handbook, you'll
find yourself saying ah-hah as you read points of FW enlightenment. I am
really looking forward to her revised FW book. I read somewhere she's
illustrating how to use the accessories.
You know what? I'm dating myself here but what the heck! I remember the
rage of new sewing machines that zig-zag on the top AND bottom. Boy!
How I'd like to time warp back and go on a buying spree for all the FWs that
were turned in for those new zig-zag machines OR garage sales and flea
markets. FWs and DGs! Heaven!
Take care of our little pals. I do enjoy *luv* our FW chats.
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 19:43:53 -0500
Subject: Featherweight-want to buy
Please add me to your list, as I try to find featherweights for my friends.
Most do not want to spend over $300.00.
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 22:19:23 -0500
Subject: fw madness-or-watch for the ALs
Everyone should turn 40. Multiple times. My dh surprised me with my
very first fw on my 40th birthday, last year (an AL). My brother-in-law
found it in Wisconsin for $220.
Within two months my mother-in-law sent me the featherweight she had
received from a dear friend (AK). I kind of was looking forward to using
it when we were visiting, but, now I have two beautiful machines.
Number three came into my life courtesy of my oldest daughter. She spied
it in the window of our local dry cleaners/appliance/other useful stuff
shop--for $70 (AM). The nice man didn't know what he had.
The fourth one really wasn't for me. It also appeared in the same shop
about 4 months later--for $120 (AL). I purchased it on speculation, as I
had several quilthead friends in the market. It now lives at my friend's
house. The nice man has begun to suspect what he has had.
Enter number five (my personal number four). My dear b-i-l in Wisconsin
was on the lookout for a scrollwork faceplate (AD). Again it cost $220. A
week later he found a 99k for $20 and bought it because it was so clean.
Originally he was going to resell, but decided it should go live with the
other two Wisconsin machines. Now it does.
We all got together in Chicago two weeks ago to celebrate my father's bd.
My sister, niece and I went Yard Saleing! Fifteen minutes into the search,
my niece comes and tells me she found one of those machines that I like.
The man selling wouldn't take less than $5.00 for it (AL). I think this is
really weird. FWs just dropping into my life. And I love them all. My dh
says that I am not to pay over $20 for AL's as they are out there to be
But I am not possessive about my fw's. I have one for each of my three
children when they want them, and one for myself. Plus a spare.
My 41st birthday is in a few weeks. Maybe a treadle is in my future...
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 23:27:59 -0400
Subject: model 66
I spoke of the Singer model 66. Spoke with my Grandma-in-law today
and yes you are right it did used to be a treadle machine. When I looked
inside the cabinet found some old yellow pages 3,4 5,6 that talk about
adjustment of motor for direct or alternating current and making the
electrical connection. That kinda backs up the theory. So whats the best way
to go about cleaning up the dust build up? Is the 66 model alot bigger than
the 221 model? I still have my heart set on a featherweight but besides the
portable aspect of the featherweight what else is so different from the 66
model? Does the 66 model in the original wooden cabinet have any trade in
value? Trying to get myself informed so that I won't be taken advantage of or
visa- versa. Debating my next move. Not sure if the grass is green on my side
or the featherweight side. ;)
Date: Fri, 29 Sep 1995 19:54:12 -0800 (AKDT)
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 9/28/95
Reading quiltnet and hearing so much about Featherweights has
given me the "bug". I've been searching garage sales, auctions...
what I really need to know is : What does the case look like?
I keep finding the old singers in the wooden cases but
they aren't featherweights.
Can anyone recommend a good book about old sewing machines...
not specifically FWs. I keep finding so many I'd love to be able
to keep a book in the car so I could look them up when I find them.
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 07:41:54 -0400
Subject: Re: FW motor grease
>In the manual, it talks about refilling the motor lubricant holes. I do not
>have any motor lubricant. Does Singer still make it? What is everyone
I too was baffled by the reference to greasing the FW motor in the reprinted
manual in N J-S's book so I did a little checking on the matter. The grease
is no longer manufactured by Singer. My local sewing man told me the Singer
Motor Grease was Lithium Grease, (that stiff black grease they smear on your
axles) which is no longer available except from you local auto parts store,
and is sold in big containers. I then paid a visit to my local Singer man
who told me that regardless of what the manual said you NEVER EVER EVER lube
the motor. He said that Singer found that lubing the motor eventually caused
seizure of the motor so they stopped that practice. "But, but but" sez I.
"OK, go ruin your expensive featherweight," sez he. Never being satisfied,
I checked out a different Singer man who told me the exact same thing. I was
told that Singer training school now teaches that it must never be used on
the motor ducts. After getting 2 similar opinions from 2 different guys I
was satisfied. I asked the second guy what do they do with the motors, and
he told me that if the customer complains the motor is running slow or
something, they will disassemble the motor and clean the brushes, add
carbon to the brushes, or do whatever needs to be done to get it working
well again. But here's a tip I learned from my Sewing Machine Repair book:
If your motor is running slow and just doesn't have any zip anymore, loosen
the clutch to disengage the needle and step on the gas. Run it at top speed
for a long time until you hear the motor change its sound. Then its run
itself clean. It might take 10 mins, but you will hear the change in the
motor's sound when it's finally cleaned. I have never done this on my FW
(didn't have to), but I have done it on other old machines I've bought and it
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 07:41:57 -0400
Subject: re: FW's and Kids
>I don't allow my kids to sew on my FW's. They both have used my Pfaff-
>but I am very possesive of my FW's. I have 2 boys, and since they are done
>with the F &CS class, they haven't shown much interest in sewing, anyway.
> Do the rest of you feel as possesive of your FW's a I do?
>I have been looking for a fw at garage sales as well as I would like to have
one for my >daughter. She is seven years old and she is just starting to
learn how to
Sewing can be a dangerous business. My Auntie, a seamstress in her youth,
sewed through her fingers several times. Horror stories abound about needles
snapped off inside fingers and on finger bones. I myself have cought my
finger several times, but never done any serious damage. I swear you can
chop your finger off on a serger's knife. So I constantly stress to my
daughter that the machine is a tool to be greatly respected, and safety
should be paramount. I truly believe that a FW suits her size, is a weight
she can handle, and should therefore be safer for her. I allow her to use
any machine that is out anytime she wants (including my Pfaff), and she does
have her own FW now. But I too have chills whenever she wants to use the FW.
It's so perfect and precious--I could never replace the machine whereas I
could buy another Pfaff just like my old one. I made her promise never to
lift or carry it until she's bigger, and I promised to get it out for her
whenever she wanted to use it. She did ask for me to get it out alot at
first (and use it for 10 minutes--I think she was testing me). But I always
did, no matter how busy I was. I never said, "in a minute". I dropped
everything and got it out for her. I also stressed it's mystique--I read her
the legend off the back of the N. J-S book. I told her it would be there for
her daughter! I told her it was older than me! I told her it was worth alot
of money and would grow in value and she got older. I made her eyes wide.
She's been very tender and loving towards it, plus I think she imitates what
she sees me do.
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 07:05:11 -0800
Subject: Old sewing machines
Most collectors of antique sewing machines say a machine must be 100 yrs
old to be classed as an antique. Sewing machines have been manufactured in
quantity since the 1850's. During the last half of the 19th century, there
were around 200 companies manufacturing sewing machines in the US. Of
those, less then 20 survived after the turn of the century. Of the
surviving companies, none of the machines are manufactured in this country
today, not even Singers. White sewing machines have been manufactured in
Japan since 1974 and New Home was sold to the Janome company of Japan in
If one is looking for a treadle machine to decorate your home (I have about
a dozen treadles), it will most likely be a Singer. Why? It is estimated
that Singer manufactured 21 million machines by the year 1900, and they
continued to make treadle machines through 1930. You will certainly run
accross other names as well. The Smithsonian book " The Sewing Machine
It's Invention and Development" (unfortunatly out of print now), lists
about 4000 sewing machines names that were manufactured by less than 20
companies. Names such as, Jones ( I have two of these - suprise!),
Duchess, Essex, Pet, Princess, Queen, McDonald, etc. These machines were
sold by every department store and Mom &Pop store in the country, hence
the large number of different names. There was a McDonald dept. store in
the town I grew up in Nebraska, do you suppose?? National, Standard, A. G.
Mason, Davis, New Home, White, and Free made most of these machines for
others. Singer never put any name but Singer on a machine he manufactured,
with one exception. In 1905, Singer bought out the Wheeler and Wilson
company and continued to use the Wheeler and Wilson name on some models for
a short time.
Singer is the most successful sewing machine company in the US because of
the founder, Isaac Merrit Singer. He was a marketing genius, a former
Shakespearean actor that new how to sell. He was also successful in the
capability to mass produce parts for sewing machines that were
interchangable. This, he borrowed from the firearms industry. Before
1850, parts were hand made not interchangable. The man who is recognized
as having contributed most to the mechanical development of the sewing
machine is Allen Benjamin Wilson. He invented and received a patent for
the rotary-hook stitch forming mechanism in 1850. He developed the four
motion feed (motion of the feed dogs), and received a patent in 1854. All
modern sewing machines use a rotary hook and four motion feed. A. B.
Wilson formed the Wheeler and Wilson company(Wheeler had the capital),
which was second only to Singer in numbers manufactured from 1850 until
1880. Wilson was in poor health and had to quite the business, otherwise
the company would most likely have been number one. I have a Wheeler and
Wilson #8, made about 1880. It's a delightful machine.
I promised some info on the Singer models, 66 and 99. This is what I know.
In the 1890's Singer developed the model 66 sewing machine. This was the
first machine with a drop in bobbin. It is an ocillating hook, the hook
does not make a complete 360 degree rotation, but ocillates back and forth.
It is an excellent machine and sews extremely well. The early 66's did
not have a reverse capability and the stitch length was adjusted by a
threaded screw. Some time in the 1930's the 66 as modified with a lever to
adjust stitch length and the ability to sew in reverse,( move the lever all
the way up). The 66's were decorated with a variety of patterns, some very
ornate, some quite plain. I have one that is plain black crackle finish,
another has all the fancy Egyptian scroll work. The drop in bobbin is the
same size as the modern plastic bobbin used in a lot of current model
Singers. This is handy, now you can peek and see if you are about to run
out of bobbin. I always run out about 1" from the end of the seam, how
The model 99 is just a 3/4 size 66. Still made with cast iron like the 66,
so even though it is the "portable" model, it is still heavy. Both the 66
and 99 have a threaded boss cast on the right side of the vertical column
(as do other early 20th century Singers). This boss will accept either an
electric motor bracket or a hand crank. This makes the machines more
versatile. If you have electricity, Singer would put an electric motor on
for you, if not, you need the treadle model or hand crank if it's a
portable. Electric motors were available as early as the 1890's, but
electricity to the home was not widely available, especially in rural
area's, until around 1930. Treadle machines were manufactured through the
1930's. Model 99K's usually come with an electric motor and quite often in
a bent wood carrying case. I have several Singer model 28-4's with hand
cranks in bent wood cases. This is a 3/4 size turn-of-the-century model
with a vibrating shuttle - more about those later.
Enuf for now. Gordy
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 13:04:01 -0400
Subject: our garage sales stink!
Wow, everytime I get this digest, I find someone else who has found a
featherweight for $1.50! When I go garage sale-ing, I find only the kind of
junk I'd leave at the curb--I guess I need to relocate!! However, I did go
antiquing today and found a machine falsely labeled a fw for $285 (:<) and a
beautiful treadle machine with almost all original paint and a gorgeous
cabinet for $425--passed on that--and a half-dozen bentwood case
Singers--passed again. But, the one find that really interested me was an
"Atlas" sewing machine; it was a great pepto-bismol pink color and was set
in the base of its case. Does anyone know anything about "Atlas" machines?
The coloring makes me think it's a 40s/50s product. If anyone has any other
info let me know, I might run back and buy it.
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 11:15:09 -0700
Subject: Needle Movement while winding bobbin
I'm a new member of this list. I have 14 sewing machines ranging from a
Model #2 treadle born 6/26/1893, to a New Home Memory Craft 8000. Four
of my babies are FW's - 3 black, 1 blue bought in England.
I have had this needle movement problem with a couple of the old
machines. Oil has a tendancy to shellac when it is old and unused. So,
it becomes sticky and the mechanism drags. In order to dissolve the
hardened oil, put a few drops of kerosene on the mechanism and work it.
Kerosene is nothing more than very thin oil. After working the kerosene
in, give it a good lube with regular sewing machine oil. This has
worked on all my machines having this problem.
In one of my FW's cases was a sheet torn from a 1940 McCall's magazine
instructing the proper maintenance of sewing machines. It recommends to
lube the motor semi-annually, grease the major mechanisms monthly and
regular oiling every time you get ready to do heavy sewing. I must
admit that I don't lube my machines as frequently as this, but I do it
much more often than I did before I read this article. The best things
we can do for these darlings is keep them oiled.
Hope this helps. I'm so glad I found this list!
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 14:58:55 -0400
Subject: Book Source
In response to a question from 9-29-95:
"Featherweight 221: the Perfect Portable" by Nancy Johnson-Srebro is
available by mail order from the Quilter's Bookshelf 1-800-332-6095
$6.95 plus shipping. They also list 2 other books: "Toy and Miniature
Sewing Machines" by Glenda Thomas for $18.95 and "Antique American
Sewing Machines: A Value Guide" by James W. Slaten for $19.95. I don't
have either of these last two books. If anyone else does, I would like to
hear your opinions. I have no affiliation with this company, just a
satisfied customer. Ask for a copy of the catalog, if you order, its a great
I think I have also seen FW 221... in the Keepsake Quilter's catalog, and
also either the Clothilde or Nancy's Notions catalogs. Some enlightened
quilt shops also carry it.
A friend from the East Coast told me they have been checking the pawn
shops for FWs, as the dealers there don't have any idea of their value to
quilters. They have gotten several for around $75.00 this way. Just an idea
for those of you out looking.
I am sitting here with ice on my ankle, which I think I sprained when I
tripped over the vacuum hose trying to find the portable phone, which one of
my teenage boys left under the covers on his bed!!!! 2 football players,
with no injuries so far (knock on wood)- and Mom is on the DL!!!! At least
it was my left ankle, so I can still use my right foot on the FW pedal!
This would never have happened if I had been stitching, instead of doing
Housework, which obviously is hazardous to my health! Karan
Subject: Featherweight 's
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 95 18:32:17 -0400
Sue: My wife Mimi M would like to be added to your mailing list. She
owns a featherweight Ser.# AH058135 that I bought for her as a birthday
present in August, 1946. It is in beautiful condition and I don't think the
motor ever has a chane to cool off because it is in constant use, quilting,
making clothes for our grandchildren and our daughter who thinks it is great
fun to bring Mother (or grandmother as the case may be) a suitcase of
materials and say "Mother/Grandma would you make this piece of material in
this pattern and that piece in this other pattern...". One time the daughter
left 14 patterns and pieces of material to be made into either dresses or
other outfits. The little machine struggles mightly thru it all. Jack M
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 17:40:40 -0500 (CDT)
I really want one of the little babies. Every time I read FW Fanatics I want
to go shopping. So this afternoon after out daughter went to the Mall my DH
and I went to a couple of places to look for FWs. No luck! But I'm just
beginning to look.
I have a 1993 Space Saver to take to classes. But it makes alot of racket.
Sue and Mary Lou sit quietly at their table (both with FWs) and sew.
I'm going to look at the new FW when our local Singer gets them in. If
they are quiet I may trade mine for one.
Can I still enjoy being on FWFanatics if I ONLY have a '95 or '96 FW?
That is 1995 or 1996!
When I run into a FW I can aford I'll be sure and let everyone know about it.
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 1995 19:48:35 -0400 (EDT)
Look forward to this letter every day. Haven't seen another fw yet but
I'm looking. I have called the Singer number twice (for me and for Ann)
and I found out that they will send documentation. What they send is like
a screenprint of the section of serial numbers where they found yours.
Also tells how many were made each day. Very interesting. Be sure to ask
for it when you call.
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 95 22:46:49 -0500
Subject: My, how things have changed ! : )
I've been working on restoring several old sewing machines that I inherited and
I found a price list for accessories from the back of the manual for a 1920
National cabinet machine. I'm sending it to the Bernina list as well as the
Featherweight Fanatics, just to put some perspective on the prices we 'nina fans
pay for our accessories. Also makes FW fans realize just how much the value of
our old machines have increased. I've estimating 13,000% increase for the oil
Ruffler - 1.50
Tucker - 1.50
Foot Hemmer Sets, including Binder - .75
Braider Foot - .25
Thread Cutter - .05
Hemmer and Feller - .30
Presser Foot - .25
Bobbin Case - 1.25
Needles, all sizes, per dozen - .30
Guide Thumb Screw - .10
Oil Can - .15
Bobbins, ea - .05
Screw Driver - .15
Shuttle Screw Driver - .10
Quilter - .05
Edge Stitcher - .50
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