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Vintage Featherweight Sewing Machines

Summary

Vintage featherweight sewing machines are not just for display in quilt shop windows. They can be restored and enjoyed. Read more...

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Vintage Featherweight Sewing Machines

As a quilt shop owner, you've decorated your shop with a vintage Featherweight sewing machine. That helped you establish relationships with Featherweight enthusiasts. In this conversation, to help you further here's a little information from my friend, a huge fan of Featherweights.

Vintage Featherweight Sewing Machines

 

She has purchased, restored, and sold at least 80 Featherweight machines. She also restores the cases. My friend still has 24 in the house. She inherited her first Featherweight in 2010 and had never before worked on an electric sewing machine. She was a treadle girl all the way! To get over her fear of an electric sewing machine, my friend decided to take it apart, clean, and restore it. After that, she was hooked!

case

 

Featherweight machines are easy to repair.

repair

 

They only have a straight stitch; almost anyone can maintain their own machine. They are so lightweight that their portability makes them a favorite for quilting classes and retreats. Some, like this one were built with a table that collapses and stores easily but are still portable.

card-table

 

Quilters rarely, if ever, need more than a straight stitch. Many Featherweights also have a longer bed than modern machines, so they are good for piecing. My friend's favorite Featherweight is 1933-4, the first year that they were made. She says they have stronger motors and are hard to find.

 

My friend says that irreparable machines are parted out to repair others, but she has only parted out 3 out of the 80 she has purchased. Only a few folks have the tools to repair a machine with a bend shaft, for example. This one is okay.

shaft

 

There are only two models of Featherweight. The 221 model is more common and can be had for a reasonable price. The 222 model has extra features such as a detachable bed and feed dogs that can drop for free motion quilting. The 222 models were never imported to the US, so they are more expensive; $1500-$2400. They are available in Canada and other UK countries.

222

 

Those of us who are in love with our computerized machines will have a tough time understanding a passion for vintage Featherweights, but if you've ever had to send out your computerized machine for repairs, you might just get a longing for a vintage Featherweight!

 

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Glossary

Drop
The part of a quilt that hangs down the sides of your mattress.
Fan
A quilting design of repeated concentric arcs that forms an all-over stitching design usually unrelated to the design of the quilt top. While popular during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, fan quilting is considered by some observers to be old-fashioned and undesirable.
Feed Dogs
The mechanical teeth under the area of a sewing machine which move to pull the fabric through the machine. For free motion quilting or embroidery or needle darning these feed dogs are lowered or covered.
Free Motion Quilting
Method of quilting where the feed dogs of a sewing machine are lowered or covered and the quilter controls the movement of the fabric under the needle.
Piecing
The process of assembling quilt blocks from pieces of fabric sewn along their edges to form a whole.

See Also: English Paper Piecing, Assembly Piecing, Machine Piecing, Chain Piecing, Paper Piecing, Hand Piecing
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