I’ve been absent from my blog with good reason. I’ve been busy restoring an old Singer Featherweight sewing machine I found on my recent travels.
I found this vintage sewing machine at an antique shop. The sales lady was kind enough to take it out of its case, place it on the counter, and plug in the foot pedal for me. I pressed the foot pedal and did not see any movement on the machine. I could hear the motor humming and the belt pulley moving slowly. There was no movement from the needle bar nor the feed dog. Thankfully, there was no smoke coming from the motor. I tried to manually turn the hand wheel and it was very stiff. I checked the presser foot lever and I was able to flip it up and press it down.
I made an offer on the machine which was less than what was written on the price tag. I wasn’t too sure if I had the knowledge and skill to get this machine to sew again. I knew I would be replacing a few parts as well as spending some much needed quality time with this vintage machine. This would include several spa days of deep cleaning and scrubbing. This would be my first attempt at restoration. For those who know me, I do enjoy a good challenge.
A quick call was made to the owner of this vintage beauty and he wanted to be sure it was going to someone who would enjoy sewing with it. Talk about being in the right place and at the right time. This was meant to be.
I did some quick research and found my Featherweight was commissioned or went into production in 1938 in Elizabethport, New Jersey. It’s almost 85 years old!
One of the details I noticed about my lovely Featherweight was the decorative scrollwork on the faceplate. A few of my sewing buddies have told me this pre-WWII machine was a special find.
During the war, Singer stopped manufacturing the Featherweights. Post-war they made a few cosmetic changes to their Featherweights and continued manufacturing their sought after Featherweight machines.
The black painted body and chrome metal plates have layers of dirt and grime. Possibly a decade or so of non-use which explains the non-working/non-moving parts that were stuck and old sewing machine oil that turned into a hard varnish. I would guess the machine was stored in a garage or possibly in an attic. When I opened the case, the “old smell” almost knocked me over. I’ve read this scent is from the old glue used to hold the fabric cover over the wooden case. I tried to give the machine a dry dusting with a rag in a few areas on the outside of the machine and I found bits of spider parts and unknown dried debris underneath the exterior of the motor.
I’ve rolled up my sleeves and ventured into new territory with my first Featherweight sewing machine. So far, it’s been a fun adventure. More to come!