- Featherweight Facts
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Now collectors are starting to take notice, too. While many existing machines were well-loved and thus well-used, Featherweights are by no means rare.
Machines in good condition can still be found at bargain prices in garage sales and auction houses. Advertisements in quilters' magazines bring higher prices. The highest-priced machines are in good condition with little wear on the gold leaf, complete with case, attachments, and original manual. The predominant finish on the is a shiny black. The K was black or a shiny white and has a shorter bed. A smaller number of machines in other colors exist, including a light tan color produced in Great Britain and a matte black produced in the United States.
The rumored mint-green Featherweight is apparently an alternate description of the white machine, which can have a slightly greenish cast. It may be that these stories are based on the existence of colored versions of the Singer toy model The Singer has a fold-up bed which allows the owner to change the bobbin easily, and also makes the machine compact enough to set down into the carrying case.
The combination free-arm model K is a rarer find in the United States than it is in England.
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These were apparently produced in the Kilbowie factory in Scotland, between roughly and The K has a removable-bed extension, for use when sewing pant legs and shirt sleeves, and weighs in about 2 lbs more than the model Cases are black, with leather handles on the older models and plastic on the newer.
Cases for the white machine are white with a green stripe. Older cases have an accessory tray that stacks on top of the machine, which is set down in the case. The newer cases have a built-in side shelf for accessories and bobbins, and a place for the foot pedal on the inside of the case cover. In addition to the cases, Featherweights were sometimes sold with specially-designed folding convertible card tables, with a removable section for the machine.
Carole Meeker Buys & Sells Singer Model / Singer Featherweights
Officially called the Singer Three-Way Table, these were advertised as multi-purpose for use in sewing, card playing, and informal dining. He lost the case but said it was the same case as the commercial model without the leather covering. It was Army green with the appropriate military issue numbers stenciled on the box.
I have not doubt his story was true, but I've never been able to confirm it.
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The machine 'looked' right though and did not appear to be a re-paint job. Darla Trenner has done some research on these unusual Featherweights, and has posted her findings at her "Crinkle and Blackside Machines" website at http: Both American and British models are characterized by a fold-up extension of the bed, or platform, to add more sewing surface on the left side of the needle. The fold-up aspect allows the machine to be tucked into an almost cubical wooden case, along with its attachments. One variant is a model made for a short period in which the bed is detachable to allow "free-arm" sewing of cuffs and darning.
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The Featherweight is an excellent machine for piecing, but it is not recommended that machine quilting be done on it due to the possibility of burning out the motor. Having said that, many quilters on the internet report that they successfully machine quilt using their Featherweights. Since the feed dogs cannot be lowered, it is necessary to cover them up with plastic or cardboard in order to machine quilt. Some Singer attachments, such as the buttonholer, come with a feed dog cover that can also be used for machine quilting.
Featherweights come with six basic attachments: The best instructions on how to use these attachments are in the Singer manual. Featherweight users also report that they have successfully used the "Little Foot" on their machines, as well as some brands of walking feet. The Featherweight is a low-shank machine.
Featherweights, in spite of their cult status, are not rare. A great many of them were made and are still available through used sewing machine dealers, from individuals, at garage and estate sales, by mail order, and through sellers on online services and the internet. Since the machines are not labeled "Featherweight" they are often advertised for sale as "old Singer" or "antique Singer" machines and some detective work is necessary to sort the Featherweights from the other antique machines being sold.
The light weight and the fold-up platform are two indicators. Very diligent shopping should turn up one or more Featherweights in your local area, and they've been known to travel in packs, and reappear miraculously out of grandma's closet or attic! You will probably pay more to a dealer than you will at an estate sale, so it is worth combing the weekly Advertiser or classifieds and doing some driving if you want a bargain.
Pricing criteria vary from location to location but are based on the running condition of the machine and its appearance, as well as its rarity. For run-of-the-mill Featherweights, one dealer in Atlanta says he prices his mainly based on how good they look, i.
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Older machines will not necessarily sell for more than newer ones. You should be able to try out the machine to see how well it sews, and you should make sure it's complete.
One of the most frequently missing items is the bobbin case. Ideally your Featherweight will come with its original carrying case in good condition broken latches and missing handles are sometimes a problem and all of its attachments. Lack of these is reason to discount the price. Determining the approximate date of manufacture of a Featherweight is easy if the serial number is still intact. The number, which is on the bottom of the machine, will be preceded by a two-letter code, beginning with A for U.
Use the chart below to decode it. You can find dating charts on various internet sites, including Singer's own site. Although often referred to as the machine's "birth date" it is more accurately the date the production run for that series of machines was assigned. Although the basic design of the Singer sewing machine stayed the same over the years there were several variations in cosmetic appearance.
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Earlier machines had what collectors refer to as the Egyptian scrollwork pattern etched on the chrome plated endplate. Later machines had a striated or striped design faceplate. The pattern of the gold decal around the perimeter of the bed also went from a more circular scrollwork design to a more geometric linear pattern. Machines that sew well but show loss to the gold decals, or scratches, or chipped paint sell at the lesser end of the range.
It's all in the details of condition, and even minor blemishes makes a huge difference in price. Singer model s and machine that are unusual variations sell for much more. Most Featherweight buyers want to buy a machine from someone they trust, someone who has expertise, someone they can talk to before making the purchase, and someone who will stand behind the sale. Many potential buyers do not like the anonymity the internet venues like Ebay, and for good reason, and this can hold prices down.
We service every Featherweight we sell and include a 1-year guarantee on every machine.