Monday, December 12, 2011

Merry Christmas to Me

Ever since I became aware of their existence I've always admired and had a secret longing for the Singer Featherweight. Years ago when I was taking a quilting class a fellow student had one and the teacher ooooh'd and aaaah'd over it.  The class immediately gathered around and was given a rundown as to why these machines are so coveted amongst quilters and machine enthusiasts.

They are small, weighing in at only 11 lbs and fit easily into a carrying case. Having been made before the age of "everything is plastic" they're all metal (except for the drive belt) and require very little maintenance. Because the machine is so simple, they are easy to repair; there were quite a few produced from the 30's to the 60's so parts are readily available. In addition to being sturdy little workhorses, they are very pretty, with their shiny black enamel surfaces and gold lettering and scrollwork. Their value is determined not by their ability to sew, but by the condition of the enamel and gold paint.

I happened to be browsing ebay when a Featherweight in what looked to be very good condition appeared, which was reasonably priced. Because these machines are highly desirable and collectible, they can be quite expensive. I closed my eyes and put in a bid once I realized that the location was a mere hour and a half from our house. I decided to leave it to the fates and not bid or check again until the next morning.

Lo and behold, I won the auction! Buyers remorse immediately set in and I was sure it would be in much worse condition than I expected or that there was some major mechanical problem with the machine. Expectations lowered, I arranged to pick it up over the weekend.

I was relieved and delighted to find that it was indeed in very good condition and after a bit of fiddling with the bobbin and upper thread  tensions it sews perfectly, like the day it was made. The motor truly purrs. The machine needed a bit of cleaning and there was some old tape residue on the platform, but once that was removed and a coat of wax applied, it  looks beautiful. There are a few scratches in the paint, as you'd expect from a 60+ year old machine that has been used, but the scrollwork and lettering are in great shape. The provided manual gives detailed instructions on oiling the moving parts and where to grease the gears. I love that it's possible to provide my own maintenance for the machine. If well taken care of, it should be running smoothly for another 60 years.

In order to take it for a test run, I finished sewing the Christmas gift for my mother-in-law on it. Amazing!  Does this mean I'm not going to use my gorgeous, computerized, state-of-the-art modern machine? Heck no! I love my Janome which still runs perfectly after  7 years. There are certain advantages to modern technology and I love working with it. Though it is portable, it's very heavy and not something I'd want to lug around, if not for the weight then out of fear that I'd upset some of the computerized parts with too much jostling.

I have no problem rationalizing this frivolous purchase. I didn't need another, since I have a terrific sewing machine that has never given me a day of trouble (along with 2 other antique Singers.....hmmmm, do I have a problem?)  I will eventually downsize and sell the other Singer machines, but for now I'm just so excited to have a little piece of coveted quilting history.

No comments: