Wednesday, April 19, 2017

1939 Featherweight and Finished Gray Quilt

1939 Featherweight weighs 11 lbs.

Lots of photos on this post - scroll down to see more.

"Gray With All The Trimmings" queen size quilt, pieced on my 1939 Featherweight

How it began . . .

(Right) I had a quite a number of 16 patch blocks leftover from making another quilt.

I paired 16 patch blocks with framed 4 patch blocks.  The gray fabric is from Jeanne Horton's The Settlement Collection. 

I purchased the 1939 Featherweight last year.  It all started one morning--suddenly, I saw it on Craigslist, asking price $100. I emailed the seller to say I'd take it, and he emailed back to confirm.  I got in the car and drove there right away (a two hour drive). 

During the drive--the seller phoned me to say his father was mad at him for offering the machine at $100 and said his new price was now $200.  I told him I was already into my second hour of driving to his place to pick up the machine.  I'd already stopped at the bank to pick up  $100 cash, but thought I probably had another $50 on me.  I explained that's as good as I can do.  He said OK, $150. 

When I arrived I saw the machine.  It was very dirty, had no case, and a broken/taped-together spool pin cover--(I wondered if this machine had been dropped to do that kind of damage).    

There was no foot control/power supply cord, no sewing attachments, no manual, and no way to plug in to see if it actually runs or sews.  There was a bit of wear on the decals right/front, and its original 75 year old motor in place.  Oh well, when it comes to old machines--I like a challenge.  I bought the machine as it was, and hit the road for home, before another buyer grabbed it. 


I put another $100 or so into replacement parts, and extensive internal cleaning and lubricating.  I am still looking for a good condition vintage case (another $100).

Thank goodness the original bobbin case SIMANCO 45750 was inside the machine.  A vintage original bobbin case costs $100.  Chinese reproduction bobbin cases don't work.  

The machine was missing its foot control/power supply, so I ordered a vintage "clam shell with power cord" through my friend Ed Lamoureux.  I prefer the clam shell over the standard Featherweight issued stationary button type foot control. 

Ed is a great source for sewing machine parts, and has genius ideas for making machines run great.  He is a sewing machine wizard.  Here is Ed's website:

Besides replacing the broken spool pin cover, I added a new V belt for the motor, a 1/4" presser foot for quilt piecing accuracy, and new cushion feet for the base after scratching the dining room table. 

This is the first machine I've equipped with a LED light bulb.  And I bought a spool pin spring.  The spring does a great job of reducing jiggling of plastic thread spools.  The spring improves delivery of thread, resulting in better thread stitching.  Especially good for consistent thread flow to fill bobbins!

So, you think I should pack this Featherweight away, saving it because it is old and special?  To the contrary.  I sew with it often--doing piece work for quilts at my dining room table.  It runs fast and sews accurately.  

"Gray With All The Trimmings" on the frame

on the frame in the studio

I've been working in my dining room weekdays so I can keep an eye on our new puppy Buddy who is a chewing machine. 

He chewed two holes in the new couch, and two holes in two quilts.   There's more, but the couch and quilts are the worst of it.   

Weekends Jon watches "Buddy the amazing chewing dog " and then I have an opportunity to work in the studio to do the long arm quilting. 

Free style long arm quilting
See the art panels on the backing rolled up on the take up bar

Continuing this year with my goal to use up fabric scraps from previous quilts and purse projects
One full bin has been recycled, four full bins to go . . .

at the table, turning the binding and hand stitching to finish the quilt

Flipped over a corner of the quilt to show you some of the art panels on the back of the quilt.

Magic Needle Threader
At left, see needle eye placed into the tube, insert thread into the v-notch, press button. 
Viola! the needle is threaded. 

hand-stitching binding on
"Gray With All The Trimmings" queen size quilt

Thanks for stopping by.   I'd love to hear from you.  Leave me a note when you can.

Love ya,
Mrs. D


  1. i don't know how badly you wanted the machine however i am sure they would have taken 100 or less if you would acted not interested because of the shape it was in some people play the game of my mom or dad ect. was mad because i sold it so cheep. i bought a small frige from a women paid for it in fulland had her sign a reciet she call back said she needed more money for it. sorry i have your your name. nancy in wi 1

  2. Hello Linda, It seems that the sellers did not deal with you honestly, but in the end you got a good machine, and are putting it to good use. I can tell that you enjoyed the process of restoring it--perhaps more satisfying than if you had bought a perfect one (especially considering the prices they apparently go for!). I don't have the vocabulary to comment on your quilting project, other than to say that your craftsmanship is amazing.

  3. Love those little Featherwieghts.....I have one and yes it is terrific for piecing, really nice for taking to class or workshop too! Looks like you have really given it special attention. I too, bought a different foot pedal as I found the one "button" type uncomfortable to use.
    Love seeing these vintage machines put to use. They are beautiful and super well made!

  4. It looks like a beautiful machine. My sister cannot pass up old vintage machines. The gentleman was fortunate that you gave him 50 dollars more than he asked. I will think twice now after reading this about the time and mileage to pick up something that the seller may change his mind about. Never thought about it.
    You got a beauty and I am sure by the looks of that gorgeous quilt that it works like a charm. Worked out for everyone.

  5. Hello Nancy, Thanks for sharing your story about buying the refrigerator. Some times we get lucky to find exactly what we want. This was the case for me finding the Singer 1939 Featherweight.

  6. So glad you found the machine you wanted. I have done that, too. Too many times! But aren't they fun! My favorite at the moment is a Japanese clone of a Singer model 15, but in a yummy turquoise with stunning decals. It sews like a dream.
    I have a dog, Buddy, too, but he is not destructive - mainly because he was already a little over a year old when we got him. He is my dear, dear Buddy! (Mr. Muddling's Lady, in the other hand, is still a chewing machine at four years, but now she restricts her chewing to Nylabones, thank God the quilt and furniture destruction is at an end for her.)
    I like the newest quilt. Isn't it amazing how a unifying fabric will just bind all those different fabrics together! Beautiful!