Lusting After a Featherweight -- What do I Need to Know, Where Should I Look?
I have never actually sewn on a machine that was not computerized and capable of embroidery and all the other bells and whistles of a modern machine. I recently brought home a sleek, new, Bernina 750 QE that I love... and yet I have been lusting after Featherweights ALL DAY LONG. I think they are gorgeous, especially the pre-war FWs with the gorgeous Art Deco face plates, and I love the history and mechanical simplicity of these machines (relative to my computerized machine). But I don't know anyone who actually owns a Featherweight, and I do actually want to sew with it -- I want that elusive, legendary, perfect straight stitch for piecing. The portability is key as well, since my other machine weighs 30 pounds. So, I've looked on eBay and on Craig's List, but have heard horror stories of vintage machines arriving all smashed up from shoddy pack jobs, or of sellers who are so ignorant of the machine they are selling that you don't know what you're getting until it shows up. I found a couple of web sites where various FW machines in excellent cosmetic condition with all original parts, serviced, restored, and ready to sew were selling between $500-700 USD for the 221 and $1K or more for the 222 free arm model, including express shipping and a 1 year warranty. I really prefer the Art Deco styling on the faceplate of the earlier pre-war machines, but I'm sure that advancements and improvements were made to this model over the years, such as the seam width markings that were eventually added to the stitch plate. Other than just picking one that looks pretty, are some years better than others for FW machines? What is a reasonable price to pay? Some FWs on eBay are in the $200-300 range but are missing cases or other parts, have no guarantee that they are even in working condition, and look terrible. My husband is pretty "handy" so I feel like he can keep the machine in good order for me as long as I find a tech guide somewhere, but are some of the FWs just in such bad shape that I should pass them by? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!