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Thread: Featherweight Question

  1. #1
    ForestHobbit's Avatar
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    Hope to see a featherweight in my future soon. Have looked at those "born" in the 1930's to 1964. Does the age of the machine make a difference or do they all work pretty much the same? I am trying for the best price for the best machine that fits into my budget and have not considered the year "born". They all seem to have the same attachments. Do any of you have suggestions as to important things to look for specifically in featherweights? Appreciate your help all you talented people!

  2. #2
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    They are all pretty much the same. There are some Anniversary machines that sell for a little more. But as long as the condition is good, they all are the same. I bought my Birthday machine, made the year and month I was born.
    Quote Originally Posted by ForestHobbit
    Hope to see a featherweight in my future soon. Have looked at those "born" in the 1930's to 1964. Does the age of the machine make a difference or do they all work pretty much the same? I am trying for the best price for the best machine that fits into my budget and have not considered the year "born". They all seem to have the same attachments. Do any of you have suggestions as to important things to look for specifically in featherweights? Appreciate your help all you talented people!

  3. #3
    Super Member shequilts's Avatar
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    My husband collects and occasionally sells Featherweights. I personally sew on one as much as I do on my more expensive
    Bernina. The stitch is wonderful, always tight and straight. The birth year doesn't really matter. I got my first one for my birthday and it was born the same year as I was. I might say, it's in better condition, and runs much better too!
    These little work horses are extremely well built and will outlive most of us. They are simple to maintain and like Timex, they just "keep on a tickin'."
    Odor/mold can be a problem with the cases. (The little black boxes they come in.) It's hard to get the odor out, in fact, if it's really musty, nothing really works. I have a friend who got sick everytime she used hers. She had ordered it from EBAY. She had mentioned that it smelled musty, but when I saw it I nearly choked. The odor was very strong and mold was all up under the side attachment box. The lesson here is to BEWARE of anything with even a slight odor. None of mine smell and they date back to 1938.
    Don't rush to buy, there are plenty out there. I bought one just this last weekend. Good luck in your search, you'll love your Featherweight.

  4. #4
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    There are two for sale at a sewing machine shop near me. One is $100 more than the other. What determines the price?
    How can you tell one is different from another?

  5. #5
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    There are two for sale at a sewing machine shop near me. One is $100 more than the other. What determines the price?
    How can you tell one is different from another?

  6. #6
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
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    They say condition. Like the gold decals should be in good shape.

  7. #7
    Super Member shequilts's Avatar
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    It's a good thing for the decals (gold) to be intact, but they aren't always, Where the right hand lays on the machine usually wears away the gold. Also, the faceplate on the end of the machine may be either striated or scrolled. The scroll plate is the most collectible. They were made prior to the war. After the war began, they required less metal for the straight striated plate.
    Age is not really a price factor unless its a centennial edition machine. You can determine this by looking at the little decal on the front right of the machine. The centennial medallion is circled in blue vs. black on the other models. Centennial models demand a greater price because of the relative rarity.
    The plug where the cord plugs into the machine should be inspected for damage. These are easily broken when the plug is removed. The cord should always be removed straight away from the machine to prevent cracking/breaking the plug. A replacement plug can cost 25-35 dollars.
    Look at the black carrying case. Inspect it for an intact handle. The older ones were leather, new or reproduction ones are frequently plastic. Smell the box. If it smells moldy, don't buy it. There may be a faint smell of old glue. (Glue was made from horses hooves.)
    Accessories include a variety of pressor feet, a few small tools, (i.e. screwdrivers, foot screws, etc.) It's always good to have an manual with the machine. Many people take them out and sell them independently from the machines.
    Also check the bobbin and bobbin case. The bobbin case (where the bobbin fits into the machine) must be there and be intact. These can become bent and therefore useless. The bobbin itself is subject to being bent if dropped. If this happens, it's also trash. Replacing a bobbin case is expensive. Most sellers remove the bobbin while displaying the machines because they are frequently stolen. Alos, check for a key. They are hard to find, but they are out there. The little black case originally had a key for the two locks on them.
    I hope this info helps you in your search. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

  8. #8
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    If you have a case that smells musty, if you use the x strength Febreeze and put it in the sunshine, most of it will come out. You may need to do it several times and, store it with the lid open, until most of the smell is gone. I bought one on ebay and the smell was really bad and that seem to work really well. It usually isn't from moisture. The machine is in excellent shape, it was just the case. I use it all the time, in fact looks like a brand new machine. The Featherweights have a oil felt in the bottom of the machine. If it hasn't been cleaned or changed, that is where most of the smell comes from and it transfers to the cloth or paper that lines the cases.

  9. #9
    ForestHobbit's Avatar
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    Shequilts you ROCK. Thank you for so much information.

  10. #10
    ForestHobbit's Avatar
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    Thank you Shaverg. Have been looking on ebay so probably won't be able to check one in person.

  11. #11
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    My first one I bought. I got for $180, it is in really great condition. I did take it to the guy here that does featherweights to check it out. It was perfect, but it was also the one with the smelly case. If you look on line you will find the musty smell is pretty normal on a lot of the machines. They explain about the felt in the bottom of the machines, use to catch oil and if they stay closed up, which mine had been, that smell gets in the case, but the machines are usually fine.http://antiquescollectibles.suite101...eight_221_case
    Quote Originally Posted by ForestHobbit
    Thank you Shaverg. Have been looking on ebay so probably won't be able to check one in person.

  12. #12
    Senior Member hoppyfrog's Avatar
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    I took a maintance class a few months ago and the teacher has two methods she uses to remove the smell. The smell is mildew/mold and heat will kill it. I haven't tried either one yet on my case. I'll probably use the second option. First one is turning on your oven to 200-225 and putting the case in with the oven door closed for 12-18 hours. Second is putting a 40 watt light in the case with the lid propped open and inch or so. She makes a hanger for the cord out of a ruler the tapes the light to it so it doesn't touch the inside of the box. Set it in a covered area outside the house and leave it for 18-24 hours. Like I said I haven't tried either method but she's used both for many years. She owns about thirty at any given time with buying, selling and trading them.

  13. #13
    Super Member shequilts's Avatar
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    I won't dispute the premise that heat will kill the mold, but the heat will also dry out the glue that holds the liner in place. Not only that, but it will further dry the wood that the case is made of and make it even more brittle than it already is. Liners frequently roll up and peel away anyway. The box wood is very thin and could easily crack, especially on the top.
    With our collection, we do leave them open to air, then crumple newspaper to leave inside for a few days. A dryer sheet left inside will freshen it up, but those that REALLY smell just won't get better. I would never buy one that has that awful odor. I bought one to try and NOTHING worked. As we all know, the only way to get rid of mold is to completely remove it. If it remains, it will come back. Unfortunately, you can't remove it without destroying the originality of the box. You can't replace the original liner.

  14. #14
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shequilts
    It's a good thing for the decals (gold) to be intact, but they aren't always, Where the right hand lays on the machine usually wears away the gold. Also, the faceplate on the end of the machine may be either striated or scrolled. The scroll plate is the most collectible. They were made prior to the war. After the war began, they required less metal for the straight striated plate.
    Age is not really a price factor unless its a centennial edition machine. You can determine this by looking at the little decal on the front right of the machine. The centennial medallion is circled in blue vs. black on the other models. Centennial models demand a greater price because of the relative rarity.
    The plug where the cord plugs into the machine should be inspected for damage. These are easily broken when the plug is removed. The cord should always be removed straight away from the machine to prevent cracking/breaking the plug. A replacement plug can cost 25-35 dollars.
    Look at the black carrying case. Inspect it for an intact handle. The older ones were leather, new or reproduction ones are frequently plastic. Smell the box. If it smells moldy, don't buy it. There may be a faint smell of old glue. (Glue was made from horses hooves.)
    Accessories include a variety of pressor feet, a few small tools, (i.e. screwdrivers, foot screws, etc.) It's always good to have an manual with the machine. Many people take them out and sell them independently from the machines.
    Also check the bobbin and bobbin case. The bobbin case (where the bobbin fits into the machine) must be there and be intact. These can become bent and therefore useless. The bobbin itself is subject to being bent if dropped. If this happens, it's also trash. Replacing a bobbin case is expensive. Most sellers remove the bobbin while displaying the machines because they are frequently stolen. Alos, check for a key. They are hard to find, but they are out there. The little black case originally had a key for the two locks on them.
    I hope this info helps you in your search. Please feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.
    great info...thanks

  15. #15
    ForestHobbit's Avatar
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    Have found a nice little machine with a problem. Not ready to purchase anything yet but would ask your opinion on how serious the problem may be. This is what the ad said.
    1949 Singer 221-1 Featherweight Sewing Machine w/ Case and Extras (see photos for all contents of auction). The machine's serial number is AJ219678. This item appeared to be in fine working order when we first got it in a month back but now the needle is not moving with the foot pedal. The light turns on. When the pedal is pressed, the machine sounds like it is trying to work but the needle does not move.

    Does this sound like a probably easy to fix problem or a pain in the kudzu that will cause hate and consternation.

    Sounds like something is either frozen up or jammed.

  16. #16
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    Mine was not mold, it was the smell that had soaked in from the felt drip pad in the bottom of the featherweights that collect the oil, that is where most of the smell comes from. I don't think the wood could be any dryer, it is over 50 years old. The glue had already started to come loose the best way to fix the glued area is dampen the paper lining and add elmers glue while it is damp, it will make the paper lining draw really taught when it dries and you cannot even tell it has been reglued. I have done this for several years. the case looks like a brand new case, I keep it polished and aired. Unless you actually see mold in the case and on the machine the smell is pretty normal, especially if it has been stored and the felt pad had not been changed in the machine. My grandmothers smelled just like that, stored in a dry place it was just from the oil pad.We have 3 2 had the smell, now almost completely gone and all three beautiful, perfect machine, never have been repaired.
    Quote Originally Posted by shequilts
    I won't dispute the premise that heat will kill the mold, but the heat will also dry out the glue that holds the liner in place. Not only that, but it will further dry the wood that the case is made of and make it even more brittle than it already is. Liners frequently roll up and peel away anyway. The box wood is very thin and could easily crack, especially on the top.
    With our collection, we do leave them open to air, then crumple newspaper to leave inside for a few days. A dryer sheet left inside will freshen it up, but those that REALLY smell just won't get better. I would never buy one that has that awful odor. I bought one to try and NOTHING worked. As we all know, the only way to get rid of mold is to completely remove it. If it remains, it will come back. Unfortunately, you can't remove it without destroying the originality of the box. You can't replace the original liner.

  17. #17
    Super Member alaskasunshine's Avatar
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    i own 6 featherweights. 1 is a cent, 1 is white. by far is my favorite is my first one her name is abby. abby was roughly used and dented she was made in 1934. i just love her but truely they all sew wonderfully. :thumbup: living in alaska makes for difficult shipping. have a blast looking for just the right "baby" to come along. i got wine woman her connections for hers on craigs list. that is a great place to start esp. if they are in your area. i have found more featherweights are available in the mid west. let us see what you come up with. ooohhh this i so exciting!

  18. #18
    ForestHobbit's Avatar
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    Thanks Alaskasunshine. I am in California and we do have Craig's list. Have only found 2 featherweights so far and they were priced quite high. Am doing much better on ebay. Found one I am in love with and already calling her Sally Sue that will end on Sunday. She is a beauty. Hope the price stays in my budget. Keeping my fingers and everything else crossed until the final bell rings.

  19. #19
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    ForestHobbit, I am in California too. I found mine on ebay from an estate sale in Georgia, ended up getting if for 180, in perfect condition, just need some very light cleaning, all the decals were perfect. You are right they are pretty high here in California. At the Road2CA show, some guy from Kansas showed up with a booth selling plain old featherweights for 1400+. I don't know if he thought since our prices on everything here are pretty high if we were uninformed and would pay that kind of price. We were there for the three days, didn't see a lot of machines leaving his booth. I had to laugh.

    I have seen alot of them at shows from locals for 400+, that is still a little high unless it is a Centennial. I have also looked on Craig's list, no luck, even the old treadles are really pricey. Be patient sometimes it is harder to get a good deal on the ones closing out on the weekend with ebay. I actually had my highest bid at 225, on the machine I got and forgot about it, it closed out during the night and surprise, surprise.

    I am still wanting a white one at some point.
    Quote Originally Posted by ForestHobbit
    Thanks Alaskasunshine. I am in California and we do have Craig's list. Have only found 2 featherweights so far and they were priced quite high. Am doing much better on ebay. Found one I am in love with and already calling her Sally Sue that will end on Sunday. She is a beauty. Hope the price stays in my budget. Keeping my fingers and everything else crossed until the final bell rings.

  20. #20
    ForestHobbit's Avatar
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    I am in San Jose. My grandson is at basic training in San Diego. Where are you located?

  21. #21
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    I am in Castaic, North LA county right on the 5 before you go up the Grapevine. We use to live in the Bay area. All of my husbands family are in Northern California. He has cousins in San Jose.
    I am actually going to San Diego for the day on Wednesday.
    Quote Originally Posted by ForestHobbit
    I am in San Jose. My grandson is at basic training in San Diego. Where are you located?

  22. #22
    ForestHobbit's Avatar
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    We will be going down April 13 for our grandson's graduation. He is joining the Marine Corp. What part of San Jose did your hubby live in? I am a native San Josean as well as California. Have lived on So. 11 street, 14th and then 16th st, Bellerose (by Valley Fair) and off Meridian & Branham. Also lived in Santa Clara, Saratoga and Half Moon Bay. Went to Santa Clara High. This many moves is over 67 years, so it's not all that much.

  23. #23
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    I am not sure, I just remember we use to get off on Blossom Hill Rd, he stayed with his Aunt and Uncle, while we were selling our house in Seattle. His mom and dad live in Salinas on 69 between Salinas and Monterey, his brother is in Las Altos, he has and Aunt and uncle still in San Jose and several cousins, not sure how to explain where. Has an Aunt and Uncle in Morgan Hill, we lived in Livermore for a few years, he worked in Milpitas. My best friend lives in Oakland, I fly up several time a year, so we take girl trips.
    Quote Originally Posted by ForestHobbit
    We will be going down April 13 for our grandson's graduation. He is joining the Marine Corp. What part of San Jose did your hubby live in? I am a native San Josean as well as California. Have lived on So. 11 street, 14th and then 16th st, Bellerose (by Valley Fair) and off Meridian & Branham. Also lived in Santa Clara, Saratoga and Half Moon Bay. Went to Santa Clara High. This many moves is over 67 years, so it's not all that much.

  24. #24
    ForestHobbit's Avatar
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    We are near Blossom Hill Road. Funny how we are all connected somehow.

  25. #25
    Super Member shaverg's Avatar
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    It really is a small world.
    Quote Originally Posted by ForestHobbit
    We are near Blossom Hill Road. Funny how we are all connected somehow.

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