Old 12-05-2016, 03:53 AM
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Default Featherweight?

I am new to quilting and have a 1970s Bernini that my mother got for me when I was a kid. No problems with that, but I have been interested in buying an old vintage machine for just straight stitching. I've heard a little about the Featherweights and looked at a few online but I don't know what to look for. There is so much difference in prices! I could be so easily taken! I guess what I'm asking is what should I be looking for? What should I be asking the seller? How much should I expect to spend for a decent one? Is there somewhere, besides Ebay and Craigslist, that I should be looking? Is there some other models that I should be looking for? HELP!
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:39 AM
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You've started the hunt and it sounds like you are exploring. After looking for several years, I finally found one that I thought was worth the price and jumped on it. They seem to be different prices in different areas. Personally, I don't trust the ebay prices. They are just too high to make sense to me. Just keep your eyes and ears open and let your sewing friends know you are looking for one. You just never know what will come your way.
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Old 12-05-2016, 04:59 AM
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Shopgoodwill.com is another good source for featherweights. Usually the price is determined by the visual condition of the machine, the color, the box and the accessories. Are the decals intact or worn off? Is the finish in good shape? White is more expensive than black. Is the case on good condition and does it have all the feet, buttonholer, etc. Does it have a manual? All of those items go into how much it will cost.

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Old 12-05-2016, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by CGS
I have been interested in buying an old vintage machine for just straight stitching. I've heard a little about the Featherweights and looked at a few online but I don't know what to look for.
I know that many quilters pull out all stops to get a Featherweight, but I have one and still don't know what all the fuss is about. I don't think you could go wrong with a Singer 301A. I use mine more than any of the other machines I have. It goes to retreats with me where I am surrounded by expensive machines. It makes a pretty straight stitch, no zigzag, and I have sewn through different fabrics with no problems.
I have a lot of older or vintage machines and often buy from shopgoodwill.com, but only from a site where I can pick it up. I would not trust their packing and shipping.
If you feel your life will not be complete until you have a Featherweight, pass the word around and one usually turns up when you least expect it. When you look at one, make sure it has the bobbin case and extra bobbins. I've met at least two different people who paid $10 for a Featherweight in a thrift store because the person who priced them must have thought they were toys.
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Old 12-05-2016, 07:14 AM
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You have a good machine now but a featherweight is nice if you want something small and portable to travel or take to workshops. Bonnie Hunter at www.quiltville.blogspot.ca has a tab on her site of her antique machine collection that you might like to look at.
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Old 12-05-2016, 08:21 AM
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Surprisingly enough, I just found mine on Facebook Marketplace. Good deal, great seller, who is now going to be a new longarm customer for me, even though she's out of state.

As far as sewing on it goes... well, I just got her on Saturday, but my weekend has been chaos, so I haven't even had a chance to play with her yet.
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Old 12-05-2016, 10:37 AM
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If you get a chance to sew on it before buying, note that the thread goes through the needle right to left. Check the condition of the foot pedal and wiring.

I agree with elnan that the 301 (big sister to the FW) is my choice. It is similar to the FW in many ways, but the slant needle gives me a better line of vision, and the standard needle plate has the lines for measurement (quarter inch, half inch, etc.)
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Old 12-05-2016, 11:30 AM
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I was able to get one from Shopgoodwill.com and also Ebay. Goodwill can only tell you if it turns on, they won't give any clue whether the stitching is any good. (I have a really good sewing machine repair dude, so was more determine to get a decent looking one at a good price.) Just remember they will be shipping it to you, so there is an additional cost, not to mention they need to know how to pack them for shipping.

You should decide what you want to spend. I spent $187.00 for one and $300.00 for another because I got caught up in the bidding process. I only use mine for travel since my Janome MC6600 is always set up. I know some people actually quilt with theirs - they must be extremely patient and very talented.

Last edited by quiltingcandy; 12-05-2016 at 11:39 AM.
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Old 12-05-2016, 11:38 AM
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The tan FW's seem to be the priciest these days, at least on shopgoodwill. No difference in performance, though, and the pre-1953 black models have pretty faceplates. I really love my FW for piecing get-togethers, like the Linus Project, because it is so easy to carry and easy to keep running as well. I've seen a few nice ones in the Pacific NW for $250-300. People steal the bobbin cases out of them, so check to be sure yours comes with one (vintage, not new, unless through a trusted source who tests the new ones). The 301a's are great, too!
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Old 12-05-2016, 12:06 PM
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After looking around for several years I finally found one I could afford. The ones on Ebay and other online sites seem to be very much out of my price range. Saw some at a quilt show in wonderful condition, looked like new but those too started at $500 or more-more than I could afford. I would also check craigslist from time to time and look at rummage and yard sales(never found one at a sale but almost never got to one when they opened). Finally found one listed on Craigs list for a nice price, a little bit over 100. It was a bout 3-4 days after posting so I thought I missed this one too, but called and it was still available so arranged a place to meet and made sure it would run and made the purchase. The cord on the foot looked frayed so I decided to order a new foot before using it. When I asked a very experienced quilter at a quilt show what makes the feather weight so appealing to quilters she said it doesn't zigzag so the fabric feeds through without the shifting a zigzag opening might cause, and it is easy to take along for classes or to work on away from home.
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