A “New” Friend Joins the Party ~ Singer Featherweight 221

Singer Featherweight 221 : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I have a bit of a confession. A “new” friend came to live with me last week. Meet Betty Bee. She is a Singer Featherweight 221, born in 1950. Sharing her this week is sort of timely, as yesterday was the anniversary of Isaac Singer’s patent of the sewing machine.

A few weeks ago, during my weekend in Wisconsin, I spent some time eyeing Jeni and Holly’s featherweights. Such great machines, and wow, just amazing that something with that many moving parts 60, 70, even 80 years old can still work perfectly!

Singer Featherweight 221 : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I decided that a Singer Featherweight would be a perfect travel sewing machine…and even a “kitchen table” sewing machine. My house is tall and narrow, so my sewing studio is up on a third floor. I love the idea of having a permanent, lightweight machine that I can stitch on in the kitchen when the kids are home, and then store away on a book shelf when not in use. I know a lot of these machines are listed on eBay, so I started there. I was pretty overwhelmed and honestly, I am not an eBay person. Just tell me the price and end the games! πŸ™‚ But after looking over listings and finding one that appeared to be in good shape, I did some bidding and actually won! Meet Betty Bee – named by my 8 year old daughter.

Singer Featherweight 221 : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Betty Bee had one owner before me, and previously lived very nearby in Wisconsin. In fact, so close that she took less than 24 hours to arrive at my house. The original owner’s name was on a piece of paper in the case (that also included the name of her former employer), so I Googled her and was able to print out a little history to store with the machine.

Singer Featherweight 221 : Fresh Lemons Quilts

She is in great condition. As with any machine, learning to thread it and get started can be a process. (Yes, it took me some time to realize I had the needle in wrong!)

I joined a Singer Featherweight 221/222 group on Facebook, which has awesome information in the Files area related to the machine. I also followed some online videos to help me clean her, switch the bulb to an LED, and replace the felt drip pad. (I bought the bulb, felt and a couple other maintenance items at April 1930’s Featherweight Specialty Shop.) She came with the original manual so I used that to make sure she was oiled and lubed in all the right spots.

Singer Featherweight 221 : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Besides apparently being addicted to sewing machines, I also have a weakness for Lululemon. I managed to get a bag there that fits Betty Bee and some supplies perfectly.

Singer Featherweight 221 : Fresh Lemons Quilts

Here it is, next to the original case.

Singer Featherweight 221 : Fresh Lemons Quilts

I am sure you will see more glimpses of Betty Bee popping up here and there. She came with a bunch of presser feet, some look more like torture devices. But I’m guessing I will mostly piece with her.

Singer Featherweight 221 : Fresh Lemons Quilts

She will be much cared for and used in her new home, and my daughter has already claimed her for once I die. Ha! A long, long time from now. πŸ˜‰

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42 Comments

  1. Reply

    Terry

    August 13, 2015

    I have a white Singer (with box and attachments) and she has become one of the family here too. Named her “baby” (she is the smallest of my three machines) and she performs sooooooooooo well. Enjoy – she’s a beauty!

  2. Reply

    Jane

    August 13, 2015

    I love the old machines! I’m still sewing on my Kenmore electric (non-digital!) that my parents gave me in 1966!!! I have sewed everythng form winter coats with interfacing and lining to quilts! And it works like a gem!! The only thing it needs is occasionally cleaning out the lint and oiling it and she’s good to go!! Amazing! All metal parts!! It has traveled with me from Massachusetts to California to Washington, DC, to Chicago, IL, and now to Arkansas!! πŸ™‚

  3. Reply

    Maria Fernandez

    August 13, 2015

    Gorgeous!!! I am also a proud owner of a perfect little darling featherweight 221.
    I love it!

  4. Reply

    Patty Ruettgers

    August 13, 2015

    I sew on a Singer 301a, and I love it. I inherited it from husband’s grandmother. I love the sound it makes and even the way it smells of metal and oil. I have had it for 20, and no one gets it til I go too.

  5. Reply

    Cathy erickson

    August 13, 2015

    I love my featherweight named daisy Marie! She is a similar age and I have been using her as my travelling machine for 2 years. Just awesome!

  6. Reply

    Maureen

    August 13, 2015

    Your new machine is beautiful! I keep one in the RV to work on my travel projects–such fun to see with and easy to maintain. Enjoy her!

  7. Reply

    Janet Deschamps

    August 13, 2015

    I took my great aunt’s featherweight off to college with me- 40 years ago. My sister now has her. My hubby bought me another one on ebay several years ago and I just love her. Nothing like that little dependable machine! Great for taking to classes or bees. They all make the same rattly comforting noise while they sew. Have fun!

  8. Reply

    Peggy Terzian

    August 13, 2015

    Welcome to the featherweight world! I have two featherweights-one named MayBelle born 1941, and Opal from 1948. Opal travels in my little motorhome and is fitted with a hand crank so I don’t need electricity! I LOVE MY FEATHERWEIGHTS! There, I said it.

    Have fun!

  9. Reply

    Judy Blinkenberg

    August 13, 2015

    i have a Singer 221 also! I keep it on its box. Guess I need to take it out and play with it, and give it a name!! I look forward to seeing what you make. It may get me sewing on it instead of my Bernina 780.

  10. Reply

    Stephie

    August 13, 2015

    I daren’t look in the mirror right now….I fear I may look a little green! What a great buy! I’m with you on stitching in the kitchen; I have a 1938 hand cranked Singer (called Mary!) set up permanently in mine. It’s fantastic to have her there with a few half square triangles ready to stitch while I’m waiting for the kettle to boil – no fiddling about plugging her in, finding a space for her, I can just put the kettle on and go, haha!

  11. Reply

    Linda Crawford

    August 13, 2015

    I love my 1937 featherweight. I made a birthday quilt for my cousin who was born in 1937 on it. It lives in our tiny condo in Florida. I love to sew on it, I just love the quiet way it sounds. I hope you enjoy yours as much as I enjoy mine!

  12. Reply

    Sondra Borrie

    August 13, 2015

    What a beauty!

  13. Reply

    Ellen

    August 13, 2015

    Beautiful machine. I am jealous. Have wanted one, but just isn’t practical to buy one right now. Enjoy it.

  14. Reply

    barbara woods

    August 13, 2015

    i love sewing on mine, joined the group on facebook to

  15. Reply

    Pam

    August 13, 2015

    Gorgeous. I think one day I’m going to have one as well. πŸ™‚

  16. Reply

    Bev

    August 13, 2015

    Just thought I would drop you a line about http://www.novamontgomery.com. She has a great web site for. Featherweight 221. Enjoy Betty Bee.

  17. Reply

    Bev

    August 13, 2015

    http://www.novamontgomery.com is a great site for your machine. Love the name Betty Bee. Have a great time with Nett.

  18. Reply

    Candy Radford

    August 13, 2015

    I named mine Louise and I just LOVE her!

  19. Reply

    Anne Beier

    August 13, 2015

    Have gun, and enjoy!!

  20. Reply

    Brenda

    August 13, 2015

    Welcome to the FW family. I have a 222K from my mother and a 221 my neighbour gave me. Beautiful little machines! I see you have a Singercraft attachment — lots more possibilities with that.

  21. Reply

    Rochelle

    August 13, 2015

    I have two Feather Weights and have sewn on one pretty constantly since the 1990s. My grandmother purchased one in 1967 or 68 that was green – it was new at the time and now resides with my niece. My sister purchased one about 5 years ago. And my daughter has had one longer than I have. once you sew on one you really appreciate the nice straight stitch it gives.

  22. Reply

    Sheree

    August 13, 2015

    i received my grandmothers Singer sewing machine several yars ago. I knew it wasnt a featherwight, although i really wanted one to take to classes. After a couple of years of my grandmother’s machine collecting dust in my house, i put it in storage where it has been for the last 15 years. Inwas telling a quiling friend about the machine, and she asked to see it. We did some research and found out my machine was made in 1930 and is inbetween a featherweight and the industrial machine. I love that machine.

  23. Reply

    Anja Clyke

    August 13, 2015

    Congratulations. Hoping to own one someday.

  24. Reply

    Rosemary

    August 13, 2015

    Oh yours is a shining beauty.
    Welcome home! β™₯️
    I have three….. I only use one. I need to sell the other two.
    They are in perfect shape, all the accessories and case and key!
    One day I will take some photos and such and sell them
    They really need good homes.
    Enjoy your sweet Betty Bee. She looks dearly loved

  25. Reply

    Tina Short

    August 14, 2015

    Congratulations!
    I have one too…..Gladys……so named because she makes me so glad that I bit the bullet and bought her.

  26. Reply

    Karen @runsewfun

    August 14, 2015

    Great post and fun reading through the comments, too. I love that you’ve added a history of the original owner to store with the machine. I thought perhaps your son would claim her as a previous post made it look like your daughter has already claimed your 440. l laughed out loud at the comment from your daughter about it being hers when you die! Enjoy!

    • Reply

      Faith

      August 14, 2015

      She claims everything. lol πŸ™‚

  27. Reply

    Alice in WV

    August 14, 2015

    I was your daughter’s age or younger when I fell in love with my mom’s Featherweight. Mom had inherited it from her aunt, who’d bought it new in the 1930’s. Mom is still alive, but loaned the sacred Featherweight to me a few years ago and I haven’t exactly returned it. I love it! I do all my piecing on it. It’s a total workhorse, trust me. (I’ve seen Mom hem jeans on it.) So, after more than 40 years of coveting that machine, it lives with me now, and I use it almost daily. Get ready to fall love with yours!

  28. Reply

    Ronda Kernodle

    August 14, 2015

    Congratulations on Betty Bee! My wonderful husband purchased my dream machine for me and I LOVE it but it is SO heavy I simply couldn’t continue taking it to retreats, sew ins and classes. My sweet sewing group consists of several Featherweight owners who sing their praises weekly. I purchased my 1941 (my dad’s birth year) Featherweight and have been in awe of ‘Lil Bit’ ever since she arrived. She has the same bobbin mechanism as my new dream machine! Isn’t that incredible? I love piecing with her. When our group sews together our little Featherweights harmonize well together. Enjoy! .

  29. Reply

    suznquilts

    August 14, 2015

    Loved reading your adoring comments about your new Featherweight. I have been calling mine “Elaine” in honor of my quilting friend who gave me her 221 — my inheritance. She passed it on to me because she said she knew that I would appreciate it. And I do !

  30. Reply

    L

    August 14, 2015

    I love that bag! A very creative repurposing

  31. Reply

    Carolina

    August 14, 2015

    Congrats, she is a beauty!!

  32. Reply

    Rebecca Grace

    August 14, 2015

    Woo hoo — congratulations on the newest member of your sewing family! Beware, though — most people can’t stop at just one Featherweight. I have two black ones, one from 1935 before they even had numbers on the tension dial or on the stitch plate, and the other from 1951. And I find myself still wishing for a white one or a beige one… πŸ˜‰

    • Reply

      Faith

      August 14, 2015

      Yes, I’m already trying to justify a white one. πŸ™‚

  33. Reply

    Robyn Lieberman

    August 14, 2015

    My Dad bought one at a flea market last year and shipped it out to me as a surprise. I was tickled to have it… it works… sort of. (Then I put it back in the shipping box… and have not looked at it since πŸ™
    Thanks to this post I am inspired to follow through and actually learn how to fix it up and give it the TLC it deserves to escape its shipping box

  34. Reply

    diane beavers

    August 15, 2015

    Faith , congrats on your new Baby:)
    Enjoy her!

  35. Reply

    Kristin

    August 15, 2015

    Congratulations ,! You will love your Featherweight. I’ve had one as my primary machine for over 15 years! πŸ™‚

  36. Reply

    Reena Kaplowitz

    August 17, 2015

    All my childhood was spent in the shadow of the Singer sewing machine factory in Elizabeth NJ. The red factory building and the giant letters spelling out SINGER dominated one whole area of the skyline. I went back this year in May and the factory is no longer there.

  37. Reply

    Janet Rowland

    August 19, 2015

    I use my grandmother’s Featherweight and it’s great! I have a button hole attachment if you need it. It’s funny, I was thinking about the attachment the other day. I’ve made all my quilts on that machine. I love it.

  38. Reply

    Barbara Showell

    August 20, 2015

    Those torture device attachments are so much fun!!! And they do some amazing things. Several are still being sold (sometimes in slightly modified form) today. I highly recommend you try out one every week or month, as an added, hidden bonus to the joy of your machine. Ah, the perfect little tucks that ruffler will make. And the zig-zager is kind of amazing to watch. Enjoy!

  39. Reply

    Teresa Kasner

    August 23, 2015

    I named my Featherweight “Minnie Belle” – after a 98 year old lady I know. πŸ™‚ You can see mine by googling – Teresa Kasner Featherweight – ((hugs)), Teresa πŸ™‚

  40. Reply

    Judith Blinkenberg

    August 28, 2015

    Welcome! I recently joined the Facebook page too! I’ve had my 1948 girl for over 5 years but just recently taken her out and shined her up! It is a wonderful group of ladies on Facebook! I want a nice table for my machine next. I’m so used to the big Bernina 780 I own. Enjoy your blog!

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