Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sewing Machine Sundays: Singer Featherweight 222K

The very well-maintained case, always a good sign.

Neatly nestled in the box, with the accessories and other ephemera. I have to say that despite the name "Featherweight", and all those ads showing finely-clad ladies hefting one up in the palms of their hands, I did not find this all that light - well, definitely not in comparison with a portable typewriter. It was relatively comfortable to carry, and we did not have too far to walk, but I was still happy to set it down when we got home!

And... here she is. I would rate the condition at 8.5 out of a possible 10; the seller billed it as "new", "sparingly used", etc, and it shows. There are a few scratches, one small crack near the light, but everything is generally clean and free of corrosion.

A close-up of the badge. From the serial number, EJ267332, it would appear this was manufactured sometime in November 1953.

The extras in the case included original Singer Sewing Machine Oil and Motor Lubricant, a Singer-branded seam ripper, instruction manuals (in French) for both the 222K and its earlier counterpart the 221K, and lots of attachments and accessories as well as a Singer ad.

Spare bobbins, keys for the case, and special feet - ruffler, hemmer, edge-stitcher, and a few others I'm still figuring out. No zipper foot or buttonhole attachment though, I'll have to source those later if I decide I want them.

The other side of the Singer 221 ad that came in the box.

Foot controller, box with attachments, and a brown paper bag that seems to date from Singer's centennial year of 1951... perhaps the owner bought something in the singer store and it was packaged in this bag?

Swiss-made! A zigzag attachment, which greatly increases the versatility of this otherwise straight-stitch machine. I look forward to figuring it out, but I'm sure it'll take me a while to get the hang of it. Just look:

Quite the contraption, indeed. Those gear-like discs are cams that enable one to change the zigzag pattern.

I should study the manual carefully - fortunately, it helps that I have also downloaded the English version.

The nice thing about having a Singer Featherweight (and partly what motivated me to seek one out) is that there is an absolute wealth of information available about how it works, how to maintain and troubleshoot, and how to source spare parts. I could spend days immersed in this stuff... and I probably will, too :)

This evening, we lubricated it and ran it for a while with some test fabric - it works. I have to sort out the lower (bobbin) thread tension, and the motor emits an initial puff of smoke that is a bit worrying (but from what I have read, not unusual for a machine that has been sitting for years). It is supposed to clear up with a bit of use, so I'll hope for that. For someone who has been decidedly mediocre at typewriter repair, I am even more helpless when wiring is thrown into the mix, so I'll just knock on wood and proceed with caution. Whatever happens, though, I still think it was a fairly good deal - especially with all the ephemera and extras - and I am thoroughly pleased to welcome it to my small sewing machine collection.

17 comments:

  1. Beautiful! I would love to get my hands on a machine like that one day!

    ReplyDelete
  2. What an awesome sewing machine! I actually saw one of these at an auction recently, and the bidding went up to about $220! I don't know much about these things, but that seemed high to me, especially for an electric. I suppose I automatically assume the same of everything else as I do of typewriters...electric is worth less!
    That is truly a beautiful piece of machinery. I love that it folds, and it reminds me of the folding Hammond Multiplex. Sorry to go back to typewriters, but that is all I have to compare these with.
    Leila and I have been looking at treadle sewing machines with tables for a while now. We have come across a few nice ones, but have never pulled the trigger. I just don't know where I would put it. An OLD one, with table, went for $5 at an auction I was at today. I didn't even have time to consider it, as they were 'speed auctioning'. It was pure insanity! They would pick up the piece of furniture for two seconds, bidding would start, and they would nearly run it down the ramp with the rest of the sold furniture before bidding even ended. I regret it now, but I would have had to have my father in law transport it, and I hate to ask him to drive stuff to my house.
    At any rate, sorry for the ramble, and that is quite a nice sewing machine you have there. I'd love to see pictures of what you produce with it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the first preconception I had to let go of with sewing machines - electric ones were introduced as far back as the '30s and are even more prized in the vintage market than manual (hand crank/ treadle) models, mainly because they are also more portable. The hand cranks come with the giant wooden domed cover that is quite bulky, and of course the treadle ones are dependent on being fixed to a desk. So portable electrics like Featherweights and Grasshoppers are as popular as Hermes Babies and Olympia Splendids in the typewriter world. I'd love to try a treadle someday, but it will have to be someone else's as I just wouldn't have the space for it at home! Once I make something on this Featherweight, I'll put up some pictures :)

      Delete
  3. It looks lovely - seems we both had a good day!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Since I know nothing about sewing machines, I will go by looks alone- that Singer Featherweight 222K looks sleek and cool. Congratulations, Adwoa!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a beauty! My mom used to make our clothes with a Singer sewing machine when we were kids, she even had a newer, electric model (the other was operated by a pedal). I remember I was very intrigued about all those plastic discs that magically made the machine to change stitches and even make fancy patterns.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Very nice score. They should have come down more after waiting that long. My Universal was the same - I waited them out and got it for 25 instead of 50.
    I saw a man at a festival making items to sell with a full-size Singer with a treadle table not unlike ours. Wish I could have gotten a photo for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The price was fair, so I didn't want to spend much time haggling - besides the lady who eventually handed it over to me (and who was NOT the same person I had written emails to) was at least 85 years old and seemed quite frail; not quite the sparring partner for bargaining. After all the intrigue surrounding the purchase (I still don't even know the name of the old lady), I just wanted to get my paws on it and be done with it. At the end of the day, I'm more willing to bargain aggressively for items I could see myself walking away from... and I really wanted this!

      Delete
    2. Good points all. For my Adler I wouldn't have driven such a hard bargain had I known about the typeface, so there you go.

      Delete
  7. I learned to sew on my grandmother's Singer treadle machine. Man, those things could sew through anything! I've since been the fortunate recipient of a Wheeler & Wilson treadle machine from an friend who was downsizing for a move. Haven't actually sewn anything with it, but it does run smoothly.

    Your Featherweight is quite the find, Adwoa! And in such good condition with most of the acccessories. In the U.S. that would be hard to come by for reasonable money. Congrats! And have fun sewing. I loved seeing the recent pic of you on your couch with matching fabric! I recently bought some old drapes at Goodwill to make some trousers with. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you liked my skirt, Ledeaux! I have made a few other things, and it really is lots of fun figuring out this whole sewing thing... and using it as an excuse to bring home more retro tech treasures! Oh, and fully 80% of the items I have sewn so far have been made from thrift/flea curtains, bedsheets, tablecloths... as a beginner, I can't see myself cutting into expensive "proper" fabric and risking wasting it in case of a mistake.

      Delete
  8. You guys are so spoiled in Switzerland! I have 4 Singer Featherweight sewing machines: one black (over $500.00), one white (over $500.00), one of the rare beige (over $500.00),and a fully refurbished one in white (a little over $800.00). This is the one I use the most. They are all in in perfect working order. The one you just bought looks to be in excellent condition. You can find many good maintenance manuals on the web, at least in English and here in the US. Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Richard K (at least I think it's you); I am beginning to appreciate the joy of finding under-the-radar deals here. Now that I know what to look for, I shall be keeping my eyes open for more serendipitous finds. Who knows, perhaps some of the attachments I lack might turn up here eventually - I bought a Bernina zipper foot for 50 cents at the flea market recently mixed in with a bunch of bobbins.

      While I'd like a buttonholer, they are heavy and shipping cost from the US will probably bring the price of one to half of what I paid for the machine itself! Can't have that... so until I find one locally I will just practice making buttonholes on my very capable Bernina.

      Delete
  9. Thanks for pointing me to your post. Your 222 machine looks amazing, congrats! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Congrats on your score! I found your post while looking for info on the 222k as I was just fortunate to "score" one myself a week ago.

    I'd like to share some of what I've found out thus far, though it's likely that you know all this yourself since it's been more than a year since your original post. There's good maintenance info at this site: http://www.novamontgomery.com/singer-featherweight-221-tip-of-the-month.htm (I'm not associated with her in any way save as an appreciative reader).

    Your comment about the motor smoking scares me a bit. I'm currently waiting on a maintenance kit I purchased online, and then I'm going to open my own motor up and see what's going on because mine smells suspicious (electrical burn smell) though no smoke is evident when I try to sew with her. If it looks like I'm in over my head, I'm not taking any chances & I'll pay a reputable repair shop to do what needs doing.

    Anyway, good luck with your 222k! I'm curious to know if you've been able to find any more attachments for her.

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...