Saturday, August 12, 2017

1933 Singer Featherweight

End of July while browsing through Featherweights on Ebay . . . something exciting caught me by surprise.   An early 1930s Featherweight. 

From the seller's photos--I could see the chrome hand wheel, an early machine feature on machines between 1933 through 1947. 

Then,  I saw the pale teal green interior of the black case and tray.

Note the cutout circle in the tray, to allow for the spool pin to clear when putting machine and tray away in its case.

The seller provided no statement of condition (didn't mention if it still sewed). 

Didn't mention if it had its original bobbin case.    I didn't ask.  I didn't want to look too eager about  my intentions to bring this machine home to Wisconsin.  It came from an estate sale in Maryland. 

Another Clue:  
The school bell style bobbin thread guide on 1933 and 1934 models, and some 1935.  I understand the school bell bobbin thread guide was fragile, and by the end of 1935 was replaced with different type.  But also there was a portable table being manufactured for the early Featherweights, and Singer relocated a new flatter style bobbin thread guide, so it would fit the table.

Bottom right of photo - the unique school bell bobbin thread guide.

Next clue:
Confirmation - its serial number AD549140.  Commission Date 3 October 1933

First 10,000 Singer Featherweights were manufactured in 1933, with commission date of 3 October.
The first machine serial numbers were: AD541546 through AD551545.

Of this run, a couple hundred were pulled intermittently off the line and fitted with a red and gold badge to be introduced and sold at the 1933-34 Century of Progress Show in Chicago, (Chicago World's Fair).    Machines with the Chicago badge can fetch up to $5,000.

At the height of the Great Depression in 1933:  20% unemployment, a loaf of bread cost 8 cents, and a gallon of gas 10 cents.  The Singer Featherweight cost $125.  The red and gold badged machines at the Chicago World's Fair sold for $150 each.

The Singer 221 Featherweight weighs 11.25 lbs.  It's a tiny machine, that proved to be a workhorse.  Favorite machine of quilters in quilting groups.  Very portable, very reliable.


How did the nickname Featherweight start? 

I read one theory.  In 1916 the Indian motorcycle was introduced.  By today's standards the 1916 Indian was little more than a bicycle with a motor.  It was called a 221cc Featherweight.  Perhaps one of the Singer designers was inspired by this.

When my 1933 Singer Featherweight arrived, there were pros and cons about its packaging:


After all the careful bubble packing . . . the metal foot control is not wrapped and is sitting metal to metal in the harp area on the bedplate. 

Not wrapping the foot control will chip and scratch the bedplate.  I'm going to say it out loud . . . "this was such a dumb thing to do." 

Worse, it was put in the harp area upside down, with its cushion feet up in the air, and its metal speed control button touching, scratching, chipping away the enamel on the bedplate.  

Recently, I purchased a 1935 (commission date 30 Dec ) Singer 221 Featherweight shipped to me in the same reckless way, with its unprotected metal foot control sitting in the harp area on the bedplate. 

Spread the word: To avoid chips and scratches . . .
make a polar fleece pouch to wrap the foot control when storing or traveling.

New Bits and Pieces for the 1933, purchased from The Featherweight Shop online:

1 x Belt, Featherweight Black V-Belt 17 1/2 inch for $8.95 USD each
1 x Bed Cushions, Rubber Feet - Set of 4 / Grey for $5.95 USD each
1 x Light Bulb, LED - 110 Volt (Warm Light) for $12.95 USD each
1 x Cord Replacement, Foot Controller CORD / ELECTRIC WIRING for $14.95 USD each

I have an upcoming appointment with R & L Electric to discuss what to do about the scrapes on the power cord.   Perhaps he'll suggest a repair, but I have a backup plan to install a new cord replacement.  I confess, I haven't plugged in the 1933 yet.  I am waiting for a cue from R & L to drive to their shop to evaluate the machine/motor/power cord.  They are really busy right now and I am behaving and being patient, waiting for my turn. 

Maintenance Planned:
I also purchased their new Zymol cleaner kit; cleaning solution and paste wax.  Good reviews on this, although I haven't done any work yet on my 1933 Featherweight. 

I'm not lazy.  I'm just busy everyday working in the studio sewing things for shows.  My next show is Shiocton WI August 19-20. 

Patience, and Reminiscing:
Grandpa Bert used to tell me, "a place for everything, and everything in its place."  Likewise "a time for everything, and everything takes time."  Wicked Witch of the West, "all in good time my pretty, all in good time."

Here are the photos I took as I unpacked the 1933.  The decals are awesome.

Things that make my 1933 different from others:

Early Featherweights like mine have Singer logo sitting high on the light bulb housing.  First hundred or so first run Featherweights  had a single bud decal, where as my machine  7594th manufactured has the enhanced center bud decal with arms.

Unmarked bobbin wheel (Singer number added later)

Wheel housing has decal ending in a single loop

1933 Slight curve in the take up thread guide.  By the end of 1935 the guide was straight, no curve.

Subtle differences in decals, single loop

School Bell Bobbin Thread Guide

(right) Decals wrap around the bedplate ending near the light bulb switch.

Hey, here's a good fix.  A band aid. 

I put my granny shoes on the table, so you can get an idea of how little this machine is.
Granny shoes found at Goodwill $7.  The shoes are two sizes too big for me, but I'll figure a way to make them snug so I can wear them to our Halloween Weekend Victorian House Tour and Craft Show Sat-Sun October 28-29, 2017. 

Inside the machine--its original bobbin case 45750

Unpacking the machine; the spool pin cover ajar.   That's strange.

Original Black Case with Brass Closures

Minor gluing repairs to be done.  Fabric is gauze thin.

I'll post again later, after I make the repairs to the case, add new belt, light bulb, 4 rubber cushion feet and complete my appointment with R & L to check out electrical.

Look at the smashed cushion bed feet (upper left and right of the photo).

I suppose the smashed rubber feet are caused by the person sewing, leaning on the machine?  What's your guess? 


Friday, August 4, 2017

Tutorial - Great Scrapbuster, "The X Quilt"

Photo of X Quilt coming off the frame. 

I love it--it's so scrappy. 

Let me show you how I construct the X Quilt Block, using my 2.5" wide strip method,
a genuine scrap buster approach.

Fabric Cutting and Assembly Reference

10-1/2 inch X Quilt Block


Step 1 - sew together 3 strips of fabric
Each strip is 6-12" long by 2-1/2" wide


Step 2:  Fold unit in half, and press to mark a center line


Step 3: Open pressed unit to reveal center line crease


Step 4: Put unit on a cutting board, and lay 4-1/2" square ruler template diagonally following the ironed crease line.  


So far, we've sewn two units.  Pressed, and Cut with 4-1/2" square ruler template.


To make this block, make 4 units

Step 1 - Sew 3 strips together

Step 2 - Press in half

Step 3: On your cutting board,  lay 4-1/2" square ruler template on the unit

Step 4 - With rotary cutter and ruler template, trim to 4-1/2" square


Fabric Cutting and Assembly Guide

Note the Orange, Red, or Yellow Cross in the center of the block are built from 2-1/2" Squares, plus (1) 6-1/2" x 2-1/2" Horizontal Strip.

I made 42 blocks.  6 blocks per row, 7 rows.

Above Photo: first 4 blocks.  Auditioning orange, red, and yellow fabrics for center crosses.


2-1/2" Wide Sashing (medium to light gray fabric)

Sew 10-1/2"sashing strips to each block

I laid the blocks on the floor of my studio, to create a good color distribution.  

I found success in focusing on the YELLOW crosses
as they have the most twinkle, the most sparkle.  

Satisfied with the arrangements of a few rows, I knew I had a good plan for arrangement of the remaining rows.

Rows 1,2,3, and figuring out arrangement of blocks for row 4.

From the floor layout: I folded and marked row 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

Adding horizontal sashing to each row.

I finished sewing rows together and threw the quilt top on the bed to take a couple (progress) photos.

Why is a queen size quilt about 90" wide?
Answer: a queen size mattress measures 60" across, plus 15" drop on both sides = 90"


Next, I added two borders: 3 inch navy print, followed by a 6 inch gray border in the same fabric as the sashing.

Sewing 3" Navy Blue border around perimeter of the quilt top.

Adding 6" gray fabric border

Quilt loaded on the frame, first row of long arm quilting.

Side note: it takes me two hours to load the backing, batting, and quilt top on the frame which also includes cleaning and oiling of machine:

  1. clean machine surface with lint catching cloth. 
  2. emove throat plate to clean and make sure there are no stray threads or lint from previous quilting project. 
  3. one drop of machine oil in the bobbin race rim while you have the throat plate cover off.
  4. install new needle.
  5. one or two drops of machine oil in designated port to oil bearings (right hand side of machine head).
  6. clean frame surface, frame rails.
  7. clean machine carriage and its wheels (checking for dirt, lint, stray threads from previous quilting project).
  8. wind M size bobbins (10 bobbins needed for a queen size quilt based on my Floral Feather free style edge to edge quilt design).  My other signature designs are: Squirrel Feathers, and Fish Feathers.
  9. clean inside housing where bobbin race sits.  always lots of dirt and lint there from last quilting project.
  10. one drop machine oil inside the base of the bobbin race, then insert bobbin.
  11. thread machine (top thread)
  12. load backing, batting, and quilt top on frame,
  13. snug belly bar and take up bar to take up slack.
  14. attach side 4 clamps at the left and right margins of quilt fabric layers.
  15. Turn on machine.
  16. Test stitches with scrap strip of fabric on the oversized batting at the right hand margin.  Nearly always I have to adjust bobbin tension.  Its a lot of fussing some days.  I swear naughty elves adjust and play with the bobbin tension between quilting projects.
After all that, I began free style (long arm) quilting Floral Feathers.  A serpentine design that ends in a spiral, backtracking with feathers.  Its a very curvy, Victorianesque design I created a couple of years ago.  The sequence is about 10" tall, and covers an area 12-15" wide.  

I flipped up the bottom of the quilt, so I could photograph the backing.

and to show you two art panels added to the backing (a day's work to sew the backing for this quilt).


Yesterday, I squared two queen size quilts--this X quilt and another quilt called Blues Shoo-Flies.

Blues Shoo-Flies Quilt

I'll be doing a separate post about the Blue Shoo-Flies Quilt, which includes a tutorial how to fix a backwards placed block, while its still on the frame. 

It was a scary moment discovering this mistake. 

The repair turned out to be straight forward, and simple. 
I want to share photos how the repair was made.   

I prepared and installed bindings for both X quilt and Blues Shoo-Flies Quilt yesterday, and last night from the dinner hour forward I turned and hand-stitched the bindings to finish these two queen size quilts for a show this Sunday August 6 "Heritage Day" in New London, WI. 

At my tent at Heritage Day, I'll have 10 queen size quilts for sale, table runners, baby quilts, hand embroidered/hand beaded purses, and a bazillion oversized potholders.  Come see me! 


Yippee, I'm down to only one LARGE  FULL storage bin of fabric scraps. 

Best wishes to you.  Thank you for stopping by my blog, to read about life here in central rural Wisconsin, living in our old Victorian Farmhouse.  We're picking a big garden this year, lot's of green beans, zucchini, and tomatoes.

Love ya--friends.  Leave me a note, ok?

Friday August 4th--I had to turn on the furnace today.  Its cold, rainy, gloomy day, 54 degrees F.