1939 pride: my new featherweight baby

it started so innocently.

like so many, i read with curiosity and amusement about peter’s ongoing affairs with multiple vintage sewing machines on Male Pattern Boldness.  i watched the treadle video.

i didn’t get it.

i read his article on BurdaStyle.  started perusing craigslist.  when i hit my local flea market, i started keeping an eye out.  i even made an offer on a Singer Spartan…but i still couldn’t take the plunge.  it was a fling, a crush.

earlier this summer, while taking my second annual summer Sit-N-Sew with Kenneth King and Susan Khalje, Kenneth started talking about his flea market finds and a crazy lady named Gloria who sells at one of his favorite haunts on 26th street.  i said, out of nowhere, “i think i’d love a singer featherweight.”

kenneth says, “do you want to buy mine?  i have two.  i just bought one from Gloria.  it has a bobbin case, a carrying case and about 100 presser feet–even a ruffler.”

…yeah.  put me right on the spot.  the price seemed high-ish (since he told me what he’d paid for it himself) but also extremely fair once i started doing some googling.  next thing i knew, i was stopping at the ATM on the way to class saturday morning to meet my new friend.

apparently, mine is a bit special.  according to the fabulous LynnRowe on PatternReview, “The “SINGER” decal on the machine arm, instead of the machine lamp, is quite rare, and only a few 1939 Featherweights had it.”  And she would know, being a bit of a Featherweight celebrity herself.

so now, here i am, with a new (old) sewing machine and only the barest hint of how to use it.  which hasn’t stopped me…i’ve already made more than half of a tailored jacket on it and pieces of a 1950s dress.  but in case there are others like me out there, i’d like to point out the following resources:

  • PatternReview.  i’ve had hit-or-miss experiences on PatternReview but my simple FW post in the sewing machines forum got so many helpful, excited responses in such a short period of time that i was completely overwhelmed!  in fact, most of these suggestions are straight from the PR sewing machines forum.
  • Featherweight RX.  Dave McCallum has a book and a DVD on using and servicing a FW.  i haven’t committed yet, but i’m leaning seriously toward buying this series.
  • The Featherweight Factory.  i’ve been particularly encouraged to check out the “question of the week” section.
  • A Spa Date for Your Featherweight.  PR user JillyBe has a lovely, thorough and humorous post on her blog about cleaning and servicing her FW.
  • Graham Forsdyke’s Singer Featherweights site.  slightly overwhelming, full of history and information.  he seems to sell them, as well!
  • April 1930s Sewing Shoppe.  more about parts and machines for sale than actual information, but well-designed with loads of things to look at.
  • MPB’s Featherweight posts.  Peter at MPB seems to prefer other machines over his FW, but his love for vintage machines is unmistakable.
  • Spare Time (For Sewing) also has a lovely collection of posts about her vintage sewing machines, including her FW.
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3 Responses to 1939 pride: my new featherweight baby

  1. Jilly Be says:

    What a great story about finding your baby! Thanks for sharing (love your writing!) and thank you for the link love to my blog!

  2. Congratulations!!!! I’m so glad you got it – I remember how excited/nervous you were about it in August. Good for you!

  3. puu2 says:

    it’s true, ann. but i got it serviced and then dove straight in! it’s definitely true love 🙂

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