What I’m working on…and Meet Betty…

I know you just met my “new to me” Singer sewing machine,  Mildred, on Saturday but look….I am now the PROUD owner of a new Singer Featherweight.


With all the quilting I do, you’d think I would know a lot about sewing machines…I don’t.   I don’t pay attention to sewing machines.  My objective is always just that they work.  When Kelli and I went to see Bonnie Hunter in Storm Lake, Iowa, we saw a feather weight for the first time.  Both of us thought they were the cutest thing ever and secretly wondered the price and where to get one.

Then my hubby and I went to the at HUGE antique show in Oronoco, Minnesota and we saw a few there.  They ranged in price from $375 to $575.  I didn’t need one and decided that feather weights were just something I wasn’t going to have.  Hubby said oh buy one if you want but I can’t justify that…I have good running machines.

Today, I went to church and hubby said he wanted to go to an auction.  I went to church…he went to the auction.  I was planning on going home but called him on the cell phone to see if there was anything at the auction.  He said….”Oh honey, I think you’re going to want to come here.  I bought you something.”  Well that intrigued me.  I could just tell by the sound of his voice it was going to be something great.


He handed me a black case and I opened it.  I about cried.  Can you imagine a husband smart enough to give a gal this great of a gift!?!?!?  Apparently mine is!  Then I decided I better ask how much it cost.  Knowing him, it could be the $400.

Well…he said, they were selling household junk and I wasn’t paying any attention.  It was raining and I hadn’t seen the items because everything was covered with plastic.  I heard the auctioneer say something about a little Singer sewing machine.  I looked up and saw them closing the lid on a case.  They were crying, $2.50 will anyone give $2.50.  Someone said yes…then hubby bid $5.  At the time, he really didn’t know what he bought for sure.  He got the case and opened it…he was so proud of himself….He kept saying, “I couldn’t believe it!”  It was so cute when he was telling me the story.

Now I have a $5 featherweight!!  Can you believe $5?  I am ecstatic!

I got it home and tinkered with it.  The machine has all the accessories but not a manual.  I was able to find one on line and I printed it.  I spent an hour with it and didn’t get it to work.  The motor was running but the top thread was breaking all the time.  I was a bit disappointed but figured it was a deal regardless.  The motor worked, it was in good condition.  The labels were good.  Even if I spent $100 fixing it, it was still great.

I decided to try again with hubby’s help.  He oiled it up.  I took the plate off and looked things over…It still wouldn’t work.  I read and reread the threading instructions.  Finally I changed the needle and WA-LA.  Perfectly running sewing machine!  It is working beautifully and I am so happy.

The previous owner was Betty so…I am calling her Betty.  I have previous repair slips in the case too.  It’s so cute.  They had a receipt telling what the “trade in value” was so the owner could upgrade to a new machine.

I am making a few crumb blocks to test her out.  I am in love….she’s quiet and smooth.   Any of you gals who sewed near me at the Storm Lake retreat know my machine is SUPER loud.

I went from last Sunday kind of wanting another sewing machine to having TWO more sewing machines a week later.

If anyone knows anything about my machine please pass on any information…value, how to use the accessories, etc.  I know it’s a Century and was made in 1951.  So I am working on getting to know my best sewing partner Betty.

To check out what others are working one check out Patchwork Times.

59 thoughts on “What I’m working on…and Meet Betty…”

  1. Wow! Congratulations on your new machines. They both look wonderful. And just 5 dollars for the featherweight! I’m jealous ;-)

    Jittina, the Netherlands

  2. Congrats! My mom has purchased several Featherweights but never for $5.00! You can find the year is was made by entering the serial number in a search engine on the internet. The only thing I know about them is they are cute! Enjoy your fantastic deal!

  3. Judy D in upstate NY

    There are a lot of Featherweight owners and so there are several Featherweight websites. If you check with a local quilt shop you may even find a class on Featherweight maintenance-we have them in my area of upstate NY. I bought my Featherweight on e-Bay and it was shipped from Texas and cost a bit more than $5. You got a GREAT deal!

  4. Jo, thats a centennial model – look at the badge on the front.
    WAY TO GO, give that man an extra hug for me – he did good!!

  5. SWEET! I am so glad for you! What a find, good that dh was sort of paying attention and jumped in there. Congratulations. I am loving the Jamestown Crossing top BTW, it looks awesome.

  6. Wow!!!$5?!??!!! Your husband is the best!!!!! My sister bought me one like that for my birthday several years ago and I was soooooo excited. I love taking it to retreat. Our sewing group had a lady from up north come and talk to us about the upkeep on a featherweight. She said to keep it cleaned and oiled and it should run forever. Your husband got a real deal and you should be very proud of him and Betty.

  7. Oh, you are sooo lucky! I’ve been looking for the same kind of deal – love those FWs! I made some of your flying geese crumbs over the weekend. Will sign up to join your quilt-along this week – thanks! It’s so much fun!

  8. Congratulations! You can get a metal 1/4″ foot for ‘Betty’ if you don’t like following the line on the plate. I got a new foot at a quilt show. Thre just isn’t much that can go wrong with featherweights because they are good solid all metal machines. I could ‘hear’ your excitement as you told your story…. how special is that Hubby of yours….. and I hear ladies say their husbands never listen to them, you prove they do. Enjoy Ms. Betty!

  9. What a fabulous present and for $5.00!! I have a featherweight my mother-in-law picked up in a yard sale for $25.00 and they are great, you’ll love sewing on it. Enjoy!!

  10. Wow! A story my mom will love to hear! There is a Yahoo! group led by someone from the International Sewing Machine Collector’s Society and there are several web sites. I ordered a new power cord from 221parts.com and a carrying case with a shoulder strap that makes carrying it around with me SO EASY (my original case had a broken handle). WooHoo for you!!

  11. I want one — with that deal too…. I would love a little, lightweight machine that goes forward and backward. Sigh… I have a heavy weight version — an old singer. I wonder if it still goes forward and backward. I think I will assign my neighbor the task to look for one when she goes to goodwill and etc. She’s already found something else I wanted. Thanks for sharing this great story. Cook that man his favorite dinner!

  12. I’m so jealous you were in Storm Lake! My son attends BVU and we live all the way up 1 hour north of the Twin Cities in MN. I also finally got to go to the fabric store in Storm Lake this summer, and I drooled!! –

  13. WOW – I’ve been checking eBay and craigslist for a deal on a featherweight, and they are just out of my price range. I guess I’ll have to start looking at auctions. Your husband got the deal of the century – lucky you. Thanks for sharing.

  14. That is the best deal ever. I collected sewing machines but never had a featherweight. I understand they are fantastic for piecing.
    Your hubby is the best find ever–better than the machine. To think he heard you and knew what you wanted. Enjoy your new toy.

  15. Wow! You beat me — I got mine at a yard sale for $25 which I thought was a good deal even though it was missing the bobbin case. I’ve been piecing my crumb blocks on mine.

    Have fun with your new baby. (Mine is named Fiona.)

  16. Congrats on your new baby! I got my Featherweight from my grandmother when her eyes got too bad to use it. There is a serial number on all Featherweights that gives information such as when the machine was made (which you already know). Some years ago, someone published the Featherweight manual with additional info, but it might be out of print by now. Give DH lots of hubby points for his find!

  17. OMG !!! HUSBAND OF THE YEAR !!! You can find out what year, etc.. If you need to confer with a fellow stitcher / teacher/ featherweight repair gal, let me know. ( there is a wire that frays on them she ‘accidentally’ found it on mine & looked at hers, was the same, good to consider )
    My hubby got my 1956 for my bd this yr. I call her Beverly cause she’s a singer (Beverly Sills) YAY for you. HUGS, Joy

  18. I have enjoyed joining you every mornin’ w/ my first cup of coffee. I was so excited for you this am. I know it really puts a smile on your face.

  19. I just received a Featherweight as a gift. It is a 1951 also. I have not had a chance to try it yet….looking forward to it, tho. There are a lot of sites that offer parts….and there are FW groups around, too. I just feel so blessed, and I know you do too, that I have one of these great machines.

  20. Well, you beat me. I thought I got a great deal when I paid $50 for mine. It was sitting in a corner of an antique store, looking dusty. I took it to my singer dealer who cleaned it up and told me he wouldn’t sell it for less than $600. It is in perfect condition, even the gold paint is not chipped or worn. I love it and use it for paperpiecing. Congrats on yours.

  21. How cool is that???? I have my Mother’s 1939 model and it is such a work horse. She made all our clothes including coats and drapes and slip covers-and it is still going strong. You can tell by the serial number on the bottom how old it is. I have a great book about it which includes the manuel. Featherweight 221 The Perfect Portable by Nancy Johnson-Srebro. It has lots of illustrations and lots of hints about repairs. It is so easy to get parts too-even belts. If you send me your serial number I can tell you when it was built. Lucky me, I have a table for it as well. It was a thrift store find that a friend got for me $20.00.

  22. What a great find! And what a great hubby! How thoughtful of him. Im totally jealous! I have my grandmas old singer but its not a featherweight. I have always wanted one. Someday, and hopefully I will find a great deal like yours. Have fun sewing with it. Now Mildred has a sister! lol

  23. I’m grinning like a horse eatin’ thistles over your good fortune! I found mine on Ebay and no one bid against me because the guy selling it had misspelled featherweight (featherwieght). Since most got bid up over $400 before shipping costs, I’m sure he was scratching his head over why his never went over $200. I still consider it a good deal – but $5! Woohoo!

  24. Congratulations on your new featherweight. And what a deal you got! I had got the urge for one from seeing Bonnie Hunters
    and talk from others so just two days before Christmas I bought
    one on ebay after just deciding to “look” at them. I am no impulsive buyer at all but bought one that first time looking.
    I then bought 2 more and found one for my daughter in law
    at a good price. I never found a deal like yours though. You
    are one lucky gal! My husband considers it an investment. I
    thought ok maybe so, maybe not, who cares! I just want to sew
    with them. I found a manual for featherweights wrote by David McCallum called “The Featherweight and I” that has a lot of info
    in it about featherweights. My grandaughter who is 11 loves sewing on them as they are just her size. Hope you enjoy your
    machine as much as I do mine.

  25. Jo, you might want to join the Singer Featherweight Yahoo Group. I’m in it, and can attest to the usefulness of both the messages and the files. You’ll be able to find out your machine’s birthday and place, and get answers to all kinds of questions. $5. Wow. I’m so envious! What a husband!

  26. How wonderful!!!!!!!!!!! I hope to find a great buy like that one day. When we owned our sewing shop in California, we sold many Featherweights but I never kept one for me. What was I thinking! Enjoy Betty.

  27. I know that I have told you this, but I am super excited to come home and sew with your beautiful friends! Fanny loves having new friends!

  28. That is so awesome!! Looks very much like my mother’s which still works. I got my aunt’s machine, but I have not been able to get it working. The bobbin case gets hung up somehow and then the needle won’t work. If I take the bobbin case off, then the needle works. But that doesn’t do me any good if I can’t have the bobbin case on with thread.

  29. It’s a wonderful story to go along with your special little machine. It is almost unheard of to get a machine at just 5 bucks! Your Betty is a real beauty, for sure.

  30. Jo – what a super duper find, and so glad you’ve got your machine rolling! Can you imagine – I’m getting one too. After Bonnie Hunter posting about hers, I got curious and looked for a Featherweight too, and found one on Bid or Buy here in South Africa. Couldn’t decide should I get it or not – my usual indecision, dontcha know ! – then yours was the spur – had another look and last date for purchasing was today – so I took that as an “omen” – just ordered and paid for it, and hoping it’ll be whirring away in my sewing room soon.

  31. you have a centennial FW. That’s what I have I paid 550.00 for a one owner machine. I paid premium you paid well just a steal is what it is. was there no one around to pay more for it geesh!!!!!!
    how lucky . Enjoy your new Betty dear. Sincerely Debbie Kelly

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  33. What a buy! I have heard of people getting one for five or ten dollars but certainly not me. I have a black one that we paid $275 for. I just posted about a white one we found on vacation for $195.

  34. FIVE dollars?!! What a steal! I just got a new-to-me Featherweight that I want to use for piecing quilts. Are you still using yours, and do you have any tips or suggestions? I got several different 1/4″ patchwork feet to try and had my Bernina dealer (who also collects Featherweights with his wife) give the FW a tune-up so she’s ready to go. My questions now are, do you just set this on any old table and start sewing? My big beast of a Bernina is recessed into a cabinet so the tiny little platform of the FW looks really small. I’m wondering if I should get one of those Sew-EZ portable folding sewing tables for the Featherweight — or am I missing the point entirely? :-)

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