Questing…in my Attic

More “Quilters Quest” adventures:

A few weeks into my new job a customer brought in newly acquired Featherweight sewing machine for servicing. She was very excited. A light bulb went on in my head reminding me that I had one of those in my attic.

I went searching and found the very smelly case with the machine inside but no plug or foot pedal. I left the case outside in the sunshine for a few days and brought the machine into work one day when a class on maintenance was meeting. The teacher had kinds of supplies so I bought what I needed, including a new soft case to replace the smelly one. It needed more adjustments so I left it with the tech department for servicing.

The story behind all this is that many years ago Johnny was helping his friends empty out a warehouse where several of them had been living. No one wanted the old machine in a box, so he brought it home. It smelled so bad that I wouldn’t let it in the house. For some reason, it made the move with us to Aurora and found a place in our attic.

Our sewing machine tech was not very pleased with it. It required “every adjustment known to man.” She calls it my Dumpster machine.

After joining some Facebook groups for Featherweight owners and meeting the ladies in our classes, I’ve learned that a large cult of Featherweight owners is alive and well. Some own two or three or more machines. (My friend Mari does all her piecing on her FW and I just learned today that my aunt in Florida owns one as well.)

The machine is tiny, 9.5 inches in length with a fold up extension that adds another 5 inches. It weights just over 11 pounds. It looks like a toy. Today they are valued by quilters for the very straight stitch and for their portability, as well as something of a collector’s item. They are also fairly simple machines that can be maintained by the owner, which would be a selling point, then and now.

Mine has a “birthday” of February 10, 1952, just about the time I was conceived. My aunt’s machine has a birthday of October 14, 1953, a few days after my birthday. They are worth anywhere from $300 to $700 or more.

It has a straighter stitch than my more expensive machine and is small enough to cart around. I have always dragged my machine to cottages and outdoors because I enjoy sewing in open spaces. In the past, I’ve dragged machines to a variety of places–the cottage in Canada, camp, Balgownie and Stormy Lake, as well as my backyard. This little machine is perfect for traveling or transferring to the back deck.

After all that, I remembered that I also had the iron part of an old treadle machine–also up in the attic. I had John get it down and started cleaning it. It’s old and marked, but has the gold lettering of SINGER in the middle and gold on the side medallions. I’m planning to get a solid top for it and storing the Featherweight on it. Pretty cool.

I just finished my first quilt on Featherweight, a “garden” quilt with one of my first Quilters Quest purchases. Most of it was sewn outdoors on my deck. The Featherweight is perfect for taking outside. I will store it on the treadle iron right inside my back door and carry it outdoors whenever I’m in the mood. Just right for summer!

5 thoughts on “Questing…in my Attic

  1. Love that you’ve named it Featherweight 🙂 I have an old Arlington table that Art purchased cheap at an auction and then (upon my request) cut for my 1970’s Kenmore to sit in. It’s nice, but not near the beauty your Singer table is.

  2. Sounds like your new job is leading to fun adventures! You must be tickled every time you use it now!

  3. Loved sewing on my Mom’s Singer as a teen and twenty year old. Can still feel the rhythm and hear the music the treadle made on that reliable, sturdy machine…

  4. I remember that iron treadle used to sit in the entryway at the Winthrop house! The Featherweight does sound like a fantastic machine, great for our needlework group at the library. I’ll ask the ladies about it. If no one has one, it’ll still be a fun conversation piece!

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