Thursday, April 24, 2014

1939 Singer Featherweight~An Estate Sale Treasure

I had never given much thought to owning a Singer Featherweight.  I liked seeing them in antique or thrift stores, but that was about it.  I never really wanted one for myself. But then last weekend, at an estate sale in Santa Rosa, I was bitten by the bug when I saw this little baby sitting on the floor in the corner, all shiny, and calling out to me.  

So cute, and with what appeared to be all of its gear.  The only ones I've ever seen up close have been worse for wear, and missing parts etc.  

But this one had the original case, six feet and the seam guide..

..some old grease, the original manual..

..the screwdriver, pedal, etc. Plus an old burnt out light bulb. And then I found the keys to the carrying case in a couple of small blue and white envelopes, which are pretty old and brittle.

Swoon.  Dust seemed to be its only problem.  The paint was in great shape, too. 

It looked like time had stood still. It seemed to have a pretty reasonable price, too, although I don't know much about them so if you have any knowledge, feel free to share.  I'm kind of afraid to sew on her, but she did run like charm when I plugged her in.  I was left wondering if this little machine had been with its original owner all this time.

So when I got home I started googling. I had no idea how old it was! I found this site, where I found out, according to the serial #, it was produced in 1939. When ladies may have been swooning over these hats and hairstyles. :)

I read on one site that the faceplate with the scroll design was created up until just after WWII, which would fit along with it's serial # date, too. I love history, and the WWII era kind of fascinates me, so I love it even MORE after finding out its birthday. :)  Then I looked up more about what might have been happening in 1939.

It's just so pretty.  I get it now. I'm hooked.  I'm smitten. Everything about it is just so cute!

Maybe it rode home with its new owner in a car like this.  ?

I guess if she's lasted this long and looks this good, I should try sewing a seam.  There's something romantic about a little machine made in that era out of all metal parts.  

Especially one that rolled off the assembly line the year that these movies came out..

The Wizard of Oz.. wow a good year for movies!

Also the year that television was introduced to the American public at the World's Fair in New York.

 But at the same time, some not so good things were happening.  The Nazis were invading Poland. :( 

..and women, happy thriving women, maybe even quilters like you and me.. their lives would never be the same. :(

I once had a patient in the hospital that had survived the holocaust..she had a number tattooed on her arm.  So chilling.

That this little machine rolled off the assembly line in such a monumental year blows my mind.

Plus, it's also the year that my mom was born! I don't have a baby pic of her, but here's a pic of her from the 40's. :)

Yep. I love this little machine.

I shall take good care of her.


linking up with really random thursday


Cat said...

A number tattooed on her arm WOW

Great movies and lovely lil machine

Charlotte said...

you must definitely use it! I do all my dressmaking on a featherweight and it's just wonderful! It's a real workhorse in spite of its size.

Dorian said...

What a gorgeous machine! Lucky you. Please USE it! These machines were made to last.. and last...and last! I have a 4 vintange machines, they work beautifully. I even quilt on one :)

Gene Black said...

Wow, I have no idea what you paid for it, but if it works well that is a 400-500 dollar machine in the open market. The condition of it and that lovely scroll plate kick it higher than some.
I paid about 200 for mine and it has been used a lot and is not nearly as pretty. It does sew like a dream though.

Jeneta said...

Oh she's just beautiful! I love all your photos - just magical.

Nedra said...

Very cool, Kelli. I have a little Featherweight I take with me to classes. Easy to carry and does a great job sewing a straight stitch. Mine is a little more beat up than yours. I hope you were able to pick it up at a good price.

Beautiful find! I do hope you use it. Loved reading the history and oh those hats!! :-)

It is beautiful! Congratulations. I so enjoyed the history lesson too.

Jody said...

Beautiful machine--I love Martha (my FW). My DH bought her for me as an anniversary gift and she was born the same year I was! Oh, that would be a long time ago....
Thanks for the info and pics of the time. Enjoy your new baby!

quiltmania said...

What a wonderful find!!!!! You will have to try her out. They usually sew like a dream.

She looks like mine a 1939 as well and. I was lucky to get the original table she sits in. They are wonderful!

Lisa C said...

What a lovely blog entry. I read blogs during my lunch hour and your blog certainly wins the award for "most interesting" today. Thank you for the history and pictures.

liz said...

Here's some pricing info on Featherweights that might surprise you - from a shop in California. (I could never sew on that polka-dotted one! Never!) I love the original black finish best.

My dad, Polish Catholic, was held by the Germans for all but the first three weeks of the war. 2.5 years as POW doing slave labor under horrible conditions and then three years, one in each of three concentration camps, including Dachau at its worst. It's a miracle he survived it all.

liz said...''

Oops, here is the link to the pricing info.

So incredibly cool! I too have never quite been interested in owning a featherweight, but you are right, this one is in such great shape and completely adorable; I would have bought it had it been me!

Do sew on it, though. And Judy and I have a friend who is an antique machine expert if you need any advice!

sunny said...

I know quilters who wouldn't piece on anything else! I haven't used mine much, but I need to. Have fun, and thanks for the history lesson. I think mine was from 1935.

Those little guys just sidle up and get you all unawares! That's how I ended up with a 1917 definitely-not-featherweight recently!

Becky said...

I live in Poland, so your comments about WW2 are very sobering. We are reminded daily about that war.

Congrats on your find. The machine is beautiful!

Hilachas said...

I know how excited you must be since I just recently found "my featherweight" at an estate sale. Mine is also in excellent shape, all the gadgets in the box, manual etc. According to the featherweight site, mine is a 1943 model. I enjoyed reading your post about all the happenings when your machine was produced. Enjoy and thanks for sharing

charlotte said...

beautiful machine. I have one that was my grandmother's and she doesn't look nearly so good. She saw lots of use, I know. Treasure this baby, you are sew very lucky.

Janarama said...

You really found a gem! The machine, the case, and even the manual look mint. I never saw a manual for a machine that old to look like new! I don't know what you paid for it, but you are one lucky lady to have found it. Find out all you can online how to oil and maintain it to keep it singing.

Unknown said...

Oh, she is beautiful! Her case looks like it is in good shape, too. I bought one right after Christmas. But she was much used and the detailing is worn off. But she makes a beautiful stitch and sounds good. I haven't actually sewn on her other than the testing. I want to get her cleaned and checked out 1st. Anyway, congratulations on the new member of your family. Nancy:

Patti said...

Such a fun post to read! I keep thinking that I should be on the lookout for one too, as my Janome is a beast to cart around! Enjoy your new find, and get sewing!

Vicki said...

I am soooo jealous! What a wonderful old gal she is. She looks new. Great eye.

jeifner said...

Oh man, I've always wanted one! That ones beautiful. Most sites say to get the electrical parts, cord and such, checked out for safety. Other than that you've got a gem!

Cherry said...

WOW!! You found an incredible machine in what looks like mint condition!! The best thing you can do is oil her up and use her. There are a ton of Featherweight resources out there - let me know if you need some links. They stitch like a dream!

I currently have two FWs - a 1957 and a 1949. The 1949 runs beautifully but needs a new paint job (hopefully this year). I even free motion quilt on my Featherweight.

The next thing you need to do is throw out the old grease, get some new oil & grease and find a vintage machine repair guy or gal you trust. Many of them LOVE these old machines as much as we do.

Welcome to the club! Oh, one warning - vintage machines, especially FWs - are like potato chips, you want more than one!

Karen H said...

What a neat machine - how exciting to find it! I am going to an auction today. I doubt there will be any sewing machines there, but you never know!

Suellen said...

What an incredible find. Congratulations and may you have many happy years together.

Sewing Mom said...

How cool! You're definitely lucky. I don't know how much you paid, but I've looked at these on Ebay and such...but maybe you'd get a better price at an estate sale. Congrats and enjoy!

Anonymous said...

This is one of my absolute favorite posts that I have ever read on any quilt blog! :) What a great find! I would LOVE to find something like this. Like you, I also love history and I am fascinated by everything WWII era. What great luck you have to spot this little beauty! -Brittany

How cute! I don't have one (yet), but, it's on my wish list. You will have fun with it. You can also get a 1/4 inch foot for it.

Linda said...

This looks great Kelli. I know you will really like her once you start using her. Great find! I have one and take her with me to Sit and Sew's and she purrs like a kitten. I was lucky and got mine off the curb. My MIL had put her out for the garbage. I came over and rescued her. I fixed her myself and she's been sewing ever since. This was a long time ago before they became popular. They are very sturdy machines and take a beating and keep on ticking. Oh, that's something else but you get the drift. Enjoy your find. I love your post with all the history too. Thanks for sharing.

Kelli! What a great find! I didn't realize you had an affinity for estate sales? I think you found a wonder of a piece! You will love her for a very long time! I take my Singer Featherweight when I fly all of the time! Enjoy!!!! Congrats!

Such a wonderful post, Kelli. Well I really hope you sew with this beautiful machine! I have two black ones and a green one. They are fabulous for taking to quilting retreats. I always take mine to Minnesota because it is much lighter than anything else since I carry it on. And it sews like a dream.

Carolyn said...

Congratulations on your Featherweight! I, too, have fallen in love with them. I have five and I can't help but smiling every time I sew with them. They are beautiful machines.


bunbear said...

Oh, you just have to sew on your Featherweight! I was a bit intimidated by mine when I first got it, but once I started using it I wondered why I had waited so long. It makes such a pretty stitch. Price wise, I paid around $200 for mine. She isn't as shiny as yours, and the decals show some wear, but is still in very very good shape in my opinion.

LA Paylor said...

ooooo you were so lucky to find that gem.It's trim is deco, I've been wanting one for a long time.
LeeAnna Paylor

Lara B. said...

Ooooooh... That ones a real beauty! How wonderful to think of it in the context of history Kelli. I had a Featherweight with the scroll plate, but the first time my daughter laid eyes on it I could tell that it was love at first sight, so now it is hers. By all means - use your Featherweight! Just keep her well oiled and in another 70 years you can pass it on to a grandchild!

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