My New Sewing Buddy

My new best friend is a Featherweight 221. A recent estate sale find. Birth year is 1957.

One of my dreams was to find a nice clean FW at a garage and/or estate sale at a frugal price. My wish partially was fulfilled recently after many years of searching. I was at a conducted estate sale (one which is run by a company). Upon walking into the family room another shopper already had the FW (with case) in his possession. Drats! Then to my own astonishment, I heard myself offer him more money then it was priced. He accepted my offer.

I left the well-kept home almost skipping down the street. The cost of my FW was not a wishful price like we all hear about of one paying a few dollars at a garage sale. However, it was still a bargain as I paid a lot less than ebay or antique store prices.

Upon arriving at its new home for the real test drive, the motor seemed to run hard/sluggish. Oh dear. After a few repair quotes were obtained from several professionals ($70-$150), I decided to attempt to fix it myself.

With the combination of the manual and FW online resources, I was able to get the machine running smoothly. Actually, the end result was that it was a simple fix and only required minor surgery:

My "surgery" supplies:
  • Natural daylight
  • Old vinyl tablecloth and bath towel to protect my kitchen table
  • Tweezers
  • Magnifying glass
  • Screwdriver
  • Rubberband (for gripping purposes)
  • Hair dryer with nozzle (to blow out the lint)
  • Cotton swaps (Q-Tips)
  • Liquid Wrench (one drop to clean old gunk out of gears)
  • Flashlight
  • Toothpicks
  • Sewing Machine Oil
My main sluggish problem was due to lint and threads entangled around bobbin spindle and casing. This is called a "thread jam" per Nova Montgomery on her FW website and is common with FWs.

I pulled out lint and white thread

and next blue thread all wrapped around bobbin case spindle
No wonder it was running sluggish.

At a later date, I may have FW professionally cleaned. In the meantime, I plan on sewing and learning more about care and maintenance. Below are unsolicited FW websites that were beneficial (in no particular order):

A future purchase may be a book about Featherweights by Nancy Johnson-Srebro. I is recommended by many and has good reviews.

Also, there is an online Featherweight Club at My Quilt Place hosted by the American Quilters Society.

Perhaps, you share the same dream of finding a reasonable-priced Featherweight? Don't give up. It will come when you least expect it.


  1. Your new FW is lovely. Good for you for fixing it yourself. It isn't as scary as people think. These are great machines and easy to maintain. Have fun with yours!

  2. congratulations! I too have a featherweight but I must admit I do not use it all that much. I really should get it out now and then it most likely is due for a clean up - I will check the area you mention when I clean it and see what it looks like. Mine is a little older than yours is - I have never quite gotten the tension perfect.