Wednesday, April 16, 2014

My New Featherweight

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to come across a well loved Singer Featherweight 221. So I brought it home with me! I thought I'd share her with you and also document what I've done to bring her up to speed and resources I found.


The machine shows some wear but she is in good shape. Some of the gold painting on has been loved off and there are some small chips in the black paint. But all the parts are accounted for and in good working order.

Now, I knew nothing about Singer Featherweights except that they are pretty.

From what I've gleaned from the internets, this machine was manufactured in 1947. The post WWII machines are said to typically have stripes on the shiny side piece (AKA thingy), but some, mine included, still have the scroll work the pre-war machines have. (I say that but I can't find where I saw that, so I could be wrong!)


When I got her home, I was happy to find that she sewed well enough, but I knew she needed a bit of love before I took her on the open road of piecing.

I got a new toy recently... And she came with a case too, a tad oil stain case. #featherweight

For one, she needed oil and lube. The oil that came with it had obviously been spilled at some point and was packaged in a greasy, sandwich bad. I tossed that and bought some new oil and lube.


Oiling is a bit more of an intensive process than I thought, but it's fairly manageable.

I also gave her a good cleaning. She was linty.


I also replaced the felt drip pan (for freshness!) and installed a new marked throat plate [Edited to add: find it here] (don't worry, I kept the original.)

Old and new throat plate... I'll be needing those markings. #featherweight221
Is this my hand? Maybe I was washing dishes prior? 
Despite oiling, lubing, cleaning, and some new parts, when I sat down to work with her, the tension was way way too tight, even set at zero. So I had to walk away until I could figure out how to deal with the tension.

I'm happy and proud to say I figured out how to fix the tension! I disassembled and reassembled the tension unit; in doing so I adjusted the pin placement on the thumb nut (it was way off!). And now she sews happily!

Now stitching happily and beautifully at 4 (my comfort number) after I readjusted the tension. (Feeling proud!) #featherweight221

Next up... polishing.

Spare Parts: April 1930's Sewing Shoppe 
Helpful cleaning tutorials: here, here, and here.
Threading tutorial with pictures(!): here.
Aging/grading a featherweight: here and here.

Monday, April 14, 2014


Things have been fairly busy around here. I've been tasked with a few book chores, I'm working on a few tutorials for you, and I've been playing the role of "soccer mom" in taking my big girls to their softball games and practices, which is so fun but exhausting.


To counter my hurried mom pace of life,  I've been moseying (fun fact: mosey is one of my favorite words, see also: scamper) about doing fun things. There's little stress when I can saunter around playing with various pretty things. Like new stacks of my all time favorite fabric lines (Field Study and Chicopee).


Prepping my newly acquired Featherweight for sewing. She's almost ready!


Playing with some Gouache paints I received for my birthday (6 months ago, it's not my birthday!). This is probably my most favorite new thing to do and can't wait to get back to it. Hopefully it won't take another 6 months!


And finishing up my Wiksten Tank Top, just in time for warmer weather.

I hope you all are well! How busy are you?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Tips for Garment Making {WIP Wednesday}

Having made a few garments I love, I thought I would share a few tips for sewing clothes. These are mostly tips for myself. I've found that my "make-it-do" approach to quilting hasn't necessarily lent itself well to garment sewing.


The clothes I've sewn for myself are suffering from my poor workmanship! In the interest of saving time, I took shortcuts. Now I'm seeing popped seams and fraying seams, among other problems. Now, I'm left with clothes that need repair or artful concealment.

Now, as I'm working on a new top for myself, I'm going to invest a little more time and care to make my garments last longer.

Slower than necessary progress...

I can chalk it up to being a beginner, but now I see the value in:

1) Cutting out the pieces properly. This is obvious, and maybe I'm showing my laziness here, but choose a clean, hard and smooth surface for cutting. Once I cut out a pattern on my carpet, which wasn't ideal, especially when it came time to cut the bias strips.... I think my table was dirty. Don't laugh.

2) Choosing the right thread. Instead of settling for the thread I had on hand, I should have waited a few days for the appropriate thread. I have a popped seam on a shirt, but had I chosen a better thread  for the material, I likely would have a stronger thread.

3) Choosing the right and new needle. I've damaged the hem by unknowingly (or lazily) using the wrong needle or by using an old, dull needle. (Gulp!)

4) Finishing the exposed seams on the wrong side of the garment either by a french seam or serged (or zigzagged) seam allowance. By skipping this step, I'm seeing random threads from unfinished seams, which is annoying and weakens the seam.

5) Marking the pattern pieces where applicable (i.e. Don't skip this step!). Although, they are a pain, pattern markings are so useful. (Sometimes I wish there were more markings on patterns!) Construction is always easier with properly marked pattern pieces.

6) Taking one's time. These tips mostly can be chalked up to taking my time. I am investing my time and precious fabric in something I'm going to wear. Not only do I want it to look good, but I want it to last!

These are just a few notes to myself. Do you have any related experience? Or tips to share?

I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mr. Jones {A Finish}

Yah! I'm so excited to have Mr. Jones finally finished.

The quilt was practically finished, only the binding left, when I received my deadline for my book. And, unfortunately as close as it was to being finished, I had to set in aside to meet my deadline. Seems silly right? (You shoulda seen the deadline!)


This pattern and fabric (Chicopee by Denyse Schmidt - my favorite line) reminded me of the polyester crazy quilts. Hence the name Mr. Jones, who wishes to be someone more funky.... So, for the quilting, I wanted to add more color (MOAR!).

I used several colors of Aurifil thread I had on hand. They didn't necessarily match, but they are so subtle they didn't not match.


I started by quilting half of it in gray and then filled in the rest of the quilting with the other colors. The colors are a bit too subtle. If I had it to do again, I would have used more color. Maybe 30% gray and the rest color? And/ Or I would have used thicker thread for the colors.

Overall, I love the idea of using different colored threads and will likely use this technique in the future.


Even though Mr. Jones was unfinished, it was not put away but put into use because of its fabulousness. (Have you ever used a quilt that wasn't bound? ) The main reason being the super cozy corduroy fabric I used for the back. It's the best! In the future I will definitely invest in cozy backings for quilts. Divine!


And of course I had to use a scrappy binding. You know for MOAR color. :)

And, look for a tutorial for this quilt in the near future!

Thank you so much for stopping by!
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