i live near Antique Alley in NH & one of the shops just got
in a Singer Featherweight. it looks like everything, including
the manual, is there. i didn't get a real good look because i
was being rushed by the people i was with, but i was thinking
it might be a good machine for the kid (6 in Aug) to learn on.
any advice on what i should look out for & a reasonable price
range for this machine would be appreciated. oh, & a site
where i might be able to date it's manufacture would be nice
email snipped-for-privacy@SingerCo.com with the serial number and they can tell
you where and when it was built. I can't give you today info on prices.
I bought one a couple of years ago for $300 from a Singer dealer, no
attachments, with a Xerox of the manual, in a new case with new cord and
plug, extra needles and bobbins. The paint was worn but I wanted it for
use (yup granddaughter to teach to sew). Be sure you get bobbins, I
understand they are not interchangeable with other Singers.
He had four others in much nicer-looking condition for
$500! This was in Atlanta, GA. A resale shop in TX was asking $300
each for two they had a year ago, some attachments, but I do not know
if they were in running condition.
They are a nice machine for a child, and to haul around.
On Mon, 13 Mar 2006 12:34:40 +0000 (UTC), enigma
I've taught my daughter and two nices to learn to sew; now working on
While FWs are great machines (I have several), hand cranks are MUCH
easier with younger kids as the child can control the machine via the
crank, rather than it getting away from them (as would happen with any
machine with a motor). Myself, I learned on a treadle; again, I
controlled the speed. For the older kids, I used a Singer 301 - this
machine has a slant needle making it easier for a child to see what she
Unless you fall into a real deal, FWs typically sell in shops and shows
for $400 on up; they are less via eBay (my 1936 FW was $250 inc.
shipping and came with case and all attachments and manual) if you are
patient. There are a LOT of FW auctions on eBay, all the time, it
seems! The least I paid for one was $50, through a local classified ad.
You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.=20
While I agree with those who say that FW are good for teaching kids, and
with those who like hand cranks for the same purpose, I have to draw on
my experience of sewing with groups of kids:
I don't have enough hand cranks to take up to school, and they are both
MUCH heavier than most of the machines I do take! James preferred a
powered machine from the start, but still wants to lean to treadle. :)
I think the mechanical side of that one is the big attraction!
The MAKE of machine is far less important than the foot control. With
care and a single toe's worth of pressure, I can get kids to sew one
stitch at a time with all the machines I use with them, but they find it
a tad easier with the type that have the 'whole foot' control than the
type with the single button. I tell them to kick off a shoe and use
just their big toe to press the button. Once they have mastered foot
control/toe control, the make of machine begins to matter more...
SIZE of machine can affect preference! Whatever their AGE, physically
smaller kids tend to prefer the smaller machines. Thus the FW and the
Lotuses win over the Viscount and the New Home with the bunch of 9-10
YO's I'm teaching now...
Once they have tried all the machines, kids tend to drift towards the
one they like best, just like us! Some love the FW, but many more love
the Elna Lotus machines, even with the very similar foot control.
The Singer 99 (my Frankensinger!) is greatly admired, but more difficult
to control than the FW with the exact same foot control. The speed
merchants love it, mind you!
Boys tend to like bigger and faster machines - but only up to a point!
More girls than boys like the FW
More boys than girls like the Lotuses!
More boys like the New Home
More boys than girls are scared the machine with 'bite' them!
Boys tend to be more confident with speed earlier than the girls.
Girls usually stop sooner when they make an error!
Boys have cried when they broke a needle, thinking they broke my
machine! Girls just apologize and beg me to put a new one in so they
can carry on!
The biggest and best bobbin case snarl-up was caused by a boy! He did a
really professional job, and I had to take that machine (the Lotus ZZ)
off-line for the remaining hour and sort it after they had gone. I
almost had to remove the shuttle!
Without doubt, whenever I take and use the HV Lily 550 to school, the
kids fight over it as the best of the bunch for control, and that's
before we get near the fancy stitches!
James has done quite a bit of sewing on a range of different machines,
including the FW and my HV Lily, and his favourite of all time was the
Elna Lotus Stella Air Electronic with the pneumatic foot control that I
gave to a friend.
If you DO get a FW (or any other used machine) from a dealer other than
an Old Sewing Machine Guy/Gal, get it checked for electrical soundness
and have it serviced before using it. If it's really stuck, join us on
he Featherweight group and see what the gurus can do to help you.
One thing I have to say about this is that you never underestimate a
child......I teach kids exclusively, and if you limit them to one
stitch as in a FW, you my loose them forever. I start all my young
students off on multi stitch machines.....they just seem to do better
with a more choices. I start my classes for children at age 5-6 and
with standard sized older machines with needle guards, but machines
that will handle today's fabrics including knits. One of the first
real projects we do is a pair of one seam pants that they get to
"decorate" with stitches....either different widths and sizes of ZZ or
if the machines have a few built in stitches then we use those. Cam
machines are always fought over because they are so much fun. . One
lesson I do is to challenge them to think of a fashionable way to use
all the stitches on the machine to create a usable item. Some of the
ideas have become a permanent part of my courses. Kids are so willing
to try anything they truly amaze me with every class.....boys are the
best as then come to classes with no preconceived ideas of sewing.
FW.s are more a collectors item and can run anywhere from $50.00 to
over $1,000, so not really something you want a child to use all the
time. However you can pick up a decent excellent condition full sized
machine for a young child in the $50 to 100 range and not be limiting
their creative ability. I really caution people about starting kids
on machines that are limiting in their scope. Kids are so creative
they need a machine that reflects this. After 17 years of teaching
both in and out of the public school system most of my kids are still
sewing----boys and girls---and have purchased machines that continue
to challenge them. The one and only 'accident' I have had in any
class was another teacher who did sew her finger to the project, but
she was well over 50 and the kids never let her forget it........
I don't think the words "reasonable price" and "Featherweight" go
IMHO, they're nice machines, but overhyped and way overpriced. Better
to spend the money on a second-hand swing-needle machine that will do
zigzag so the kid can finish seams and do buttonholes.