|The iron 2nd from the left is real and belonged to my great grandmother!|
However that first little quilt looked really lonely on that long expanse of wall and I realized that I had the perfect excuse to make more mini quilts and the perfect place to display them.
Back in December with a couple of projects still to finish up for the end of the year, both my main Janome and back-up Euro-Pro sewing machines went on the fritz. At that point, I thought it might be time to actually try to use the Featherweight for sewing. When I originally got the machine, I had no idea if it still worked and (sheepishly) admit that I didn't even try plugging it in. Ironically, I had thought about this very same thing in April so had done some research about Featherweight maintenance and based on what everyone said had purchased David McCallum's book "The Featherweight 221 and I" which promised to get me up to speed on servicing, maintaining and even restoring Featherweights. So when I sat down with the book and the machine.....
....almost immediately I found out that I was out of luck! The first thing I discovered was that the belt on the machine was split!! This meant that even if everything else worked, the main part that drives the needle was kaput! Fortunately I was able to switch production of the projects I wanted to work on to doing them by hand. Even so, I still (finally) plugged in the machine and found out that in fact the motor and light DID still work so decided not to let the broken belt be an impediment. I added a plan to service the machine and get it back to running to my 2016 "To Do" list.
Once my hand work was moving along at a good clip and my Janome came back from service, I wanted to see if I could also get this machine up and running to use as the new back-up. If I can learn how to maintain and service this completely mechanical machine myself, I won't have to stop production when my electronic machines need to go into the "hospital".
I finally sat down with the machine two weeks ago and reviewed the whole book and the machine to determine what parts and supplies I would need. I researched where I could get the things on my list both on the web and locally. Unfortunately none of the local places were nearby whereas two of the three best web sources I found offered free shipping. Even for the one that didn't, the shipping cost was less than what I would have paid in carfare to travel to Manhattan or gas to drive up to Westchester which is where the two closest local sources are. By the weekend, all the orders arrived from:
April 1930's Featherweight Specialty Shoppe (now The Singer Featherweight Shop):
Note: They are conducting in-person workshops on Featherweight maintenance all across the country this year. If you're interested, information about where they will be held is here.
Nova's Featherweights and Quilting:
and NgoSew (eBay):
Also following the instructions on Nova's site (scroll down to her June 2015 "Tip of the Month"), I went to the local hardware store to purchase some Kerosene to clean off the old lubricant on the gears before putting a fresh application on (this is the smallest bottle I could get which is still waaayyy more than I needed!).
With Mr. McCallum's great instructions, I worked my way through replacing the belt, cleaning and lubricating the machine's gears (there are also great videos on this at April 1930's and at Nova's at the bottom of their pages), oiling the machine and cleaning it off (soap and water). I also had to change the feet on the bed of the machine -- the old ones were totally dried out and crusty!
I replaced the original light bulb:
....with a new bright LED one:
I bought a supply of bobbins, a 1/4" foot and a walking foot made for single hole thread plates so I'd be ready to stitch once it was up and running. I would like to eventually buy a new bobbin case and a needleplate with seam guide markings but I think I've spent enough on this for right now! Oh and what's a shopping expedition without a few tchatchkes!
Yes!! Here she is on her first project with me: sewing the binding strips (with the new 1/4" guide foot) for my High Strung +2 quilt. Something else I didn't know about Featherweights is that while they are straight-stitch only machines, they are able to stitch in reverse! Next she also managed just fine attaching the binding to my "High Strung +2" quilt that I finished hand quilting on Monday. This gave me a chance to try out the walking foot.
What I hope to use her for next is an accessories project just for her! Many people swear by their Featherweights as a traveling machine. My Euro-Pro machine was my traveling machine but I admit it's pretty heavy and bulky even with the Tutto bag my MIL gifted me many years ago. One of the places where I saw McCallum's 221 book recommended was on Jeni Baker's blog In Color Order. She did another post where she made a tote for her machine (and there's another good tutorial over at the Crafty Hipster blog too). It just so happens I already had a bag pattern for a tote the same size and having made a tote in 2014 as a gift for our neighbors, figured I can try making one for the Featherweight too. Looking forward through out the rest of the year to put this baby through her paces!!