A few years ago I gifted or sold most of my vintage machines. They were pretty t look at but none really worked properly and I didn’t know how to repair them. Recently I have really gone back to enjoying these old beauties and learning about their history. I still have my 1800 Household treadle that I will gift to my sister once she moves, but I have now added a few.
A few months ago one of the members of our monthly craft group approached me about helping her sell a Singer 221. Well, since I’d given one of mine to my son in law and one to my sister, I thought I will grab this one for myself. Taking it home, oiling it up, polishing it etc, it just reminds me how much there is to appreciate about this machines. 69 years later they sew like butter. Can you imagine what it felt like 69 years ago to sit in front of that brand new, shiny machine and start stitching? The Singer 221’s have and will always, as long as taken care of, purr like new born kittens.
Ever read the history or Issac Merritt Singer? The man was amazing. His net worth when he died was 18 million dollars or what now equals over $200 million dollars. Installment payments or financing was virtually invented by him. He realized women could afford sewing machines easier if they could make payments. You could buy a machine and the sales rep would come around monthly and collect your payments. Genius.
I read an article that claimed they started the 221 (commonly known as a featherweight) because women would sew more (or buy more) if they could meet with friends. So along came the 221 portable weighing in at 11 pounds. Crazy thing is they then put it in a 14 pound wood box. I envy the women that got these from family members. Imagine being able to ask, how did it feel getting that brand new, tiny little black machine.
My collection now includes a 1947 I got from a church member fondly named Ms. Dixie (the lady I bought her from) and a 1950 I picked up for about half the usual price just this week. The latest one came with not only all the additional feet but the original bobbin case, needles, motor lubricant and a tiny little Singer oil can. I am not sure what she will be called yet. The seller said she was non-working but looks like it’s just a few minor repairs. We shall see. Ms. Dixie is the one with red thread. I never even had to polish her.
I’ve even started a shelf to display them. The one on the second shelf is the 1923 Singer I posted about prior, that Sue gave me on my visit to Michigan. I’ll let you know how the new 221 works in a later post once I get her running and polished.