My very sweet husband wanted to get me a ring for Christmas. He found one on Etsy that I'd marked as a favorite, but another buyer had snatched it up. So he asked me to choose a replacement.
While his impulse was a lovely one, there was something else I'd been wanting for quite some time—a Singer Featherweight sewing machine. These 11-pound wonders were built and sold in the 1940s and 1950s, and lots of quilters love them and use them regularly.
My friend Kristin pieces on one that belonged to her mother and another friend Candy brought hers to our Lake Tahoe retreat and whipped up a couple of quilts with it. They pretty much go forward and backward and that's it, but they're easy to transport, have a terrific 1/4-inch stitch, and are as cute as a button.
We were lucky to find a reasonably priced Featherweight on Craigslist. The machine had belonged to the grandmother of the young man who was selling it—she'd used it to stitch charity projects for her church. Neither the seller nor his fiancé sew.
I'm trying to decide what it is that makes me so happy with this little wonder. It's adorable, of course, and there is something so fantastic about the fact that it not only works, but works incredibly well.
I think it's the story that goes with it—the young man and his fiancé are both students and could undoubtedly use the money, so they were pleased to make the sale. And I loved the absurdity of meeting at a shopping mall, where they pulled the machine from its little black case, plugged it in at a wall outlet, and oblivious to the shoppers strolling past, I tested its sewing ability with the bit of fabric I'd tucked in my purse for just that purpose.
As we left, the young man shook our hands and told me that he knew his grandmother would be pleased that it wasn't sitting unused in his house, but instead bringing pleasure to another stitcher. The Featherweight was part of his family's history and its purchase has added to our family lore. I can't wait to use it to stitch my next quilt.
After nearly 13 years as a writer and editor at the University of Iowa, I'm a full time freelancer. I specialize in writing for quilting, sewing, and crafts publications and blogs. I love all things textile-related and my dog Pearl feels the same way. We both delight in fabric and yarn—I like to use it and she likes to roll around in it. Please ask permission before using any photos or text from this blog. Thanks!