The Singer Featherweight 221

Betty September 19, 1945I’ve owned this Singer Featherweight 221 since 1993. I purchased it from the lovely Mrs Elizabeth Kotyck for $40. The original receipt shows it purchased from the Singer Sewing Machine Company on East Pender Street in Vancouver for $123.25. I’m thinking that was a very large sum in those days. Mrs Kotyck or Betty, as she preferred to be called, used to tell me stories of living in Holland during the war and German occupation.  I still remember her warning me of the arsenic that was in the water in Kelly Creek, a small community south of Powell River. She knew we were moving to Powell River and wanted me and my family to be “very happy, have good health, good friends…” This woman was amazing and someone I’ll never forget. This machine is named Betty. She is one of 20,000 produced on Sept. 19, 1945.

Joan recently received this little beauty from the family of a woman called Trudy in the Nelson area of British Columbia. She was telling Shelley that she was looking for an industrial machine to sew bellows for the cement plant. (She didn’t want to use my Janome 6600 anymore) Shelley had been asked if she herself would like an industrial machine but wasn’t interested. She asked her friend Stuart if the machine was still available and indeed it was and he was more than pleased to send it to Joan. His mother-in-law had used it for years as a seamstress but had developed dementia and was no longer able to use it. When the machine arrived and Joan took one look at it she said there was no way she was sewing bellows on it for the cement plant! (She has since found a real industrial machine.) This machine is now named Trudy. She is one of 10,000 produced on March 4, 1953.

These machines were built in the UK, Canada and the USA. <— this is Betty’s motor and manufacturing label. This —> is Trudy’s motor and manufacturing information. They both say they are made in Canada. Trudy’s states, St Johns, Quebec.

Below are two excerpts from the Singer Featherweight Shop.

“The Canadian Featherweight History is quite unique and can be a little bit confusing, but hopefully we will be able to shed a little bit of light on the topic.  Canada only produced the Tan 221J Featherweights in their Saint John’s Quebec factory, but they made parts like motors and cases for the Black and White Featherweights that were sold there.  It is speculated that the black and white Featherweight bases and housings were made in the Kilbowie and New Jersey factories, but the machines were finished in Canada.  We do not know why Singer would have done this, but there could have been import charges on finished products, and Singer also wanted to be able to label the machines as “Made in Canada.”

“So, what makes a Featherweight a Featherweight and why is it so lightweight? A Singer Featherweight is limited to the Singer 221 or 222 model classification only and is made of cast aluminum, weighing just over 11 pounds. It also has a quick identifying feature with the sewing surface or bed extension that flips up on the left side allowing it to compactly fit into its case.”

The Singer Featherweight Shop has some amazing reading & tutorials. Check out their website here for tonnes more information. The is a Canadian online company that also sells parts.

Both machines have been in for servicing and we have ordered  1/4″ and walking feet for these girls. We have also ordered the extension tables and they will be here in time for our September quilt retreat. There is a polishing kit that will make these machines shine and protect their decals and paint. Perhaps that will be a winter project.

I confess I have been playing with Betty…and I really should be doing other things ;)    She sews like a dream is a MP4 file that shows her sewing the maple leaf mug rug…that fabric is from my dress from the 1980′s…sewn on another Singer, the 525. And as I was playing with her I was thinking about when I first learned to sew. The sounds of sewing machines have changed and I have to say, I like the sounds of “then” better than the sounds of “now.”

Can’t wait for the September Maple Beach retreat and sewing on Betty with a possible turn on Trudy. Anyone else have a featherweight machine? Story?

Happy Quilting…Valerie Raye, Joan, Betty & Trudy xox

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