Saturday, July 21, 2012

Books about the Featherweight and Sewing

Subject: Book Source
Featherweight Dittos!   VBG!
In response to a question from 9-29-95:

  "Featherweight 221: the Perfect Portable" by Nancy Johnson-Srebro is
available by mail order from  the Quilter's Bookshelf   1-800-332-6095
 $6.95 plus shipping.  They also list 2 other books:  "Toy and Miniature
Sewing Machines"  by Glenda Thomas  for $18.95   and  "Antique American
Sewing Machines: A Value Guide"  by James W. Slaten  for $19.95.  I don't
have either of these last two books.  If anyone else does, I would like to
hear your opinions.  I have no affiliation with this company, just a
satisfied customer.  Ask for a copy of the catalog, if you order, its a great

  I think I have also seen FW 221... in the Keepsake Quilter's catalog, and
also either the Clothilde or Nancy's Notions catalogs.  Some enlightened
quilt shops also carry it.
Subject: Re: Books, etc...
I have 2 books on antique machines that Susan and the group might be
interested in.
One is called Antique American Sewing Machines by James Slaten. Lots of info
and pictures, published by Singer Dealer Museum, 3400 Park Blvd, Oakland, CA

The other is The Sewing Machine: It's Invention and Development by Grace
Rogers Cooper. Tons of info and wonderful pictures, published by Smithsonian
Institution Press, Washington, D.C.
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics Digest 10/4/95

I have two wonderful books on sewing  machines - one is the history and the
other is a repair manual for various models. The only problem is they're not
mine, I only borrowed them from the library and I have grave doubts that I
would ever be able to find them for sale. The historical one is called
Sincere's History of the Sewing Machine, published by Sincere Press, P.O.Box
10422, Phoenix, AZ 85016, c.1970. It isn't only about Singer machines,
unfortunately, but has a lot about them because one of the authors was a
Singer salesman from 1933 until after WWII. It's really interesting to hear
his comments about the introduction of European and Japaneses machines in the
U.S. at that time. He basically says the European models offered Zigzags at
the same price as straight stitch American machines and the Japanese sold
their machines for half the price of domestic ones.The introduction strongly
recommends the Smithsonian publication " The Invention of the Sewing Machine"
by Grace Cooper - is this the one you refer to , Gordy?

 The other book on repairs is called Sincere's Sewing Machine Service Book,
same publisher, c.1968. This has really detailed information about all kinds
of machines from the long shuttle, class 15, class 66, even zigzag machines.
It has the machines broken down by parts and a lot of the info is pretty
technical, but helpful.

 Hope this info helps some of you. If you have anything you'd like me to
look up in either book, just let me know (at least for the next month while I
have them). Sue M.
Subject: Wonderful old book by Singer . . . .

I haunt bookstores that carry old, used, tattered books.  Love the things.
Addicted to 'em.  I look especially for old sewing and  housekeeping books.
I have here a book I bought some time ago--I thinnk I paid a dollar or two
for it--that I wouldn't give up for anything!  However, I will be glad to
look up things for my best friends--the ones who like old Singers and FWs.

"Machine Sewing; A Treatise on the Care and Use of Family Sewing Machines
and Their Attachments, specially prepared for teachers of home economics."
Published by Singer Sewing Machine Co., Inc., Singer Building, New York,
copyright 1923, revised June 1930.
the Chapters are:
1.      General instructions for the care and operation of family sewings.
2.  Stitch formation by the varioys types of singer machines most commonly
used (note:  all four types, with clear drawings and pictures of the mechanisms
and their threading.)
3.  The binder and its many uses as applied to family sewing
4.  The foot  hemmer and the adjustable  hemmer
5.  The practical use of the tucker
6.  The ruffler
7.  Special labor-saving attchments for sewing machines
8.  Electric machines, motors and lights
9.  The "student" model Singer electric.

Folks, it's all here!  Everything you ever wanted to know about your old
Singer and some you didn't want to know.

Nothing about the Featherweight, of course.
From: (Gordon D. Jones)
Subject: Misc FW notes

There is a catalog called "A Stitch Back in Time" that will be of interest
to most of you FWFantics.  This catalog has sewing collectibles, books, and
gift items.  It contains books about antique sewing machines, including
Nancy Johnson-Srebro "Featherweight 221, The Perfect Portable", two books
on toy machines, and many others.  It contains some parts for straight
stitch sewing machines, such as bobbin cases for the FW 221, $72(Kim take
note), long bobbins for Singer 27, 127 ($.75), pressure feet for various
machines, etc.  It contains accessories, such as leather belt for treadle
machines, "Ruby" automatic zigzagger and "Ruby" buttonhole attachment.  It
also list needles for various old machines.  Also has the #1712 (pink)
belts, $4.50.  Pat is your spare belt a tan or pink toothed belt, probably
a 1712 Bando belt.

Penney Gurrola  runs the business, and has recently moved to Texas, so I
don't have the new address, but her phone no. is 1-800-352-1174.  I just
talked to her this morning to get permission to post her number so know its
correct.  Just give her a call and request a catalog.

For those of you that want to know about toy sewing machines, heres the
book for you: "Toy and Miniature Sewing Machines, An Identification $ Value
Guide", by Glenda Thomas.  This is a beautiful book, large format, with 531
color pictures, over 250 pages,  50 pictures of just Singer toy machines.
May be ordered from:

Collector Books
P.O.Box 3009
Paducah, Kentucky 42002-3009
@$18.95. Add $2.00 for postage and handling.
Subject: Miscellaneous

I have the "Toy & Miniature Sewing Machines" book by Glenda Thomas and I
lovelooking at the pictures and collecting
these little treasures.  Gordy gave
you the address and I thought I'd also post the telephone number for you
also:  1-800-626-5420 , hours are Mon-Fri 7:00am to 5:00pm CST,  the item
number for this particular book is 3892 but they will know what you're
talking about.  :-)
From: (Gordon D. Jones)
Subject: A Stitch Back In Time
I now have the address and phone no. for A Stitch Back In Time.  Here it is:
A Stitch Back In Time
3815 50th St. #41
Lubbock, TX 79413
Subject: Responses
From: Terry

 Sue M.:  Here is the 'map' to get to the used sewing machine books.  It
seems to be a good place to request a book search also.  Start on the WW
Quilting Page.  Find QUILT BOOK REVIEWS and click it on.  Scroll down and
NEEDLEWORK BOOKS and click it on and that's it!  Just read this page and you
should find all the info.  What did we ever do before WWQP???
 Caitlin:  Unfortunately the Smithsonian book only covers American mfg.
machines but thought you'd like to know that two machines named Reynolds
were manufactured here; one by White Sewing Machine Co. and the other by
Free S.M.Co. Carol Head, author of OLD SEWING MACHINES (published in UK by
Shire Pub. Ltd.) has an extensive collection of machines and may be a source
of information.
From: Dawn Scotting
Subject: A few old books.....

I went to visit the homepage on old hard-to-find books that Terry was
telling us about and found a few that someone might be interested in.
Darn it, I forgot to write down the info on where to order these books
from but I can always find it again if anyone needs it.
All prices quoted are in US dollars.
Machine Sewing:  Treatise on the Care and Use of Singer, '55,
Teacher's textbook, 221 pages, specially prepared for teachers of Home
(8470)         $30.00

Operating Manual:  straight stitch sewing machine, (no trade name
mentioned), '65, 32 pages
(17394)        $7.00

Official Price Guide to Sewing Collectibles, Clement. House of
Collectibles, paper, '87, 328 pages, buttons, thimbles, historical
facts, buying tips, guide to museums, sewing collectibles.  $9.95

My Bernina Guide, model 830 and 831, 66 pages, illustrated manual
(17444)        $8.00

Necchi Model BO, Instructions and Maintenance Guide, 93 pages, 1951,
fully illustrated
(13645)        $15.00

Machine Sewing, Singer, 1930, 158 pages, a treatise on the care and use
of family sewing machines and their attachments, New York, cover
slightly worn, otherwise good text
(2596)          $25.00

Know Your Pfaff Hobbylock by Baker and Young, Chilton Books, paper, 192
pages, 8 in color, go with two experts in serging beyond the basics.
Confidence building lessons, Creative serging options in a machine
specific format ideas for the busy sewer
(12288)         $17.95

Know Your Sewing Machine, Dodson.  Chilton, '88, paper, how many ways
can you change to fabric with a machine:  answered with 12 chapters and
39 step by step lessons, fully illustrated, published at $12.95,
now             $4.50

Know Your Elna by Dodson with Ahles, Chilton, paper, 224 pages, authors
have perfected hundreds of techniques, features a whole chapter on
popular French handsewing
(9972)          $14.95

Know Your Pfaff by Dodson with Griese, Chilton, '89, 224 pages, paper,
precision stitching is a breeze with this book, authors tell how to
combine automatic decorative and utility stitches for truly original
(9973)           $14.95

Instructions for Operating the Singer Portable Electric Sewing Machine
No. 128-13, Attachments 120604, with Knee Control, lock stitch for
family use, 1934, 36 pages
(13650)          $16.00

Instructions for Operating the Singer Portable Electric Sewing Machine
by No 99-13, attachments 120360 with knee control, lock stitch for
family use, 48 pages, 1925, illustrated, with original bobbin
(13651)          $16.00

Instructions for Use and Care of Domestic Rotary Electric Sewing
Machines, Model Number 151, 25 pages, writing in booklet indicates
machine was purchased in 1951
(13643)          $15.00

Instructions for the Care and Use of the Necchi Model BU, '49, 39
illustrated pages, world's finest sewing machine
(1337)           $15.00

Instructions for Operating the Franklin Sewing Machine by Sears Roebuck
and Co., 32 pages, fully illustrative
(13644)          $28.00

Subject: A Capitolist Romance
I just finished reading a book called A Capitolist Romance by a Ruth ?, sorry
I don't remember her last name. Anyway it is a biography of Isaac Merrit
Singer, a mechanical genius but morally bankrupt. Interesting reading. Check
your local library if you are interested. I am sure this is where the info in
the TIME article came from.
From: Dawn Scotting
Subject: More bits and pieces
>Where did you order this book?  I WANT ONE!!!

Machine Sewing:  Treatise on the Care and Use of Singer, '55, Teacher's
textbook, 221 pages, specially prepared for teachers of Home Economics
(8470)         $30.00

Machine Sewing, Singer, 1930, 158 pages, a treatise on the care and use
of family sewing machines and their attachments, New York, cover
slightly worn, otherwise good text   (2596)          $25.00

Order from:
Betty Feinstein
Hard-to-find Needlework Books
96 Roundwood Rd
Newton, MA 02164-1217
617 969-0942 Tel/Fax
She takes Visa or Mastercard

Eileen wrote:
>I found in an antique shop.  They were published in the twenties and
>thirties and the titles are "How to Make Draperies", How to Make
>Dresses", How to Make Children's Clothes", and "Short Cuts to Home
>Sewing".  The latter has quite a bit about attachments that seem very

>similar to the ones for the FW, but obviously pre-date it.  They are
Found this one in Betty's hard to find book list, it's not from the
20's but it could be something similar:
Sewing Skills Reference Book by Singer, 1954. 52 pages, machine
principles, stitching for line, contour, fashion stitches (18803) $12
and another three I haven't posted before:
Singer #32-64 by Singer Manfg, 1942. 16 page booklet illustrating parts
of machine by numbers, no text. (13640) $14

Singer Sewing Book by Picken, 1949, cloth, dust jacket, 288 pages, over
1000 easy to follow diagrams (9779) $12.50

Slant-o-matic 401 by Singer, 1958, paper, 96 pages, instruction manual
(16047) $10
Subject: Open Mouth, Insert Foot

You collectors might be interested in getting your own Blue Book, to date
machines. Dealers are notorious for not sharing theirs. I am new to this
list, but in case this information has not been posted recently, here it is:
The Sewing Machine Blue Book comes out every two years.The last one was for
94/95, so you might want to call and inquire when the new one will be
available for sale. I use mine all the time to date and appraise machines I
see in the Classified section. (just out of curiosity, mostly) Price for the
94/95 Blue Book was $7.50, including shipping. Here's the address:

Bobette Industries
167 Elizabeth Street N.E.
Atlanta, GA 30307-2557
Phone: (404) 880-9400
Fax: (404) 880-4103
Subject: Singer Model List - v1.0
From: (Dawn Scotting)

For Sale: from Betty's hard-to-find book list:
(Betty Feinstein 617 969-0942 Tel/Fax)
Latest Acquisitions-November 1995
    Capitalist Romance: Singer the Sewing Machine, Brandon $35.00
    Celebrating the Stitch, Smith $34.95
One-of-a-Kind Books
    History of the Sewing Machine, Parton, 1867, $100.00
Subject: Sewing Machine Books

If you have a serious interest in older machines, it's worth getting
a copy of the Sewing Machine Blue Book.  You can buy the 1994-95
edition from Robbie Fanning's Open Chain Publishing, P.O. Box 2634-NL,
Menlo Park, CA 94026-2634, phone number (415) 366-4440.  It costs $20,
post paid.  It's basically a wholesale price guide for dealers, but
it has other good information about the years of manufacture, model
numbers and serial numbers of many machines.  There are brief
descriptions of features and color of machines.  One interesting section
gives the retail prices of various Singer models.  In the mid-fifties
the Featherweight was selling for $88-$140, and the new Zigzag
model 401, was selling for the magnificent sum of $399.  This is when
minimum wage was $1 per hour, or $40 per week.  Interesting turn of events,
isn't it?
Subject: Sewing Machine Blue Book price increase

    I just telephoned Bobette Industries to double-check on the
    availability of the exciting Sewing Machine Blue Book that Teri
    mentioned in her November 11 posting.  The books *are* available, but
    the price i was quoted is $10.00 (not $7.50), including shipping and
    handling.  They won't take orders over the phone; you have to send
    them a check.

    For those who didn't get Teri's posting, the address is:
       Bobette Industries
       167 Elizabeth Street NE
       Atlanta GA  30307-2557
Date: 25 Nov 95 12:45:58 EST
From: "Shirley E. Senitza" (

Regarding the "Sewing Machine Blue Book" published by Bobette is
a great little booklet for any serious (and semi-serious) machine collector, but
please be aware of the copyright protection statement printed on one of it's
very first pages--we need to be careful to honor that in anything we FWFs print
here.  I am not associated with the publisher in any way, but we do need to be
aware of their rights, for everyone's protection.  So, I  really do urge
everyone to purchase their own copy, from the sources previously posted.  You
will be glad to have your own copy!
Date: Thu, 30 Nov 1995 23:39:49 -0500
Subject: Carter Bays book

I have a copy of Carter-Bays book, The Encyclopedia of Early American Sewing
Machines.  It is an excellant book for collectors of treadle and hand
operated sewing machines.  He devotes 20 pages to the development of the
sewing machine; the inventors, Howe, Singer, Wilson and Grover; and the
Sewing Machine Combination.  The bulk of the book covers sewing machine
manufacturers from 1850 - 1880 with lots and lots of drawings and photos.
There are 31 pages of photos of toy sewing machines.  5 pages are devoted to
metal, wood, and veneer restoration.  His serial number dating chart covers
12 manufacturers but covers only 1850 - 1876.

As I said, it is a great book for antique sewing machine collectors but it
does not cover any electric machines.  The FW is way too modern for this

Another good book for treadle collectors is Antique American Sewing Machines,
A Value Guide by James A. Slaten (ISBN 0-9632287-0-6) paperback, about $25.
While not as extensive as the Carter Bays book, it is a good handbook.  The
treadles pictured are late 1800s and early 1900s.  I almost fills in where
Carter Bays stops.  The FW is listed fondly as the "last but not least".  The
FW is the only electric listed in Slaten's book.
Subject: More FW ramblings....
From: (Dawn Scotting)
Date: Sun, 03 Dec 95 20:46:57 +1200

Photos of Singer/old/antique sewing machines in Books/Magazines
Australian Houses in Patchwork by Margaret Rolfe & Beryl Hodges - page
18, beautiful Singer treadle and cabinet. (
Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine Vol 1 No 4 - page 37, black FW.
Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine 1995 annual - page 24, 3 black
   toy/miniature machines one of which is a very ornate treadle.
ditto page 54 - antique hand-cranked machine.
ditto page 70 - old black machine in background of a woman sewing on a
   modern machine (philistine!).
ditto page 76 - part of an old black Bernina. (
Better Homes & Gardens Applique 1978 - page 61, appliqued Singer machine
   quilt, model 15- (?), excellent close up very detailed picture
   (quilt made by Jerdee 1976). (
Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilts July 1995 issue #105 - white & black FW's.
Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilts Oct 1995 issue #107 - machines in the
   Antique Sewing Machine Museum of Arlington, Texas.
New Ideas For Lap Quilting by Georgia Bonesteel - page 4, toy Singer
   circa early 1900's ( &
QNM July/Aug 1985 #171 - page 21, two photos of Judy Martin in her
   studio with her FW. (
QNM Feb 1988 #199 - page 30, reproduction of an old advertisement from
   1876, for the 'NEW Wilcox & Gibbs Automatic Silent Sewing Machine,
   includes picture. (
QNM Sept 1994 #265 - page 31, B&W picture of old treadle and
   table/cabinet. (
Scrap Patchwork and Quilting by Marti Michell - page 100, hand crank
   Singer portable. (
Date: Thu, 7 Dec 1995 22:29:38 -0500
Subject: FW Literary Sightings
Greetings, FW Fans!
    Here are three books which feature Featherweights in photographs:
    Working in Miniature  by Becky Schaefer   pub by C & T  1987
    on the cover, and also in the author's photo, page 59

    Lessons In Machine Piecing by Marsha McCloskey   pub by That
    Patchwork Place  1990,  on the cover and also pages 21 &  23

    Celebrate with Little Quilts!  by Berg, Von Holt & Johnson, pub 1995
    by That Patchwork Place,  shows a FW in a scene with their Little Quilts
    on pg 18.

    Doreen Speckmann, in her book Pattern Play, pub by C & T, 1993, gives
    FW's an endorsement in her 'supplies' section:  :
    "Sewing Machine:  Contrary to the sales pitch, you do NOT need a
    state-of-the-art sewing machine.  Any machine with a good straight
    stitch will make beautiful patchwork.  For thirteen years I made
    every quilt (and most of my clothing) on a Singer 201 machine
    that only goes forward and backward and was last made in 1955. Its
    little sister, the Singer 221 Featherweight, is well known as a
    good machine to piece with...."

    Nancy Johnson-Srebro, in her 1990 book Miniatures to Masterpiece,
    states: "In the Introduction, I explained that I do all my piecing
    with an older White sewing machine.  My students and friends use
    everything from vintage Singers to the ultra modern machines that
    are on the market.  Good results can be had with all of them.  ..."
    In the Introduction, she explains that her husband bought her the
    White machine for Christmas in 1971.

    In her 1992 book, Timeless Treasures, Nancy used a FW for the photos
    showing how to put tape on a machine for accurate quarter inch seams,
    and sewing techniques: pages 52, 54-55.  Which was then followed by her
    Featherweight 221:  The Perfect Portable later in 1992.
Date: Mon, 1 Jan 1996 00:18:39 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Dawn Scotting (
Subject: More ramblings from down under...

)In a used bookstore I found an old Better Homes and Garden Applique
)book with a pattern for an appliqued black Model 15 Singer with lots of
)detail.  May have to try this.  It even has gold scrollwork, silver on
)the edge of the hand wheel, and a plug and cord.

I have this book! I also have it listed in my 'list of mags with
pictures of antique sewing machines':-
Better Homes & Gardens Applique 1978 - page 61, appliqued Singer machine
   quilt, model 15-, excellent close up very detailed picture
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 1995 12:48:16 -0500 (EST)
From: Kristina Santilla (
Subject: Re: FW Fanatics 12/30/95

Lydia: I saw a copy of the 1938 Machine Sewing: A treatise... at the
Library of Congress yesterday (Sorry Terri, I told you the wrong year).
It is about 8-1/2x5-1/2 and about 3/8 thick. It is typical Singer green.
This one was not spiral bound, but they reprinted it at least 7 or 8
times (I know 1955, 1958, 1953) and others might be different. This book
is a "must have".
Date: 31 Dec 95 14:31:45 EST
From: "Shirley E. Senitza" (
Subject: MACHINE SEWING, A stats
Dear FWF Friends,

Per Lydia Pratt's request, I have a 1948 copy of this Singer Home Economics
teacher's book, and I will be glad to provide identification information on it
to facilitate your looking for it in used book stores.  It is hardbound, and the
color is a very dark green--probably more of a hunter green shade than an
avocado green.  It has gold-gild lettering on the front cover and on the spine,
and just the simple block letters MACHINE SEWING (in dull gold gild lettering)
would be visible on a bookshelf.  The cover says MACHINE SEWING within a fancy
scroll-work gold border and SINGER SEWING MACHINE COMPANY near the bottom of the
front cover.  It is 8-3/8" high, 5/8" thick and 5-5/8" wide.  It has 184 pages.
I believe Terry In Montana has a 1950 copy, so perhaps she will describe hers
too, so we can compare the appearance of the two different issues to see if they
are about the same.  (This one cost $30, as I recall...a bit more than it's
original $1 cost.   ;-/   )

I also have the (1941) STUDENT'S MANUAL OF MACHINE SEWING by Singer--the student
companion to the above described teacher's manual.  I will describe it in case
you want to look for it, but it will be harder to spot, since it is much thinner
on a bookshelf.  I would think fewer of the student books have survived, because
it is just a paperback booklet and undoubtedly received rougher handling.  It is
also hunter green, but not as dark a green hue--about 3/4-color intensity of the
teacher's manual.  No spine--just two staples hold it together.  It measures
8-1/4" high by 5-1/2" wide and has 60 pages.  The front cover has a black band
across the upper width of the cover  (3-1/2" x 5-1/2") and the booklet title is
printed in green letters on this black box.  That's a lot of description for one
little booklet, but maybe it will help you spot it.  ($15 for this one.)
Subject: Naked Needles
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 95 19:59:12 -0500
From: Terry (
The Machine Sewing - A Treatise book by Singer Sewing Machine Co. has 22
copyright dates up to 1950.  Krisi has seen a 1953 version.  Lydia, you're
smart to ask for a description because every used bookstore I shop I simply
scan the book spines for the following:  Medium dark green with gold capital
letters MACHINE SEWING.  It is 8 3/8 inches high and just under 5/8" thick.
The front cover says MACHINE SEWING with gold scrolling around it and SINGER
SEWING MACHINE COMPANY along the bottom (again green with gold lettering).
The back cover is blank (green).  Remember this is the 1950 version and if
anyone else has one of these books that doesn't meet this description,
please let us know.
Subject: Books and Museums
Date: Sun, 31 Dec 95 21:10:39 -0500
From: Terry (
I was just looking at the "Further Reading" and "Places to Visit" section in
a little booklet I have called Old Sewing Mchines by Carol Head.  In case
you don't have this book, it suggests reading The Development, Construction
and Characteristics of the Sewing Machine byJ.B. Duncan, Singer Company (UK)
Ltd.  Obviously it was published in Britain.  Also she says to be sure and
visit Clydebank District Museum, Old Town Hall, Dumbarton Road, Clydebank.
Telephone: 041-952-8765 or 1416.  "A local museum with a major collection of
over five hundred sewing machines, comprising a full range of Singer
Manufacturing Company models in addition to examples of most other British
and foreign manufacturers."  She also thanks a Mr. Ray Batchelor, Clydebank
Library for his assistance and Singer Company (UK) Ltd.

Krisi, many museums in England publish books on the contents of their museum
in order to raise funds. Do you suppose the Clydebank District Museum does?
I was in England 18 months ago and was in a zillion museums in London, Bath,
and all over Cornwall and Devon.  Just wish I'd paid more attention to the
sewing machines.  Of course I admired them and even bought an antique toy
metal one for $15 US but I didn't pay as much attention as I would now.
I'll have to ask my son where Clydebank is.  He spent two years in England
and loved visiting Scotland (where I assume Clydebank is).

The other books listed (all seem to be British publications):
Sewing Machines, K.R. Gilbert, HMSO, London, 1970

Veteran Sewing Machines, Brian F. Jewell, David and Charles, Newton Abbot,

Collecting Mechanical Antiques, Ronald Pearsall, David and Charles, Newton
Abbot, 1973

Is there a source for British publications in Washington D.C.?  Well, let me
know if I've told you anything you didn't know.  You're usually way ahead of
me on these things.  Sure is fun though.
Date: 27 Dec 95 07:27:18 EST
From: "Shirley E. Senitza" (
Subject: Post-Christmas 301-Talk, Etc.

Ruth Allen commented about projects we are doing to use our various attachments.
One of the most mysterious attachments to me is the ruffler, so a couple days
ago I found a 32-page booklet called "Learning and Using Your Ruffler--Basic
Instructions and Projects" by Leota Black.  It is a very informative and
well-illustrated booklet on this attachment and goes into skirt projects, sewing
ribbon, adding a facing, cafe curtains, ruffling around a corner, pleating and
on and on.  It cost $10 at the Bernina dealer or you could probably order it
from Leota Black at Rt. 1, Box 117, Wheeler, TX 79096.
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 1996 15:10:06 -0500
Subject: Cranks, sewing book & boxes

MARY BROOK PICKEN'S book, Singer Sewing Book -- Terry
described her 1953 version for those who are looking for a
copy.  My 1949 edition has a grey-beige [greige] cover and
maroon lettering where Terry's has turquoise.
Date: Mon, 15 Jan 1996 21:33:14 -0500
Subject: finding books

Dear Friends Well we had a sort of half-day off here and so in the afternoon
I skated out my driveway and visited two junk/book stores.  At The Big
Chicken Barn found an old White Treadle in an elaborate oak cabinet - date
said 1906 - which when you lift the lid pulls the machine up.  $195.  Seems
like a lot to me, it looked in medium good shape, most of the gilt worn off.
They also had a few sewing and craft books - mostly 60's but they did have
The Singer Sewing Book (1949) by Mary Brooks Picken - hardcover - $5.  This
is the one which instructs us in the proper attitude etc quoted hilariously
here by others.  It is a gem. Then next on to The Book Barn which was
unheated - its hard to turn pages with your mittens on!  This place was
unreal - almost a little spooky.  Huge barn packed floor to ceiling plus
uncounted and uncountable boxes and bags full of books and books and books.

The fellow gave me a flashlight and then went back in the house through a
series of sheds past the cat pans and woodpile.  He did seem to know his
inventory though and showed me where to look.  He had Mending Made Easy
(1943) by Ms Picken in hard cover which I could not turn down for $2!  To pay
him I was invited into the kitchen which was heated with a woodstove and also
full of bags and boxes of books.  I felt like I had strayed into a Tennessee
Williams goes North screen play.  We're talking so full everywhere you turn
that the paths are the negative space, all else being filled.

    Since I hadn't spent hardly any money I stopped at the Big Chicken Barn
again on the way home (yes it was a chicken barn once, I remember it).

Bought a Sat. Evening Post 1952 with an ad for "the wonderful new White"
Shows wife in red bathrobe kissing hubbie in plaid bathrobe with sewing
machine cabinet between them with bow on it.  Inset shows a picture of a
machine which I would call Godzilla if the name weren't already taken!

UGH-LY!!  Dark green matte/stucco finish and sort of chunky looking.  Looked
through some old Farm Journals too but no luck there except for the following
off-topic ad from 1931 - In large letters - "Did you know that LISTERINE
...removes loose dandruff?...ends scalp irritation?...sets a finger wave?
...combats oil condition?"  Inset B&W photo of lady scrubbing her scalp with
her fingers.  Lots of text which included the following instructions "Douse
it on full strength and massage the scalp vigorously.  You will be delighted
with the results."  Unless of course folks wrinkle up their nose and stare at
you curiously?

  All in all an interesting afternoon - thanks to you folks I knew what to
look for and wasn't overwhelmed - just ccccoooold.  Anybody going to
Williamsburg MAQF Feb 22-24?  I am!  Henrietta in Blue Hill Maine where we
are very grateful for heating oil - we far prefer it to a woodpile (which we
do also have for back-up) (
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 08:46:33 -0600
From: (Connie Jo Ozinga)
Subject: Misc singer stuff

I originally mailed this to the list a few weeks ago, but haven't seen it
appear.  I am sending it again in response to today's discussion of history
and biography of Singer.

I was browsing through a pile of new publisher's catalog at work today and I
found a listing for the following, thought I would share it with the list.

"Singer and The Sewing Machine: A capitalist Romance" by Ruth Brandon,
Kodansha Globe (dist in US by Farrar Strauss Giroux) paperback publishing
date July 1996, #13.00.  (Orignally published in 1977 by Lippincott)

The blurb reads: entertaining portrait of the man who built an empire
around the sewing machine.  As a youth, Isaac Singer had considered a career
on the stage before turning to inventing, and it was his salesmanship and
theatrical flair as much as his ingenuity that made him a millionaire.
Although Elias Howe had demonstrated the first continuous sewing machine,
Singer claimed the invention as his own, adding improvements, promoting it
aggressively--and eventually paying Howe a large settlement for copyright
infringement. [Singer's] private life was equally unconventional:  four
marriages, three divorces, a dozen children and a seemingly endless string
of lawsuits.  Brandon brings this remarkable character and his world vidily
to life with the narrative skill and command of detail that mark her as one
of today's leading biographers."

Also, note that if you're looking for one of the sewing machine books
mentioned in the list and your local library doesn't list it in its catalog,
they will probably be happy to try and borrow it from another library for
you.  Ask about it.

A few weeks ago someone sent a list of citations of older articles about
Singer sewing machines.  I have managed to obtain photocopies of most of
them but have misplaced the original list.  Please e-mail me directly if you
want more info.  Among the interesting tidbits in these articles:  Consumers
Research Bulletin for Jan 1953 covers the Singer Blind Stitch Attachment No.
160616;  Consumer's Research Bulletin Nov 1949 rates a number of sewing
machings, On the recommended list is Singer Head 66-16, $175 to $212.50,
sewing performance fair, Singer Head 15-91, $217.50 to $260, sewing
performance good, Singer Head 201-2, $252.50 to $295, sewing performance
good, Singer Model 221-1 (our baby) $145, Weight 19 lb.(light) sewing
performance, fair.

A May 1950 article from Consumer's Reports or Consumers union (sorry,
unclear here) rates the Singer 221-1 Featherweight as a superior buy and
notes that is the smallest and lightest machine tested.
I also found this interesting:  "Singer is reputed to be the world's largest
maker of sewing machines; but it is a secretive organization, and does not
announce production figures."
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 15:16:18 -0400
From: (Peter J Robson)
Subject: Quilting Magazines in England

Hi Everyone, Greta posted a request for quilting magazines in England and
there are a couple I believe. One is called "Popular Patchwork" and it has a
very good listing of what is going on as well as patterns, shops etc. I can
get it at a local magazine shop here in Halifax.
The National Patchwork Association of Great Britain has there own home page.
You can reach them at
Or you can e-mail them directly
I'm sure they could update you on British publications.
Cheers from snowy Nova Scotia
Date: Thu, 1 Feb 1996 09:02:14 -0600 (CST)
From: "Daryl C. Youngman" (
Subject: Sewing Machine Design

In my earlier post, I described a couple of what I thought were obscure,
different machnines.  for those of you with an interest, I have located
an interesting magazine article about sewing machine design in general, and
some different styles are illustrated.  there are also pictures of some
futuristic "concept" machines that were never put into production, and a
*beautiful* full page glossy color plate of a museum quality Singer
Sphinx machine, I think it's a Model 27 of 127.
Ask at your library (if they don't have it they might be able to get a
photocopy for you:

Title of article: "Singer Design:1850-1985"
Author: Arthur Pulos
Title of Magazine: Industrial Design, Volume 32, page 46-49   May/June 1985
(ISSN:0883-8627)  this will help your library borrow a copy if necessary.
Daryl in Kansas
Date: 09 Feb 96 17:14:06 EST
From: Graham Forsdyke (
Subject: Beware

Hi all, from rainly England.
Noticed a post refering to the book by Jim Slaten and his Singer Dealer Museum.

The book is a joke. Full of information lifted from the Smithsonian publication
by Grace Rogers Cooper and a so-called price guide that is so far off as not to
be in the same ball park.

When the book was reviewed in ISMACS News we refused to give the publisher's
details in case anyone went out and bought it!
And, of course, there is no museum.

There is only one sewing-machine museum in the USA, in Arlington Texas. It's run
by the nicest guy in the world, Frank Smith, who eeks out a living with his

The Smithsonian displays only a small percentage of the sewing machine
collection and this is dotted around other displays.

If you are ever in the Charlton, Mass area -- on Rt 20 just east of Sturbridge
and west of Worcester,  look in at The Simple Machine, a shop run by real
enthusiasts Cathy and Steve Racine who have a small display of antique machines.
They are experts on pre-electronic machines and the business, which is now a
Bernina agency, started with Cathy repairing treadles. Be sure to give her a hug
from me.
Date: Sat, 10 Feb 1996 16:07:08 -0700 (MST)
From: Moller Lisa (mollerl@stripe.Colorado.EDU)
  I've noticed that several people are searching for copies of Machine
Sewing: A Treatise, so I thought I'd mention another book for those who
can't find the Pickens book. I have a copy of the Singer Sewing Skills
reference book,published in 1955. It's actually a 56 page booklet which
originally sold for 95 cents. The opening paragraph says: "A family well
clothed and a home well appointed are responsibilities of every
homemaker. To know and to recognize good construction in clothing and
fabric furnishings largely determine how much value is bought with every
dollar spent. Savings are greatest when sewing is done at home,if done
well. The SINGER* Sewing Skills Course is designed to create an awareness
of good quality workmanship and to teach the simple procedures for
attaining better results in sewing."

 The book goes on to show how to care for and maintain your sewing machine
and provides detailed descriptions and illustrations of how to use many
of the attachments. My FW manual has instructions on how to use the foot
and adjustable hemmers,the binder,tucker,and ruffler, but this booklet
has instructions on how to use about a dozen more attachments, including
a walking presserfoot,a quilting foot, 3 types of braiding feet, and a
zipper foot. There are also instructons on how to do various techniques
(called Fashion Details in the booklet) and a lesson at the end of each
chapter with several different practice sessions for the student to follow.
Date: Wed, 7 Feb 1996 23:46:44 -0500
Subject: A Subversive Book

Help save old sewing machines!  If you run across a book
called *How to Make Something from Nothing* by Ruth Stearns
Egge (1968, Coward-McCann, Inc., New York) buy it and keep
it hidden away.  This book actually advocates destroying old
sewing machines to make "decorative accessories" from the

Sample quote: "On looking for junk...don't overlook other
possibilities in wood, such as...old sewing-machine drawers,
and the domed covers from the early machines..."  "Treasures
ready for conversion [are]...wheels from sewing-machine
heads...framework for sewing-machine drawers..."

Or, how about this quote: "Treadle Type of Sewing Machine...
old-fashioned sewing machines may soon become true treasures
and exceedingly hard to find.  At present there are still a
number of antique machines about -- in attics and basements,
as well as secondhand shops -- and their uses are multiple.
The cast-iron legs are in demand for dressing tables or
plant stands.  The drawers, especially those with a carved
design on one side, make very decorative planter boxes....
the rack or framework into which the drawers slide...make
interesting trim.... Sometimes both the left- and right-hand
racks can be salvaged along with the drawers.... Better
still, get a carpenter to shorten the depth of the drawers a
bit; then build them into a compact little set of four to
six miniature drawers.  These are stunning when painted....
The early treadle machine had a removable box that could be
locked in place over the head of the machine.... The wall
piece [shown in photo]...was made from such a box.  It was
first sawed in two (lengthwise) and half-mounted on a

I found this book today in an antique collective.  I
snatched it up for $1.  I will keep this book safe from the
hands of those who might be out to destroy our treasures.  I
urge other FWFs to do the same.
I hope you don't take my "review" too seriously. :-)


Anonymous said...

I just purchased my first 221 Featherweight. Is the shuttle assembly suppose to turn freely: I am having trouble inserting the bobbin and when I try to stitch the thread balls up. Also, my original bobbin case seems to be tight. how loose should the tension be?

Anonymous said...

I just purchased my first 221 Featherweight. Is the shuttle assembly suppose to turn freely: I am having trouble inserting the bobbin and when I try to stitch the thread balls up. Also, my original bobbin case seems to be tight. how loose should the tension be?

Dee Pickens said...

You probably do not have the tip of the bobbin case base between the two little bars on the bottom of the needle