Tried and True Singer Machine

The Singer Featherweight 221 sewing machine my mother gave me keeps on tickin'

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Renee Benoit

When I was 16 my mother gave me one of the most precious things she’s ever given me. I got some of her artwork, a beautiful head she carved out of stone, an original Joy of Cooking cookbook, her gray serge wedding suit. I have enjoyed owning all these things but the one thing she gave me that I continue to use and treasure is an old portable Singer Featherweight 221K sewing machine. She told me it was 30 years old when she gave it to me and now I’m almost 70 so do the math. If she had her information straight that would make the machine’s approximate manufacturing date to be 1936 which is entirely possible because the machines were first introduced in 1930. What other mechanical item lasts so long? Years ago, in my twenties I had it serviced. I haven’t had it serviced since and it’s still going strong.

So did my mother have her information straight? A little research confirms that my Singer is, indeed, older than I am. The medallion on the front indicates that it was manufactured before 1950. (see picture) and Singer Featherweight.

Unfortunately, it seems that they did not put model numbers on the machines until after 1953 so I’m only sure of a couple things. It was manufactured before 1950 and it was manufactured in the United States in New Jersey. I know this because there’s a plate on the back that says so.

Down through the years I have made so many things with my little dependable. I can’t even remember everything I’ve made. You can see in the picture the white tape guide that’s been there forever to help me gauge my hems and seams. Recently, I’ve made old fashioned Prairie aprons and new-fangled brocade gift bags.

Someone else used the machine before me since I got it used. Maybe more than one person used it and I wonder who. If my Singer could talk what a tale it might be able to tell!