Grandma's 1947 Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine

This is a Singer 221 Featherweight sewing machine that belonged to my Grandma. It was made sometime around September 1947.

The front of a 1955 Singer Featherweight sewing machine. The machine is small, painted glossy black with decorative gold decals.

This machine has the scrollwork pattern on the end plate.A closeup of the scrollwork on the chrome-plated cap that covers the needle mechanism.A closeup of the needle mechanism. A portion of the thread tensioner is visible to the right.A rear view of the sewing machine. The motor is on the left and a decal on the machine arm reads "The Singer Manufacturing Co."A closeup of the decal on the back of the sewing machine arm. It reads, "The Singer Manufacturing Co."

I replaced the access panel screw on the top of the machine with a thumbscrew to make it easier to oil. Now I can get in there without a screwdriver:The flathead screw that holds on the spool pin cover has been replaced with a wide, flat thumbscrew.

I put a thin layer of Super Lube synthetic grease with PTFE on these gears. For the reset of the mechanism I use Tri-Flow oil.The spool pin cover has been removed and the upper helical gears are visible.

A brass seal is held onto the sewing machine pillar with two ornate rivets. The seal reads "THE SINGER MANFG. CO. / TRADEMARK," The seal shows an old fashoned vibrating shuttle–style bobbin with two machine needles crossed behind it. The letter 'S' is formed by a length of thread.A closeup of a decal on the machine bed, an ornate Celtic knot in gold on a black background.

A closeup of the stitch regulator lever, showing the numbers 30, 20, 15, 12, 10, 8, 7, and 6.A closeup of the serial number plate, which reads "AH199354."A closeup of the underside machine mechanism, showing the lower helical gears.A closeup of the original machine wiring, showing the lead cladding over the light and the original cloth wires.

The original motor was this "Catalog 3-100," rated for 100–110 volts. I ended up swapping it out for a new Alphasew motor. A closeup of the motor nameplate, which reads, "SEWING MOTOR / Catalog 3-110 / 100-110 Volts / 25 to 75 Cyces and D.C. / 0.4 Ampere / Simanco, U.S.A. / 700"

A closeup of the side of the motor showing a Singer trademark. The trademark is a red letter 'S' with the words "Singer Sewing Motors." Behind it, a woman is shown sewing at a table.

The Featherweight motors that have lubrication holes should be greased with petroleum jelly (Vaseline), not oil or any other kind of grease. For $2.59 I bought enough to last several lifetimes. Here I've loaded it into a syringe for easy application:A picture of a tub of petroleum jelly. Beside it is a Monoject 412 plastic syringe filled with petroleum jelly.

This machine came with the steel foot controller rather than the bakelite version. These made a brief reappearance to the model line in the late 1940s:A sewing machine foot controller made of black painted steel. The nameplate reads, "SEWING MOTOR CONTROLLER / 95–145 VOLTS / 0.7 AMPERE / PART NO. 195322 / SIMANCO MADE IN U.S.A."The bottom of the foot controller, showing four round, rubber feet.

I made a small quilted bag for the controller out of some scrap material:A small quilted bag sits in front of the sewing machine. It has a colorful Noah's ark pattern on it.

The bag lets me throw the controller in the case without worrying about scratches:The bag sits lengthwise across the machine resting inside the carrying case.

The case has a lift-out tray with a hole in it for the spool pin:A tray sits on top of the open case. It has a storage compartment on the left side for bobbins and other notions and the right side has a hole in the bottom to accomodate the thread spool.

The oil can clip holds on snugly to a bottle of Tri-Flow oil. A bottle of Tri-Flow lubricant is held inside the oil can clip at the bottom of the carrying case. A straw is fastened to its side with electrical tape.