Monday, December 22, 2014

Quiltville Mystery Quilt 2014 - Part ONE again...

Well, a few weeks ago, I posted about starting Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt.  I took off and then was quickly sidetracked and derailed by other projects.  A Baby Quilt, another gift quilt which I can't reveal until next week, and yet another gift which I can't reveal until next week, and another that I can't reveal until March!!

So What CAN I reveal?  Well, when I saw step ONE of GIMQ (Grand Illusion Mystery Quilt) I realized I was going to need to sew many, many HSTs.  I have heard many times before that the best machine to sew these on is an old Singer Featherweight.  I have one, in fact, I have had it for over a year, but it didn't work.  

It needed some work before I was going to be able to sew on it.  She barely moved when turning the fly wheel.  Her motor seemed to have plenty of power, but her drive belt was frail, and she was bound up.  SO, I decided to work on her so I could use her to complete the GIMQ!

So, I pulled her out of her ragged old box, and identified the things I NEEDED to order to make her operational.  Her power cord was in horrible condition.  Her rubber feet were non-existent, and she was filthy dirty!  I had one old rusty bobbin, and her felts were in horrible condition.  So I ordered all new parts to replace what needed replacing.

Last Friday, I received those parts.  Bonnie also released her next clue in the GIMQ, which included... yep... More HSTs! so I was motivated and equipped.  I must say, the internet is a wonderful place!  I found YouTube videos galore, and a Facebook group dedicated to Singer Featherweights proved to be invaluable in getting me the resources I needed to take my little hunk of black painted aluminum from greasy, seized, mess of a not working sewing machine to a clean, working, although not beautiful, machine, sewing beautiful stitches!

So, while the only sewing I can share from the past week is the first four HSTs sewn on my "NEW Featherweight", I CAN share my adventure in taking her from not moving to sewing.  Without further ado, here she is... Built in the summer of 1940... My Featherweight...

This case pretty much tells her history...
I'm hoping I can give her a much better future!

Here you can see that she has no clear coat at all on about 80%
of her body.  There are a few places where she has some finish, but very few.

The Bags of parts I needed to to bring her to life.  A new power cord, belt,
felts, rubber feet, twenty new needles and a dozen new shiny bobbins.

As I disassembled her, this is how I kept track of what screws belonged to
which parts.  All were cleaned thoroughly in a bath of Kerosene
and scrubbed with a toothbrush before being bagged with the
identifying Post It Note.

The beautiful scrolled faceplate which was standard on the earliest
Featherweights.  Dirty, gunky, yellowed and in desperate need of cleaning in this photo.

Another part full of gunk ready to be cleaned.  All of the surface parts were
gunky and filthy dirty.

Here, the bobbin hook assembly has been opened and the bobbin holder
has been removed.  I followed directions from a YouTube video and wiggled
and wiggled for twenty minutes paying very close attention so I would know
how to get it back in.  After twenty minutes or so, I lost focus for a few
seconds and all of a sudden the holder popped out and fell to the desktop.
I have no idea how I got it out!
I thoroughly cleaned this out though and managed to replace the bobbin
holder in just a matter of about a minute!

The piece that needed wiggling out... Took twenty minutes to get it out
and one to put it back in.  The clean parts spun freely.  THIS is what had the
whole machine bound up.  The gunk behind this piece was literally holding
it tight with pure suction and made the whole machine barely move.  Once
the bobbin assembly was removed and cleaned, the whole machine
moved easily!

This is what a belt looks like when it sits without moving for decades!

THIS is why I ordered new wiring!  This was a fire waiting to happen
under my foot!

This photo shows the "rubber feet".  That gray circle is supposed to be a black
rubber foot.  Decades of decay and neglect left this machine literally sitting
on the screws that held the feet in place... (see next photo)

Here is a side view of the "foot".  Well,
more like the absence of the foot!
And her new rubber feet... No more scratching my desk!

When I opened up the top and removed the faceplate, I was amazed at
how clean the innards of the machine were!  This is before I cleaned it!

 Twenty four hours before this video was taken, she would
barely even move...

My first few stitches after reassembly!

Ready to sew another line of stitches.  Here you can see that the machine was
previously cleaned with some sort of harsh cleaner that stripped the clear coat
right off the machine, and ate away at some of the decals as well.  She isn't
pretty, but she purrs like a kitten, and sews nice straight lines.
Most of her isn't very pretty, but LOOK at that face plate!
I love the fancy scrolled plates on the early machines...
No more yellow or brown gunk!!
And here she is with her first official work!
First four blocks pressed, trimmed and perfect.  Another 20 sewn for good measure.

SO, I have a LOT of work to do to catch up, but now that this little baby is working and I'm almost done with my Christmas quilting, I'll be able to get to work very soon!

If you came from Bonnie's Link up, get back by clicking HERE.  If you want to see what others are doing on Bonnie's Mystery Quilting, go ahead and click, I won't mind!

Until His work in me is complete,


  1. I'm the original owner of a 1955 Featherweight; well used well travelled... and she still purrs like a kitten! I agree, the face plate on yours is a beauty!

  2. what a treasure to restore. Thank you for showing us the befores and afters. Many happy stitches ahead for the both of you.

  3. Happy sewing with your Featherweight!

  4. Welcome to the Grand Illusion group! Thanks for sharing your FW story. What a wonderful rescue! Question: where did you get the machine, and how much did you pay for it?

    1. I bought the machine about 18 months ago while in Denver, CO on business. It was a "Purchase on a whim". I paid $100 for her. She was nearly completely seized up. I figured, if I couldn't get her up and running again, I could sell her parts and get my $100 back.

      Last week I spent $42 for some new parts and now she's running again.

      In a few years I will probably spend the money to have her completely disassembled, re-painted and rebuilt, but for now, she works, so I'll use her.

  5. LOVE the Featherweight story! I restore\service Vintage Singers too! Are you a member of the Vintage Sewing Machines Facebook group? Bet lots and lots would give you great suggestions on shining that girl back up! It can be done! I promise!

    1. Yes, I am a member of a Facebook Group (Singer Featherweight 221 & 222 Sewing Machines). I got a LOT of great advice from them as I worked through this clean up. I won't call it a restoration because I really didn't restore anything. I just cleaned her up and replaced a few simple parts. It was a pretty good little 3 day project. But patience was recommended and well used! I am thrilled that she works and works well.

      I'll worry about making her more pretty next summer when I can paint, etc. outside! The light kerosene bath I gave her in the basement nearly got me kicked out of the house! BUT, it worked great to break up the nasty gunk on her silver parts.

      Thanks for reading!

    2. I was given an old machine that is locked up. Did you use straight kerosene or a mixture. You give me hope that maybe it can be made to run again. Thanks Linda Baker

    3. Yes. Straight Kerosene. You won't need a lot, and make sure you are in a well ventilated room. A garage, or outdoors would be best!

      I used the kerosene to clean it and then gave it a good oiling.

      Good Luck with yours Linda. Let me know how it turns out!

  6. Thank you for sharing this. Heartwarming. If you see a 301 jump on it also sews like a dream.

    1. Funny you say that. There is one on a silent auction at a local thrift shop. I plan to go back and visit next Monday, the last day a bid can be placed. It's been there a week and it is at $15! I doubt it will stay there, but we'll see. I won't let a steal pass me by!

  7. I wouldn't call your baby ugly. She was probably well loved and used in her past life. You did a great job of making her sing again. Beauty is only skin deep!

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