Saturday, March 7, 2009

Featherweight with A Mighty Heart

The Featherweight sewing machine was designed and brought to market in the 1930s. It made its debut at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair.

Everyone thought it was foolish to bring this machine to market at the very height of the Great Depression. Who would purchase it? Who had the funds when 25% of the population was unemployed.

But it did sell. Women loved i: it was sleek, pretty and light, weighing in at only 11 pounds. This little machine went forward and in reverse in a perfectly accurate straight stitch: no fancy pants stitching for this little babe. And it was so ingeniously and simply made that women found they could trouble-shoot and fix problems themselves: no need for a repairman.

Singer continued to make this model until the late 1950s without changing a single thing in terms of its operation. They did not add any bells and whistles; they truly left well-enough alone. They only significant change came during World War II when some of the more decorative metal was sacrificed for the war effort.

The Featherweight became the workhorse of the sewing world. There is no better machine for giving a perfectly straight accurate stitch. It came with a small folding table, a carrying box with a handle and some additional tools. About a decade ago there was renewed interest in the Featherweight; it became a "collectible" object and usable, too. They were running as smoothly in the 1990s as they had in the early decades. Imagine! What other tool, instrument or piece of equipment has history such as this?

Oh, I yearned for one. They were selling for about $600 in my part of the world (when it came in the original box and table). It was, however, still possible to find one at a yard sale, flea market, auction or estate sale for little money. That is what I wanted. I wanted to find a perfectly usable Featherweight for, say, $25.00. And I wouldn't quibble on the price. No sirree.

Larry, evermore practical, bought one for my birthday that year. What dream: the guy and the Featherweight. My model was made in 1951. Is shiny black and perfect all through.

It is a prized possession; I wouldn't give it up for anything.
Using the construction I wrote about yesterday to determine personal extrinsic value of an object in your possession, I offer here my analysis, be ever so short and pithy:

1. Does it lift my energy when I think about it or look at it?
This little baby comes with a bundle of HOPE. Its designers and manufacturers were optimistic even in the face of negativity, even while the country was experiencing the depths of the Great Depression. They had hope and hope won out. Where will we find hope in 2009?

2. Do I absolutely love it?
Absolutely. Without question. It has been totally without fail, faithful to me.

3. Is it genuinely useful and do I use it?
The Featherweight is purposeful, useful and dependable; it always does the job it was created for; seldom balks at the work. I use it when I want the best straight stitch. I like using it for machine piecing and stitch-in-the-ditch machine quilting small fabric objects. I don't use it daily, weekly or now even monthly. But I will use again and again. Of that I am certain.

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