Friday, March 17, 2017

Featherweight Tension Adjustments by Alex Sussex

Featherweight Tension adjustment by Alex Sussex

Again, thank you Alex Sussex for all your contributions about the Singer Featherweight!
Gail Pickens-Barger 3/2017

From: AlexSussex@aol.com
Subject: LOWER TENSION ADJUSTMENT PART ONE, ALEX ENGLAND
Hi all,

I am sending this message in two parts so look for the second part and join
them up for a complete guide.
Now that I have caught up a little I can get back to putting a few things on
the digests. Today I am going to talk about one of the most misunderstood
parts of the sewing machine.

LOWER THREAD TENSION ADJUSTMENT.
Only the brave or the foolish should read on. In many instruction manuals it
will say something like, the lower tension is set at the factory and should
not be adjusted. That is all and well, but twenty years have passed the
factory closed and your tensions are all over the place, you have got sewing
to do and you want it right.

At the tender age of seventeen one of my masters took me through the basics
of tension adjustments, then spent the next twenty years trying to hammer it
into me how important it is to every sewing machine ever made. No matter if
you have the latest all singing all dancing computer that talks to you and
does the washing up for you or a hundred year old antique that simply looks
lovingly at you but wont perform.

If you are having trouble with your sewing machine stitch quality and you
have done all the usual things, like played around with the top tension for a
week, thrown the machine out of the bedroom window and then tried to see if
it will still work before telling your husband that you were burgled and the
thieves dropped your machine whilst escaping. There is the possibility that
the lower tension of the machine is out of balance. Now before we go any
further, do not, I repeat, do not adjust your machine if you are happy with
your stitch. a simple test if your tensions are well balanced is to sew a
piece of cotton fabric about six inches in length, then get the ends of the
thread that are left and give them a sharp tug. Now if the tensions are good
the thread should snap without pulling out of the work, in other words you
have a proper LOCK STITCH. If you find that the thread is pulling out of one
side or the other then you are out of balance and your threads are not locked
into the fabric, leading to a weak seam. Tension balancing is a little
understood procedure and many so called repair people will mess around with
the wrong part of your machine and make little or no improvement. How many of
you have taken your sickly machines into a shop for a service and received
them back smothered in oil and not much better with a nice bill for nothing.

Well, here goes I will try and explain the enigma that has eluded people for
so long. Even the great inventor Isaac Singer had terrible trouble getting
the tensions right on his first patent model, so you are not alone. The
classic symptoms of lower tension collapse are quite obvious. Look at your
stitch and see if the lower thread has pulled through to the top of the
fabric, the underneath will look fine perhaps a little loose, however the top
thread will be able to be pulled out of the fabric. This is because the lower
thread is laying on the fabric, not pulling the top thread into the fabric.
You will notice with this symptom that you have little or no effect by
altering the top tension dial and often think that it is a top tension dial
fault.

O. K so here goes, hold on tight it is going to get nasty, have your
painkillers ready. Step one, setting the top tension. Assuming that your top
tension is working can be a fatal flaw but is easily checked. Most sewing
machines even quite early ones have automatic top tension release mechanisms.
This means that once the sewing foot is raised the top thread tension is
automatically released so that you can pull your work out of the machine
without the thread breaking.  To test this simply raise your sewing foot and
see if the thread pulls out easier than if it were lowered ready for sewing.
To test if the thread is being held by the tension discs properly when ready
for sewing, you need to pull the thread from where it comes out of the eye of
the needle-with the foot lowered. The thread ON ALL MACHINES should be tight
enough to bend the needle when pulled. If it does not then you need to
investigate why it is not tight. The most common reason is a restriction
between the tension discs themselves, caused by fluff, corrosion or trapped
threads. a loose top thread leads to a bunching of thread UNDERNEATH the work
(or looping on minor tension failure). Once you have done this put your
numbered tension dial half way, for instance if you have a dial that goes
from one to four put it on two, one to nine put in between the four and five,
get the idea. on older machines with no tension dial numbers turn the dial
clockwise until the thread bends the needle when pulled through as I have
mentioned earlier. Then leave the top thread tension alone. Well, by now only
the mad will still be with me the brave and the foolish have gone out for
pizza, and we have not even got to the lower thread tension that we are going
to discuss. That will be part two further down the digest.
ALEX SUSSEX
SEWING MACHINES
EASTBOURNE ENGLAND

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From: AlexSussex@aol.com
Subject: LOWER THREAD ADJUSTMENT PART TWO, ALEX, ENGLAND

This is the second and final part of lower thread adjustment.
Now the lower tensions fall into basically two types for lock stitch
machines. Ones with bobbin cases and ones without. We have to deal with each
separately but both have common symptoms and cures. So I will take the
machines with bobbin cases first. It is important to say at this stage that
sewing threads alter a great deal in thickness and stickyness (that is
definitely not a word but you know what I mean). I once had a call out to
Brighton District General Hospital because twelve machines had all broken
down on the same day, only to discover it was a faulty batch of new thread.
If you look closely at, for instance a new polyester and put it against an
old reel of cotton, you know the one that you just could not throw away from
your grannies old stuff because you might just need a sunset orange thread
one day. You will notice that the new polyester can be up to half the
thickness of the old cotton. In simple terms this means that by switching
from polyester to the old cotton you have instantly changed the thread
tension by a huge amount and this can lead instantly to a poor stitch. How
many times have you put your trusty old sewing machine away working
perfectly, and a few days later it is messing about. What you have not
realised is that it is possible that the change in thread has caused this
problem. Some sticky old cottons are only fit for hand sewing or tacking or
winding onto your husbands fishing reel so that he can tell you of the
monster that got away. Always keep a reel of new White thread handy and if
your machine plays up switch to it and see if the stitch is better, nine
times out of ten the thread is the culprit and you just have to be brave and
bin it, or chuck it at a neighbours cat that has just dug up your flower bed
(perfect weight and size for that, so I am told). Now where was I, Oh yes
back to the all important bobbin case thread adjustment. Wind a full bobbin
of new white thread the same type that you normally sew with, it is not
important if it is silk, cotton, polyester or a mix, just your usual thread.
Place the bobbin into the bobbin case and suspend the bobbin by the thread,
like a spider hanging from a thread. It is not so important which way you put
the bobbin into the case, some find a machine sews better with the bobbin
going one way some the other, only trial and error points this out for your
machine (loads of people are going to disagree with this, never mind). Now
whilst the spider, opps, bobbin and case are suspended by the thread simply
jerk your hand a little and see what the case does. Now we are getting to the
nitty gritty of tension adjustment the real bread and beans of the matter. If
when you hold the thread the case simply drops to the floor you need to
adjust the bobbin case screw clockwise until it just holds its own weight, So
that when you shake it a little it drops a little. This is the MAGIC point
known in the trade as the balance point for your type of thread. If the case
does not move you need to adjust the bobbin case screw anticlockwise until it
drops a little accordingly. Once you have mastered this adjustment you will
be in great demand at all sewing classes as you transform misbehaving sewing
machines in an instant. Hold on I am not finished, no happy dancing just yet,
no running out and buying twenty lottery tickets because you feel lucky
(remember me if you win). Although this is the balance point some machines
need to be adjusted slightly tighter or looser for the perfect stitch. When
adjusting from this point make only very small movements of the screw, about
one sixteenth of a turn at a time. After each adjustment run a trial stitch
and examine. Once you are nearly right you can go back to the top tension
unit again and make final adjustments say from a four to a five to get it
just perfect.

Adjusting the newer type plastic cases that are set permanently into the
machine, you know the ones where you just drop in the bobbin and hook it
around the spring plate is much the same. You need to do this more by feel,
you need to FEEL the thread resistance by pulling the thread. One of the ways
to do this is to place a fine hand sewing needle into a cork (pinch one of
your husbands or better still open up a new bottle of wine with dinner) so
that about two inches of the needle is protruding from the cork. Then tie the
thread from the machine case through the eye of the needle and whilst holding
the bottom of the cork pull the thread. Now it should have a slight
resistance and slightly, only slightly bend the needle. Once again if it does
not you need to tighten the case adjustment screw clockwise. If it bends to
much you need to loosen it a touch, remember tiny adjustments only.
well, hey presto that is it, if you can master lower thread adjustment you
will have a control of your machine rather than it controlling you. One final
point (by now the painkillers for that pounding headache have started to
work) if you mix your threads it is a lottery whether the tensions will work
effectively. The worst culprits are the old wooden reels of cotton that can
become hard, springy, weak and sticky they can really mess up your sewing
machine, big time. Try and stick to the same threads, if in doubt about a
thread, bin it, really all the grey hairs and profanities it can cause is
just not worth it.

I hope this has helped any of you that have a tension problem. It has taken
me three hours to type out and explain something that really only takes a few
seconds to perform. Now you know why instruction books hardly ever mention
lower thread adjustments.

One final note, thank you all for the wonderful comments about the millennium
calendar, it has made all the hard work worthwhile, and NO, NO, NO I will not
be doing another, it gave me way too many grey hairs.

From ALEX
SUSSEX SEWING MACHINES
EASTBOURNE
GREAT BRITAIN
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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Buttonholers and books

Mom has a few buttonholers and books left!  Give her a call
Deloris Pickens at 580-765-6125.  deepickens@gmail.com


Monday, September 22, 2014

Singer Featherweight 221 Facebook Group

Have a little facebook group for Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine with Gaileee at

Singer Featherweight 221 Facebook Group

Been getting quite a few new people on the group.  Just click on over and request to join!

Here's a nice link for y'all to save and use!

How to oil your sewing machine - and the Featherweight is shown in the example.  Nice!

http://vssmb.blogspot.com/2011/07/how-to-oil-your-sewing-machine-using.html#more


Friday, September 12, 2014

Mr. Issac Singer's History - Singer Sewing Machines

=================================

Mr. Singer's History

=================================
From: (Gordon D. Jones)
Subject: Old sewing machines

Most collectors of antique sewing machines say a machine must be 100 yrs
old to be classed as an antique.  Sewing machines have been manufactured in
quantity since the 1850's.  During the last half of the 19th century, there
were around 200 companies manufacturing sewing machines in the US.  Of
those, less then 20 survived after the turn of the century.  Of the
surviving companies, none of the machines are manufactured in this country
today, not even Singers.  White sewing machines have been manufactured in
Japan since 1974 and New Home was sold to the Janome company of Japan in
1960.

If one is looking for a treadle machine to decorate your home (I have about
a dozen treadles), it will most likely be a Singer.  Why?  It is estimated
that Singer manufactured 21 million machines by the year 1900, and they
continued to make treadle machines through 1930.  You will certainly run
across other names as well.  The Smithsonian book " The Sewing Machine
It's Invention and Development" (unfortunatly out of print now), lists
about 4000 sewing machines names that were manufactured by less than 20
companies.  Names such as, Jones ( I have two of these - surprise!),
Duchess, Essex, Pet, Princess, Queen, McDonald,  etc.  These machines were
sold by every department store and Mom & Pop store in the country, hence
the large number of different names.  There was a McDonald dept. store in
the town I grew up in Nebraska, do you suppose??  National, Standard, A. G.
Mason, Davis, New Home, White, and Free made most of these machines for
others.  Singer never put any name but Singer on a machine he manufactured,
with one exception.  In 1905, Singer bought out the Wheeler and Wilson
company and continued to use the Wheeler and Wilson name on some models for
a short time.

Singer is the most successful sewing machine company in the US because of
the founder, Isaac Merrit Singer.  He was a marketing genius, a former
Shakespearean actor that new how to sell.  He was also successful in the
capability to mass produce parts for sewing machines that were
interchangable.  This, he borrowed from the firearms industry.  Before
1850, parts were hand made not interchangable.  The man who is recognized
as having contributed most to the mechanical development of the sewing
machine is Allen Benjamin Wilson.  He invented and received a patent for
the rotary-hook stitch forming mechanism in 1850.  He developed the four
motion feed (motion of the feed dogs), and received a patent in 1854.  All
modern sewing machines use a rotary hook and four motion feed.  A. B.
Wilson formed the Wheeler and Wilson company(Wheeler had the capital),
which was second only to Singer in numbers manufactured from 1850 until
1880.  Wilson was in poor health and had to quite the business, otherwise
the company would most likely have been number one.  I have  a  Wheeler and
Wilson #8, made about 1880. It's a delightful machine.
-------------------
From: Dawn Scotting 
Subject: More bits and pieces
From Gordy:
Singer never put any name but Singer on a machine he manufactured, with
one exception.  In 1905, Singer bought out the Wheeler and Wilson
company and continued to use the Wheeler and Wilson name on some models
for a short time.

The man who is recognized as having contributed most to the mechanical
development of the sewing machine is Allen Benjamin Wilson. He invented
and received a patent for the rotary-hook stitch forming mechanism in
1850. He developed the four motion feed (motion of the feed dogs), and
received a patent in 1854. All modern sewing machines use a rotary hook
and four motion feed. A. B. Wilson formed the Wheeler and Wilson
company (Wheeler had the capital), which was second only to Singer in
numbers manufactured from 1850 until 1880. Wilson was in poor health
and had to quite the business, otherwise the company would most likely
have been number one. I have a Wheeler and Wilson #8, made about
1880. It's a delightful machine.
----------------------------
Subject: RESPONSES AND TIDBITS
From: Terry (

The following information was gleaned from a March 3, 1986 article in Time
Magazine:

Singer (quote) plans to spin off its sewing operations to a separate firm
owned by Singer shareholders thus ending a 135-year old tradition.....The
market started to unravel in the mid-1970s when sales began declining from a
peak of 3 million units a year...Singer correctly read the writing on the
wall. Its sewing business had become an albatross.
Mahatma Gandhi called the Singer sewing machine "one of the few useful
things ever invented." Admiral Richard Byrd carted six Singers with him to
the Antarctic. During the late 19th century, Russia's Czar Alexander III
ordered workers to use the machines to make 250,000 tents for the Imperial
Army.
"Isaac Merritt Singer [said]: "I don't care a damn for the invention. The
dimes are what I'm after." He eventually pocketed about $13 million, some
of which supported the 24 children that Singer fathered by two wives and at
least three mistresses. (unquote)
----------------------------
Subject: singer history
Date: Sat, 13 Jan 96 02:04:00 PDT

SUE M.

I hope someone can help me with an historical Singer question. I've been
reading the Sincere history (I finally made myself a copy, so I wouldn't have
to keep borrowing it from the library) and I can't quite get the timeline
right. After the war, Singer went back to making the same old machines, which
I presume is where the 301 fits in (another straight stitch machine with the
slant needle variation).The author then says that Singer finally came out
with a marketable zigzag called the Slant-o-matic (which I assume is the 401
with a copyright date of 1958 in my manual). Later in the book, he says that
when Singer came out with the Touch & Sew series around 1960, they gradually
picked up some of the ground lost to the foreign companies. My question is:
was the 401 only really marketed for a couple of years, to be replaced by the
Touch and Sew (which went on forever)? It also seems strange that so many
301's survived since they were being sold when zigzags were the rage. Just
wondering - I would dearly love to find a complete history of the Singer
company - too bad the author moved to White after the war. Sue M.

I know the 401 wasn't the 1st zig-zag...the 319 came before that one.
Our listowner has one of those...they use a funny needle and smaller
cams. There was one other one before the 319...it may have been a 273?
I probably have that number wrong, but I know there was one more zig-zag
before the 319. The 401a was produced between 1960 and 1963 according
to singer, when I called them to try and date mine. They can't give an
exact date on it, though they can give an exact date for a model 99 made
at the same time....oh well. I don't know if the 401 came before the
401a, or what the differences were. I'll have to stop by
my local sewing machine guru's shop next week and see if he can help us out
with these deep questions. His dad was a singer man in the old days.
He still has some of his dad's sales books, which give information and
descriptions on the machines of the era. I wish I could get him to part
with one of them. Maybe he will copy one for me.

----------------------------
From: Kristina Santilla
Subject: History

Hi all!
I finally found an article that tells why the FW and its big
sisters were given the pink slip by Singer. The Dec. 20, 1958 issue of
Business Week has an article entitled *More push overseas for Singer
sewing*. Apparently the "Old Guard" at Singer believed they knew just
what consumers wanted in a sewing machine and were whammied by Necchi and
Pfaff importing zig-zag machines. Then they were double whammied by the
Japanese with low priced machines. When Singer finally figured out what
hit them, Singer was only selling 1/3 of the household machines on the
market, compared to 2/3 prewar. "Still... Singer continued to rest
chiefly on its old reliables-heavy, black(with gold lettering),
straight-stitch models dating from pre-war days."
Singer's answer was to finally install a new president along with
less conservative executives whose marketing stategies included heavy
advertising, pushing models with prices under $69 instead of over $300,
and for the first time selling through 70 department stores and dime
stores. I remember reading that much earlier Singer had sold through
Wannamaker's but that was different in that all Singer salespeople there
were factory trained and it actually operated more like a Singer outlet.
Foreign markets became more important to Singer as foreign
sales climbed to 60% of total income. Singer decided to produce locally
whenever possible. Previously the St. Johns, Canadian plant had exported
as much as 80% of its production to Latin America and the Clydebank,
Scotland plant was supplying both Great Britain and the U.S. About this
time they opened plants in Brazil, Mexico and Australia to supply local
areas. This article also mentions that the plant at Clydebank had 13,000
employees, and I read somwhere that that factory was so important to
Glascow that a Singer sewing machine was put on the city's coat of arms.
I guess we should be glad that the Singer people didn't catch on
sooner to the change in the consumer wants, or it would be even harder to
find a Featherweight.
----------------------------

Subject: more Singer bio plus a little history

Well, you all got me interested in this Mr Singer and I have always been
interested in history so I went to our little local library to see what I
could find. di nada! Not even in the encyclopedias. humph! So I was
talking to the librarians about this before I left, oh, because they were
showing me how to use our MCAT computer that we just got so we can search all
the libraries in the state of Maine. (I did find The Invention of the Sewing
Machine by Cooper which should be coming to me by InterLibraryLoan.) So I
went home feeling grumpy because of living where there isn't any anything and
the librarian called me about an hour later and said she just remembered that
when she read *Life at the Dakota* by Stephen Birmingham, Random House, 1979
that it had a chapter with a lot about Singer! This is because Edward Clark,
the man who built the Dakota (an absolutely fabulously unique apartment
building in NYC which still stands today and yes where John Lennon lived) was
the lawyer who was Singer's partner. So I got to read that and it was
interesting and later I was talking to my Mom, (who is 82) about this because
she grew up in NYC. Recently Mom went back to college at 78 and got her
Master's in History and she said *well of course, I wrote a paper about Isaac
Singer for my History of Technology course!* Yes she still had it!!!! I was
astounded, to put it mildly. It's a very good paper and has an excellent
bibliography, if anyone is interested in it I will xerox and send it via
snailmail - I mean the Bib. She also had a list of her course readings and
some it it is very interesting. The invention of all this technology did not
necessarily free women up. In fact one book is called *More work for mother*
The point being that many many families (not just the upper classes) farmed
out a lot of their house work - ie went to laundresses, seamstresses, bakers,
etc. With the loss of servants and the increase of new machinery Mothers
started doing all the things that had been delegated to others before - so,
although the work was easier, there was more of it! An interesting point.
Enough for today, which is better than the good old days! Henrietta in Blue
Hill, Maine (Httacl@aol.com)
----------------------------
From:
Subject: Re: more Singer bio plus a little history

Hi Henrietta. Hi all.
Yes, I did read that Edward Clark was Singer's Partner. I think he was a
lawyer and a crafty one. He did get one up on Singer, which I understand
was a hard thing to do. I did not know that he built the Dakota, but I'm
very familiar with the building. I go next door to the Dallas BBQ as often
as I can. Great food there. Singer was a wild man. If I recall correctly
he had about 5 "wives," and sometimes he had wives 2 at a time, and 20 kids.
His genious was not in inventing, although he was OK at "improving" things,
but at marketing. The sewing machine was originally aimed at tailors, but
Singer invented the idea of marketing to housewives. My dad called me
yesterday with some old newspapers he had bought and was reading to me from
them. He said there were alot of ads for sewing machines from various
companies, and the Singers were advertised at $75 to $100, not a cheap sum
by any means, especially for 1860. One of the marketing techniques
mentioned that there was a shortage of household help so that the sewing
machine was really necessary so that the homemaker can get the clothes sewn.
I can't wait to get my hands on the papers so I can read the ads myself.
Henrietta, I would be most interested to read your mom's paper.
----------------------------
From: (Brenda Dean)
Subject: Mr. Singer and other things

**************************************************************************
Actor, inventor, super - salesman, lover and sewing machine guru.

Issac Merritt Singer was born in New York in 1811. His ambition was to be an
actor , but his parents were poor German immigrants with a large family and
no money to spare. Singer began his working life as an apprentice to a tool
and machine maker. He left this job to join a travelling theatre group,
which gave him the opportunity to try his hand at acting but failed to make
him rich. The group eventually went broke and a penniless Singer turned to
inventing as a means of earning a living. Whilst working with a tool
manufacturer in Virginia he came across a sewing machine in need of repair.
He studied the machine and considered it clumsy and unreliable. He knew he
could build a better machine himself and after only eleven days Singer
produced his first prototype.

Singer took out his first sewing machine patent in 1851. The Singer
Perpendicular Action Sewing Machine was offered for sale all over America.
Singer was a showman at heart and enjoyed demonstrating his machines at
fairs and circuses all around the country. Within two years he was selling
more machines than any other single manufacturer. This did not impress Elias
Howe who had taken out the first sewing machine patent in 1846. Singer was
using a mechanism similar to the one used by Howe and Howe demanded payment
from Singer for infringement of his patent. A long legal battle followed and
the press of the day reported on Singer's theatrical performances in court,
but in the end Singer admitted defeat paying Howe $15,000 in settlement of
Royalties.

Over the next twenty years the number of SM manufactures grew from seven to
more than thirty and the sales of sewing machines from 5000 in 1854 to more
than half a million in 1874. (Singer selling more than 50% of these.) His
success wasn't simply due to a better product but because he offered only
one or two models at any one time and adopted a new approach to selling. He
used pretty girls to demonstrate his machines in luxuriously appointed
showrooms. He introduced payment by installment, gave after sales service
and encouraged his customers to take advantage of generous trade in
allowances. (It's interesting to note that Singer destroyed many good sewing
machines used as trade ins to reduce the number of second- hand machines on
the market.)

Singer did leave some time for other persutes! By 1867 he had fathered 18
children by a variety of wives and mistresses and his conservative business
partner, Edward Clark, became concerened at the effect this immoral
lifestyle could have on the business. Clark presented Singer and his family
lived first of all in Paris, France then in Devon, England where Singer died
in 1875 at the age of 63. At the time of his death he had married five times
and fathered 22 children!

After his death the family continued to mingle in the best social circles.
Singer's son Paris had an affair with the famous dancer Isadora Duncan which
resulted in the birth of their son Patrick whilst Singer's widow, Isabella
is reputed to have been Barthold's model for the statue of Liberty.

The Singer company went from strength to strength and by 1891 ten million
Singer sewing machines had been made.......
----------------------------
From: Graham Forsdyke (100661.3256@CompuServe.COM)
Subject: Singer Contribution Pt 1

By popular demand
Singer's sex life Part one
LIKING, as I do, a neat turn of phrase, I enjoyed tremendously the short
profile of Isaac Merritt Singer given by the Torbay Civic Society in its
leaflet available at Singer's house "Oldway Mansion".
The leaflet spoke of his fleeing to France whilst being sued for
alimoney with seven co-respondents being named, but said that, once there,
his "philoprogenitive predilections" once more came to the fore and he gave
six children to yet another woman. This prompted me to dig deeper into the
marital and extra-marital activities of the 19th-century bluebeard.
Isaac Merritt Singer lived over half his life in a hand-to-mouth sort of
existence, frequently poor, and when wealth was thrust upon him he was
able to spend the next 25 years making up for lost time.
He was born in Schaghticoke, New York. In early manhood he moved to
Waterloo, New York, where he got work as a wood turner.
He was married in 1830 to Catherine Haley and their first child was
born four years later.
Even then it seems he was much given to consorting with other women, being
quite popular with the fair sex on account of his natural ability as an actor
and imitator.
In 1837 a second child was born to them in New York City where they were
living, and this year was the last he spent with his first wife before going
on the road as a strolling player.
Wife number two was an 18-year-old Baltimore girl Mary Anne Sponsler.
Singer saw her one night from the stage of the theatre in Baltimore where
he was acting and sought her out. It wasn't long before they were living in
New York as man and wife, having quite conveniently quarreled with his legal
wife at the same time.

He told his new companion when she insisted that he must marry her that he
would do so as soon as he was able to get a divorce. Miss Sponsler had to
share a great deal of poverty with Singer in a relationship which lasted 28
years. She took lessons to fit herself for the stage and the two, under the
name of Mr and Mrs Merritt, played temperance pieces in churches all over
the country.
They followed this life for 14 years. They were wretchedly poor and everything
they had in the world was in the one-horse wagon with which they wandered from
town to town.
Whilst they were in Chicago Singer invented a reaping machine and later an
engine for carving wood type. This was the start of the Singers' fortune. In
1850 he had completed the inventions that made up the Singer sewing machine.
He returned again to New York, but this time he set up a stylish
accommodation at No. 14 Fifth Avenue. The first, and only true, Mrs Singer
seems then to have been forgotten and banished to an apartment in Brooklyn.
Number two was everywhere regarded as the inventor's wife, her visiting cards
and invitations to parties that she gave bore the name of Mrs I M Singer. She
ordered goods at stores as Mrs Singer and Singer paid all the bills. She and
Isaac visited her parents at Baltimore as man and wife and so registered
wherever they stopped in hotels.
She bore him 10 children, which added to the two from Catherine Haley, brought
his score at this date to a round dozen.
----------------------------
From: Graham Forsdyke (100661.3256@CompuServe.COM)
Subject: singer part 2

Singer's love life part two

In 1860, 24 years after he had left his first companion, he legally
divorced Catherine Haley Singer.
If Mary Sponsler thought that this was the beginning of their real
romance she was very wrong. Seven months after the divorce Miss Sponsler,
riding in her own carriage, saw him with Mary McGonigal. Se stood up in
her carriage and screamed abuse at her common-law husband.
When Singer came home he beat Mary Sponsler and eventually she had him
arrested, but they later married.
At the suggestion of the company, Singer then left for Europe, and in the year
that he was away it was revealed that he had been living with two other women
in New York City who both thought themselves his only companion.
That same Mary McGonigal had born him five children. He and she lived together
as Mr and Mrs Matthews. Miss Mary E Water, who lived with him under the name of
Mrs Merritt, had added another child to the list.
Singer's absence also allowed his solicitors to deal unhindered with Mary Anne
Sponsler who sued for divorce and was awarded $8,000 alimony, then the largest
amount ever obtained. Singer's lawyers managed to parley this down to a smaller
figure, but threw in one of Singer's large and valuable houses as part of the
deal.
Within a month she had secretly married one John E Foster, not telling any of
her family of the ceremony for fear that it would jeopardise the divorce
settlement from Singer.
But she hurt herself badly in a fall from a chair and believing herself to be
dying told one of her daughters of the marriage. As this daughter's husband was
an officer of the Singer company and knew which side his cloth plate was oiled,
Isaac Merritt soon learned of the secret wedding and caused his divorced wife
to relinquish all claims upon him and to vacate the house. She went to live
with Foster.
The fifth regular lady then appeared in his wife. She was a French woman who he
had met during his year abroad. On June 13 1865, seven weeks after wife number
two had renounced her claims upon him, he was married to Isobel Eugenie Boyce
under the name of Isobel E Sommerville, and with her went to Paris to live.
Whilst he was there a great house was built in the New York suburb of Yonkers,
and when it was finished the pair returned there to live, inviting hundreds to
the house-warming party.
But few turned up. Even Singer's great wealth and fabulous parties couldn't
undo the reputation that he had built and most of the invited guests thought
it best to stay away.
----------------------------
From: G Forsdyke (100661.3256@CompuServe.COM)
Subject: history

1) First marketed domestic sewing machines were available in the mid 1850s from
a host of companies, mostly in the new- England area of America and in the
Midlands of England.
2) Singer first marketed in the mid 1850s but initially he aimed at industrial
users.
3) Singer did not invent a machine in toto but like most other pioneers added a
particular detail improvement. Most important patents were the Wheeler and
Wilson four motion feed, Howe's eye-pointed needle and horizontal shuttle (now
thought to be bogus) and Bachelder's feeding device and vertical needle (bought
by Singer), Morey and Johnson's presser foot (bought by Singer) and Singer's
own heart-shaped cam to move the needle bar.
4) Cost of family-type treadle machine would have been around $100 in 1860,
reducing to around $10 in 1890.
5) Big names in 1850-60s were Grover and Baker, Singer, Wheeler and Wilson,
Howe, Weed, Royal, Bradbury, Jones etc.
6) Only USA England and Germany played any real part in early manufacturing
7) No reliable figures for total machines sold but by 1860 Singer had made
25,000; by 1870, 127,000.
8) First American sewing machine patent was in 1842 granted to John Greenough
using a two-pointed needle with a central eye. First practical patent was to
Englishman Thomas Saint 1790 but in the ISMACS archive is a 1638 patent but it
seems more theory than a practical propsition.
----------------------------
From: brenda@ismacs.com.au (Brenda Dean)
Subject: Mr. Singer and other things

**************************************************************************
Actor, inventor, super - salesman, lover and sewing machine guru.

Issac Merritt Singer was born in New York in 1811. His ambition was to be an
actor , but his parents were poor German immigrants with a large family and
no money to spare. Singer began his working life as an apprentice to a tool
and machine maker. He left this job to join a traveling theatre group,
which gave him the opportunity to try his hand at acting but failed to make
him rich. The group eventually went broke and a penniless Singer turned to
inventing as a means of earning a living. Whilst working with a tool
manufacturer in Virginia he came across a sewing machine in need of repair.
He studied the machine and considered it clumsy and unreliable. He knew he
could build a better machine himself and after only eleven days Singer
produced his first prototype.

Singer took out his first sewing machine patent in 1851. The Singer
Perpendicular Action Sewing Machine was offered for sale all over America.
Singer was a showman at heart and enjoyed demonstrating his machines at
fairs and circuses all around the country. Within two years he was selling
more machines than any other single manufacturer. This did not impress Elias
Howe who had taken out the first sewing machine patent in 1846. Singer was
using a mechanism similar to the one used by Howe and Howe demanded payment
from Singer for infringement of his patent. A long legal battle followed and
the press of the day reported on Singer's theatrical performances in court,
but in the end Singer admitted defeat paying Howe $15,000 in settlement of
Royalties.

Over the next twenty years the number of SM manufactures grew from seven to
more than thirty and the sales of sewing machines from 5000 in 1854 to more
than half a million in 1874. (Singer selling more than 50% of these.) His
success wasn't simply due to a better product but because he offered only
one or two models at any one time and adopted a new approach to selling. He
used pretty girls to demonstrate his machines in luxuriously appointed
showrooms. He introduced payment by installment, gave after sales service
and encouraged his customers to take advantage of generous trade in
allowances. (It's interesting to note that Singer destroyed many good sewing
machines used as trade ins to reduce the number of second- hand machines on
the market.)

Singer did leave some time for other persutes! By 1867 he had fathered 18
children by a variety of wives and mistresses and his conservative business
partner, Edward Clark, became concerned at the effect this immoral
lifestyle could have on the business. Clark presented Singer and his family
lived first of all in Paris, France then in Devon, England where Singer died
in 1875 at the age of 63. At the time of his death he had married five times
and fathered 22 children!

After his death the family continued to mingle in the best social circles.
Singer's son Paris had an affair with the famous dancer Isadora Duncan which
resulted in the birth of their son Patrick whilst Singer's widow, Isabella
is reputed to have been Barthold's model for the statue of Liberty.

The Singer company went from strength to strength and by 1891 ten million
Singer sewing machines had been made.......

**************************************************************************
From: Clay & Shelly Leihy (clay-l@k2nesoft.com)
Subject: Singer in NYT, motor cleaning, etc.

Hi all! Thought I'd post another couple of NY Times articles. Thanks to
all who replied with follow-up info to the last one. I was going to post
the July 1951 article about Singer's exhibit on 2000 years of sewing,
but at about half the length of the entire column, it's a lot of typing!
(Though if enough people insist, I could add it to our website.) Anyway,
here goes:
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The New York Times, September 17, 1951 (page 32)

"SINGER PLANS EXHIBIT
100th Anniversary of Patent to Be Marked This Week
ELIZABETH, N. J., Sept. 16--
The 100th anniversary of the patenting of the first Singer sewing
machine will be observed by the Singer Manufacturing Company at its
recreation building here for two weeks, beginning tomorrow. The
observance, a company spokesman said, will include exhibition of new and
old sewing machines, demonstrations of a variety of unusual uses for
sewing machines and exhibits of activities here.
The programs will be given nightly, Monday through Friday, from 7 to 9
o'clock, with the 9400 employees of the local Singer plant and their
families attending on specified evenings. Sept. 22 has been set aside
for the Singer Veteran Employees [sic] Association, composed of retired
and active workers on the company payroll for forty years or more.
Cooperating in the celebration is the Diehl Manufacturing Company in
Finderne, N. J., a Singer subsidiary, whose employees [sic] are among the
total of 20,000 to whom the company is expected to play host."
------------------------------------------------------------------------
The New York Times, February 24, 1955 (page 42)

"Advertising and Marketing News"

The Singer Sewing Machine Company has a new junior-size machine and a
new marketing plan. It is introducing a precision-designed miniature
sewing machine for children, to be offered both as a toy and as a primer
for the neophyte.


 Further, the company, which for seventy years has been retailing its
products through company-owned sewing centers exclusively, will sell
through toy shops and department stores, through Joseph J. Bartnett,
Inc., sales representative. The new policy will apply only to the
miniature machine, called the Sewhandy, according to Charles F. Bruder,
Singer vice president.


 F. A. O. Schwarz, toy retailer, will be the first to handle the
machine, and a special window display is planned during the American Toy
Fair next month.


 Mr. Bruder expects national distribution to be completed by June 1, and
a national trade and consumer advertising program is in the planning
stage, through Young & Rubicam, Inc. The theme will be 'Mother, daughter
and dolly appeal.' The machine will retail for $12.95, with the case
extra."
------------------------------------------------------------------------


Some other sites with Singer History |
The History of the sewing machine Howe and Singer
| A bit of info
on Issac Singer
| Antique Sewing Machine C. Law
Singer History
|

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Updated prices and items for the Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine -

Celebrating over 16 years on the "Net"
Updated April 2014

 

(We do business the old fashioned way, you email us or write us what you want, send that check, then we send you the items.  You'll need to call 580 765-6125, and talk to Deloris to get prices on combined items, or items where it is indicated, shipping not included.  Thank you!)

New Singer Featherweight 221 Facebook Group


Special 2
Updated Nancy Johnson-Srebro Featherweight Book - 2001 Edition for $24.00 - includes postage (U.S. only)

Special 7
Buttonholer for Featherweight,  Featherweight Dustcover for $17.00 - includes postage (U.S. only) NEW Reduced Price!

**NEW** Alpha Sew Patchwork Foot with GUIDE, $16.00, Includes Shipping/Handling, U.S. Only.

Other goodies:
  • Tuckers for $8.50 (Shipping not included).***Small shipping costs for misc. items***.
Additional items:
  • Original Seam Guide - $6.00 (Includes Shipping) 
Unusual Accessories:  Call for item details and prices of these unusual Singer Sewing Machine Accessories.

How do I order these items? Mail a check or money order, and specify the item desired, along with your return address, and send (and make the check out to):

Deloris Pickens
538 Virginia Avenue
Ponca City, Ok 74601

Any Additional Questions Please Either Email Deloris at deepickens@gmail.com, or call her at 580-765-6125.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

What Every New Singer Featherweight 221/222 Owner Should Know

What Every New Featherweight Owner Needs to Know about their Featherweight!



Deloris Pickens's Good Things To Know About Your Singer Featherweight Notes...
Oiling:
Oiling Your 221 machine needs to be oiled for every 8 hours of use. Use only sewing machine oil and oil all the places that it shows you to oil in your manual You need to lube your motor about once a year and probably the gears about twice a year. Never use oil in your motor.

Cleaning:
Clean out you bobbin case area after every sewing project. Be sure when you put your needle plate back on that the bobbin case base tip is inserted between the two little bars on the bottom of your needle plate. Your machine will not sew if that is not done correctly.

Belts:
Sometimes you need to adjust your belt espically if the machine is running hard. To do this loosen the screw that mounts the motor and move the motor up or down a little bit so that the belt is not to tight.

Threading:
Follow instructions in your manual for threading your machine. I like to use Gutterman thread for my sewing. The machines were built to use No 50 cotton thread and they really sew best with all cotton thread.

Smell in Case:
To get most of the smell out of your case, first clean the bottom plate on your machine and take the old felt off and replace it with clean felt if necessary. Set the box outside in the hot sun for several days and it should smell better.

Bobbins:
The original bobbins work the best in the machine but be wary of the carded bobbins. Buy your bobbins from a dealer that sells them in bulk as these are made in Japan and are better bobbins than the carded ones.

Foot Pedals:
There are two different foot pedals for the 221 machine. The early ones are all metal and were in production for about 5 years. The later pedals are made of bakelite and are good pedals. The speed of your machine depends on your pedal. If your machine only wants to go fast you can take the pedal apart and adjust the screw on the back of the pedal. You can also rewire a pedal when the wiring goes bad. Dealers have new lead cords for sale and they work fine.

Featherweight Attachments:
The original 6 attachments that came with your machine are ruffler,narrow hemmer, wide hemmer, gathering foot, binder and edge stitcher. Also included was a screw driver for the machine and a screw driver to adjust the tension.

Trouble Free Sewing:
The main way to keep out of trouble with your 221 machine is to never, never, never sew unless you have material under your needle. If you do that you will get thread around the bobbin case area and is is the pits to get out. If you can not get the thread out easy spray the area with WD-40 every 15 mins for about 2 hours and it will usually dissolve the thread.

General Rules:
Don't drop your featherweight, don't store in in a damp basement or a hot attic, keep it clean and it should give you years of use. Read your manual and do what it says to do and you will save yourself lots of trouble. Deepickens@gmail.com

 
-----------------------------------
Jesse Clarke
Las Vegas, NV 
Permission Granted to use this article(s) on Gaileee's FW Web Site 1998

Subject: Re:  4 NEWBIE MISTAKES & DECAL / BED PROTECTION

Hi Feathers:

Since most of us didn't come into the world with a silver FW in our mouths,
and have been newbies at some point in our collectors lives,  the 4 things
that seem to plague new FW owners, at least in my experience, are:

FW BOBBIN THREADING
I can't tell you how many FW owners in classes I've taken do not know how to
put the bobbin into the  bobbin case properly.  Since many FWs come to new
owners without the instruction book, (not that many read them if there is one)
they don't realize that the FW bobbin goes into the case just the opposite of
most of the modern day machines.  Holding the bobbin in your right hand, tail
end of thread in your left hand, the thread comes up, over the top,  pulling
to the left, COUNTERCLOCKWISE.  Read this part again!

When I got my first FW, I couldn't understand why the thread kept breaking!
All 3 of my FWs hiss & spit if I put the bobbin in wrong.

WHINEY BOBBIN WINDER
I've also seen new FW owners wind the bobbin, remove the bobbin, leaving the
little wheel in contact with the handwheel.  As they commence sewing, there's
soon a horrible whining sound coming from the darling little FW.  English
translation: FLIP THE BOBBIN WHEEL UP, DUMMY!

NEEDLE REPLACEMENT
This is where my 3 really get their panties/ BVDs in a wad!  Put that needle
in backwards and they all 3 will throw themselves on the floor, pitch a fit,
hold their breath, and won't sew.  End of story!  The flat side of the needle
must be to the LEFT.

UPPER THREADING
The quirky thing with threading the machine is putting the thread into the eye
of the needle:  It goes from RIGHT to LEFT.  This is opposite from my more
modern (non Singer machine)

TLC
Please! Give these wonderful machines a drink of OIL  (38 oil points, outside,
inside the head, and underneath) & a dose of LUBRICANT to the motor...DO NOT
oil the motor!  Some of these machines have sat untouched for up to 50+ years.
A little TLC is only humane.  How well would you work if put in a basement or
attic for years without food or bath?  

MANUALS
If you need instruction manuals, for goodness sake--ASK!  Someone of us on
this list will point you in the right direction for obtaining one or a photo
copy.  Deloris Pickens (EMAIL: deepickens@gmail.com) provides Nice Reproduction 
Featherweight Manuals $7 (US only) shipping/handling included. 

After we have owned our FWs for a while, they become as familiar to us as our
kids or pets--we know all the idiosycracies, etc.  We forget what was a
puzzlement when we were the newbies.  There are more experienced FWF out there
who are able to add to my list.  These are my recollections as a newbie and
observations of other FW owners.
-------------
DECAL/BED PROTECTION:
Since most of you sew with the machines in your collection, at least the ones
that aren't museum pieces--is there anything special you do to keep the bed
and/or decals from being scratched or worn?

Jess in what was once Las Vegas,NV, but is now just a 'burb of CA!
==================================
From: 
Subject: Re: NEWBIE TIPS, STICKER REMOVAL, JOHNSON WAX URL

NEWBIE Q & A
It never fails:  when you post an answer, the question is asked the following
day!  

STICKER REMOVAL
Cooking oil, Crisco, even sewing machine oil!  Yep--that's the cheapest, non-
caustic way to remove glued on stickers.  Dab it on with a Q-Tip or your
finger (handy little gadget) let it sit for a spell,  it comes off like magic;
won't damage the paint on your machine, either.  
There's a commercial product GOO GONE that's supposed to take out all sorts of
stuff--but the oil works just as well--I've tried both.

JOHNSON WAX URL--WHY?
For Beau J. Gales:  There was a thread a while back about polishes/ waxes used
on SM-one of the FWFs referred to a product by Johnson called Klean N Shine.
She'd used this  on her machine and was pleased with the results.  She lost
the URL for Johnson:  http://www.scjohnsonwax.com/1product.html;  Ironically,
on the website product page, no mention is made of Klean N Shine.  I wound up
calling the ph. # 1-800-558-5252 to find out if it was still on the market.
Yes, it can be found at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target and at Ace or Tru-Value
Hardware stores.  I've not been able to find it at the local grocery stores as
I once could.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Common Causes of Singer Featherweight Machine Trouble

Deloris Pickens Thoughts on Common Causes of
Singer Featherweight Machine Trouble

Causes of Upper Thread Breaking
  • Machine improperly threaded (see instruction book).
  • Tensions too tight.
  • Needle bent or having blunt point.
  • Thread too coarse for size of needle (see instruction book).
  • Needle too fine for size of thread and material to be sewn.
  • Burr on needle hole in throat plate (caused from sewing over pins or breaking needle).
  • Burr on needle hole in throat plate (caused by breaking needle when pulling material from machine).
  • Needle incorrectly set.
  • Needle too long for machine, or not all the way up in the clamp.
  • Take-up spring bent or broken (see adjuster for repair).
  • Tension disks worn so that thread works in groove.
Causes of Lower Thread Breaking
  • Improper threading of bobbin case (see instruction book).
  • Tension too tight.
  • Thread wound unevenly on bobbin or bobbin wound too full.
  • Spring on bobbin case worn to sharp edge.
  • Burr on underside of throat plate (sometimes caused by sewing over pins or breaking needle).
To Avoid Breaking Needles
  • Do not sew heavy seams with a needle to fine.
  • Use proper size needle for thread and material to be sewn.
  • See that the presser foot or attachments are securely fastened to the bar and that the needle does not strike the edge of the hole or slot in the presser foot or attachment.
  • Do not pull the material to one side when taking it from the machine. The needle may become bent and strike the back of the needle hole.
  • Do not bend the needle when pulling out the needle before cutting thread.
  • Do not leave pins in the material after basting and sew over them with the machine.
Skipping Stitches
  • Needle not correctly or accurately set into the needle bar, blunt, or bent.
  • Needle too small for the thread used.
Stitches Looping
  • Looped stitches are usually caused by improper tension. If the loop is on the upper side, it may be corrected by tightening the under tension. If the loop is on the under side, it may usually be corrected by tightening the upper tension.
For Average Sewing Keep Your Tension Set on 4.

Before trying to adjust a tension problem:

  1. Be sure the machine is properly threaded.
  2. That the bobbin is inserted correctly
  3. That the needle is inserted correctly
  4. That the needle is good and the brand of thread is of good quality.
Other reasons fore tension problems are any kind of chemical contamination caused by fusible interfacing or things that have glue involved in the sewing process. If you feel that you need to adjust the tension after checking all these things then only adjust the top tension. To increase tension on the top side of your stitching lower the top tension a little at a time until the tension balances. To increase the tension on the bottom side of the stitching increases the top tension until the stitch balances.

Always insert the needle with the flat side to the left.

Be sure the bobbin turns counterclockwise when you pull on the thread with the bobbin inserted in the bobbin case.

If you have skipping or broken threads, try a new needle inserted properly.

Use Schmetz needles for best results. Universal point needles for average fabrics. Ballpoint needles for stretch fabrics. Sharp point needles for dense fabrics. You can also use Quilting needles. Topstitch needles and Leather needles. Remember you cannot change your needle too often. A good rule of thumb is to change needles every other project. When in doubt change it! The size of the needles is important. Use a 70/10 for delicate fabrics. Use a 80/12 or a 90/14 for average fabrics. For heavy fabrics use a 100/16 or 110/18.

It is very important to use good threads such as Gutermann, Mettler or Signature. This is especially true for skipping and broken thread problems.