Monday, June 8, 2015


When I've repaired, restored, or reconditioned a sewing machine there are times when I feel like I need to sew with it to make sure things are working well. I've done that before and written about it and today I have to very reluctantly relate how I made an entire dress and jacket on a sewing machine that I would like to throw away. That's right: throw it away. That is a very harsh statement from someone who has a whole business centered around restoration of vintage sewing machines but there are some that just are not worth the effort. Enter the Featherweight:
Singer 132Q Featherweight
No this is not the much coveted Singer 221, but a Singer 132Q, an effort by Singer to remake the much beloved Featherweight. Someone was sleeping on the job when this one was designed: the Q must stand for quit because you will want to quit sewing after using it. Here is my review but to make it more palatable I will show photos of my  lovely dress and matching jacket, a success despite the poor performance with the tools.

To begin with, it is nice and cute with a built-in handle, seeming to be a portable machine to take to a friends house or for a quilting class. It uses dials for all of its adjustments but even when you have adjusted the tension, stitch length, presser foot pressure, etc. it behaved as if I had never changed anything. The dial for the variety of stitches is a bit confusing, trying to give you stretch stitches as well as needle positioning (left or center).
Who wants those weird stretch stitches?

But who cares when you cannot get a straight stitch? Okay, I tell myself, most work is on the inside and no one can see it so maybe it will be okay. Maybe it will perform better the more I sew on it. Can you see that I'm an optimist? But I'm sure you can hear my frustration, too. The dress and jacket pattern was from New Look 6553 and the fabric was from my stash, including the lining. The first real test was when I had to sew in the long zipper down the back of the dress. I had to take it out once because I didn't use a zipper foot (but many machines can still sew in a zipper without a zipper foot). I tried again to have the row of stitches placed properly but they Some would slant left, some right, some very short and somewhat twisted looking: anything but a decent row of stitches. I plowed through until I came to the neckline and armholes where I was supposed to use facings but instead I like to use bias tape. Because I was making a matching jacket, I decided to line the jacket with a brightly printed silky fabric and use some of that print to make custom bias tape. But now I realized I needed to top stitch this into place:

Colorful bias edge with top-stitching
The only saving grace was the slub weave of the fabric that can hide imperfections. The neckline and armholes were the only places top-stitching was used besides the zipper so maybe that was going to be okay. Onto the jacket! It went together well but it seemed to be calling out for the same top-stitching that I used on the bias tape edges used on the dress. By this time I had altered my expectations and think it looked okay when I gave it a good pressing. I would not even attempt buttonholes with this sewing machines and used my Viking 1100 instead, not a total success so maybe I'm just an attachment kind of a sewer for buttonholes.
Jacket with lining, buttonholes on Viking 1100
All in all, I finished the outfit, got the dress hemmed using the blind hem stitch, and waited for an occasion to wear it. My husband looked at it and declared it looked a bit "old fashioned." What does that mean? He explained it was the fabric that looked a bit old and I had to agree because this was one of my $2 per bag finds from the Textile Center Garage Sale. The whole outfit cost about $1.50 so I could afford to be "old fashioned" when I wore it.
New Look 6553 dress with princess seaming
Our church celebrated its 60th anniversary last week and I had the brainstorm to wear something that might look like 1955. Enter the old fashioned dress with a hat that was from the 1940's or 1950's. I have to say,the princess seamed dress was comfortable (I helped serve the meal after the service), washable, and I loved the hat! I got compliments on my 1955 attire that wasn't lost on the vintage loving women but the men kept their comments to themselves (why was she wearing an old hat?). Running errands afterwards found me at a store where the clerk looked at me but didn't make any comments so I had to speak up and tell her I was wearing the hat due to the 60th anniversary. She said she did notice and thought it looked good so I was affirmed in my selection. But maybe she was just polite.
With jacket and hat (too bad you can't see it!)
But I'm not going to be polite with my review of the Singer 132Q Featherweight: do not buy this poorly performing sewing machine. It was only $2 and I invested $5 in a spool pin, but the biggest cost was the donated power cord/foot control. I'm not sure I want to give that up! Who would want this sewing machine? Someone who only has an occasional repair and doesn't require any kind of quality? This would not be a good first sewing machine because you would not learn to sew very well and it would be the tool, not your own developing skills. It will languish on the shelf, waiting for someone who begs me for it.

Like that's going to happen.

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