Spotlight: Singer Featherweight Accessories

Spotlight 3: New (to Me) Featherweight Sewing Machine Accessories

The buttonholer is really quite the contraption!

Welcome back to Mukashi no Sewing! I bought two new accessories recently for my Featherweight, and thought they might be of interest – particularly if you have a vintage/antique machine of your own!

A whole new world… 😉

The first piece of kit I purchased was the buttonholer you may have seen recently used in my Milky-chan JSK restoration project. I knew I absolutely did NOT want to hand-sew buttonholes, and I also knew I had another project coming up soon that would require them, so I decided to start hunting.

I started at The Featherweight Shop for information. If you have a Featherweight, I can’t recommend them enough! If you have another vintage brand of machine, I would advise starting by doing an internet search for your machine and the attachment you’re looking for. In my case I actually didn’t know if a buttonholer was even available for my machine! I just hoped. 🙂

Buttonholes are not sewn on hope alone!

Luckily for me, such a thing exists! (There’s actually a whole list of Singer Featherweight attachments with pictures, for the curious and/or avaricious!) Once armed with that knowledge, the second step was to determine everything that came with the original set. As the Featherweight Shop didn’t have any for sale currently; I knew I’d have to venture into the wilds of eBay, and I wanted to at least be armed with a map.

In many cases, an attachment may be just one single piece, so it won’t be as important. However, I was REALLY glad I looked up the list of included parts for the buttonholer because there are a lot of critical components besides just the piece itself. The cams – little metal inserts – are what give the options for different lengths and types of buttonholes, and this buttonholer is useless without them. There were nine originally, so I knew I wanted to find a complete set if possible. The other critical part is the feed plate cover; it’s absolutely necessary for the operation of the attachment as well.

I really lucked out!!

After going through endless eBay offerings, I finally found what I was looking for at the attachmentsandreplacements storefront. It was a complete set (the ninth cam not visible in my photo is currently in the buttonholer), even including the original instruction booklet! Not too bad for an attachment from 1948. Also a factor in consideration was the seller’s statement that they had cleaned, oiled, and tested it – the red square is their proof. This meant I wouldn’t need to take it to my local shop, but instead could get working with it right away. The seller even sent it packaged in the vintage box photographed below! That box is actually from the late 60s, I believe – it’s for the later version of this attachment for a machine with a different shank. Still, it was a super fun and unanticipated bonus!

It’s amazing what has survived the decades!

The second attachment I purchased was a tucker. Also known as a pintuck attachment, this lovely little piece enables perfect pintucks with minimal effort! I bought this for the same mystery project (debuting soon!) that I needed the buttonholer for, since the idea of hand-measuring and ironing in pintucks to sew made me feel a little dizzy.

Instead, why not use this??

This attachment allows adjustment of both the width of the tucks and the space between them. The really clever bit is the “sticky-outy” part on the left (that’s the technical term). As you sew, it crimps the fabric in a straight line, and that’s where you’ll fold it for the next pintuck!

I didn’t iron a thing; the fold line that I’m sewing on is purely from the crimp!

Despite the simplicity of the attachment itself, it’s not the easiest kit to use. I really had to pull on the back end of the fabric to keep it even against the guide section of the tucker. It was also clear that there are good and less-good fabrics to pintuck with; this scrap of muslin was a little too soft to be easily worked, whereas I think a crisper cotton or linen would have held a better tuck. Even with all that, and without having used it before I managed some pretty decent pintucks on my test scrap:

Also un-ironed! If I did a quick press they would be basically perfect!

I’m regularly asked “don’t you miss having the capabilities of a modern machine?” Honestly, considering all the cool attachments available for my Featherweight, the answer is a resounding “no!” I can neither confirm nor deny a burning desire to collect them all, though… It’s so much fun acquiring these little pieces of history that are not only pretty to look at, but also expand the capabilities of my machine. I hope you’ve enjoyed meeting the two new additions to the family, and I’m sure I’ll have more to share soon!

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