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Adele ~ A Very Special Featherweight
by April Henry

This month’s guest feature is a machine currently owned and cherished by Roberta Lynn.  Roberta has named this machine after her original owner, Adele (pictured below)

Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine - Well Used

Adele ~ original owner to the Singer Featherweight 221 featured in this article.
(Photo from 1986)

Adele was the original owner of this very special Featherweight, and as you can see, her machine saw many, many stitching miles. 

 Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine - "Adele" well-used machine

Yet, with all of its worn decals, missing paint, dings, nicks, pin scratches and use, it bears a virtual badge of Featherweight honor. 

Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine - "Adele" Well-Used Machine

All decals worn, paint chipped... evidence of a totally loved machine...

Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine - "Adele" Well-Used Machine

Notice the worn paint araound the handwheel -
makes you wonder how many turns with Adele's hand helped ease this machine along.

Adele knew the machine she had was a tool – a tool to use for the sake of her family.  Whether it be alterations, a quick mend, window curtains, a special project or even a fun little costume for her great-grandchildren, this was her go-to machine for all her sewing.  It just goes to show that you needn’t be afraid to use your Featherweight machine... and use it some more... and use it some more.  All those wear marks are beauty marks of age and history.  And with age comes wisdom, right?  Or in this case, with age comes the familiar, rhythmic clickety-clack of a smooth-running sewing machine.  One that creates an indelible memory in the mind of Adele's family.

Singer Featherweight 221 Sewing Machine - "Adele" Well-Used Machine

Roberta received the brief history below from Adele's great-granddaughter, Suzy.  We believe preserving this history, taken from Suzy's own words, further exemplifies keeping things as original as possible.

This was my great-grandma Adele's machine.  She died in the mid-1980's and my mom hung on to the machine until my mother died and that's how I got it.  I don't think my mom used it as she had her own machine. My Great-Grandma (I called her Mimi) was like a grandma to me.  She raised my mom when she was little because my mother's parents were in the military and were all over the place. My great-grandparents lived in a house that my great-grandfather built in Barrington, Illinois.

My great-grandfather died when I was little.  I have vague memories of him, but with his social security, Great-Grandma made ends meet with a little sewing business she had.  She had a sewing room in her house, and I loved going in there as a kid. There was a nail board hanging on the inside of the closet with every color thread spool imaginable.  She owned a wonderful pin cushion collection, too, that we loved looking at.  (I wish i knew what happened to them.)  Great-grandma made every Halloween costume for my siblings and me for as many years as we dressed up. I remember going to the sewing store and picking out fabrics and patterns. She used to make my sister and me dresses and curtains for the  house we grew up in.

My mom and her sister bought her a new machine at one time and I remember that sitting in its case in that sewing closet - unused. She said that she liked the 'old one' better and refused to use the new one purchased for her.  Great-grandma must have had quite a few clients, because she always had her closet rail filled with clothes to be sewn for them.  My Aunt owns that house now and every time I go there a flood of memories come back.... Thank you for caring about my great-grandmother's Featherweight. I am glad she has a new home and I hope she isn't too "tired" to be of use.

If anything, we can learn that, while many of us seek a flawless, wrinkle-free Featherweight, the ones that show wear (and sometimes even tear) are the ones that were faithful, steadfast and sewed for many, many years.  The old and worn-out looking Featherweights often are the most quiet, sew the straightest stitch and run the smoothest.  They, too, are still worthy of saving and using just as they are... to continue the legacy and sewing heritage to the next generation.

Thank you so very, very much, Roberta and Suzy, for letting us feature this lovely machine and its history.  It is certainly a treasure and we are honored to be able to share it on our blog for others to enjoy as well.