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Timeline History of the Singer Featherweight

From 1933 to 1969, this timeline provides a detailed history of the Singer Featherweight 221, 222 and all the details surrounding this Singer Sewing Machine.


On October 3, 1933 Singer commissioned the first batch of 10,000 model 221 sewing machines, marketing them as the Singer Featherweight. Experimenting with the design and aesthetics of this new model, some of the distinctives varied, so do not be surprised if you find some subtle changes from machine to machine within this first batch.

  • The first 200 machines (approximately) had these distinctives: 

    Singer Featherweight Foot Controller - .6 amp
    Photo Courtesy of Rob Andre' Stevens
    • 0.6 amp foot controllers

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early 1933 Stitch Throat Plate
    • different bobbin case positioning plate bracket (throat plate)

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Bed Stop
    • These models included a "bed stop" on the back side at the bed extension screw. This prevented the bed from hitting the thumb screw on the faceplate.

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Bed Stop

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Bud Decal
    • bud decal on the bed of the machine

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Take-up Lever
    • The thread take-up lever was changed from a more straight lever to a curved one.

      Singer Featherweight 221 Later Take-up lever
      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Back Arm Decal
    • The back arm decal was changed in size and design.

      Singer Featherweight 221 Later Back Arm Decal

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Front Handwheel Decal
    • The front handwheel decal was adjusted to be more complete.

      Singer Featherweight 221 Later Style Handwheel Decal

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Upper Handwheel Decal
    • The upper handwheel decal was changed to have one less loop on the end of the decal.

      Singer Featherweight 221 Late Upper Handwheel Decal

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Singer Mfg. Co Decal
    • The font lettering was changed on the "The Singer Manufacturing Co." decal.

      Singer Featherweight 221 Singer Mfg. Co Decal

      Singer Featherweight 221 Early Style Metal Drip Pan
  • After the first 2000 machines (approximately) the drip pan color changed from silver to the common black.
    Singer Featherweight 221 Black Drip Pan Tray

    Singer Featherweight 221 Back Arm Decal
  • After the first 5000 machines (approximately) the arm decal behind the motor is eliminated.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Back Arm No Decal

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early Serial Number Block
  • Serial number placement was moved from under the drip pan tray to the bottom exterior, so that it could be seen on the bottom end closest to the bed extension without removing the bottom tray. However, the serial number block underneath remained in the mold until 1937.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Later Serial Number Block
  • Case is changed from Type I to Type II Case. It still had the green interior like the Type I, but it did not have the bracket to hold down the machine or the hanger for the foot controller.

    Type I:

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early Style I Case
  • Singer Featherweight 221 Earliest Case Top Tray  

    Type II:

    Singer Featheweight 221 Early Case Style II
  • Singer Featherweight 221 Early Case Top Tray

  • In late 1933 the hook assembly style changed.
    Singer Featherweight Hook Assembly Comparison

    Singer Featherweight 221 Hook Assembly Back Comparison
  • The Singer Featherweight makes its debut to the public at the Chicago World's Fair, featuring a specialty badge "Century of Progress Chicago 1934".
  • The needle guide at the bottom of the faceplate was changed from a loop to a slight bend with the thread entering in the opposite direction.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early Faceplate with loop   Singer Featherweight 221 Early Faceplate With Later Thread Guide  

  • Late 1934, case is changed from Type II to Type III, which has D-Ring Case Handle and a black interior. The latches
    also changed.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Type 3 Case


  • Corduroy Case Lid Insert was introduced. It is now referred to as the Type I Case Lid Insert and is the most difficult to find of the two types.  You can compare this one with Type II Case Lid Insert which came out in 1939.

    Photo Courtesy of Jane Lynch

  • September of 1935, the bobbin winder tension bracket changes from school bell style to a black, flat front mounting style. (This allowed them to use the same base mold.)

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early School Bell Bobbin Winder 
      Singer Featherweight 221 Front Mount Black Bobbin Winder
  • Teeny tiny number references were added to motor band.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Motor Without Small indication Numbers   Singer Featherweight 221 Motor With Small indication Numbers
  • Specialty Badged machine "Texas Centennial Exposition 1836 - 1936" was issued to a select few Featherweight machines and sold at the Texas Centennial Exposition, a world's fair commemorating Texas' independence from Mexico.
  • In mid-1936, bobbin winder tension bracket was modified and mounted to the top of the base rather than front side of the machine.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Front Mount Black Bobbin Winder

    Singer Featherweight 221 Top Mount Bobbin Winder

  • The bobbin winder wheel was changed from being flat (unmarked) to "cupped".

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early Flat Unmarked Bobbin Winder   Singer Featherweight 221 Cupped Bobbin Winder

  • The base mold was modified from being split (aka: "split base") under the electrical terminal to being solid. This kept the terminal more secure and protected.
  • Foot controller was changed from metal to bakelite (an early type of plastic) with slots on the top.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early 0.7 Ampere Foot Controller

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early Bakelite Slotted Foot Controller

  • In late 1936, foot controller was changed to a solid bakelite - the most common type found with old Singers today.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Bakelite Foot Controller
  • Faceplate was changed slightly in the scroll work design. Along the thread guides it went from being shiny chrome to having scroll work added to match the rest of the faceplate.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early Scrolled Faceplate   Singer Featherweight 221 Later Scrolled Faceplate  

  • The bed decal that wrapped around the light switch corner was changed to stop at the bobbin winder tension bracket.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early Wrap Around Bed Decal   Singer Featherweight 221 Later Bed Decal

  • Original 1933 serial number block (inside, under the drip pan tray) was removed from the mold.

  • Late 1937, numbered dial tension units were issued with all Featherweights and continued as standard. This took the
    guesswork out of tension adjustments.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Non-Numbered Tension Unit   Singer Featherweight 221 Numbered Tension Unit
  • Specialty Badged machine "Golden Gate Exposition San Francisco 1939" was issued to a select few Featherweight machines and sold at the Exposition's first year, which commemorated San Francisco's two new bridges (Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge).
  • Another Corduroy Case Lid insert was introduced. This one is referred to now as Type II.  Compare this style with the earlier one from 1935.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Case Lid Insert #2

  • December 1939 - a very small handful of Featherweights were finished with a Wrinkle finish (aka: Crinkle), which included the matching wrinkle faceplate.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Wrinkle With Wrinkle Faceplate
  • Specialty Badged machine "Golden Gate Exposition San Francisco 1940" was issued to a select few Featherweight machines and sold at the Exposition's second year, which commemorated San Francisco's two new bridges (Bay Bridge and Golden Gate Bridge).
  • The "SINGER" decal on the light housing was positioned lower and more on the front.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Early Light Housing Decal   Singer Featherweight 221 Lower Bold Light Housing Decal.

  • The Stitch length indicator, which had always been chrome plated, was now painted black with silver-colored numbers. The contrast made it a bit easier to read.

     Singer Featherweight 221 Chrome Stitch Length Indicator   Singer Featherweight 221 Black Stitch Length Indicator

  • August 1940 - a very small handful of Featherweights were finished with a Wrinkle finish (aka: Crinkle), however, the Wrinkle Featherweights in this batch were most likely put into storage and not distributed until 1947, when they received the chromed, striated faceplate.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Wrinkle With Striated Faceplate
  • By 1941, the chromed handwheel had been replaced with the solid black, japanned finish.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Black Handwheel

  • July 1941, a handful of machines in this batch are distributed with blackened parts due to the moratorium on chromium for war efforts. The faceplate, presser bar lever and stitch length indicator are the most notable parts that make the machines in this category distinctive, but even they can sometimes vary. These novelty machine are now known as "Blackside" Featherweights and are a bit illusive. Serial numbers are not consecutive so it is difficult to pinpoint the distribution with various blackened parts.

      Singer Featherweight 221 Blackside and Chrome Comparison

  • Foot controllers were changed again from bakelite to metal. The cord came out of the controller from the left side, rather than the right like its earlier version from 1933-1936.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Metal Foot Controller


  • No Featherweights (as well as other family sewing machines) were produced during this time period due to the Limitation Order L-98, which was issued by the War Production Board. The Singer Manufacturing Company was one of many manufacturers ordered by the US Government to convert parts of their factories for war production materials.

    War Production Board Seal


  • September 1945, a second batch of machines included a few "Blackside" Featherweights (like they did in 1941). Again, serial numbers are not consecutive, so it is difficult to pinpoint exact distribution of the various blackened parts.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Blackside


  • Mid-1946, Singer returned to issuing the solid bakelite foot controllers with all Featherweights.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Bakelite Foot Controller


  • The modern, sleek-designed striated faceplate is introduced and the scrolled faceplate is no longer issued on USA made Featherweights.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Striated Faceplate

  • Type IV Case was issued, which had a C-shaped leather handle and was attached to the lid with pins rather than D-rings.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Style IV Case

  • An "M.R." decal, abbreviated for "Marcas Registrar" began appearing on a few machines. If a Featherweight has this extra decal it will be found under the front oval badge and under the decal on the back arm of the machine. M.R. is the Spanish equivalent to ® or TM in that it was given for exclusive rights to a product, name, slogan, etc. for Latin-American countries, but some machines with this decal never left the USA.

  • Bobbin Winder was changed from the cupped version to the beveled style.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Beveled Bobbin Winder

  • August 1947, Featherweight production begins in the United Kingdom (Kilbowie, Scotland) at what was then Singer's largest factory.

    Singer Factory in Kilbowie Scotland


  • Specialty Badges "A Century of Sewing Service 1851-1951" were issued to a vast number of Featherweight machines (and other Singer models) to commemorate Singer Manufacturing Company's 100-year anniversary. Machines were given this specialty badge until 1952. The exact number of these badged Featherweights is not known but it could be 200,000 or more.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Centennial Badge


  • Singer changed to a Type V case in the USA. The top tray design of the older cases was removed for a more compact compartment tray on the left side. The lid now held a bracket for the foot controller to slide in and out of easily.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Case V


  • Graduated Throat Plate replaced the traditional plate which did not have any seam guide markings.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Graduated Stitch Plate Comparison


  • July 1953, the Singer 222K Free-Arm Featherweight was introduced in the UK, Europe, Australia and some in Canada. This machine was not marketed in the USA. Production of the 222k continued until 1961.

    Singer Featherweight 222

  • Singer changed to a Type VI case for USA made machines. The case handle was now secured to the lid in conjunction with the foot controller bracket. The clasp style also changed.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Case VI


  • The classic "Egyptian Scroll" or "Celtic" decals were replaced with what is now referred to as the "Paperclip" or "Prism" design.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Paperclip Decals

  • Bobbin winder was changed from the beveled to the solid stamped wheel.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Later Flat Bobbin Winder

  • Manual style changed from the classic vertical green to the horizontal dark blue style but was only seen with some Featherweights. All others had the classic version.

    Singer Featherweight 221 Blue Manual



  • Production ceased for black Singer Featherweights.


  • Two new colors of Featherweights were on the scene.
  • Color #1 -- The Tan Featherweight was more like a black Featherweight with the longer bed extension and internal gear driven mechanism. This color Featherweight was manufactured mostly at the St. John's Factory in Quebec, Canada.

    Singer Featherweight 221J Tan Featherweight

  • Color #2 -- Officially called "Pale Turquoise" and often referred to as "celery green", but more commonly known now as a "White Featherweight". Case was mint green and ivory or light blue and navy. The White Featherweight had many cosmetic differences in addition to an internal belt drive.

    Singer Featherweight 221k White Featherweight


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