Have you ever wondered how some Featherweight machines look polished and beautiful while others look dull or oily? Watch the video tutorial below all the way through and learn how to take your average looking Featherweight and turn it into something beautifully reflective.
The Featherweight Shop is always improving the techniques and products we use for our machines. For years we used water-based polishes but recently, our tech department developed our own proprietary, petroleum-based cleaning and polishing formulas that we call Sew Retro Clean and Sew Retro Shine.
Cleaning and polishing your machine provides a protective layer to help preserve the clearcoat and decals of the machine, but it also gives your treasured Featherweight a beautiful and attractive shine that others will be sure to notice. If your machine has not been polished in a long time and is very dirty, you may want to remove a few items so that you can get the polish everywhere. This could include removing the needle plate
, bobbin winder tension bracket
, the tension unit
itself, light bulb housing
, and possibly even the motor
. If you don’t feel comfortable removing any of those things then just do your best to polish around them.
You will want to start by dusting off your machine with a dry cloth. Do not use household cleaners or soap and water to clean your machine. Many of these contain alcohol, or degreasers or even citrus that will harm the clearcoat of your Featherweight machine. Many of us who have been in the Featherweight business for years have learned the hard way what not to use on our Featherweight machines. Hopefully, we can help some of you avoid those trial and error mistakes.
If you have tape, stickers or other residues, you can use sewing machine oil, olive oil or even kerosene to clean the adhesive off the machine and before you begin the waxing process. Smaller containers of kerosene can be found at your local Wal-Mart or hardware store in the camping section. Because each Featherweight has had a different environmental and cleaning history, we do not recommend using sewing machine oil or kerosene over the entire surface as a general cleaner, but only recommend these to remove adhesive residue from tape and stickers. That being said, kerosene is great to have on hand because it is great to use for cleaning the internal gears
of a Featherweight. We even carry small, empty oil bottles
for this purpose - allowing you to carefully direct where you want the little drops of kerosene to go.
Take our your black light to inspect the clear coat. Even if the machine is beautiful with very little visible wear…. the black light shows each area where the clear coat has been compromised. It also shows the few areas that did not have a clear coat, like the motor, the spool pin cover plate and the handwheel. We want to avoid putting any oil on these areas when we are cleaning, and eventually, we will put a nice protective coat of hard wax there to protect the compromised areas.
If the machine does not have any adhesive residue then just begin with the Sew-Retro Clean. The Sew-Retro Clean is applied directly to the machine, working in small areas with a soft, dry, 100% cotton terrycloth towel. Rub the area gently, in a back-and-forth, up-and-down motion. Work the cleaner into the area for about 10 to 15 seconds, and then wipe it clean with a separate soft, dry, 100% cotton terry cloth.
Sidenote: If the clearcoat has worn off or been removed from your Featherweight machine, and your decals are exposed, be very gentle with any cleaning and waxing around the decals, or avoid them as much as possible. Exposed decals can sometimes be the wild card depending on what they have been exposed to over the years. If the decals are silver, the machine has no clearcoat left in that area, so proceed very carefully. A light coat of wax, however, will help to keep them from diminishing further but too much friction from rubbing too hard isn’t good either. You need to find a happy medium in being gentle but still giving it a good wax to protect it. If you do nothing, then sewing with fabric, pins, etc. will cause the decals to wear faster.
Sometimes when cleaning, any residual oils on the machine may come off in a brownish tint on your rag. But, if you get a nice shine with one coat of wax then the color of your rag is not that important.
Sew-Retro Clean & Shine is extremely easy to apply, yet gives the best and most protection for your machine because of the proprietary blend specially created at The Featherweight Shop! And, it won't leave a haze either, like so many other waxes.
Next, we start polishing with Sew-Retro Shine. Generally, you only clean your machine thoroughly like this once but because you polish your machine often, the Sew Retro shine comes in a larger container. Apply Sew Retro Shine just like the cleaner, using a clean cotton rag, using back and forth, up and down motions on a small area. Wipe it down with another cotton rag them give your machine a final wipe down and buffing using the same microfiber towel.
High-quality cleaning and polishing kits can be very expensive... and you definitely get what you pay for with protecting and preserving the finish of your Singer Featherweight. Just like car collectors or those with high-end vehicles want the best protection for their automobiles, we Featherweight owners want to keep the finish on our machines protected as well - not just for show, but also for daily use! Most importantly, Sew-Retro Clean and Shine preserves and protects the finish of your Singer Featherweight 221 or 222K! You won't need to clean your machine each time, but you should polish your Featherweight a couple of times a year ... or more depending on use.
You can use the Sew-Retro Clean and Shine on your black Featherweights, tan Featherweights, white Featherweights or even your custom-painted Featherweights, too.
We try to answer all questions that come to the shop, so if you have a project machine that you are working on, please feel free to contact us and we will be glad to assist you.