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Article: Original Featherweight Foot Controller History and Timeline

Original Featherweight Foot Controller History and Timeline


Singer made a variety of foot controllers over the years, and a few different styles for the Featherweight.  All vintage original Featherweight foot controllers are universal and can work with 110 or 220 voltage and with any Featherweight model whether 221 or 222 (the actual plug to the machine may differ, however).  In this post you will be able to see the different foot controller variations that were produced for the Featherweight.  

I. 1933 This was the first controller issued for the Featherweights, and they were issued with approximately the first 200 Featherweight machines ever produced.  Not only was it made of sturdy metal, but it can also be distinguished from the next controller because of it being .6 amp instead of the more common .7 amp Featherweight controllers.   

Singer Featherweight 221 .6 Amp Foot Controller


II. 1933-1935 The second Featherweight foot controller was also metal, with the the same cord design extending out of the right side.  These controllers can be distinguished from the previous style by their .7 amp rating.  It is an estimation that the first 1,000 cords for the Featherweight controllers were cloth covered. 

Singer Featherweight 221 Foot Controller II

All of the metal foot controllers that Singer made had a different style rubber cushion on the bottom plate.  They were not L-shaped nor screwed on (like the later bakelite foot controllers), but were pressed into place.  If you need replacement feet for your vintage metal foot controller, they are available here.


Singer Featherweight 221 Early Foot Controller in top of case

You can see in both of these original manual illustrations, that the very early metal foot controllers had cords that extended out of the right side of the metal housing.

Singer Featherweight 221 Early Metal Foot Controller Manual Photo


III. 1936  This foot controller was the first bakelite style issued with the Featherweight; on the top are the noticeable venting slots.  This style was discontinued by the end of 1936.   

Singer Featherweight 221 Foot Controller III

IV. 1936-1940, 1946-1960s This foot controller is the most common and was issued in the 1930s and again in the late 1940s and into the 1960s.  It is bakelite, like the one prior, but the cord comes out the back instead of the side.  All 222K Featherweights came with this style controller as well as some White Featherweights.   

Singer Featherweight Foot Controller IV

Singer Featherweight Bakelite Foot Controller 221 In Top Tray

You can see in these illustrations, the bakelite foot controller with the cord extending out of the back of the controller unit.

Singer Featherweight 221 Bakelite Foot Controller Manual Photo

V 1940-1946 These metal controllers look very similar to styles I and II, but the cord on extends out of the left side.  Since it was produced during the "Blackside" Featherweight time period, it will often come with black oxide buttons on the front.

Singer Featherweight 221 Foot Controller V

Tan Featherweights 1960-1962  Tan Featherweights came with foot controller style IV, but they are distinguished by their tan color, similar to the machines.

Singer Featherweight 221 Tan Foot Controller

White Featherweights 1963-1970  White Featherweights had three different foot controllers that you will find throughout their years of production.  The earlier white Featherweights had the common style IV foot controller.

Singer Featherweight Foot Controller IV

The later White Featherweight 221 machines had the "Clam-shell" style controller.  Mechanically, the clamshell style pedal works the same as the button-style foot controllers, but the components on the inside have a modernized appearance.  If you need to make adjustments, the tutorial can be found here.  

Singer Featherweight 221 Clamshell White Foot Controller

The third White Featherweight controller was issued with some of the White Featherweights marketed in Canada.  It is far less common, and we have only ever had a couple here in the shop. 

Singer White Featherweight 221K Canadian Metal Foot Controller 

This brief lesson will help you match the proper foot controller to the proper Featherweight.  All original Featherweight foot controllers use a Carbon Pile Rheostat, and work on the basis of resisting excess electricity.  Because of this, it is very important that your controller be adjusted properly!  Click here for the foot controller adjustment tutorial.

If you need your foot controller rewired (and to have it maintain the original bakelite plug to the machine, if yours has this style), review our Rewiring Service here.