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Original Featherweight Tables and Cabinets
by Christian Henry
Singer tables were what any 1940s homemaker would have wanted to accompany her machine: an adaptable table for sewing or hosting! Below is a cute ad from Singer, marketing the different ways one of their tables could be used... Pinochle anyone?
Today, some of the most collectible sewing machine tables and cabinets are the ones for the Featherweight. Below are the various options that can still be found at antique shops, flea markets or even the occasional yard sale -- don't forget to look at what the garage sale goods are "sitting upon", or take a peek under the tablecloth of the cashier's table!
Brown Rimmed Table and Extension
The first tables in production were painted a milk-chocolate brown on the tabletop rim and legs. The brown top rims were also metal rather than wood compared to the black painted table rims. A two-legged Table Extension with brown metal legs was also manufactured to accompany the brown-legged table, but they seem to be much more difficult to find than the black style.
Black Rimmed Table and Extension
The most common Featherweight tables are the ones with the black painted table rim and legs. They came with black painted wooden legs or metal legs. When the metal leg style was in production, Singer also produced the two-legged Table Extension which provided an even greater surface area for sewing, serving or card party gathering. These Table Extension additions are very hard to find, presumably because the two-legged table gets separated from the original and "who needs a table with just two legs?" We've known a few of them to be rescued, so keep your eye out for them!
Singer also made a maple wood cabinet for the Featherweight in an "early American" furniture style, common in the 1950s. It is very scarce to find and highly sought after because of its smaller and concealing nature. The cabinet keeps the controller, attachment and other accessories out of view while the machine is not in use. It is also smaller than the table and can easily be displayed as a household piece of furniture until the machine is ready to be used again.
Cabinet with Lift
The rarest of all the Featherweight Furniture would be the 68 cabinets with the lift. The lift raises and lowers the machine in and out of the cabinet. For the tidy home sewist, a cabinet like this would be the quintessential accessory.
Photo courtesy of Nedora J.
Photo courtesy of Carol C.
Photo courtesy of Nedora J.
What years were the tables made; does the serial number indicate the commission date?
Unfortunately, there are no known records with serial number lists or dates for the Featherweight tables and cabinets. We do know that the tables first appeared in the Featherweight manuals in 1938, and the cabinets can be seen in Singer ads as early as 1946.
The serial numbers on the tables and table inserts are simply used to coordinate them together so that the right insert can go with the right table. However, there are no records available to determine when or where the table was made.
Does the original white 221K Featherweight fit in the table or cabinet?
No, because the white Featherweight has a shorter bed, it will not fit properly in either the tables or the 68 cabinets.
Does the 222K fit in the table or cabinet?
The 222K Featherweight does fit in both the table and the cabinet, but the 222 free-arm model is a slightly taller machine than the 221. Because it is a little taller, the bed of the 222 machine will rise above the table surface about 1/2". April uses her 222 in her table and cabinet regularly, so this minimal added height is really insignificant compared to the practical use of the extra sewing surface. The 222 Featherweight will not fit in the table or the cabinet if the machine bed extension is removed. (The 222 bed extension must be in place for it to be held securely in either the table or the cabinet.)
I found a table that looks similar to the ones in the photos, but why won't my Featherweight fit in the table's machine opening?
When searching for a Featherweight table, keep in mind that Singer made the same size table for other vintage machines, too, including tables for the Singer 301. The machine opening on these other tables is a different size, but you can refer to the next question for the dimensions of the opening when trying to find one specific for the Singer Featherweight.
What are the dimensions of the table insert?
Why does the table leg not latch?
If the table leg is not latching, it is likely that the latch spring is broken or missing.
Click here to order a replacement spring.
I cannot seem to find a table like this, but I would like to have a larger surface area to sew. Is there a modern-day table that would accommodate this?
Yes, there is a modern-day acrylic table that even has the little notch for an easy lift of the Featherweight bed extension. It's called a Sew Steady Table. It's a table-top table, lightweight, easily portable, comes with a carrying bag and very economical.