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December 2010

Replacing the Motor Belt

The belt for the Singer Featherweight 221 is replaceable with the style belt that Singer originally designed - a V-shaped black belt.  Click here to order.  This belt consistently performs better and quieter than the 'orange' belts that have been sold as replacements for the original.  To replace the belt:

Loosen the small screw on the silver stop motion knob on the large hand wheel.

Unscrew the stop motion knob and remove from the machine.

NOTE the washer - its 'ears' should be pointing out.  Remove.

Pull the hand wheel off of the machine - belt will come with it.

Remove belt from motor area.

Install new belt on pulley on motor.  (This is usually a two-handed job.)

Loop over hand wheel (loose - not on machine).

Replace hand wheel on machine.

Replace washer ('ears' out) and then the knob.  Tighten screw on knob (not too tight!).

Belt should be just tight enough to pull machine without slipping -- NOT plucking tight!  Actually, pretty loose.

If belt is too tight - loosen large screw that holds the motor in place - look at motor as if you are sewing - screw is below and behind hand wheel.  IF YOU LOOSEN THIS SCREW - PROTECT THE PAINT ON THE ARM OF THE MACHINE FROM THE SCREW DRIVER.  This screw holds the motor in place.  Loosening it will allow the motor to slide up and down.  Raise the motor slightly and re-tighten the belt.

It is VERY important NOT to run the machine with the belt too tight.  This can cause the machine to run slowly and can damage the motor.

Happy Holidays!
Shop for gifts for your Featherweight enthusiast by clicking here!

November 2010

Nova's Featherweight Cards

Hello!  I hope you are reading my Greetings and News page every month also! 

I have some very exciting news for you!  For some time now my students have been requesting a simple visual reminder of how to care for their machines.  So, I have developed four great new products for you and your beloved Featherweights - Nova's Featherweight Maintenance Card, Nova's Featherweight Troubleshooting Card, Nova's Featherweight Basics Card, and Nova's Featherweight Attachment

These cards are made of heavy weight laminated card stock and are designed to fit in the front of your Featherweight case.  They are durable and handy to keep right with the machine.  They feature full color photographs with red arrows pointing right at key points for you.  If you accidentally drop oil or kerosene on it while maintaining your machine - just wipe it off.  No harm done!

I just returned from quilt market and the response to these was tremendous!

To take a closer look, or securely order yours - click on the links below.  Remember, if you don't like ordering over the internet, simply telephone me.  I will be happy to take your order over the phone.

Nova's Featherweight Maintenance Card
Nova's Featherweight Troubleshooting Card
Nova's Featherweight Basics Card
Nova's Featherweight Attachment Card

I hope you enjoy them, and thank you to my wonderful students for continuing to insist that these would be beneficial.

October 2010

Bobbin Case Threading

I am hearing from you that you are enjoying the Tip of the Month.  That is great!  Keep coming back!

The bobbin case on the Featherweight is threaded  with the bobbin spinning counter-clockwise.  When you hold the bobbin up before inserting it in the bobbin case the thread should make a lower case 'd'.  This is an easy way to remember and check.  For me it is "d"ifferent than my Bernina.  Another way of thinking of it is that all bobbin cases are threaded with the thread running back on itself.  Remember to draw your bobbin thread up to the top and hold your thread tails when you begin stitching - every time!  You will prevent the machine from jamming if you do this one simple thing.

I have some exciting new products coming out soon.  Be sure to check back here for their introduction!

September 2010

Presser Foot Pressure Knob

The small knob on the top left of the machine (silver on some and black on others depending on the year of manufacture) is the presser foot pressure knob.  It is used to adjust the amount of pressure the presser foot is putting on the fabric being stitched.  This knob should turn freely and for typical quilting cottons it should be adjusted so that approximately 2 screw threads are showing.  The knob should be adjusted downward for sewing heavier fabrics that would require more pressure to pull through the sewing machine and it should be adjusted upward to sew lighter weight fabrics (less pressure).  You NEVER want to completely unscrew this.  There is a spring under tension below this that is actually controlling the pressure.  If you unscrew this completely, you will be hunting a spring! 

Recently at my quilting bee, a friend was sewing on her Featherweight and it was skipping stitches.  We replaced the needle, rethreaded the machine, etc.  I sewed and sewed with the machine with no skipped stitches.  She sat back down to sew and before long announced that the machine was still skipping stitches.  She got up and I went over and sewed for quite a while with no skipped stitches.  She sat down and soon announced again that the machine was still skipping stitches.  Only then did I realize that she was sewing on Thangles.  I had never experienced a problem with paper piecing on a Featherweight before.  I looked and this presser foot pressure knob was unscrewed quite a bit.  We adjusted it downward to pull a heavier load, and the machine performed much better!!  Evidently the lessened pressure was allowing the foot to slip causing skipped stitches.  We all learn as we go!  Happy Stitching!!

  Remember - you can shop safely for parts and accessories here!

August 2010

Bed Cushions

The rubber 'feet' on the bottom of your machine that protect the table top from being scratched tend to deteriorate over the years.  These feet are replaceable (click here to order new bed cushions) and are relatively easy to install.  There is no need to use makeshift felt pads, etc.  If the screw heads are visible, simply unscrew and remove the screw.  If the screw heads are not visible due to the feet 'melting' over the screw head, take an old screwdriver and dig out the old cushion.  If you can not get a screwdriver head in the slot in the screw, take needle-nosed pliers and grip the screw to remove it.  The screw head slot can be cleaned out for replacement over the new cushion (foot) with a utility knife.  Once all the old cushion is removed, simply set the new one in place and replace the screw.  I would recommend replacing all four at the same time.

July 2010

Seek Assistance
OK, this month's tip may seem a little obvious, but two machines in the same day are the cause of my deciding on this tip.....
If you don't know what you are doing - DON'T do it!  DON'T let your husband do it either!  Yes, I mean don't attempt to service the machine yourself if you don't know what you are doing.  Find a competent repair person in your area, or mail it to me, or take my Singer Featherweight Maintenance class.  Recently I have seen a motor ruined and an electrical nightmare (still not sure how they kept from having a house fire!) because of Featherweight owners certain that they (or their husbands) could service their machines just fine.  The electrical nightmare is worth mentioning specifically --- This person had been told to "grease gears" which is correct.  The only problem was that they did not know the difference between a gear and the thumb screws that secure the electrical connections.  The electrical connections had been filled with lubricant and caught on fire burning the insulation off of the electrical wires and melting parts of the Bakelite receptacle...........  Get help, and learn to do it right.  Our precious little machines are too valuable and dear to leave it to chance.
June 2010

Prevent Thread Jams!
Hold those thread tails!  I had a call from a sweet couple in Michigan who needed assistance.  Her machine kept locking up.  Her husband was an engineer, and they requested that I instruct him over the phone how to open the gib, remove the thread, and reassemble the machine!  I went and got one of my machines and 'talked him through'.  We were successful!  The thread was removed from where it was stuck jamming the machine.  I then asked to speak to her again.  She told me this was a recurring difficulty with her Featherweight and wondered if there was something wrong with the machine.  I asked her if she held her thread tails when beginning to stitch.  She replied that she did most of the time.  The time that she wasn't holding those tails was the problem!  She said that she didn't hold them all of the time because she was quilting with her machine and couldn't hold onto the bobbin thread because it was under the quilt.  I explained how to pull the bobbin thread up through the quilt layers (Turn the hand wheel while holding the top thread.  When the needle comes up through the quilt, pull on the top thread.), so it is on top of the quilt, and told her to hold those thread tails everytime she begins to stitch for a few stitches.  This will prevent 'birds nests' on the back and the machine jamming.  This couple was traveling through and stopped to hear me lecture on the history of the Featherweight.  It was great to meet them.  She reported no more jamming issues while quilting with her Featherweight!  Hold those thread tails every time.
May 2010

Walking Foot Installation
A couple of my customers have recently purchased walking feet for their Singer 221's.  They have had difficulty getting them on and operating correctly.  Both of these customers have reported that the needle was hitting the foot.  I had them bring in their machines to take a look.  The walking feet were installed correctly (fork over the clamp screw that holds in the needle), and the needle did appear to be hitting the foot.  A closer examination revealed that the needle was not actually hitting the foot, but that the fork on the walking foot was hitting the thread cutter.  The thread cutter had been twisted out of position on the rear of the presser foot bar.  Simply turning the thread cutter around solved the difficulty.  If you have had trouble, check this out and try repositioning the thread cutter on the presser foot bar.
April 2010

Needle Position

"I broke a needle, and now my machine won't sew!"  This is a common problem I hear from my customers.  They typically assume their machine is "ruined".  Sometimes damage is done, but most of the time, the problem has a simple solution.  The Singer Featherweight will NOT sew unless the needle is installed correctly.  The problem is that the needle is installed on the Featherweight differently than almost all other machines.  How do you remember the correct installation?  There is a simple visual for you right on the machine!  Look at the needle plate.  Notice how it is shaped like a capital 'D'.  This is EXACTLY how the needle is shaped at the top (end that goes in to be clamped).  Make the flat sides match.  Now you will be able to remember and 'see' how to do it every time you have to replace your needle! 
March 2010

Matched Threads

Singer Featherweights usually perform best when the threads are matched on the top and in the bobbin.  In other words, use the same weight and type of thread on both the top and in the bobbin (color does not matter).  This even includes mono filament thread.  Yes, I know that sounds really strange, but I have quilted several quilts using mono filament on the top and in the bobbin.  Prior to learning this, I had snarls, breakage and great difficulty.

Try matching those threads up and see how much happier your Featherweight (and you) will be!

Contact Nova to schedule a workshop for your group to learn so much more about Singer Featherweight sewing machines!