No Jodi, there isn't a featherweight. Even though featherweights may live in the hearts of sewists everywhere, like Santa Claus, none of them lives in my house.
I did learn to sew on a featherweight, but my mom traded it in on a fancier Singer when I was about ten, and that's the machine I used to upgrade from doll clothes to people clothes. We were so proud of that Singer because it had an accessory that allowed you to do faux zigzag stitching for buttonholes. The needle didn't move sideways, but this little accessory grabbed onto the fabric and moved it sideways, as well as forward and back, to make the buttonhole. (Kind of like free-motion quilting, except you have to be the accessory.)
Trading it in -- that's the key word in my reminiscence. In those days of course we traded in an old machine upon buying a new one. Why on earth would you need two? Why on earth would you want to keep that old outdated featherweight? Sure enough, after I inherited mom's aforementioned Singer with the faux zigzag, I eventually traded it in on one with a real zigzag, and then traded that one in on my first Bernina.
But when it came time to upgrade to a new Bernina, the lady at the fabric store gave me the best advice I've ever received in terms of equipment. When I inquired about a trade-in, she said don't do it! You won't get that much money for it, and it's always better to have a spare machine on hand. And boy, was she right!
When the machine has to go into the shop, you're not left unplugged for a week or two or three. When you go to a workshop, just grab your other machine and go -- you don't have to undo your entire sewing setup (which in my case involves crawling under the table to untwist twist ties galore and unthread the cords from their serpentine paths). When a friend comes over for a play day, she doesn't have to bring her own machine. When your granddaughter learns to sew, set her up permanently with her very own machine so you can quilt side-by-side.
Here's my current roster of machines:
- my main machine, a Bernina 440, which is securely affixed to my sewing table with a lot of twist ties
- my backup machine, a Bernina 1630, which I would have never abandoned except for its nasty habit of irregular tension so that the back of the quilting wasn't up to show standards, but its straight stitch is just fine and it likes to go to workshops with me
- Zoe's machine, a Bernina 1020, which I never would have abandoned except it had no knee lift or automatic needle-down feature, and how can you be a serious quilter without those doodads?
- my Babylock serger, not used so much now that I have given up garment sewing, but every now and then it comes out of hiding to do a good deed
- my late mother-in-law's sewing machine, an old clunky Singer portable, which I have never taken out of its case, but after she died and we cleaned out her apartment, I knew the machine needed to go to a loving retirement home, not to the dump
- an old Bernina 800 that I bought from somebody at a Nancy Crow workshop several years ago and almost immediately gave me buyer's remorse because it had lost its work tray and isn't very usable in its current condition, but someday I may find a tray on eBay or something, or sell it to somebody else
- a Juki 600, my newest machine, graciously presented to me by the Juki Company after I taught workshops in Japan last year where the participants used these models, and I fell in love with the huge work tray; this is the one I'm going to use on my next huge quilting project.