Singer 221 Featherweight question

tropical_thoughtFebruary 12, 2010

I am making this experiment quilt with my singer 221, because I don't what else to do to use the machine. I have some precut squares I got on eBay, so now I am sewing them together, but I think it won't back stitch. Are you supposed to tie them by hand at the end of each square? I am not doing that so I am just going along hoping that the crossing of the fabric will sort of take care of itself, but maybe the whole thing will come unraveled.

If there is no way to back stitch, I can not see why people want to use these machines for quilting because it's too much work, not to be able to back stitch. It helps that I don't like the quilt at all, and I don't care if fails, but I was just wondering what other quilters do to tie off at the end of the square if you are using one of these portable machines. The stitch looks very nice and it's tiny. At least I am getting practice using this machine after so many years of just having it around the house.

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I don't backstitch at all when I'm piecing a quilt - it only adds bulk. I certainly don't tie the thread tails either. That would be a recipe for insanity!

Every seam line you sew will be crossed by another at some point, and then the quilting will hold it all together. Backstitching is not necessary.

Do use a short stitch length - 15 to 20 stitches per inch is ideal. The seams won't go anywhere.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 10:55PM
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I love my 221 Singer. And yes it does have a back stitch, but I never use it for quilting. If you use 15 stitches per inch, it will be fine for the very reason that you gave.
If you look to the right on the machne, there is a lever that controls the stitch length, and if you push it up, it reverses the stitch.
This is the only machine I use for straight stitching. Once you get used to it, you will love the nice straight stitch, and lovely purr o the motor.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 11:04PM
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What do you use for an accurate 1/4" seam? Tape as a marker?
(My Pfaff has so many different pieces of tape, I don't know what they each measure)

I bought a FW a few months ago - but haven't had time to get her purring as perfectly as I want - Christmas, company, working, and the snow. She's almost there. I need a steady hand (and mind) to take the bobbin case apart next.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 8:02AM
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You can use painter's blue tape or a flexible magnet like the kind you get from pizza delivery businesses and such. Since the Featherweight is NOT electronic and has no computers on board, the magnet is safe to use.

Disclaimer: magnets should NEVER be placed on modern electronic sewing machines that have computer chips in their construction!

Some people cut a section of Post-it pads and tape it down on the machine bed 1/4-inch from the needle (which is in the lowered position for the measuring). This gives a definite "bumper" to define the 1/4-inch seam allowance while sewing.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 9:20AM
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Well I am following the second line on the stitch plate which is 3/8 instead of 1/4, but it seems to be that this is easy to follow without using any tape because the groove in the plate is very clear. You have to watch the grove or the tape and not the needle when you sew. What a relief that I don't have to back stitch the quilt.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 10:12AM
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I use mine all the time for piecing. I have a quarter inch foot for it. It is a low shank and takes most any low shank foot. I backstitch in parts where I'm paper piecing by putting that little stitch length lever up and screw the set screw to the proper length so that the length stays for the backstitch as well. Works great.

My 95 year old MIL taught sewing for years and hauled two FW with her in the trunk of the car all the time. She is tickled that I bought one and sew with it. Wish I had hers but they went back to the school. Gwen and Teresa loaned me ones at retreat and I couldn't help but buy my own afterwards. I love it for piecing and it's small enough to set up in a separate small space and be left up with my dust cover over it.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 11:27AM
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Tropical, using the 3/8-inch measurement may mean that your blocks do not go together as precisely as you may like. Also, each block is going to be smaller than the finished block in the pattern you are using - so when you put those smaller blocks together, your quilt size is going to be smaller also.

Hate to point this out, but best you know ahead. Even 1/8-inch difference repeated many times can cause problems - unless you are doing simple squares of fabric that are not pieced.


    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 11:45AM
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I did not know to do that, I just assumed if I made all of them the same it would not matter, It's harder to sew with the smaller seam allowance. I don't know or care how big the quilt will be, because it's only a test. It's kind of too late to turn back unless I discard what I have done so far, I don't think I can take it out. Maybe I can but the stitches are tiny and the fabric could rip in the process, but I have only done four squares so far. Someday I will make a quilt that matters, but I need more practice and my binding need a lot of work. I am not piercing two layers, I am just sewing the precut squares together because it's more work to cut your squares and last time I did that, all my squares were of different sizes. I could not get them uniform. The quilt did not fit together. Then I will have to make a back and get some batting and sew that and then do the binding.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 12:27PM
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Lots of good advice here. Couple of more thoughts for you--

1) As long as your seam allowances are consistent throughout the quilt, you shouldn't have any trouble. If you are following a pattern, you will not be able to trim the blocks to the specified size, though.

2) Use a fairly short stitch length for piecing quilts. On your Featherweight, set it at about 12.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 12:37PM
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It just not a pattern, just a uniforms squares sewn together, so I can still proceed with the bigger seam allowance. The margins are a little ratty, because the fabric is flannel and I had to zig zag it to keep it from losing a huge amount to fray when prewashed, that is why I was thinking a bigger seam allowance would be better.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 1:25PM
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My FW has an attachment Seam guide that screws into the machine. You can measure the width of the seam from the needle and place the guide accordingly. I usual use it for 1/4" seams. I like using it but haven't the room to keep it out. Jayne

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 2:43PM
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I got a bunch of thing like that a guide and I think it's a bias tape maker, but I don't know how to use any of them. I don't really need a seam guide in this case, it is very easy to use the groove on such a short square.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 3:33PM
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You should be just fine if you are sewing pre-cut squares together. Not to worry. :o)

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 4:00PM
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I own a featherweight 221 and I love it! I keep it upstairs on display in my living room. When DH and I want to watch different programs I sew with it on the kitchen table. I bought a 1/4" foot with a guide on it and I like it very much. I seldom use the backstitch on quilt pieces stitching. I love it's simplicity and easy is just a fun machine to sew on.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 8:34PM
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I love the purrrr of my sweet little FW! Maybe you'll come to love yours, too, tropical. I take mine to my group that makes quilts for Red Cross donations. It's just the right size & doesn't need to do anything fancy.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 8:53PM
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I have just bought a feather weigh 221 but have to have the bobbin winder repaired so waiting on that but i want to ask do any of you quilt on the machine I know you can piece but can you put the quilt top and backing and filler in and quilt it seems like it would be too large for the small machine if you can quilt on it please tell me how thanks Evelyn

    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 3:41PM
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The technician that services my mechanical machines worked for Singer in Italy for 35 years. He says that the FW 221 was made for "ladies" to do fine sewing. He says not to sew anything heavier than quilting cotton. Singer made the series 15 machines for all purpose sewing. I know that some people machine quilt on a FW but I wouldn't.


    Bookmark   April 5, 2011 at 4:38PM
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