Monday, September 27, 2010

Featherweight Memories

I love getting packages in the mail -- especially when the contents are quilt related!

Fillius Major (my oldest son) sent me a box of shirts he was weeding out of his wardrobe. He and his family are moving from Texas to Ohio for a new job. But in the midst of packing, preparing his house for sale, and getting ready to fly with five children, a wife, and two cats, he thought of his Aged Parent and her Make-a-Quilt-From-Seven Shirts project.

Fillius Major has always been a good quilter's son. When he was still a teen, he helped me find a Singer Featherweight. The whole family was in the car at the time, my husband at the wheel. I was slumped in the front seat, and though I can't remember the circumstances, I do recall that I was in a black mood.

"Uh, Mom . . ." Fillius M.'s voice broke through my emotional fog. "Do you still want one of those little black sewing machines?"


"That yard sale we just passed -- they had one." Yard sale? I'd been so sunk in gloom I hadn't even noticed it!

Without a word, my Excellent Husband executed a masterful U-turn, and we were back at the yard sale while I was still trying to collect my wits. And there it was: a Singer 221, a.k.a. The Perfect Portable. It had no carrying case or attachments, and the bobbin case was missing. But the foot pedal was still attached. The machine appeared to have been much used, but not abused.

Hesitantly, I approached the woman who appeared to be in charge of the sale. She looked like a burnt-out refugee from a hippie commune and spoke in a vague, disjointed manner. The Featherweight, she said, had belonged to an elderly relative. It was obvious that her descendant didn't know much about sewing machines. When I pointed out that the bobbin case was missing, she helpfully went indoors and brought out another one from a different brand of machine. Since she seemed determined to shove it in somehow, despite her lack of hand-eye coordination, I waved her away and offered to buy the machine "as is," hoping that she wouldn't ask more than I could afford.

She was firm about the price: $25.00.

I paid it gladly, even though I could not be sure that the little guy would even work when it was plugged in. Then I hustled my new baby into the car before she could change her mind.

My spirits were high as my husband deftly wove his way back into the late afternoon traffic. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to replace the missing bobbin case (though it cost me more than the machine itself). And the local quilt store was able to direct me to a good sewing machine tech who specialized in old Singers. Eventually, I even bought a stitch plate with seam markings to replace the unmarked original.

In a way, I guess that Fillius Major was my Featherweight's godparent. Perhaps, in his honor, I should stitch the Seven-Shirts-Quilt on the Featherweight.

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