Singer Featherweight Troubleshooting (Fix & Repair Guide) 

Even a popular sewing machine has difficulties and maintenance or repair problems. Especially the lightweight ones that can be picked up and moved on a moment's notice. It is a smart move to learn the basic maintenance and repair processes in order to keep your Featherweight and other sewing machines working.

The Singer Featherweight 221 and 222 are vintage sewing machines. The whole line was made by Singer from 1933 to 1969 and has proven to be durable, long-lasting machines. To keep them working almost 90 years past their prime make sure to clean and lubrication a regular basis.

To learn how to care for your vintage Singer Featherweight sewing machine, just continue to read our article. It has as much information as possible to help you keep your top machine functioning like it was a young sewing machine. Have a cup of coffee as you read.

How to Fix a Singer Featherweight Sewing Machine

The good thing about owning a Singer Featherweight sewing machine is that you do not have to worry about voiding the warranty. You are free to do the simple repairs and get back on schedule quickly. The first step is to unplug the machine and start searching for the location of the problem.

This may involve removing covers, bobbins, needles, and so on. Always start with the simple easy to fix sources that way you save time and money when they are the actual problem. The 3 common areas that cause you the most problems are the threading of the machine, the needle, and the bobbin area.

Why is my Singer Featherweight Skipping Stitches?


Two simple origins for this problem are found in the needle and the way you threaded your machine. The needle may have been inserted wrong. Just reinsert the needle or you may need to re-thread your machine. The flat side of the needle must face left if it is going to pick up the bottom thread correctly.

Another source for this issue is a little more involved and time-consuming. Check the timing on your machine to make sure the hook and the needle are in alignment and where they are supposed to be. If they are not you can do this repair yourself or go to the Singer repairman to do it for you.

What Size Bobbin for a Singer Featherweight?

The key to replacing the bobbin in your Featherweight is to understand that many bobbins look very similar to each other. The differences are also very subtle so you have to get the right one if your machine is going to work right.

The 221 and the 222 Featherweight take the 221 class metal bobbin. Never put a plastic bobbin in where a metal one goes and vice versa. You can check out this website if you have other sewing machines to find out which bobbin will fit those alternative Singer models.

Also, do not put the wrong size in even if they look exactly the same. They may not be.

Singer Featherweight Won't sew


You will find that even a top sewing machine like the Featherweight has common problems all sewing machines face. Of course, if the machine doesn’t sew you may not have plugged it, turned the power on, or did not plug the foot pedal in correctly.

Another source is that loose thread or lint found its way into the bobbin area and stopped the handwheel from turning. To fix these problems plug in the machine or turn it on. Or clean it thoroughly. Also, check your bobbin winding switch to see that it is in the sewing position. If not move it there so you can get back to your hobby.

Singer Featherweight Electrical Problems

If you are not comfortable with handling electric wires then you should take your machine to a qualified repairman to handle this situation. This company can help you and it has parts if you need them. But working with wires is fairly straight forward.

If the wires are loose, just re-position them and tighten the screw back up. If they are burnt, frayed, or broken, then just buy the same wire and replace the old ones. This is an easy fix if you have the skills.

Featherweight Running Slow

When you encounter this problem your featherweight’s belts may have worn out and need replacing. The fix is simple, just buy the right new belt and put it on in place of the old one. Another source for this problem is that the belt may be too tight or too loose.

Either case will slow your machine down. Just determine which one is the problem and take the appropriate action. If your machine is still running slow, it will be time to take the machine to the shop for a repair.

How to Wind the Bobbin


The first step is to place the spool of thread on its spool holder. Make sure you stop the needle plate from moving by using the handwheel to activate the bobbin winder. Pull the thread towards the forward thread guide.

Go through the guide and head back to the rear thread guide positioned just under the bobbin. Pull the thread through that guide and on up to the bobbin. Then put the thread through the little fork on the winder and through the bobbin itself going towards the left.

Also, make sure you line up the notch on the bobbin spindle with the notch on the bobbin. If you need diagrams, just click this link and you will see what we are talking about. You will also get instructions on how to repair the bobbin winder.

Singer Featherweight Won't Pick up the Bobbin Thread

We have mentioned this previously for another problem but that is the way it is with sewing machines. The same sources cause different problems. The first place you can look is your needle. If it is bent, dull or broken, it may not pick up the bobbin thread. Just change the needle to a new sharp one.

Or the problem may be in the timing of the machine. If the needle is out of place then it will not pick up the bobbin thread. You will have to get inside the front of the machine underneath the feed dogs and check the alignment of the needle and the hook. Re-adjust the timing by using a screwdriver to loosen or tighten the screw.

Singer Featherweight Jammed

This problem happens a lot when you haven’t cleaned your machine on a regular basis. Loose threads, lint, and dirt get into areas they should not be found and gum up the machine. Check your bobbin case to see if it is clean or not and if not give it a good cleaning.

Another problem is that you may have forgotten to oil your machine and some of the parts are getting stuck together. You may need to use your hairdryer here to loosen old oil so the parts move and then add a couple of drops of new oil so the machine will function correctly.

Featherweight Not Stitching


Go to the needle first in this situation. If it is bent or broken then the machine won’t do any stitching. Also if you threaded the needle wrong, this will stop it from forming those stitches you want to see on your fabric. The thread needs to go right to left and make sure the flat side of the needle is facing left as well.

Another solution to this problem is to check to see if you threaded the machine correctly. If not, re-thread it and go on your way. Next, you should check your tension to see if it is at the right setting for the thread and the fabric you are working on. If it isn’t just turn the tension dial or screw in the proper direction to correct that error.

Featherweight Needle Not Moving

One place to look is in the bobbin area. Remove the bobbin and bobbin case to see if any thread got tangled up. If so you will have to spend a few minutes cutting thread and removing the tangle. Next, check your take up lever to see if any thread got into that area of your machine. It is a difficult place to look but it is not hard for the thread to migrate up there and make a mess of things.

Also, you should check under the needle plate to see if any thread got jammed up in that area. In addition, you may have left the machine sit for a while and corrosion or oil dried up in some of the parts stopping the needle from moving. Clean out both and re-oil the machine.

Featherweight Needle Position

When you replace an old needle on your Featherweight sewing machine, you have to be careful to put the new one in the correct position. The flat side of the needle faces left and the eye is threaded right to left.

To replace the needle just slightly loosen the needle clamp adjustment screw and slip the old needle out carefully. Then put the new needle in as instructed in the previous paragraph. Tighten the screw and you are good to go.

Featherweight Skipping Stitches


The cause for this problem is the same as the missing stitches or not stitching issues talked about earlier. Look to your needle first. Make sure it is straight, sharp, and not broken. If the opposite is true then replace the needle. Double-check to see if the needle was inserted correctly and change it if it wasn’t.

Once that is done check your bobbin. The featherweight does not thread-like other Singer sewing machines so you must make sure that the bobbin thread is unwinding in the counter-clockwise direction. If not, switch the bobbin around.

Singer Featherweight Timing

Fixing the timing can always be a tedious chore and frustrating as it takes patience and a little precision work to get it just right. The good news is that the timing is rarely the source of your sewing machine troubles. If you use your sewing machine normally then this may never be a problem for you.

When the timing usually goes on this machine is when someone has taken it apart and tried to make adjustments to rotary and shaft positions or movements. That means that you should keep the handyman’s hands off your machine.

Singer Featherweight Tension Issues

Usually, tension issues for the Featherweight 221 come when you change fabrics. The thickness or texture of the fabric will influence the tension and mess up your stitches. To do a test on the tension for the featherweight, just set the dial to 3.

Then stitch a straight seam and if the stitches are flat on both sides of the fabric then you are good to go. Fine-tuning the tension will require several different tests to make sure you always have the right amount when you need it. The key is to have the stitches laying flat on both sides of the fabric.

Feed Dog Adjustment


On the 222 model, it seems that all you have to do to adjust the height of the feed dogs is to pull the sew/darn lever out and put it in the darn mode. It is simple and easy to do. The trick is not to forget to put the lever back into the sew position when you want to start sewing again.

With the 221 it may be very difficult to lower the feed dogs and you may end up covering them like most sewers do when they use this machine. With the lever-action, the feed dogs disappear from view and are not high enough to interfere with your quilting to other activities.

Featherweight Hook Assembly

Maintaining the hook assembly is vital if you want your featherweight sewing machine to function normally. It can get pretty dirty inside which means you should check it on a regular basis. Removing the hook assembly is a matter of undoing a couple of screws.

But be careful sometimes the hook assembly stays in place even with the screws out. Be careful when removing it as the wrong move can damage the device and make you go buy another hook assembly. Once out, just clean the parts and oil them before putting them back in your machine.

The process should not take that long to complete. The task should be done before you know it.

Singer Featherweight Foot Pedal Repair


The good thing about foot pedals is that they have few parts. That makes repairing them very simple and easy. If your foot pedal is acting up it might be from a broken or loose wire. All you have to do is either replace the wire or tighten the loose one.

If there is a capacitor inside and it looks burnt, then you would need to replace the capacitor with a new one. Also, check your power cord to see if any frays or melted spots appear. You may need to replace your foot pedal if that is the case.

Where to Oil a Featherweight Sewing Machine

Oiling is a necessary duty that takes a little time and a lot of care. The points you need to oil are every moving part you can see. Only a drop of sewing machine oil is needed to lubricate those parts. Also, you should look for those parts that move and rub together with another part. Oil those as well and with the same amount of oil.

Next, look for the oiling holes. They are obvious and can be found easily just by looking at your machine. Those oiling holes handle the moving parts you cannot see. Again, about a drop of oil is all you will need to get them properly lubricated. Your manual may have a diagram that shows you exactly where those holes are. Click here for detailed oiling instructions.

How to Polish Singer Featherweight


It is only recommended that you polish your featherweight a couple of times a year. You do not need to do it every time you clean and oil the machine. The first step is to wipe the dust and dirt off with a dry rag. Next, use a little kerosene and a clean rag to wipe away any grease or adhesive that may have gotten onto your machine.

After that use a top-quality carnauba car wax to polish the surface. Rub the wax just like you would if you were rubbing your car exterior. But remember do a test first to make sure the results will be what you are looking for.

Some Final Words

Featherweights are good machines. To help them stay that way, you should learn to do some minor repairs. These repairs are not hard to do and will save you time and money.

Treat your featherweight well and it will treat you well in return. Plus, when you do that, it will last you a long time.

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