Singer 221-1, the Featherweight

Singer 221-1, the very photogenic Featherweight.

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I passed my jiu jitsu belt test a few weeks ago and decided it was a good excuse to buy myself a new machine. At least two of you out there are already the proud owners of a Singer Featherweight. I know it’s very popular amongst quilters and it produces a beautiful straight stitch. I also wanted to return to the feel of sewing with a machine with a substantial feel.

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The Singer 201-2.

I learned to sew on a Singer 201-2, a huge black machine that comes bolted to the table. It only sews in one direction and is probably from the 40s. (More on this machine in the future.) The 201-2 ended up with electrical problems (which I later fixed a few months later) and in the interim I bought the total opposite of this machine: a pastel green Hello Kitty Janome machine that is meant for children who are learning how to sew.

The super cute Hello Kitty machine.

At this point I wasn’t sure how long I’d stay with sewing, since I’ve been making patterns that didn’t fit me for months and months. I wanted something that wasn’t too expensive and wasn’t too complicated to use. Compared to the 201-2, the Hello Kitty machine is fairly loud and sews very very slowly.

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The Featherweight came in its original case.

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The top part holds the foot. The machine goes in the middle part, and on the side is a box that has bobbins, the instruction manual, and some feet.

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Front view.

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It also came with some buttonholers. It looks similar to the buttonholer in the Singer 201-2, but I have yet to compare them.

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My Esteemed Sewing Assistant likes to inspect all new things.

Masonic compact: Order of the Eastern Star

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This is not a sewing-related post but a fashion-related one. Since last year, I’ve been checking my lipstick at work on the reflective back of my iPod touch, and decided to upgrade. I was drawn to this 1940s Elgin American compact with the Order of the Eastern star on it.

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The Order of the Eastern Star’s General Grand Chapter logo is a downward pointing pentagram. Below each symbol within the star is an emblem for the Biblical heroines Adah, Ruth, Esther, Martha and Electa, with each one representing one of the five principles of the order, which are Fidelity, Constancy, Loyalty, Faith and Love.

According to the Masonic dictionary, Dr. Robert Morris, the poet laureate of Freemasonry founded the Order of the Eastern Star in 1850. Morris a well known and respected Masonic author who traveled far and wide felt that it was a shame that all the good in Masonry was confined to men alone. He knew that the ancient landmarks of the order did not permit women from joining the fraternity and thus harbored his ideas for many years without action. It was in 1850, while confined to his home following an accident that Morris wrote the initiatory Degrees of the order. He first initiated his wife and daughters and expanded to some neighbor ladies. The signs and modes of recognition given to them, he freely communicated to Masons so that they would be able to recognize the newly initiated women.

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The Illinois Watch Case Company was a major manufacturer in the city of Elgin Illinois. In the 1940s, when the watch case business started to run into hard times, the Illinois Watch Case Company branched out into manufacturing cigarette cases and Lady’s Compacts, using the “Elgin American” brand name.

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There’s a faint powder residue in the compact which I cleaned off. The mirror is still clear after all these years. And yes, I wear glasses.