Caveat Emptor or Buyer Beware! I'm sure you've heard this expression before and it is so true when you are shopping for a vintage sewing machine.
When I'm looking at listings online I've noticed that there usually isn't a very good description of the machine. Most sellers don't even know the make of the machine, let alone the model. I have noticed this especially when looking at Singer Featherweight models: a 221 described as a 222 or vice versa. While you might not think that this makes a big difference when it comes to price, I can assure you that it does. Let me explain further.
There is often some confusion about what exactly a SINGER® Featherweight is. SINGER® manufactured two models of the SINGER® Featherweight: the 221 and the 222K. Both of these machines look very similar, but there are significant differences. There is also a SINGER® 301/301A model, which some consider a “sister” to the 221 and 222K Featherweight models. It’s important to understand how these machines vary from one another, as their selling prices are vastly different.
Let’s take a look at these three models so you have a clear understanding of each of them.
The SINGER® 221 was first manufactured by SINGER® in 1933. These little guys look like a child’s toy, but they stitch like a regular sewing machine. You can find the SINGER® 221 models in various colours: white (turquoise), tan or black (shiny or very few in crinkle), with the most common models being the shiny black ones. They come in a compact case that has efficient storage for the machine, the foot pedal, the attachments and sometimes the oil can. Their appeal, besides their adorable appearance, is their portability and the great stitch quality they produce.
The SINGER® 222K model looks very similar, and is often mistaken for, the SINGER® 221 model. There are several important distinctions between the two models. The 222K had a very limited production run from 1953 until 1961. The 222K has a removable bed which turns it into a free arm sewing machine and the feed dogs can be dropped. The 222K model is also a smidge taller than the 221 model, remember those dropping feed dogs, so it doesn’t really fit in a 221 case. SINGER® 222K models were produced in black only and are highly desirable – and expensive, due to their features and limited production run.
While there were only two true models of the SINGER® Featherweight sewing machine manufactured, some people consider the SINGER® 301/301A to be bigger sisters to the 221 and 222K models. I think that’s interesting considering the difference in the sizes of the machines. They really don’t look alike, do they? It’s true that the 301 or 301A uses the same bobbin as the 221 and 222K models, but they aren’t Featherweight sewing machines. There are some other differences with the SINGER® 301/301A sewing machines. These models were the first slant needle sewing machines SINGER® manufactured and the first machines to be sold as a portable in a cabinet. Yes, they are portable, like the SINGER® Featherweights, but the 301/301A are still not Featherweights! The 301/301A models were manufactured between 1951 and 1957 in the Anderson, South Carolina, USA plant.
While these machines all have some similarities, where they really differ is in the prices that you’ll have to pay to acquire them. You need to be knowledgeable about these machines when you are looking at purchasing one of them. The SINGER® Featherweights sell for much more money than the other SINGER® models – in the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. The 301/301A models are substantially less expensive than either of the Featherweight models, with current prices being $150. In contrast, the average current price for a SINGER® 221 Featherweight is $350.00. The rarer, and even more desirable, SINGER® 222K is currently selling for between $800 and $2000. These are average prices in my area, but the relationship between the prices for the different models will be the same in your part of the world.
If you already have any of these models and got them for less than these prices, pat yourself on the back! If you are considering buying one of these machines, you’ll definitely need to carefully check the condition of the machine and what is included in it before you hand over hundreds of dollars. This isn’t a $15 purchase!
For more information watch the video below or on my YouTube channel.
You can see how the prices can differ greatly between vintage sewing machine models. You need to know what the average prices are for various machines and I've done this work for you.
I've created the Pricing Guide for Vintage Sewing Machines that will help you answer the question, “Is this a good price to pay for a vintage sewing machine?”. This PDF download is full of information to help you determine what price you should pay when you find your perfect machine(s). While I refer to SINGER® sewing machines in this FREE guide, this information is applicable to any brand of vintage sewing machine. Download the FREE Pricing Guide for Vintage Sewing Machines printable right away.
I know that you will find this guide extremely useful but you will have to do a bit of work too. Since it’s impossible for me to know which model of vintage sewing machine you are considering purchasing, you’ll have to do a bit of research into what a typical price point is in your area for that particular model. There can be a wide range of prices even for the same model. Many sellers are uninformed about the value of the machine that they are selling which allows you the opportunity to negotiate a great price if you already know what the average price point for that model is.
Download the Pricing Guide for Vintage Sewing Machines now and print it out so you’ll have it handy when you’re shopping for your first, but not necessarily your last, vintage sewing machine.
If you have a friend who would be interested in this information, please share this blog post with them by clicking on the "Share" icon below.
P.S. You can expect more FREE content to help you acquire a “new” vintage sewing machine soon.
P.P.S. If you haven't already joined my private Chatterbox Quilts Facebook group, I hope you will join us for quilting and vintage sewing machine discussions. I'd love to see you there!