Did she call me a bag lady?

For years I’ve told people not to trust the handles, joints or latches on vintage sewing machine cases.  The glue is old and brittle.  The nails and fasteners may be weak or loose.  Often the case has been compromised by moisture.  The damage to person and property can be significant.  A case and machine landing on the floor or table WILL do damage.  A case and machine landing on YOU is likely to result in an emergency room visit and possibly a plaster accessory for the next 6 to 8 weeks.

This holds true of a featherweight as well.  It’s easy to think “eh, it’s 11lbs.”  True, the machine is 11lbs – plus the weight of the accessories, the pedal and the case.  Typically, this tops 20lbs.  I’ve seen the aftermath of featherweight cases and other cases that have come apart.  It’s not pretty.  I’ve also had my own featherweight case (with machine inside) hit the ground.

I should mention too that even if the machine doesn’t hit you on the way down, the sudden release may very likely tweak your neck or back.  Yes, I speak from experience.

I mention this because back in January when I announced that I had published my first pattern, I mentioned that another one was coming.

A bag to carry a cased Featherweight in.

A couple of bags some of you might remember from my end of the year check in on a certain quilting forum.
A couple of early bags some of you might remember from my end of the year check in on a certain quilting forum.

The bag I’m showing you today came about after the reusable grocery bag that I was using to carry my featherweight broke. The straps both broke sending my beloved featherweight to the ground from hip height.

Well, actually, I think one strap broke then the other one said “I’m not doing THIS alone!!” and broke too.

I had just come up the stairs and was about 2 steps into the kitchen.  Snug in her liner, inside her case, I’m not sure she knew she fell.  I did and so did a motorcycle helmet visor in the landing behind me.  She hit so hard when the straps broke that visor jumped off the shelf (apparently from fright?) and her case dented the kitchen’s sub-floor.  She missed my feet by inches but rocked onto one of them after the initial hit.  No damage to her or the case though.

As I realized the injury I’d barely avoided, the damage that my featherweight had barely escaped and the damage my floor had not escaped, I decided to make a bag that should never be able to break like this again. What you’re seeing today is the result of that effort.


A plain canvas bag is sort of boring and not befitting such an engineering marvel, so I use an interfaced feature fabric to add pockets.  You could also embroider the panels prior to assembly, as one of my testers did.  (Hi Cari! 🙂 )

The added bonus is that the bag will protect the outside of the case from abrasion during travel and make it safer to carry a vintage case without the risk of the type of failure I mentioned above.

I’ve also found that these bags double well as shopping bags. I have 5 of them that I use for featherweights or shopping trips or sewing groups or knitting groups or… The stabilized pockets are wonderful for isolating things like beverage bottles and other items that tend to be heavy and tip over and then squash your produce or your lunch in a large bag. In the one I’m using for a purse right now, my iPad fits one large pocket, my wallet in a small side pocket and my phone and keys are in other side pockets.  One of the shorter pockets has a zipper to keep my personal items from being yard saled if I bend down. 😉


In the 18 page and 27 photograph laden pattern, there are instructions for 2 sizes of bag that will accommodate all sizes of the Singer featherweight cases – including the white/green and tan cases. Information on which bag to choose is provided in the pattern.

This weekend, I released it after several months of writing and testing.   You can find it here: http://www.craftsy.com/user/1633592/pattern-store

An embroidered bag – in progress

As with the previous pattern, the proceeds from this pattern will support the upkeep of ArchaicArcane.com and the time and gear needed for making videos that I make and publish on YouTube.

As of this moment, the pdf version of the pattern is available here. (Craftsy again)

If you want a paper copy of it – it’s a little more involved.  You can send me an email by clicking here and I can send you a paypal invoice for the pattern plus actual shipping from Canada.   That will come directly from my studio to you. I’ll need to know the email address you want to use (if you already use Paypal, it will be that one.  If you don’t, I believe Paypal lets you pay an invoice without creating an account. )  Otherwise, I can provide a mailing address where a cheque (that’s “check” for you Americans! 🙂 ) can be sent.


Huge thanks go out to my testers:  Kathrin R., Christy T., Cari P., and Jo H.  Your input was invaluable!  I could not do this without you ladies!

Today’s post title:  at our local quilting group, one of the gals mentioned that she liked the bags I was carrying around (one of these bags and a bag I’d made to hold my knitting project) and another gal piped up and said “Oh! Tammi’s our Bag Lady!”  😉


6 thoughts on “Did she call me a bag lady?”

  1. What a great bag! Would non-featherweights fit in it? I have a 99-13 and am getting a 128 on Monday, the 128 has a bentwood case but I definitely wouldn’t want to rely on the old case and it’s handles and end up getting breaking a vintage machine/my floors/myself. lol. I love your blog, by the way!

    1. I was looking at a 99 in the red and seagrass case yesterday thinking that it might fit. I was chatting with a friend and we got side tracked and I forgot to measure it. As for the bentwoods, it seems the bag would be a little narrow width-wise. The depth would be good – so you could do one of 2 things, both would need a little modification – so your choice:

      1. Modify the featherweight bag pattern – I could possibly sneak down to the studio and measure up the differences on Monday.

      2. I have a pattern for a bag for the full sized bentwood cases in testing right now. The pattern’s basically the same – with the addition of an inside pocket – but sized for the big cases. This one could be shrunken down.

      It would be largely a matter of changing the width dimension of either pattern. Either way: floors, machine and self would be much safer! 😉 I actually carry many modern machines in the full sized bag so I don’t have to worry about them attacking me or the floors too.

  2. Tammi, my thanks, a little heat and a soft tap and everything just fell apart 😉 I’ll have a look for some of the bobbins for the 127, I would love to get her working. The 401 does work, now that I’m not afraid of damaging something because of the presser foot. The tension is okay going forward but in reverse just way off which seems odd. I’ll find a new spring and see what happens then. I think I’ve found a White treadle machine in Victoria, going to see today but I have to stop, not enough room for all these machines. The 201 in a treadle cabinet is nearly silent and runs beautifully no matter how hard I make her work. Thanks again, funny how just a little encouragement, and advice, makes it so much easier.


    1. Oh! That’s good to hear! Well, not the falling apart part but the fact that you got it back together and working properly. 🙂
      The tension off in reverse could be feed related. Something else to look at. If you can’t find a dealer to order you the bobbins and spring, let me know. I can order them from SMS for you the next time I put an order in.

      Good luck with the White. It always starts like this. Just a couple.. I’m out of room, no wait, I can fit one over there if I just rearrange this and this…. Use your PHD – Pile it Higher and Deeper

  3. i really enjoyed your blogs although i’ve stuck to the sewing machine inspired so far. well, mostly. so sorry for your loss – Shadow – they are our children in many ways and irreplaceable. i would have been a crazy cat lady except for Tara and Daisy, both gone now and never gone. approaching retirement i thought i’d like to sew again, mostly alterations and free form bags and so i needed a sewing machine. after only a few false starts i have been bewitched by vintage machines. a 127 that has no bobbins so i can’t use her, a 201 unplugged and in a treadle, a 99 in a bentwood case i haven’t even tried out, two 301’s (owlb Vivian is my favourite!) and just recently a 401. she has been neglected, the throat plate is frozen, the bobbin case is damaged, or the spring maybe? and the presser foot tension doesn’t adjust. it is the presser foot tension that causes me the most grief since so far i haven’t found anything on them? even a couple of pictures of what they should look like would help, mine is bearing down about as hard as is possible i think and nothing i’ve done will loosen it. that is, the little knob on top turns but nothing underneath that is affected. wondered if you might have come across anything like that? my baby sister (the engineer) says my left brain (analytical?) has deserted me for lack of use or appreciation but i am persistent so far anything that came apart i have been able to reassemble. quixotically, i was thrilled when i realized you are in Canada, the web may have no boundaries but point of view and experience sure do. thanks for everything and i will continue to follow your blog. if i can remember how to access my fb page i’ll peek at yours!

    1. Ahhh,… sorry for the late response. Time just seems to get away from me lately.

      Truthfully, most of my interest lies in the sewing machine related side of things too but I find that my current interests ebb and flow. I just go with it, since it’s good for my creativity to not force it. 🙂 I will probably be a crazy cat lady for life. It does run in my family, so I come by it naturally. All of our furbabies are always in our hearts. I think that makes their relatively short stays a little more bearable.

      Reproduction bobbins for your 127 are available and sometimes vintage ones can be found at antique malls and thrift shops – look in any boxes of attachments you can find.

      A 99 is a really nice machine – though I do find them loud compared to my other preferred machines – especially a 201!

      There’s a good chance the bobbin case tension spring is damaged. It’s common – especially if thick thread has been used in the bobbin case, or someone’s been rough with it. Go through my bobbin tension posts and see. Especially the servicing the twins one. That spring is also still available as a repro part. (Yes, I’ve ordered more than one, which is how I know. ;))

      I really think chances are that your presser foot pressure problem is probably dried gummed up oil. Your best friends will be Tri-Flow and probably heat. This is a link to the parts chart – it will show you the parts you’re dealing with. http://parts.singerco.com/CPpartCharts/4_4999/401A1.pdf Page 3, middle of the page.

Pssst! I'd love to hear what you think about this!