Saturday, August 2, 2014

Mal’s Mini Classic~A Featherweight Reproduction

A few weeks ago, I found a REPRODUCTION of the Singer Featherweight 221 on Craigslist. I contacted the seller, and we were finally able to make the connection last Saturday for me to pick the machine up. I had HEARD of this machine, but had never seen one, or ever heard of anyone else having one. I read a few things on the internet, but there wasn’t much there either. I was thrilled to be able to get my hands on this and add it to my collection.

The machine is called a Mini Classic, and the instruction manual has Mal’s in the title. It came with a few attachments (no box for them), the instruction manual, warranty card, and advertising flyer.




The metal tag on the front says MINI Classic Sewing Machine Los Angeles, U.S.A. The manual says it was made in 1987.


This machine was made in India….well at least the body of the machine was.


Here are some differences between the ‘Mini’ and the Featherweight.  The ‘Mini’ takes a different bobbin case and bobbin. I have not checked to be absolutely positive, but without checking, I believe that the bobbin and hook assembly are the same as in my Juki TL-98E sewing machine, and if that is true (without me looking) it takes an L style bobbin. It threads on top the same as a Featherweight, but the needle goes in with flat side to the right, and threads left to right. The bobbin goes in the bobbin holder like most any home sewing machines, with the thread leading off to the right on top when you insert it.


…Unlike the Featherweight which has the classic Featherweight bobbin, the needle goes in with flat side to the left, and threads right to left.  The bobbin goes in the bobbin holder with the thread leading off to the left on top when you insert it.


This is the ‘Mini’ from the front. Notice in the following photos the differences between the two. Notice the plate on the stitch length, and the metal tags.  Also notice that the light is on the BACK on the ‘Mini’, instead of the front, unlike the Featherweight, and the light housing is plastic.



‘Mini’ motor is a motor with a foot controller plug and light all in one unit, and attaches with a bracket. The belt and motor is the size which is used on the Singer 99’s or 66’s, and many other older Singer machines.


The Featherweight’s motor is much different, has a special place which the frame accommodates, and the belt is MUCH longer. (Ask me how I know this? I ordered a new ‘V’ belt for the ‘Mini’, thinking it was the same as the FW, because I did not pay that much attention, DUH, and now I have an extra FW belt. A new one is on the way for the ‘Mini’. )



Sitting together, here are some differences.


You can see that the ‘Mini’ is just a little bit taller from the bed ‘up’. The decals are also different.



Here are the two cases. The Featherweight case is on the left, ‘Mini’ on the right. The FW is much heavier, being made from wood and covered with a special cloth. The ‘Mini’ is made from a plastic.


The handles are much different, with the FW handle being made from bakelite (I believe…I could be wrong), and the ‘Mini’ being made from plastic. Also notice the latches are very different. For size, the ‘Mini’ case is just a teeny tiny bit bigger.


Ok, so now here’s what you have all been waiting for…..the performance and workmanship on this Reproduction machine. The screws going into their tapped threads are MUCH sloppier than the precision-ness (is that a word?) of Singer. The round knob that turns on the stitch length threaded rod is very sloppy, but manageable. The clutch stop knob in the middle of the hand wheel does not turn ‘true’ and also is sloppy, but works. The bobbin winding wheel has a lot to be desired, but with the new ‘V’ belt should work just fine. The ‘Mini’ now just has a generic round belt on it, which is actually riding in the wrong place on the hand wheel, and the bobbin winding wheel is riding on the bare hand wheel where the ‘v’ belt should be, but it does turn like it is supposed to do.

As for stitches, well, despite all the sloppiness in precision, I think she sews a pretty nice stitch! Sitting on the bare table, I thought ‘Mini’ was a bit ‘loud’, but once I put a towel between her and the table, she quieted right down. Will I use her? Oh, I might play with her now and then, but most of the time, she will just be ‘sitting pretty’.


My sisterinlove gave me a book the morning we picked her and my brother up to go junking with us, not knowing we were going to pick up the reproduction machine.


I was so excited when I saw the very first picture in the book was a white Featherweight. I don’t know if I will make any projects from this book, but I will LOVE LOVE LOVE it for the pictures of vintage sewing machines in it, for this white Featherweight picture, but especially because Polly gave it to me. My ‘Mini’ now sits on my dad’s old library table in my living room so I can look at it and smile. Even though it is not the ‘real thing’, I do LOVE it!



Renea said...

Such a cute little machine. I never knew there was a Mini sewing machine.

Missy Shay said...

What a lot f good information, thank you!

Carin Pease said...

Alpa-Sew made a featherweight copy years ago too. Late '80s I think but not sure. I've read that they were cute to look at but didn't sew worth beans.


Connie Kresin Campbell said...

What a beautiful machine Michelle and a great addition to your collection!

Mel Sanofsky said...

Hey Lou. My Mini has no bobbin case. Can you confirm the bobbin case for the Mini is the Juki as you described in your blog?? Thanks

Michelle said...

Yes Mel. I just put an L bobbin in the bobbin holder and it fits perfectly.

Mel Sanofsky said...

You are a life saver!! I didn't know if I was ever going to be able to find a bobbin case for the machine. When I got the machine I tried the bobbin case from a Featherweight, but as we both now know, it don't fit!! I know I'll be able to locate a bobbin case as you described for your Juki quite easily.

Thank you again for your blog. You literally saved me many days of frustration!!

If I can ever help you with any thing to do with Featherweights, don't hesitate to e-mail me or call me. I collect, buy and sell Featherweights for a hobby. I also do restoration and repair on only Featherweights.

I presently now have 14 that I'll be showcasing at the Quilt Shows in SW Florida this season.

Thank you again for your Blog.
Cell 770-331-8100

Mel Sanofsky said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. You have, I'm sure, saved me from pulling out what little hair I have left!! I wasn't sure I would ever find a bobbin case for the Mini. Keep up the good work on your blog.

Donna Pires said...

I too purchased a mals mini sewing machine a few years ago. I failed to realize that the throat plate was missing. I have called many sewing machine parts stores local and online and still no luck. I noted that you have identified a replacement bobbin, but any ideas on the throat plate? It runs great, in great condition but I cannot use it. Very frustrating! Please, anyone--help!
Donna Pires


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