Last week I reviewed the popular Singer 221. While the demand for 221 Featherweights is high, they are by no means rare, after all, these black beauties were in production for over 40 years! Throughout it's production lifetime, Singer manufactured over 2 million 221s. Just do a quick search on eBay or Craigslist and you'll find no shortage of them. Today I'll be discussing the Singer 222k, a far less common free-arm variant.
So how much less common are they? The answer partially depends on where you are looking to find one. Only about 100,000 of these were produced by Singer's Kilbowie plant in Scotland between 1953 and 1961. That's about 5% of the number of vanilla Featherweights ever made. Furthermore, Singer never sold the 222k in the US, instead limiting sales of this posh portable to Canada and the UK. Subsequently, the lion share of 222s available today run on 240 volts. The few 110V machines found stateside either immigrated from Canada or have come from overseas and undergone a motor conversion.
At first glance this half sized portable looks remarkably similar to it's flat-bed cousin. But on closer inspection, you'll find an oval shaped needle plate and an extra thumb screw just under the machine badge that releases the extension bed. Once unscrewed, simply slide the bed off to reveal the free-arm.
While many machines claim to have a free-arm, (I'm looking at you, Stella) I find that the microscopic size of the 222k's free-arm to be exceptionally functional. At approximately 2 inches in diameter, this free-arm is perfect for sewing pint sized items! I frequently pull out my 222k to work on clothes for my puppets!
As noted earlier, the 222k uses a different needle plate from the 221. This comes with a couple minor drawbacks. As genuine parts are no longer manufactured, spare parts can only be acquired by harvesting non-working machines. Limited availability, coupled with high demand have pushed prices for parts to astronomical levels. The different needle plate profile all but eliminates any hopes of finding a replacement should yours become damaged beyond repair.
Additionally, the 222k cannot accept certain Singer attachments such as the under braider or darning plate. These are minor quibbles, however, as the later is completely mitigated by the 222k's ability to drop its feed dogs.
This is accomplished by flipping down the darning lever located next to the stitch length control.
Like the 221, the 222k is a half sized rotary hook portable powered by an external belt driven .4 amp motor. Performance isn't compromised in the slightest. This straight stitcher comfortably stitches at over 1000 spm and is virtually silent! Perhaps the extra layer of aluminum that houses the free-arm shields the noise, but the 222k hardly makes a peep!
The underbelly is decidedly more compact than the 221 to accommodate the free-arm. All of this is accessed by removing a thumbscrew.
One thing worth mentioning about the 222k, and the 221s for that matter, is that they don't have as much piercing power as their full sized cousins. If you plan to work with many layers or thicker fabrics, you are much better off sewing on a full sized machine with a beefier motor. That being said, I regularly sew through 4 layers of fleece (and more at seams) on the 222k with no problems.
- Solid aluminum body
- Straight Stitch only
- Rotary hook
- Reverse capable
- Feed Dog drop
- 2" diameter free-arm
- Adjustable presser foot pressure
- Super lightweight at 13 lbs
- Accepts low shank feet
A personal favorite, this free-arm Featherweight strikes an excellent balance between style and function. Though I love this machine dearly, it may not be worth the price of admission. I can only recommend it if you know you will get a lot of use from the small free-arm. Otherwise, save yourself some money and get a 221 plus another full sized vintage machine of your choice and still have cash to spare!