Personal Space

Story Jan Swoope | Photograph Luisa Porter

“I’ve gone a little overboard,” Dave Deacon will tell you.

His wife, Barb, will grin and roll her eyes while he’s confessing. After retiring in 2013 from a 40-year engineering career with PACCAR, Dave was prompted by his wife to learn how to work on sewing machines. An avid quilter, Barb thought it sure would be nice if she and her fellow Possum Town Quilters had a repairman handy.

Dave was soon ordering used Singer Featherweight portable machines (a favorite of quilters) off eBay to practice on at his Columbus home. The mechanical part came intuitively. What he may not have foreseen was the fascination he developed for the history of the iconic Singer Sewing Co., its roots dating back to 1851.

Not only is Dave a respected go-to source for machine repair and restoration now, he also collects vintage models. Most are displayed at his in-home shop, Featherweight Works — including a gleaming 1888 fiddle base Model 12 adorned with gold ornamentation.

Barb’s machines all hum in perfect order, to be sure, “but I didn’t know it was going to become such an obsession,” she says, smiling. “I encouraged him, but it’s backfiring — he’s going to start going to quilting shows and cut into my girl trips!”