Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I Came, I Saw, I Treadled

Or … What Would I Do Without Donna?

The new belt for the treadle came yesterday. Yesterday! I ordered it from California on what? Friday? Anyway … it came. DS#1 and I installed it. That was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be. I'll take a photo later, but it's a red leather belt to match my Red Eye treadle. How cool is that?

So, I was all set to SEW! Well, without a needle at first to try things out. I sat down and it felt like I was on the stairstepper. OMG! Both sons were trying it out with me and we all actually got good treadle rhythms going but the needlebar was only moving about a millimeter. At best. Ack!

DonnaH to the rescue. Again. You see, I really don't have any experience with anything other than my current Designer 1, a 1990's Sears Kenmore, and the machine my mom had (still has) while I was growing up, another Viking. I just don't know much about oiling old machines. Especially 93-year old machines. DonnaH advised oil, and plenty of it.

Donna was right. Turns out I was much too stingy with the introductory cocktails. She was quite thirsty after all those years in a drought (the machine, not Donna!). More oil, gentle urging to spin and work in the new oil, and soon she was zipping along as good as 93 years ago. Truly amazing. Thanks Donna!

So, I'm thinking, "*Now* I can sew, right?" Wrong. … uh, the flat part of the needle must not face backwards like I'm used to. Back downstairs to the computer to check the online manual. Flat side faces right.

Back upstairs and FINALLY, I sewed with my new baby! Woo hoo.

Ok, it's not much, but my 5th try is a fairly straight line with uniform stitches. I adjusted tension and stitch length — without help this time thankyouverymuch! LOL!

Here are the results:

1 - My first attempt and all I could do was 1 stitch forward, 2 backward, etc.
2 - Getting better but tension is still off and those stitches are huge. Still a backward burp in the middle.
3, 4 - Smoother, especially after I got going. Stitch length still too long.
5. Near perfection. Got to work on how to actually start without going backward.

The reverse.

1 - Not enough to tell anything yet.
2 - The thread was tangled in the take-up and I didn't notice until it broke. Oops.
3,4 - Better
5 - Very nice!

I wonder how old this bobbin thread is? There's really no telling. But until my new bobbins and winder tire arrive, I'm stuck with whatever was left on it since I can't wind any more bobbins yet.


  1. ROFL...
    So, you're finally treadling! 'Bout time. The way you start is to have your feet ready to move and take that handwheel in your right hand (it's closer) and give that handwheel a good spin towards you and then get your feet to moving.
    That's how you keep from going backwards when you start out.

    It takes practice. And lots of it. Kinda like the oil.

    Thanks for letting me help you! It's been fun.

    I can see it now...a treadle project contest for PR. :)

    PS. I think I'm going to get a sidewinder since I have at least four different bobbins types for all my machines. But I'm holding out for a purple one.

  2. I am going to have to try out my old machine - still didn't find the time to do it. Isn't it great how these old machines were built to last?

  3. "Back in the day" when I was in high school and hippie-ism, I had a treadle. A treadle and a kerosene lamp to be exact. Since I was not going to use any electricity--no siree--not me. That lasted for about a week. Kerosene light sucks to sew by--even when you are 17. But the treadle was cool to sew on and kind of relaxing --the rhythm of the pedal. I wish I hadn't got rid of it now...sniff.
    Lucky you though--such a SCORE. And now you can sew even when the power goes out! Just get a GOOD battery operated light--no kerosene!

  4. It's amazing that machine works after 93 years. Wow.

  5. Congratulations! I can't wait to see the first treadle sewn garment. This has me motivated to get my great grandmother's machine going.

  6. What a fun thing to experience! I wish I could give it a try. The treadle machines have always intriqued me.

  7. That's awesome Debbie. You know, I've NEVER used my treadle machine! What's wrong with me? A lot, I'm guessing! LOL! You're making me want to fix her up and start stitchin'.

  8. Wow! I could never be able to sew and treadle at the same time. I believe it was Mr. Edison (actually Mrs. Edison who gave him the idea, I'd bet) who first put an electric motor on a sewing machine. That's the story they tell at Edison's Winter Home in Fort Myers anyway. I am so impressed.

  9. Congratulations on your find! I learned to sew on a treadle when I was six years old. I have great memories, and now have my mom's treadle that I learned on. They are workhorses, and I made quite a few quilts and garments with a treadle. Even adapted a zig-zag sewing machine to fit on a treadle base when we were without electricity. . .it worked!

  10. You inspire me to get my beautiful treadle Singer into working condition. I bought it 3 years ago at an estate sale and it looks almost perfect except for a missing belt. Where did you find the belt?

  11. I can't tell you how this makes me smile! I have a 1910 New Home that I picked up a few years ago. Not nearly as pretty - tho now I wonder if I just wasn't aggressive enough with the soap...I may wash her up again...but It is so neat to get them working. Mine takes the hard to find "bullet" bobbins. I'd love to find an old singer like this, My grandmother worked on one for years for a factory and when she died grandad just threw it out.

  12. The early Singer 66, 99 and other models actually did NOT have a reverse mechanism. I have my Grandma's 66 treadle - it's just like yours - the machine I learned to sew on. There is no reverse on the machine; instead, the sewist would start with a very short stitch length, then lengthen it, or take a few stitches, lift the presser foot, align the stitches under the needle and go over them, then onto finishing the seam. BTW, I love your blog, Debbie it's great!


Thank you for each and every comment. I appreciate them all, but I have to be honest and let you know that I'm usually bad about answering questions. I hope you understand that there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do.

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