Tuesday, January 7, 2014

I finally got my dream sewing machine!

Here it is, my "new" Singer!

Ain't she a beauty?
A few years ago I got it into my head that I wanted a sewing machine that was a treadle machine.  These are the very old machines, pre-electricity, that were run with a cast iron foot peddle.  I love the look and reputation of the Singer brand machines, so this is what I looked for online.
I answered an ad for a Singer in a treadle base, but by the time I could get to the ladies' house, she'd sold the one in the ad.  However, she had a Singer treadle base with a Necchi machine from the 50's that could be worked over to fit in it.  The belt to the motor could be removed and the belt to the treadle could run the Necchi.
I bought it.  It wasn't my dream, but it was a start, and I have no patience.  Just ask my husband.

This machine has a motor, but it may have been added later.
I sewed a lot of projects on this older Necchi, and it is a fine machine.  It even has zigzag capabilities, which the old machines don't have.  Buttonholes need to be worked by hand, and forget sewing modern stretch materials on the older machines.  But that is what my upstairs, electric, gear-driven Singer is for.  A machine that can, as I was told by a friend who used to work and teach for Singer and is now in her 80's, sew through plywood.  I'll remember that when we build our new buck house next summer.

It is the serial number that helps one determine the age of the machines.  Mine is from 1918.

Was Singer putting motors on machines in 1918?  Gotta do more research.

See the belt?  I'll take that off and put the long, leather treadle belt on instead.

Isn't this lovely?   I need to find out how to clean this.  A modern machine would have a plain metal plate here.  This one is gorgeous.
Now I have to open up this machine and clean it well, oil it, dig out the grease and re-pack it, then put it in the treadle base and start working on getting the tension adjusted.  Then I'll sew a few cloth napkins from old flannel sheets for our everyday use, and a few dairy rags for next season's milking chores.  This will give the machine time to release any oil or grease that I was too sloppy to notice and wipe up, before I start a more important project.  I have window treatments planned, can't wait!
This is how our great-great-great-grandmothers occupied themselves during the long, snowy winters and rested up for the frenzy of spring on the farm.  It is truly a satisfying and comforting hobby now, and makes me actually look forward to getting snowed in.  Bring on the snow!
Do you have a creative outlet?  Or a craft you'd like to learn?


  1. i had just found the same machine in an attic. this machine did have the motor and foot pedal added. it can be converted back to original if you can find the period correct table. they converted them to be more mobil. also with the metal cleaning im going to try some barraso. be carful using harsh chemicals on the ornate paint im going to use a moist rag and or a magic eraser

  2. That's awesome! I currently have a Necchi with a motor in my treadle base, and that will be switched out with this lovely Singer. It is the third old machine I've cleaned and it is the oldest by several decades. I can't wait to sew with it.

  3. Very nice, I hope you got her stitching! I'm a winter sewer too and back to blog reading now that I have more time indoors. We have a treadle we're working on & hoping to get going to participate in a block of the month on a treadle fb group.

  4. I've made many things on this machine so far, Michelle, including dresses, bags, aprons, and more. I love it! I'd love to find that fb group, too....And do check in again if you get that old gal up and running. I'm sure you'll love it as much as I do!

  5. Glad that you found the group. We did get the treadle stitching, I've yet to make anything on it, but hoping to get the hang of it this winter. The forward and backward are giving me a bit of trouble, did it take you long to get good enough to make those projects? You've sure stitched a lot!

  6. Nope, not long at all! I had to learn to start the machine by turning the hand wheel and then sort of "catch up" with the foot pedal or I'd make it go backwards too often. Mine only stitches forward so I have to turn the piece around to backstitch, which I've come to accept good naturedly. I also will often work the pedal with both feet, which I find a bit easier on some days for some reason. I suspect that one of my feet pushes on the front of the pedal while the other pushes on the back, but it is too hard to pay attention to my feet and my hands and the needle all at the same time! So that is just a guess. I love it. And the facebook group is a great resource, too. I plan on joining the 2015 block of the month and learn to quilt on it.