Taking in an Antique Treadle Sewing Machine

The girls have already had a turn trying to push down the heavy iron pedal with their feet. I've promised to teach them how to sew on the machine once used by their great, great, great-grandmother Grace. The delivery of the machine to our house was one of the distracting sidelines to mourning the loss of my husband's grandfather, Papa Joe.

When my husband helped me unload the compact cabinet and machine, we were impressed with what good condition the old treadle sewing machine was still in.  Everything seems to function as it should, from hinges to presser foot to flywheel.  In the garage, we could tell that the basic mechanism was still in working order.  It makes sense that so many of these oak and iron cabinets have ended up as various furniture.  It's hard to find anything made so solidly.

A first round of gentle dusting, brushing, and soap-and-water cleaning made the machine fit to shelter inside the house.  We placed some cardboard under the feet to prevent it from damaging the floor and found a temporary spot for it.  I'd told some folks over at QuiltingBoard.com about our new arrival, and they were quick to encourage me.  They said I should try fixing it up and using it.  When I showed them a picture, they even helped me identify it as a Singer Model 66 Red Eye. 

According to information by treadle expert Dick Wightman at TreadleOn.net, it sounds like this model is pre-1920 because of the way the presser foot attaches on the back.  I think we have a variety of feet, but I'm not bold enough to experiment with them yet, nor to thread the machine and start working with it.  I popped open the bobbin plate to find a bobbin lying horizontally in place, with a bit of rust around it.  The more I read about restoration of these machines with heavy industrial cleaners and oils, I'm not sure if it will have to be completely dismantled or when I could find time to safely do that.  In the meantime, I'm anxious to thread the machine and experiment with some scrap fabric. 

Later this week:  chatting with people who learned treadle sewing decades ago...

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