Monday, September 06, 2010

Another New Old Toy

I always wanted a treadle sewing machine, and now I've found one and it's taken up residence in my kitchen. I wanted one because it reminds me of my grandmother's treadle, which we used to keep in the dining room of our flat when I was growing up. A favorite childhood pastimes was making that treadle go, which is why my mother kept the belt off the wheel when she wasn't using it.

I also have a reoccurring fantasy of living someday in My Cabin in the Woods. A quiet retreat with a large garden where I'll live off-grid, sewing and knitting and growing things. The treadle machine is a key component to that dream.

This machine came my way in the same thrift store where I recently bought my Singer 185J. It's a Singer 15, according to the serial number, made circa 1903 in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The decals are sometimes called the Tiffany pattern.

It's in great shape, except that it was a little grimy. I've seen few treadles around here, and most have been real fixer-uppers, but this one is solid, and has all her parts, including the key to the cabinet, and all the extra attachments. I've been cleaning her up, oiling her, and getting to know how she works. There are great web resources for vintage machine fans, including an active Vintage Sewing Machines group on Ravelry, and there are helpful YouTube videos on various aspects of machine repair and operation.

Although this machine appears to have been made in the U.S., the manual that came with her is in German. They did make Singers in Germany, but perhaps a German-speaking sewer acquired a German manual for her machine. Or maybe the serial numbers are wrong, and the machine was made in Germany, and has traveled a very long way in 107 years.


The machine accessories came in these two tins, which to me, are as beautiful as the machine. One is a cigarette tin, and the other is for some kind of stomach tablets, and the labels are in German. I've got a German-speaking colleague I'm going to ask to look at these for clues to the story of the machine.

I'm getting close to an actual sewing test with the machine. I've got to adjust the belt so I can wind some bobbins and thread her up. There's nothing like the sound of a treadle sewing machine.

9 comments:

Quiltnbee said...

I've always wanted one, too. You'd think out of the 8 machines I own one of them would be a treadle. I once read a book where the woman in it sat outside in the cool shade under a tree on a summer's day and sewed on her treadle...I want to do that. Of course, it would take some effort to get it down the hill and under the tree I'm thinking of...but, oh, I think it would be worth it=-)

Rian said...

Oooolala! That looks just like my grandma's old treadle, except I don't think hers had a mailbox on top of it. That had been long lost when I came along.

I have fixed up an old featherweight and they are really easy to restore to like-new condition. They sew beautifully.

Congratulations!! What a find.

beth said...

I want an address to that wonderful thrift store!! ;) What a great find!

Kay said...

What a beauty! I actually learned to sew on a treadle...that dates me, I guess. Of course, we were a bit behind the times.

quiltmom said...

Lovely treadle machine- I have the one that belonged to my grandmother- She had bought it for her mother so I feel a strong sentimental attachment too it. I have not tried to use it but I am sure it could work if I played with it a bit.
My mom had a sewing machine in a box like the one on top of the treadle machine.
Looks like you have been having a great time in the thrift store and found some special treasures.
Have a great start to your school year.
Warmest regards,
Anna

Judy S. said...

That machine looks like the one that we have which belonged to DH's mom, only yours is in better shape! Don't you wish it could talk and tell you its story?

Debra said...

and treadling is good leg exercise too!! ha ha!

Magpie Sue said...

Wow, what a find. The exterior is beautiful. I'm sure you're going to have many pleasant hours working with this machine. (Have you named her yet?)

Plays with Needles said...

Here's to the beginning of realizing your dream. It's an absolutely beautiful machine.