Saturday, February 19, 2011


After a lot of de-griming, I got my treadle up and running.  Like I posted before, she's a 1903 Singer 15, and according to the serial number she was made in Elizabeth, New Jersey, though, mysteriously, she came with a manual written in German.  After several rounds of cleaning and oiling, I replaced the belt, and she was ready to go.

I got all my technical information, including a facsimile version of the manual in English, off the web. There are YouTube videos on changing the belt and threading the bobbin.  If not for the Internet, I don't know that I could have gotten this machine working on my own.

After some false starts, I figured out that a small post was missing from the otherwise working bobbin winder, so I turned to yet another modern adaptation: the electric bobbin winder.  These are pretty useful, I don't know why I didn't get one sooner.  It easily solved my problem, and now the treadle is fully operational.  There's something sweet about the rhythms of sewing on a 108 year old treadle machine, and the modern adaptations don't subtract from it one whit. 

I'm reminded when sewing on the treadle of how easily I've adapted to the needle down setting, the automatic thread cutter,  and other handy innovations of my modern machine.  The old Singer is more temperamental and fiddly.  I have to be very precise with my technique, which isn't the case with newer machines.  I also have to pin a lot more than I've become used to due to that funny narrow foot.  Now I'm remembering vividly what it felt like to sew on the old family Singers when I was a girl: I have to approach this machine like a wild horse: cautiously and calmly.

But when the woman- machine relationship is in sync, some lovely things can come of it.  I've been making these big 9-patch blocks from 5" squares Debra sent me.  I'll sew them together when I get enough of them--either with or without sashing--and let her quilt it for donation. 

I also wound my Kool-Aid dyed yarn into balls:

I think I'm going to make a shawl with these coordinated colors.  I'll knit the body in the variegated yarn and do a lace edging in the solid color. 

The greenish yarn has already been cast on for a 28's Big Sister 77 shawlette, available on Ravelry.  The old lime green sweater is adapting to its new life as two completely different colored shawls quite nicely.


Quiltnbee said...

Oh, I so so so want a treadle machine. Yours is BEAUTIFUL! I just picture myself sewing on one out under a tree with a nice gentle breeze rustling the branches, the birds singing. Isn't it amazing the blending of today's internet technology with sewing technology of a simpler time. Those pink and black 9 patches are sweet and the green yarn is so yummy I could eat it with a spoon =-) This was a most delicious post!

Kay said...

That is a beautiful thing. So funny to see it beside the computer.
I learned to sew on a treadle, and it's interesting to read that you find it more difficult. That may be why I didn't enjoy sewing much in those days, but I guess it was good experience.

Rian said...

The treadle is wonderful--lucky you. My gramma had one just like it in her bedroom and I learned to sew on it. I made clothes for my Ginny doll.

I would love to stick my nose in those skeins and see if they still smell like fruit.

Judy S. said...

Love the yarns and will have to check out the shawl pattern! You've inspired me to take a closer look at DH's mom's treadle machine....

Allison Ann Aller said...

I am so impressed with what you've done with that yarn!
I love my Sidewinder too..would not be without it.
Congrats on getting that lovely piece of history functioning again, too!

Debra Spincic said...

I agree with Debby! What a delicious post! those pink and black blocks are looking super! I may have to dive into my pile soon.