How many of us have treadle sewing machines, and what is the story behind them?
I have the Singer I learned to sew on, which belonged to my foster grandmother, another which my Dad bought for me to get a replacement tension spring for the first one.
Recently I brought home the head of my Mum's first machine, which belonged to my great grandmother, and was portable! It was the first sewing machine in Booberowie, South Australia, and was moved from house to house by horse and cart when some one needed to do some sewing. Unfortuately, the timber parts disintegrated when it was stored under a wet bag for too long, but the stand is a table in Dad's lounge room.
I have the top of an old treadle machine - no innards. It is currently in use as a coffee table. The underpart where the machine was housed is a great place to store all the magazines that we all collect. The only drawback is that the drawer sections were not designed to carry much weight . There is no dancing on the table top at parties allowed at this house.
At some point I will get a very old treadle machine from a cousin that looks like a desk. There are no iron legs showing. It has been in the family for about 90 years. By the time I get it, I will be 90 years old .. I love these old machines, just imagine the stories they could tell.
I have only seen the desk styles in books, but they look wonderful. Hope you can hear some of the family stories to go with the machine.
Some of the stories of my Mum's machine are wonderful. Her older sister's first words when I asked about the machine was "I stitched Clara's finger when she wanted to learn how to sew!" Clara was a much younger sister who insisted on sitting on her knee to watch what was happening.
Hi, I learnt to sew on a Singer treadle machine with my mother many years ago. As migrants to Australia we had very little money and my parents had to save for a long time to buy it. I have no idea what happened to it through all the many moves we made around the country.
About 25 years ago a friend came across a rather sorry looking treadle when at a rubbish dump, threw it into the back of his trailer and gave it to me as a present.
My father, who has since passed, helped me to rejuvenate it to its former glory. It is a "New Home" brand from Orange, Mass., U.S.A. The carcase is a beautiful red wood both veneered and carved, and there is quite intricate metal leafing in several colours on the machine itself, all in good condition with beautiful patina. It is fully functional with some of the old threads and needles from the previous owner still in its drawers.
How someone could throw this beautiful piece of craftsmanship and history away is beyond me. It is now standing in my dining room and although not the original that I learnt on, it reminds me of those days when mothers passed their skills on to their daughters. Those days bring a smile to my face as I remember how thrilled I was to see pieces of fabric come to life and I could say - I made that!
Who knew then what that first treadle would lead to as my ventures into arts/crafts evolved.
So glad your friend saved that sewing machine for you. Friends of mine found two old machines in timber cases dumped on the side of a road. They will keep one, I have been offered the other, which is an offer too good to be refused.
Nice to find a fellow Sth Aussie here too.
I have a treadle sewing machine. It belonged to my paternal grandmother, but I don't think she used it very much from what I'm told. I appears to be in good condition except that the drive belt perished. I tried to replace it with some leather thong but that hasn't worked very well. I shall have to try to find someone who can restore it and show me how to use it.
It is a cabinet style singer, the machine folds down into the cabinet and sewing table folds over to make a make a top.
I also have the box of accessories, some I recognise and others I have no idea what they do. I feel a photography session coming on, to see if anyone recognises them, but first I have a sewing day planned :)
About two years ago I came across a treadle at a yard sale. It was in fair condition but needed a lot of love. My husband refinished the wood case and we had the metal professionally refurbished (powder coated). Then I took it to my sewing machine man and he got it back in working order. It's quite lovely. You can see it on my blog, as most of this happened recently. I haven't sewn with it yet. Funny thing, it is a National Sewing Machine Co. brand and when I got it I tried to do some research and had difficulty. My repairman also had difficulty and told me it was the first time he had seen that brand.
Then this summer my mom found a Singer treadle at a yard sale. I wish I knew the stories behind the both of them. I have my grandmother's Singer. It is electric and in a nice cabinet. I didn't get to be there when her home was cleaned out but I'm glad I have that machine.
The National Sewing Machine Company made machines in Belvidere, Illinois from 1886, selling them by mail order and in department stores. Introduced their first electric machine in 1917, and the company traded until 1953.
Makes me sound like the fount of all knowledge about sewing machines, but have to admit I recently bought a book 'The Encyclopedia of Early American Sewing Machines, Second Edition.' I haven't finished reading the book and I had never heard of Nationals either, I just looked it up.
Hope this information is of interest to you.
Judy, we have several treadles down at the historic house where I volunteer, they are quite beautifully decorated. When I'm there on Saturday I'll try to take a few photos and post them up. We'd love some more info about them, that book sounds great, but I need one also for other countries' machines. There is some info online, but mostly American and English machines. I learnt to sew on my paternal grandmothers' machine, don't know what happened to it when they downsized their house. In those days lots of "old" things got thrown away when the elderly moved into smaller digs.
When I was growing up, my mother had an Eldrege sewing machine which was the pre-cursor to the National Sewing Machine Company. The machine was bought shortly after World War II. During the war, consumer goods were in short supply since manufacturing was all diverted to the war effort. The machine we had was one of the first to appear after the war so I suppose my mother did not have much of a selection. Here's a link to the history: http://www.geocities.com/claw.geo/eldredge.html