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Treadle Sewing Machines:Sew Simple
Treadle Sewing Machines
Knowing how to use a treadle sewing machine is on it's way to becoming a lost art. Many people think that the treadle, or manually powered, sewing machine is a thing of the past but that is not true.
There are still many treadle machines being made. Not only that but there are many antique treadle machines still in use today! These simple sewing machines last an incredibly long time because they are built to last. There are no computer chips to fry, electric wires to cross, or intricate programs to go haywire. Best of all, they can be used when there is no electricity available, whether you are off grid or just want to save money. Do they work as well as an electric machine?
Benefits of a Treadle Sewing Machine
Most people that have used treadles think that they work even better than an electric model. The seamstress is able to have much more control over the speed of the machine and the machine stops immediately when you do. All sewing machines use the same basic stitch, A seam is created when the stitches are tight and cross at a central point. All machines use this premise. Now, you can't do fancy stitches with a treadle but the straight stitch will allow you to make about anything your heart desires and as an added benefit you will be burning calories as you go.
Treadle sewing machines are especially good for quilting projects because of the increased control and quality of the stitches. Using the foot treadles in rhythm becomes a relaxing pattern, much like when spinning. Rather than sitting hunched over the machine, and becoming tense as you sew you may find that your tension and stress fall away as you sew.
They are simple to care for and will last forever. A few drops of oil here and there, a tightened screw and your machine is ready to zip out your winter quilts, your summer dresses and the rag doll you want to make your daughter for Christmas.
How to Use a Treadle Sewing Machine
Do plan on giving yourself a few days to acclimate to your treadle machine. It works a little differently than an electric and you will need to learn to coordinate your feet and your hands. Make a few simple items with straight lines. A nine patch quilt block is a good choice for learning to sew on a treadle sewing machine.
- Sit up straight in your chair.
- Place the fabric under the needle and lower the presser foot just as in any machine.
- Turn the balance wheel toward you.
- Place the ball of your right foot on the upper right corner and the heel of your left foot on the lower left corner of the treadle. You will alternate the heel and toe of your feet to produce a pumping action. This is much easier to do than to explain. T
- here is no reverse on a treadle machine so in order to reinforce your stitches you will need to turn the fabric and sew back in the other direction.
There are several manufacturers of treadle sewing machines. If you are buying a vintage machine try to stick with Singer. The reason for this is simply that the Singer Company has the manuals available for down load at the Singer website.
Maintenance and Repair of Treadle Sewing Machines
Treadle sewing machines are simple to fix n your own. Most parts are still available. You can find many of the manuals and vintage parts on the Internet - just do a Google search.
If you are having problems with your sewing machine see if one of these things may be the problem:
- Skipped stitches- Check that your needle is in correctly.
- Snags the fabric- Change the needle.
- Jamming-Make sure the machine is threaded properly
Always use 3 in 1 oil to clean and oil your machine. Keep the needle changed with every project and use a good quality thread to keep lint from buildingup in the bobbin.
If you ever had the urge to go off grid, to live Little House on the Prairie style, or just to be able to sew when the lights go out think about getting a treadle. There is a satisfaction in being able to create an entire project on a treadle sewing machine that you won't find anywhere else.