Meet the newest member of the family: my 1920 Singer 66 "red eye" treadle sewing machine!
This little beauty was being sold by a young Parsons grad named Tomoko who lives right around the corner from me in a four-story walk-up -- fortunately on one of the lower floors! She'd bought the machine at an antiques store and never used it for anything other than as a computer table (no reflection on Parsons, I'm sure...). She's about to sublet her apartment to a friend and wanted to clear some things out first -- the treadle/glorified Macbook stand included.
After scoping out the machine carefully at Tomoko's apartment and taking a few pictures, I returned home, discussed the matter with Michael, dumped it on you guys, and made my decision. Then I went back to Tomoko's -- after a quick visit to the ATM of course -- paid for it, unscrewed the machine from the table and carried it home.
In the late afternoon, Michael and I returned to pick up the table which, while not heavy without the machine in it, was a little awkward to move. Luckily we didn't have far to go: literally around the corner.
This is the machine itself without any cleaning at all. Not bad, huh?
Tomoko was originally asking $250 (on Craigslist) but was willing to go with $200. Still high, some might say. But since I don't own a car, anything more than a block or two's distance would have required a car rental -- with all the cost of time and money involved -- or arranging to have it delivered (ditto).
Did I mention that Tomoko lived around the corner? What are the odds? Around the corner.
Factoring all of this in, I decided to go with it, especially because the sewing machine itself was in good shape and had the drop-in bobbin as opposed to the older, more cumbersome shuttle. The table could use some some minor cosmetic help, but who couldn't? Mostly things like water rings. Heloise, some helpful hints, please.
I still need to buy the belt for it; I may be able to find that locally or I can order one online -- they're inexpensive. But I've oiled both the machine and the treadle and both work smoothly. So quiet!
Poking around inside I found about what you'd expect from a machine that probably hasn't been used in seventy years:
A Singer bobbin with old, discolored thread:
Lots of fuzz:
Nothing too bad, however.
Most importantly, she sews -- cotton...
There's still some fine tuning to do, but the essentials are all there.
She's much daintier than I'd imagined: about the size of a child's desk and with the lacy wrought-iron stand, not bulky at all. I just love the way she looks!
Meanwhile, a rather ugly rumor has been circulating in the sewing blogosphere, to the effect that this whole treadle drama (all 48 hours of it, hello) has been merely a ruse to put off Michael's suit project just a little bit longer:
First I said I was going to sew it before my August vacation, but suddenly I had to tackle my Burda A-line dress muslin. ThenI was going to do it first thing after vacation, but no, suddenly I had to go searching for a treadle sewing machine and now that needs to be fixed up. And then I have to sew the Burda dress in the Liberty fabric and have Cathy model it, which means the suit is not going to be ready for Michael's mother's seventieth birthday family portrait in late September. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, an imminent thirtieth high school reunion, followed by my brother's wedding in November, etc., etc.
Let me put an end to these rumors, which obviously have been started by one of my bitter rivals and I have many. Life happens, OK? You just can't choose how things are gonna play out. I said I'd make Michael the suit and I will make Michael the suit. I bought the hair canvas, didn't I? (The things I have to put up with...)
Guys, I'm starting to fade and I wasn't all that vivid to begin with.
On a serious note, a big shout out and muchos hugs to frequent commenter and all-around funny-girl/sewing genius, Debbie of Stitches and Seams, whose eldest son is shipping out today to U.S. Marine Corps boot camp -- eight months earlier than expected!
Now I don't have any children as you know, but I do have two chihuahuas, and the idea of sending either of them off to boot camp...well, just tell me where to sign.
Kidding aside, while Debbie and I have had our differences, most recently over a bottle of Hidden Valley Spicy Ranch salad dressing (on quesadillas?) I wish her all the best on what's sure to be a tough day for any mother. I have a mother myself with whom I pathologically over-identify so I can imagine the emotions. Hang in there, Debbie!
Kids, I think it's time for this little treadle-owner to close the proverbial table top and return to the sleeping chamber -- otherwise known as the chihuahua kennel. (Whoa, not a pretty sentence.)
Thank you all so much for your many wonderful comments of support yesterday. You guys crack me up -- in a good way!
So, who wants to try my treadle? Don't all shout at once!
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!