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Sep 1, 2010

Peter Speaks! The Singer 66 Treadle VIDEO!



Guys, my Singer treadle is up and working and it's lovely.  I found a leather treadle belt at a sewing machine supply place near me and I was able to fit it on the machine without too many problems.  Definitely not something you want to have to do by yourself unless you have four arms, but not too difficult.

You would not believe the amount of fuzzy gunk I've removed from this machine.  The more I treadled, the more old stuff she spat out -- including a piece of an old needle!

Doesn't this look straight out of King Tut's bellybutton?



But now that she's cleaned and oiled, she's making lovely stitches:



I've made a little movie -- very little -- but it will give you an idea of what it's like to sew with this machine.  I am actually already sewing more smoothly than what you'll see in the video; it's just a question of getting the rhythm of it -- kind of like a hula hoop but with less hip action.

It's indeed very meditative to sew with a treadle, as some have mentioned.  You know the feeling you get after you've been at the beach and played in the surf, when hours later you still feel your body bobbing upon the waves?  Well it's the same with the treadle.  After only a few minutes of treadling, I can still feel my feet pumping half an hour later.  Weird but not unpleasant.

So here it is.  Enjoy it!


Hey, I'm a newbie...

So, what do you think -- have I convinced you yet?  When are YOU going to get a treadle?

Cheers!

57 comments:

  1. I'm not normally a jealous person, but I'm absolutely green here! It's a nice sounding machine too. Congratulations!

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  2. Hi Peter,
    Your treadle is gorgeous! I used a toothbrush, Green Clean (household cleaner) and water to clean the shiny engraved faceplate and back cover on my Pearl (Singer 15-91). One of the many things about treadles is how pretty they are. Oh, if you are interested in treadle gadgets, google search "treadle belt pliers". Have fun...treadling really is a blast!

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  3. I am jealous too, more because I have had a treadle for over a month and have not gotten it up and running yet. How the heck do you get everything done so fast? Are there little elves that live with you besides the two dogs? Or are those two little dogs like the mice in Cinderella and they become working footmen with the swish of a magic wand that help you get everything done? Congrats on the new machine...I am off to go figure my treadle out.

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  4. Love the video!

    Once you get that treadle rhythm (which you're definitely getting), it gets better faster. For me, it's not using both feet equally at the same time, but more like a bike-riding motion - sorta - with my left foot more to the top left corner of the pedal and my right more toward the bottom right corner and the pressure I use concentrated first on upper left then lower right. I'm no treadle expert. This is just what works for me and I probably haven't even explained it very well. Of course, your treadle mileage may vary. ;-)

    Being the same high school graduating class as you, it seems the age thing is working on my memory. After re-reading my blog entry on when I brought mine home, I see that I paid $60, not $50. Plus gas and time to pick it up. My notes and pics start here: http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com/2009/06/new-to-me.html and if you go forward a 4-5 entries from there, you'll see the before/after cleaning pics.

    So, you'll be sewing Michael's suit on it, right?

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  5. You hadn't said ANYTHING about the delightful clicky noise it makes! I looooooove that sound. Might be a tiny bit obsessed now

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  6. Congratulations on your treadle! I have a 66 treadle with the lotus decals, and I love how it sews! Enjoy your new machine.

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  7. When I was a little girl, we lived out in the woods with no electricity - my dad was a bit of a loner (think, um, unabomber, without the bombing tendencies).

    My dad stayed at home with me and my mom worked (hello super-enlightened 70's) and he had lots of hobbies, including racing sled dogs - ALL of the sled dog guys swore by treadle machines for making the harnesses (lots of thick webbing, fake fur, layers) I remember him treadle-ing away - he must have gotten some deal on red fake fur because the harnesses were all different colors, but always red fur. Or maybe he was working on a collection??

    Anyway! Have fun! You're set for making dogsled harnesses if you need to!!

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  8. Ooo, jealousy is exciting!

    Thanks for all the tips, links, et al., guys.

    If only chihuahuas could pull a dogsled...

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  9. OK, I must get a treadle! I may have to move my son out of the house to make room but I have to have one!

    Debbie is onto something with the one foot in front of the other. I remember Grandma doing the same thing...oh so many years ago! And it seems to me that she was able to make it go backwards and forwards again (back stitching at the end of a seam) with the rhythm of the treadle.

    I'm off to Craig's List!!

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  10. There's nothing like giving new life to an old meme!

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  11. I'm so glad you ended up buying that machine... they are so pretty... and eco-friendly!
    I recently eyed one off in a charity shop when visiting my parents, but the fact that I would have had to lug it onto a plane to get it home stopped me from buying it.
    I have to agree with Lee - I'm in love with the click clack your machine makes. Feel free to make many more videos featuring this machine! :0)

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  12. Can you backstitch by turning the hand-wheel backwards? Oooh it looks like fun. I want!

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  13. Congratulations on your new toy! I love the decals and the patina of the cabinet. No treadles in the future for me, but you may convince me to open Granny's old Singer portable and get it refurbished.

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  14. Yes, yes, you can backstitch, though it takes some practice.

    You can also start with a very fine stitch that won't pull out and then increase the stitch length the rest of the way. I rarely backstitch these days anyway, if truth be told.

    Nancy, go for it!

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  15. That was fun! Thanks for the video. Such a beautiful and practical heirloom.

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  16. I have one, she is a beautiful White model in a Mission style oak cabinet, she does run, but I have never done any sewing on her. I found her at a garage sale for $50 about 9 years ago. After watching your video, I now have the urge to sew on her, damn you Peter. Another obsession.....

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  17. Peter, I am so jealous of you (in a good way). Enjoy it!

    Mom's Singer 201 and Featherweight are back home just sitting around. I may bring the Featherweight back with me when I go to visit. Hmmm ... need to find space ... where will I put it?

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  18. Hmm. Can I just come downtown and use yours?

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  19. I love how you love that machine. You ARE going to get good at this! I'm a little envious!

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  20. I should throw a treadle party. Seriously.

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  21. If I had known there was a way to sew and slim my cankles the same time, I would have gotten one of these long ago! I loved it when you went "Whee!" in the video -- looks like fun.

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  22. I would imagine that sewing with a treadle is qite a bit like throwing with a kickwheel--a bit on the tricky side, but once you get the hang of it.... (I was a ceramics major in college. I couldn't throw worth a damn on the kickwheel, but it was better for trimming the feet onto the pots!)

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  23. Laura, that's exactly what it's like.

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  24. In terms of securing a stitch: I've never messed with back-stitching on my treadle (or older machine w/o reverse), nor starting with a smaller stitch. I usually just hold the fabric and stitch in one place for a couple stitches (something I believe in read in Bishop Method of Clothing Construction). It has yet to fail me.

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  25. Peter, just curious, how do you like your new treadle machine? ;)

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  26. I recently bought a similar red-eye with a strange friction motor, but I really want to convert it into a treadle. I just need a nice table.
    When I was in high school my family would vacation at our unelectric cabin, and I would sew school clothes using an old treadle (ironing with sad irons!) I hated those irons but adored the treadle machine.
    To keep it real are you going to eshew electric irons when using the treadle?

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  27. You may get a bit more control by staggering your feet on the treadle or even using one foot.

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  28. I loved the video! It brought back so many memories! My mother had two of those treadle machines. One of them, the oldest, looked just like yours. She inherited from my grandma, but made the horrid mistake of leaving it at my grandma's home while she found a way to transport it from the town to the city, and since she wasn't fast enough one of my uncles sold it before she could come back for it. The other treadle was, I think, a more recent model. It was also mounted on a table just like yours, but my mom had a motor adapted to it, so she wouldn't have to use her feet to treadle. Still, my sister and me loved to pump with our feet while using it... I don't know, just because.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  29. I was just watched the video and was about to say what Nikole said. If you put one foot on the lower right corner of the treadle and your other foot on the upper left corner, using them alternatingly, you get much better control. It's much easier to both start and stop that way.

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  30. Looks like fun, but I think I'd find it really difficult. "Whoops" would probably be the mildest thing I would say out of frustration. :)

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  31. OK, a treadle is definitely going on my wish list! My mother has one, but it was never used for sewing in our house and doesn't have a belt. We used to play with it all the time. (Hmm, maybe I will have a look at hers...) Actually sewing with it looks like so much more fun than some pedal-y fidgeting. :)

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  32. Ooh, I love the sound it makes!

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  33. What a fantastic sewing machine - it reminds me of the one that my mother had, handed down from my grandmother. She used to make really cute clothes on it - when I was a small girl she made me a salmon pink pants suit - no really it was cute!!! How I loved that old sewing machine.

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  34. Love the video and the sound of the treadle . . . it's very soothing -- like the sound of a distant train on the tracks.

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  35. Fun. My great grandfather was a tailor and I he had what my grandmother said was the first portable Singer sewing machine. It had a wooden case. I assume that my mother, who had no interest in sewing, sold it at a garage sale. I do wish it was still in the family.

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  36. I'm jealous! Really jealous! The first machine stitches I ever did were on my grandmother's Singer treadle. The machine looked a few years further on than yours but the cabinet and wheel etcetera were similar. I loved that machine! She taught me to pedal using one foot only, she used to alternate feet. It was handed down to my mother who got rid of it when I moved out of home. Seems to be a recurring theme...

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  37. I've never thought about sewing with one of these before. I have actually owned one for many years and I sold it without ever sewing on it and used the proceeds to buy the drum kit that sometimes appears in photos taken in my sewing room. The sound yours makes is really lovely and I can imagine that it would be comforting sewing when you are alone at night. Like the others, I'm a little jealous and sorry that I sold the one I had!

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  38. ooooh, thanks for showing how it works!
    For now, I've stuck my fingers in my ears and I am saying LA LA LA LA LA LA.
    ................................
    Sooner or later, of course I will have a treadle. Isn't the the whole point of life; to have as much fun as possible?

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  39. Love your new treadle machine Peter! I have been wanting to get one for a really long time. I am so jealous... and it even makes a wonderful noise.. too. Off to go look on Craigslist to see if I can find one too...

    k

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  40. I'm just in awe of the fact that you managed to buy the belt for $5 within a day for it. I have no idea where I would get a treadle belt in Los Angeles.
    I learned to sew on my grandparents treadle machine. Tim Hunkin has a Youtube video on how sewing machines work, and he mentions in passing that treadles were considered more masculine machines. Interestingly enough, it was always my grandfather who operated the treadle - mostly for home dec items, but he made me some outfits too, when I was a child.

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  41. So jealous! I've always wanted a treadle machine. I have a few old hand ones but no treadle ones. It's beautiful! I'm looking forward to hearing about what you sew with it.

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  42. I have my great-grandmother's treadle machine in my basement. It's in very good condition but I've never used it because it was a bit intimidating. Your video has inspired me to try it out! We should start Team Treadle or something. :)

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  43. Hey Peter, Great looking video! I had forgotten about the clicking sound! I learned to sew on my mum's Singer treadle and Debbie Cook is absolutely correct with the feet positioning. Left foot on the top left side and the right foot on the bottom right side and it's push left foot, push right foot... it's easier to get the rhythm. Oh just don't get your foot caught under on the rhs!! It hurts!!! Lots!!! My Mum's machine had three drawers each side and once when I was very little I cut up a 10 pound note with scissors and hid it in the machine. Guess I was destined to be a sewer! To give you an idea - my parents paid 10 pounds a week rent! I got into big trouble and I wish I had that machine now!

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  44. Lovely machine, Peter. I'm so glad you got it.

    I treadle the same way as Debbie. One foot goes on the upper half of the treadle, the other on the bottom half. It's like running, especially when you go fast. I found it kinder on the ankles than swivelling both feet together for every stroke. But that's just me; every treadler develops his/her own style.

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  45. What a helpful and timely video! I've just been doing research on old Singer machines, and thinking how much I'd like a treadle - since I'm in the market for a new machine and have realized that all I ever really use is a straight stitch anyway! Most of my work is historical reproductions, so I'm in the habit of doing all my finish work by hand. Therefore, why bother with all the gadgets and gizmos? Got any shopping tips? I'm planning on haunting the thrift stores and flea markets for a likely find, but I'm not an expert by any means. I've been trying to do research online but helpful information seems a little sparse.

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  46. Great movie - its fun to see how the treadle works. What a gorgeous machine it is.

    PS. It seems your continuity editor missed the clock in the background. Mind you, if I had a beautiful machine like that, I could see how a couple of minutes becomes a couple of hours! :)

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  47. Liesl, I have to check that out. That editor of mine will have some explaining to do!

    Ava, as far as vintage straight stitchers go, I recommend any of the following: Singer 201 (purported to be the best machine Singer ever made), a 15-91 (I have one and I sew everything on it; like the 201 it is gear driven, which means no rubber belt to deal with. It also takes the class 15 bobbin, which hold more thread than the class 66, and loads vertically as opposed to drop-in); or the 66 (like my treadle).

    Many people love featherweights but they're costly. Another excellent machine and just 3/4 size is a Singer 99 or a Singer Spartan (the Spartan is identical to the 99 mechanically but lacks a light).

    I think you'd enjoy any of these and they'll pretty much sew through anything you can fit under the presser foot.

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  48. Do you have to treadle to wind the bobbin?

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    1. Yes. You just gotta set the levers correctly.

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  49. That is a lovely machine. You might find it better to have your feet at 2 and 8 (on the clock) or at 10 and 4. Don't you love the way you can exercise and sew simultaneously? Did you get lots of attachments? Rufflers, hemmers, binders?

    I love my New Home machine. I've done one dress and an quilting a quilt right now on mine.

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  50. Thanks for the tips!

    I only have the straight stitch foot (it attaches to the back, not the side) but I'm sure I'll find more feet eventually -- everything turns up at the flea market.

    I can use my 15-91 for everything else (which is rare anyway; I mainly just use the straight stitch foot for everything).

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  51. Congratulations on your treadle. I bought one like yours yesterday and cleaned it up today. I notice that it makes a clacking noise in the area of the bobbin. I am assuming that is normal since I hear it in the video you made as well. The noise in mine seems a little louder. Should I be concerned is my question.

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  52. Hey Peter...you made me laugh when you wrote 'doesn't this look straight out of King Tut's belly button!'...you are hilarious! Love your vid. Can you make more?

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  53. love thee sewing machine!!!! and you're awesome!

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  54. Dear Peter.

    I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now. All very interesting.

    My grandmother was a professional dressmaker for 30-40 years (from the early 1950s/late 1940s to the 1980s). I have her 1950 99k Singer knee-lever electric machine in our house, which I have restored and use every now and then to make stuff.

    It has been brought to my notice that in the family, we MAY have one of my grandmother's OTHER machines, which is a treadle machine.

    If I manage to get my hands on it...

    1. Are they easy to clean? I can't imagine they're too hard.

    2. I assume the only perishable thing is the drive-belt. That should be fairly easily replaced.

    3. How HEAVY are these machines? How difficult are they to transport?

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  55. I just acquired my beautiful lady 66k this weekend and found your video, I smile each time :)

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