Sunday, December 7, 2008

Meet Addy, My Singer Treadle Sewing Machine

In the summer I mentioned that I purchased a treadle sewing machine and cabinet. I really liked the cabinet, but didn't like the machine so much. It is what is known as a Singer W9.

W9's were originally made by Wheeler and Wilson, but Singer bought them out sometime around the early 1920's. Some W9's say Wheeler and Wilson, and some say Singer, as mine does. I was going to clean the machine up and try using it once I got a new belt for it, but then I discovered that the needles are not standard, and cost around $5 a piece and bobbins go for even more! That might be ok for a display piece machine, but I wanted to use mine. I really like the idea of things that work without electricity, and I enjoy making my own clothes and quilting.

The first Singer I purchased was discovered at a garage sale. It is an electric 15-90 machine that runs great and cost $35. It was made in 1951 which is also the cenntenial year for Singer, so it has a special oval commemorative oval on the right hand side of the machine. It has only a plain green carrying case, but I like the machine very much.

Last spring I had found another electric Singer sewing machine from 1951 at a different garage sale, but this one is a class 66. They only wanted $5 for it, but it was missing a few parts, and I wasn't even sure it worked, but my son was sure we should get it, and since it wasn't a large risk, I did. Once at home I was able to use the power cord from my first electric machine to see that it did seem to work just fine.

I had started a quilt on the first electric Singer I had purchased and was really enjoying using it, but I really wanted a treadle. I had read online about people converting treadle machines to electric machines years ago, so could it be possible to convert one back to treadle. Another web search told me that it was possible, but I needed to find a machine that had the same kind of hinges as my treadle cabinet. Once again it was my son who helped me figure out that the $5 Singer would fit! My husband got involved helping me with some of the mechanics of the transfer. I got a few needed parts on the web, and from our local sewing machine shop. My husband helped me get the belt to fit, and then wonder of wonders, I had a working treadle machine!

My son was absolutely fascinated with the whole process, and couldn't keep his hands and feet off the machine once we had it going. He started sewing lines on scraps as fast as I would allow him. I hadn't planned on teaching him to use a sewing machine yet, but he was clearly ready. I asked him if he would like to learn how to treadle for his birthday, if that would be a good birthday present, and he exploded in exuberant yeses!
I got out some 4 inch squares I had sorted out for a quilt someday. Each square was different. I sat my son down at the machine and gave him a few instructions and he was ready to go. He stitched and I trimmed and pressed. There was no stopping him, except when I unsewed crooked stitching and had him try again. He really was able to keep seams pretty straight and close to 1/4 inch most of the time. He chose some bright blue fabric for the sashing, and then sewed his 4 patch blocks into rows. We tried to have him sew the long rows together with sashing, but it was a bit too hard for him to keep even seams on the long stretch. So I stitched those for him, and will soon add some bigger borders for him so he can use his first quilt on his own bed.

I've been trying to give my treadle a name. I thought her name was Mildred, after my great grandma who owned the first treadle I ever laid my eyes on. But the name just didn't seem to fit, so I tried Adwila, her middle name, which I seemed to fit a little less then perfect. Then my daughter shortened it for me, and it fits. My treadle's full name is the beautifully old fashioned name, Mildred Adwila, but we are going to call her Addy for short.

I haven't been able to do much of my own sewing yet on Addy, but I'm making plans and expect to make something wonderfully fun and old fashioned real soon.

6 bouquets of wildflowers (Comment here):

Ann@His Grace To Me said...

Very cool!

Make sure to type out the story of how Addy came to be and keep it with the machine, so future generations will know!

Pamela said...

so much like the one that belonged to hubbys gram (his sister sold it... she has dementia and just did it in her state of being(

La Tea Dah said...

My treadle looks just like yours and it IS named Mildred! I bought it from a friend's husband. . .who inherited it from his Aunt Mildred. Since we have an Aunt Mildred in our family as well, it just seemed to 'go' with the machine.

Love your machines!


Becky K. said...

Love the kitty in the sewing machine...

Hope you'll stop by Hospitality Lane and enter my contest/giveaway today...


Hildegard said...

I feel a sewing day coming on... :)

Donetta said...

Addy is wonderful! so are you to keep such patient love ing kindness to teach your boy the arts.