Singer Treadle Sewing Machine
Kilbowie Factory, Clydebank, Scotland
I was fortunate to come across this Cabinet Treadle Sewing Machine in a local 2nd hand shop. It was in a bit of a state, but I thought it had potential. I paid for it and then in the time it took for me to go and get my car to load the machine in, the 2 men in the shop had broken the belt trying to fold the machine down into the cabinet!
Deep breath . . .
When I got the machine home it became quite apparent that it hadn't been used in a REALLY long time. It had probably been stored in someone's shed with a dirt floor. The wheels and treadle plate were caked in mud. That, though, was the least of the problems . . . the inner workings had pretty much seized up. And the cabinet itself had water damage to the top - probably where a pot plant had been standing.
I spent the best part of 2 days spraying the inner parts of the machine with WD40 - applying, waiting, cleaning, applying again. Eventually, all our effort was rewarded by . . . moving parts! Now this is a machine that has, for me, a special charm. But that said, she's nowhere near pristine condition. Aside from the (I'm sure) long period of being stored (or at least not used), I think this machine did her own fair share of work in her day!
The paint is dull.
The decals are faded.
The cabinet needs re-finishing.
But . . .
The belt's been repaired.
The treadle mechanism has been cleaned and adjusted.
The parts all move as they should.
After some adjusting, she sews like a dream - fabulous tension and stitches.
She has that gentle rhythm that treadles have.
Her metalwork is beautiful - the face plate has lovely scroll work.
And when she's not called into service for actual sewing, she doubles as a computer desk . . .
So while I'm busy browsing or typing I can still enjoy the gentle treadle!
The cabinet still needs to be restored, but that's a job for another day. The main thing is that the machine works wonderfully. It's a bit of a learning curve to actually sew (as opposed to just treadling!!!) - a bit like patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time - but well worth the practise.
How to Treadle
Sewing Machine History
ISMACS – International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society