Friday, May 10, 2013

Antique Sewing

I can remember seeing my "Mammaw"'s treadle sewing machine in the back bedroom of her home.  As I laid in bed, giggling with my sister, the value of all the "old" things and quilts surrounding the machine wasn't appreciated.   The summers I visited her in Bedford, Indiana I always learned something about sewing as she worked on doll clothes for a bisque doll-maker.  I remember her lining one of my bathing suits as a pre-teen with an old slip she had because we discovered it was see-thru when wet!  Her patience as she allowed me to jam up her machine numerous times as I sewed on the un-airconditioned "back-porch".    Now, as an adult, I appreciate the articles of times past and  I have begun a quest for all things vintage and dealing with sewing.

Remembering that machine in her back bedroom made me want an antique treadle sewing machine.  My children have been with me on numerous antiquing and flea market trips (they appreciate the old....maybe I influenced them??) as I hoped to find the "perfect" machine.

After a day of antiquing with my daughter, the  car was packed "to the gills". Our last stop was an antique mall on  Hwy 280 in Birmingham.  I FOUND IT!!!!  A Singer Treadle Sewing Machine that looked fantastic!  I have to admit, I don't know much about them, just my memories spurning this desire to "find" the perfect machine to remind me of my Mammaw and her love for sewing.

Singer Sewing Machine

We quickly paid for the machine and wrote down the serial number, eager to do some research about the "story" of this machine, and promised to come back the next day with an empty car.  That night, I got on the internet and went to a site that could identify my machine.  My machine was a 1920 "66" model produced in Elizabeth, NJ on April 28.  My mammaw was born in 1911, so, that means my newly acquired machine was produced when she was 9 years old.

Singer 66

After reading up on some sewing machine history, I learned that there was a patent war between Isaac Singer and Elias Howe and Singer ended up losing and having to pay royalties to Howe.  Singer's machines were the first to sew front to back instead of side to side and had the treadle to power it instead of just a hand crank like Howe's.  Interesting, huh?  But back to my machine....

I've ordered a belt and need to find a bobbin case (anyone that has advice on getting an antique machine to work is appreciated) . The hand-wheel will move the needle and feed dogs so I'm in hopes that it will work!

I also picked up a few antique buttons and hankies that day in hopes of embellishing a sweetly smocked dress.

Antique Hankies

As Mother's Day approaches, I'm very thankful for the love of sewing I inherited from my grandmother and her daughter, my mother.  Now, when I see my "new" antique Singer treadle sewing machine sitting in my sewing studio, I smile and appreciate the "old" things sitting over in a corner.

Happy Stitching,




  1. Are you sure you need a bobbin case? Singer 66 machines used a drop in bobbin, so unless someone worked really hard to remove it, the bobbin case was built in. Check out to find a whole bunch of us "people-powered weirdos" who love our treadle machines.

  2. Thanks Joe! I did a little more research and realized I just need to find the bobbins. I've got to put the belt on, it came in the mail this week. Any suggestions on how to do that accurately? I'll check out the site!