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Old 09-09-2011, 08:49 AM
NCLee NCLee is offline
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Default Learning to sew on a treadle machine

If you're new to sewing on a treadle machine, especially if you're also new to machine sewing, here's a tip to help you get started.

Buy a pack of school notebook paper. "Sew" the lines on the paper. No thread in the machine. Practice following the lines until you have hand, eye, and foot coordination mastered.

Depending on how much practice you do, the needle may become dull from working on paper. Either start out with an old needle, if one came with your machine, or replace the needle with a new one before sewing on fabric.

Save the old needle, BTW. Sometimes they can be sharpened a bit by using a high grit number wet/dry sandpaper or emery cloth. Depending on the fabric involved, even a dull needle can keep you sewing if you break a needle and don't have a replacement on hand.

Once you have your paper sewing mastered, thread up the machine and practice some more with scrap material. An old bedsheet will yield plently of fabric for practice. Sew long straight seams. Sew some curves. Sew some right angles. Turn the good portions of old sheets into pot holders, even dish towels if the fabric is cotton. For pot holders, either sew multiple layers of fabric or add batting between two layers, then practice quilting.

Using more of this old sheet, try the various attachments that come with treadle machines. Make some ruffles, if you have that attachment. Hem an edge if you have that attachment. Etc & Etc until you've gone through all of them, at least one time.

This type of practice will develope the motor skills needed with a treadle without worrying about matching pattern pieces and all the "stuff" associated with turning a piece of good fabric into a well done finished project.

Finally, if you don't have a manual for your exact model and can't locate one on line, download one for a similar brand/age machine. There are free manuals available. In the days of treadle machines things were a lot more standardized than they are now. And, even with some attachments, they work the same way regardless of whether the machine was built in 1911 or 2011.

Hope this helps those just getting started with these fine old machines.
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Old 09-09-2011, 12:00 PM
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KarenBC Female KarenBC is offline
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Location: Prince George, B.C., Canada
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Thank you for these tips Lee. I haven't used my "new" treadle yet - but I have oiled everything, dusted, cleaned, and bought shuttle bobbins for it, and a replacement belt just in case.

Actual sewing will have to wait until the snow flies methinks - it's to busy a time right now with getting outdoor projects done before winter.
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Old 09-09-2011, 04:53 PM
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Mrs. Owens Female Mrs. Owens is offline
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Location: Jay, FL NW Panhandle
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Karen, Put your feet (foot) on the treadle, turn the wheel alittle toward you quickly and peddle like there's no tomorrow. These actions will come back to you like learning to drive a car, it will be automatic. I used my grandmothers when I lived with her and I was about 10 years old as I recall. I was great fun to me, an adult would let me mess with one of their "machines". I'm jealous, wish I had one, too. Good Luck.
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Old 09-20-2011, 11:29 PM
oldtimer oldtimer is offline
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Here's another tip. When using the treadle, the leather belt will get streatched & slip. Just dampen the belt with a wet rag or sponge; the leather will shrink and tighten your belt right nicely.

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Old 09-21-2011, 09:25 AM
wildturnip Female wildturnip is offline
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Great tips everyone! Thanks for sharing. I inherited my grandma's treadle machine. She used to let me sew too. Told me her mother would never let her sew as a girl so when great-grandma would go to milk the cow or feed the chickens, Grandma would hurry up and practice sewing until almost time for her mother to come back in. So Grandma let me sew all I wanted to.
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