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Sewing Machine Operator
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Discussion Starter #1
Even if you’re not off-grid? I do, and I’m not off-grid, and I don’t plan on ever leaving the grid. But, if the grid ever leaves me, I want to be able to still sew.

Hi, I’m new here on the board and I do mending and repair sewing for the public using treadles. I have a photo album here at the board of some of my machines:
http://www.survivalistboards.com/album.php?albumid=5825

I have electric machines too, but I prefer using treadles. One big advantage of treadles is electricity is not needed, but with the advancements in alternative power so that an electric machine can be used off-grid, I wonder if treadles and handcranks are still all that popular on the off-grid homestead any longer?

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Canning queen
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They are. They are even making them new, though they don't include the cabinet. Linky-link https://www.amazon.com/Janome-Tread...563&sr=1-4&keywords=hand+crank+sewing+machine and here's a review http://www.thesurvivalistblog.net/janome-treadle-powered-sewing-machine-review/ And the hand crank version: https://www.amazon.com/Janome-131-Crank-Sewing-Machine/dp/B00W6M5960

And a better reviewed version:
http://www.allbrands.com/products/41347-flying-bird-ja2-1-straight-stitch-flatbed-sewing-m
The treadle base http://www.allbrands.com/products/58000-5-drawer-wood-cabinet-top-cast-iron-stand-for-trea

I've 3 treadles currently and two hand cranks. One of the hand cranks I put together on an older Japanese badeged machine from the 50's. This is they type of adapter. You take the old fly wheel off, insert the new one (it has to have spokes) then attach the crank. Here's a link to both: http://shop.sew-classic.com/Hand-Crank-Treadle_c31.htm

catfeet, who's got a box of parts hanging around in her sewing room from when she did this for cash...
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I’m glad that there’s still some interest in treadle sewing machines. I’ve heard of the Janome 712T, but I haven’t ever been around one. I don’t use many fancy stitches, only a regular zigzag and a multi-zigzag, so the older machines that are all metal interest me more. I use my Singer 319W treadle more than any other machine that I have. I sew with it about twice per week on the average, mending jeans. Before the 319W, I used a Singer 306W that worked ok, but I had to change cams for the zz stitches. The 319W has those stitches built-in.

I put together a Pfaff 130 treadle machine that was a nice unit, but I didn’t get to use it much before I sold it to a lady in SE Oklahoma that had recurring problems with her electrical service.

Although my wife uses mostly electric machines down at the shop, we keep a 1948 Singer 201K4 (straight stitch) and a 1960 Singer 216G (zigzag) there for when her shop electricity goes out. They’re both handcranks. She can sometimes finish up a project while she’s waiting for the power to come back on. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, she sets one of them up on an old over-the-bed hospital table and sews near one of the large display windows of the shop where there’s plenty of light. She’s seldom open after dark, so she doesn’t need any back-up lighting for sewing. At home, she has a 1901 Singer 27K2 for quilt block piecing during outages. I added a photo of it to my photo album earlier today, along with a couple other of our people-powered machines.

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Canning queen
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I have to admit a deep and abiding love for fancy stitches, though I like the cam based type, which are entirely mechanical. I also love Morse machines, which make up the bulk of my collection. They are easy enough to switch over to treadle and that precision engineering of the post war era is tough to beat. I haven't been up to my sewing room - I got involved in going thru the ice skate collection for the kids, and then went on a date with my sweetie. Plus, it's darn cold up there this time of year! I've only electric heaters there. It's in the attic - it's the old maid's room in the peak of a tower, which gives me beautiful light to sew by plus a gorgeous view of lake Champlain. I've pics of most of my Morse collection, but not the treadles. I'm happy to post those, but they're not exactly on topic here!
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Those old Morse machines, and others from Japan, are really good, solid, well-built machines. I don’t have a Morse myself, but I’ve serviced a few of them and liked them. I tend to favor Singer machines, mainly because it seems like they’re the most plentiful in my area. Old Singers are about the easiest ones to get parts for too.

Maybe you can get some photos of your treadle machines someday this Spring when it warms up a little bit. My sewing area is somewhat subject to the weather too. It is part of the main house, but was originally a small den and utility room that has a tiny warm air vent and no air conditioning. We installed a wider entry door and parked our motorcycles in it for several years and called it the “Bikeshop”. We parked our motorcycles for good out in the backyard in 2014 and no longer use them, so now the Bikeshop is my sewing area. It’s a little hot in the summer and a little cold in the winter, but it’s manageable. For some projects, I sew outside, because I don’t have room in the house, or whatever I’m repairing is really dirty. Truck tarps, boat covers, swimming pool covers, and the like get mended outside on the patio, and only in nice weather.

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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Discussion Starter #7
Boy! You ARE loaded up on the Morse machines, aren’t you! I’ll bet you get some compliments on that pink 650. It’s a really nice shade of pink.

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I read that you and your husband had a sewing business at one time. Belt & Bodice? Did your husband sew his leather by hand or by machine? Did you enjoy the business, or are you glad that it’s behind you?

My wife has been sewing for a life time. She began sewing and selling biker doo-rags when we got into motorcycles in 2001, then we got the sewing shop in 2006 and she started teaching me how to machine sew. I hand sewed a bit using a saddle stitch on my leather items back in the 80s & 90s, used a double-loop lace on most items, but now I’d rather use a machine if I’m sewing. I haven’t done any lacing for a long time.

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Canning queen
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Yep, I really love the colors! We did have that business, but mist of his work is/was riveted. The man has some solid arms, lol. We got out of that when we decided to have kids and ran a renaissance Faire for a while, and now the belt business has become incorporated into his armory - he runs a sport armor business for medieval reenactors. We've never had a machine that was heavy duty enough to sew the leather...just couldn't find one at a reasonable price.

That's some nice stitching you've done there - we work almost entirely with bridle leather and latigo, so it doesn't sew easily. We'd need a shoe machine or one like your industrial.

On another note, I did take a treadle base and mount our grain grinder on it. It's a heavy duty Remington base that I had stripped and powder coated. Works great! Pics tomorrow.
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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218 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
I saw your treadle-mounted grain grinder article at your blog. It looked like it came out really nice. I have a small handcrank grain grinder that clamps to a table like the old meat grinders, so I doubt that it would benefit much from a treadle.

I experimented with treadling a 3-thread serger machine, but the project went cold and I never got back to it. It worked, sort of, but I wanted to refine it to work better and never got it done. My plan was to not have to modify the serger much (except for removing the motor) so that I could swap sergers whenever I wanted or needed to. I still have all of the parts and think about fiddling with it more from time to time, so I may get back to it someday. I’ve thought about using the same setup for a grinder too, but I want to include a speed increaser with it, and haven’t gotten that part put together yet. Can you tell that I like fiddling with sewing machine treadles?

CD in Oklahoma
 

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I don't sew, but I do have my grandmothers old treadle sewing machine. It also has the little aftermarket add on electric motor. Perfect shape. And to this day I still think it was responsible for my career in Engineeeing. As a kid, I used to pump that treadle with my hand and be mesmerized by the big belt pulley spinning and connecting rod..:thumb:
 

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I learned to sew on a Singer treadle, and have been wanting one for a few years now. I want to teach my grandchildren to use one. Just before Christmas, (my birthday is near then), my sister gifted me with a treadle someone she knows has had in the basement for years. It needs some sprucing up, which I'll get to after I finish putting Christmas away. (yes, I know it is late, but I haven't been feeling like it yet). It isn't a Singer; the name on the treadle says it is NEW WILLIAMS.

I am not off-grid, either, but I love seeing fewer electric powered things in my home, even if I don't use them all right now. (The old coffee grinder on the wall does an ok job, but that little electric grinder does it in 10 seconds) ;)
 

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straight shooter
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Cool eye candy! I have a number of Japanese clones but I haven't converted any of them to hand cranks. Current favorite is a green "Stradivaro" and weighs about 60 lbs and has an oil reserve tank which is unusual for a domestic portable machine. My regular machine is a Bernina 830 that I bought new in the early 80s. I use zigzag quite a bit so it's my go-to machine but for quilting without a walking foot, the clones are fantastic.
 

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A good place to find these kinds of things might be in Amish country. I know of a guy in Lancaster County PA that has a sewing machine shop that will take a modern sewing machine and convert it to treadle power. I don't know a lot of details, and it may be for specific makes and models. Last name is Simon, if anyone is interested. I could look up an address and phone number if anyone wants me to. I kinda don't think he has a website but I haven't looked.
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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Discussion Starter #15
.....My regular machine is a Bernina 830 that I bought new in the early 80s.....
I picked up an old Bernina 830 Record a few months back. It is missing the cord and control, and the plastic zigzag cam is broken (the only piece of plastic in a nice metal machine!). I can get an aftermarket cam, and I have plans to convert it to treadle. A freearm machine comes in handy for my jeans mending sometimes, especially torn knees in children’s jeans, so I use an electric Singer 834 Stylist or my Singer 431G on those. I’ve opened the side seam on one or two to get to the patch, but that’s too much work when there are freearms available. I’d love to have a treadle freearm machine to use instead, just for fun.

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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Discussion Starter #16
I don't sew, but I do have my grandmothers old treadle sewing machine.
It’s really lucky to have an old family sewing machine. A lot of folks wish they did, but don’t. I have my Grandmother’s 1906 White VSIII treadle, tuned up and ready to sew, but I don’t use it much. She got it as a wedding present in 1928. It was used when she got it, but was glad to have it. It’s scheduled to go to my daughter’s home when she gets room for it in her home to use it. That will make three generations sewing on it, and who knows where it will go from there. She has two sons, but you never know who may take an interest in sewing.

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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Discussion Starter #17
I learned to sew on a Singer treadle...want to teach my grandchildren to use one....my sister gifted me with a treadle....needs some sprucing up, which I'll get to......
Great!!! Get it tuned up and get those kids to treadling!!! It’s fun!!!

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Canning queen
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Treadle is what I'm making my kids learn on - it's slow enough to see what they are doing and they have to work to get it up to a speed to over sew something.

That serger experiment is interesting! I think, though, to get it to work, you'll have to replace the hand wheel with a larger fly wheel. It's something I've thought about too, as I've an extra base hanging around from an auction.

I've seen the "New Williams" name before and they look like great machines...you should have fun!

IMHO, the Japanese clone era was the height of mechanical sewing machines...everything after that went into plastic and electronics, which I could totally do without. They are the Mercedes of sewing machines.

The stretch stitch freearm I've got is used mostly for arms on little girl dresses, though pants are another option. They are quite useful machines!

Olpoop, you can get replacement cams? Lets talk turkey, because my Apollo is missing the plastic zigzag cam and I want one! Again, like your Bernina, the only plastic piece in an otherwise beautifully metal machine.
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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Discussion Starter #19
Treadle...serger...to work, you'll have to replace the hand wheel with a larger fly wheel....
...can get replacement cams? ..my Apollo is missing the plastic zigzag cam....
I agree. The small hand wheel is what stopped my progress on the treadle serger. I’m still thinking on it....

I believe that an aftermarket zz cam for a Bernina 830 may be available, but I haven’t tried one yet. Some aftermarket parts haven’t panned out too well in my experience. I don’t know of any replacement cams for other models with plastic zz cams.

CD in Oklahoma
 

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Sewing Machine Operator
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Discussion Starter #20
For those who need to sew heavy fabrics, webbing, leather, or other gear with industrial sewing machines, people-power can also be used to power the big machines. The older folks will remember the steering wheel knobs that were popular back in the 50s & 60s. The old spinner knobs were also called “Brodie Knobs”, “Necker Knobs”, & “Suicide Knobs”. They’ve been outlawed for highway use in most states these days, unless the driver has a prosthetic arm that requires a spinner knob on their car’s steering wheel. You can still see them on lawn mowers, farm tractors, forklifts, and such.

Most spinner knobs will require a spoked balance wheel to mount onto a sewing machine, but there are some clamp-on spinners that can be mounted onto a solid balance wheel too. I have a couple of industrial machines set up as “portables” that I can take to a job and not need electricity to sew. I use the term “portable” loosely in this application, because these machines are not light, even when you leave the power stand behind.

I have a standard clamp-though knob on a Singer 31-15 bottom-feed (feed dogs only) machine, and a clamp-on knob on a Singer 111G156 compound-feed (feed dog, needle & inner foot, and outer foot) walking foot machine. The 111G156 weighs over 65 pounds, so it’s a handful. I have a fleet of old wheel chairs at home and the shop that I use to carry my machines around. Wheel chairs can be had for very little money at yardsales and auctions around here now that the electric mobility units are getting so popular.

In the photos attached, the 111G156 is the one being used to mend a leather purse. I was using it sort of like a freearm machine by letting one side of the purse go under the end of the machine.

CD in Oklahoma
 

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