Looking for a Treadle

Not to long ago I shared a post about a treadle sewing machine that was gifted to me.  This one…

I really already had a couple treadle machines so I offered it on the blog to someone willing to come and get it.  I ended up getting LOTS of people looking for a treadle.

So many people wrote stories about remembering their grandma sewing on one…someone started sewing and caught the quilting bug and wants to have one for fun…the stories went on and on. Some people a couple states away from Iowa were willing to drive my way and pick it up.  I loved reading the stories but was so sad I didn’t have about 20 machines to give away.

I thought I’d write and tell you that if you are looking for a treadle, they are not a rare commodity that can’t be found.  There is likely one in your state..or likely even one in your county.

I am no expert on treadle sewing machines.  I have four at our house right now…Two in the house and two in the garages.  Two of them are up and in excellent working order.  I’ve sewn some on each of them.

I am not an expert on machines but I’m really good at finding old things that are for sale.  So this post is more about that.

If you go to Facebook Marketplace, you can find most anything.  There is a search bar there…type in any of the following:

Sewing Machine

You’ll get some responses for sure.

I think if you want a machine, you can find one for $100…if you’re pickier about the style or cabinet, you’ll have to pay more.  Personally I’d never spend over $200 even for a dream machine.  If you’re patient, you can find one more reasonably priced.

Do a little research and figure out what you REALLY want.

Personally..I don’t like this style.

The “coffin” or wood cover doesn’t allow you to use the cabinet as a stand when the machine isn’t in use…but many love the coffin style.  Also, this one looks too shiny.  The metal has been painted and too “redone” looking for my taste.  The sellers were asking $175 and it’s a Standard brand.

This one had an awesome looking cabinet.

The seller wanted $100.  It says it’s an Eldridge brand.

This one was …$100….

This is a “red eye” Singer.  The decals look pretty good too.
The cabinet was a little plain.

This one had a parlor cabinet and was $75.

It’s a New Home machine.

Just look at those pretty decals.  They are in nice shape.
This was a nice looking cabinet…the machine was used…but only $100.

This was a pretty parlor cabinet but alas, no machine inside.
Another pretty cabinet…a bit more fancy.

This machine was a “Free” brand.  Look careful though, I can see a plate missing a the presser foot area.
Some popular brands at the time were Singer, New Home, Free, Franklin and more.  Many of these brands have Youtube videos that help you with threading, adjusting the belt and using the machines.

I have a Franklin and watched several videos about them after I bought my machine.

Depending on the age and brand of machine, some have shuttle bobbins like this that take a little learning but doable.  Two of my machine have these.
case, forsinger, bobbincase, shuttle
Some cabinets are in need of sprucing.  Don’t let one like this discourage you if the machine is nice.

I use  Restor-a-Finish  .  I love the product.  I use it on most any furniture that gets scratched.  We have a light and dark oak version at my house but there are other finishes as well.  This will clean up all the scratches in no time and it’s super easy to use.  HERE is an Amazon link for it.

I used in on my 15-91 cabinet and it made a world of difference.
Here you can see where I used the product and where I didn’t.
You can read the whole story about my $15 machine HERE.

So if the machine is good but the cabinet is rough, you can easily fix that.

Things to make sure of before you buy:
-The wheel turns.  The wheel MUST turn if you want to actually use the machine to sew.
-Is there a bobbin case or shuttle?  I recommend only buying a machine if there is one.  Replacement parts can cost more than the machine.
-Is there an accessories kit?  Not a must -but nice to have and if deciding between two machines, it’s something to consider.

If you buy a Singer…make sure to check out the date is was manufactured by looking up the serial number.  The are located bottom-right on the machine.

HERE is a link for that…

Whatever you do, don’t buy the first machine you find unless it’s what you’re looking for.  There are so many different decals on machines…there are so many different cabinet styles.  There are so many different prices.  Find what you WANT.

There are lots of vintage machines on Craig’s list too.

Whatever you do, be careful because you’ll run into other temptations like this fun hand crank….

or this sweet little Featherweight for $325…

but..keep this in mind too.  This little machine below is only $125.   If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might think, “Wow, a Featherweight for $125”.  It’s not a Featherweight.  It’s a Davis machine but to someone who doesn’t know, it looks like a Featherweight.

Do some researching.  There are many awesome sites on the internet that will tell you lots about vintage machines.  Figure out what you like best and then let the hunt begin.  The vintage machine you want is out there and there is one in your price range.  It’s all about being patient and hunting.  To be honest, I think that’s my favorite part!!

P.S.  The pictures I showed in this post was only a small sampling of all the machines they had to offer on Marketplace.  There were MANY more.

After my last post about the treadle that was given away, I got an email from a blog reader in Postville, Iowa.  She is trying to find a buyer for two machines her mother has….

a Wheeler and Wilson treadle….The carving on the front of this is pretty.

Here’s the machine….

She also has this 201 in the cabinet.   I love this cabinet style.

The reason I say I love the cabinet, my 15-91 has the same cabinet.  It was in terrible condition until I spruced it up.

Cindy didn’t know much about the machines….but would like to sell them for her mom.  If anyone is interested, here is Cindy’s contact info.  cberns@gmail.com

That got me thinking.  There are probably LOTS of you who are looking for or want to sell sewing machines.  Why not leave a comment to this post if you are.

You could write something like this is you are looking for a machine:
Jo in Waucoma Iowa looking for a Singer Red Eye treadle.  Cabinet must be fairly good condition.  Here’s my email.  rogjok@iowatelecom.net

You could write something like this if you have one to sell:
Jo in Waucoma Iowa has a Singer Featherweight to sell.  Accessories included.  In working order.  Here’s my email.  rogjok@iowatelecom.net

Maybe a few of you could get connected to find/sell the machines.  Please make sure you include an email address and are committed to checking it regularly.  That 201 that Cindy has is tempting to me…but alas…no space.

I hope this post gave you a bit of an idea on how to hunt…So happy hunting…

14 thoughts on “Looking for a Treadle”

  1. Stearns Carol

    What an interesting post. When I was in Home Ec class back in the 60’s, we had treadles and some electric. I could get that treadle going and it was fun. Probably Singers. Its interesting the memories we have. I could visibly remember Mrs Dale, the teacher standing and holding the door open while we entered the room. Mrs. Dale never shaved her legs and she wore hose and had long black hair all mashed in. She was the talk of the school. I loved Home Ec class.

  2. Thank you so much for solving a long standing mystery from my grandma’s button box! There are a couple of the little bobbins in there and now I know what they go to!

  3. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, I have a treadle that has all the accessories plus instruction book. No I:m not wanting to sell found it at a yard sale paid the lady $25.00. haven’t gotten to use it as it needs a new belt. Bit oh the fun of discovery when I opened the drawer and found everything I could possibly need except the belt. Those machines are out there and usable. What a lovely batch of machines you showed us.

  4. Funny – my Grandpa used to make the belts for my Grandma’s treadle from old tire inner tubes. I have her machine. I was able to find a belt (And extra) at a store run by Mennonite’s in Ohio. They sold Red Wing boots, Amish & Mennonite items and everything you could possibly need. Very nice people always willing to answer questions and help if they could. Very sad when store closed.

  5. I started sewing on my grandmother’s treadle and would love to have another- unfortunately, I live in “Amish country” where they are much sought after and ones that are in good shape go for a premium.

  6. Hi Jo, This is Judy in Northeast Wyoming and I have several treadle machines that I am trying to sell. At this time I have a Domestic coffin top machine and a Franklin that folds up that are ready to go. Our garage is packed and I’ve been pulling them out one at a time, cleaning them out and putting them on Facebook Marketplace. Thanks for this opportunity! My email is: 7easystreet@gmail.com

  7. I had wanted a treadle for a long time. I was thrilled when I saw one for sale locally, but alas, I didn’t do enough research. I ended up with a beautiful cabinet but the machine was a hot mess. I would have left it, but DH liked the beautiful cabinet so it came home with us for…. way too much money. Most of the Sphinx decals are gone and there are a lot of chips and even some interior rust, etc. But, after my youngest helped with some of the mechanicals, “Jane” sews a pretty stitch! Some day I may experiment with repainting her and putting new decals. Then again. Maybe she will remain plain, steady Jane. The only machine I would like now is a 1950s featherweight to put in my Mom’s table. Her machine was scrapped back in the day(!!!!) But she has the table. When I am ready to buy, I will for sure let the blog know!

  8. Oh how I would love to have a Singer 201. Unfortunately, I am in Texas, so Pennsylvania is not in driving distance for me. I truly don’t need another vintage machine, but that one in that cabinet would really tempt me if I were closer.

  9. Thank you Jo for so much info on Treadles. I have one that was made in 1911 I call her grandma Josephine after my grandma. She’s a National. Maybe one day I will try her out.

  10. Judith Fairchild

    June please give it a try I remember seeing on my mom’s treadle it’s what sold me on sewing by machine rather than hand.

  11. Pamela McCartney

    I have recently received a 1940 128 that is missing the shuttle. Does anyone know which shuttle part number goes with this machine, and does anyone have one (and bobbins) they are willing to part with?
    Please contact me @ pmccartney1487@gmail.com.
    Thank you.

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