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Hand cranked sewing machine

katina | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I’d like to buy a hand cranked machine for an Albanian family. They have no electricity in the home; in fact, all of Albania only receives electricity for 2 hours a day. I believe Janome makes one. Any suggestions, please?



  1. User avater
    Becky-book | | #1

    You might try finding a used machine on E-bay.

    Try asking your local sewing repair man if he could add a hand crank to an old machine; my repair shop is also a dealer who takes in old machines as trade-in on purchase of new machine.  I have seen some really old (but not antique) machines in his shop.  Maybe an old treadle machine could be adapted to a hand crank.

    Hope this helps,


    1. katina | | #2

      Becky, thanks so much. E-bay sounds a good option, so I'll check them out.


  2. Teaf5 | | #3

    Is the advantage of a hand-crank over a treadle that it takes up less room? I can't imagine cranking with one hand while trying to sew with the other, but I still love sewing by treadle machine. Treadles nowadays are very, very cheap--sometimes even free. They are fairly easy to dissassemble in order to ship, if that's what you need to do.

    1. katina | | #4

      That's a very good point, thank you. I hadn't actually thought about that aspect, but yes, space will probably be a problem. The house in Albania has only two rooms and an outside kitchen. The head of the family is a migrant worker; his wife has a very serious heart problem and takes care of a 2 year old g/daughter whose parents are working in Crete, in addition to tending crops and sheep. What little extra cheese she can produce is bartered for goods. A sewing machine would enable her to take on some alterations, etc and thus lessen the hard physical work she has to do. You've set me thinking though - a treadle is really necessary in this situation.

      Thank you so much.


      1. Char9 | | #5

        Old treadle machines may be antique but since there are so many of them around they don't cost as much as pricy Antiques. 

        That was good advice about asking your sewing machine repair shop person if he could adapt a machine.  Also, he may know of an old treadle machine that might be available.

        1. katina | | #6

          Yes, you're both absolutely right - I'll definitely look for a treadle.

          Thank you very much


          1. MaryinColorado | | #7

            God bless You for helping those less fortunate.  I hope you find the perfect machine for this family!  Can you imagine if everyone on this site sent along a yard of fabric for them?   Mary

          2. mm | | #8

            My mother-in-law used a hand-cranked machine.  When my husband was a little boy she made him turn the crank while she steered.  She scolded him constantly because he either went too fast, too slow, stopped too early or didn't stop in time!  If you're shipping from here it might be easier to pack and send a hand-cranked machine head but treadle machines are more flexible (and easier on the children!)

            Edited 4/16/2007 7:30 pm ET by mm

          3. midnitesewer | | #9

            I've read that some sewing shops convert electric machines into treadles for Amish sewers. If you live near an Amish community, you may be able to get an inexpensive used machine converted. However, the cost of shipping a treadle overseas may be prohibitive. Good luck.

          4. katina | | #10

            Thanks for this suggestion - I'll look into it.


          5. Teaf5 | | #11

            Treadles are even more readily available in other countries; maybe you can ship one from elsewhere on the Continent rather than from the States?If not, take a look at thrift stores, garage sales and estate sales; in California, there's a treadle at every other one, and they rarely go for more than $15 apiece.

          6. katina | | #12

            Thank you for your help. Interesting that treadles are so cheap in US; here in Europe they're much in demand - they make wonderful tables topped with a piece of marble. And to think I never pay any attention to them when I'm in the States.


          7. GailAnn | | #13

            Dear Katina -

            As this problem has not yet been resolved, I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to help.  Re-Reading last years' posts, I noticed Mary in Colorado suggested we could each send a yard of fabric.  $$ toward shipping might be more useful.  Crass, and not as much fun, but useful.

            Where are all these treadle machines?  I don't see them, in my neighborhood garage sales, repair shops, or even e-bay.

            Knowing my interest in all things with regard to needlework, my mother-in-law once gave me a treadle machine.  It had been stored in a damp basement for way too long, was fragile, case warped, and rusted.  After MIL went on to her reward, my husband put the machine on the curb for 'All trash day'.

            Was there something I could have done to breathe new life into Treadly?  Gail

          8. katina | | #14

            How very kind of you to offer - thank you so much. I'm sure I'll find something if I just look hard enough. Hubby and I have spent the better part of the day trolling E-Bay in various countries. He thinks a Featherweight might be the ideal machine - very sturdy; not likely there's any new machine available which is as solid. He's busy Googling to see if he can convert one into a handcrank. DamascusAnnie will probably have lots of good info.

            I too would love a few treadles - one for my Albanians and some to use as table bases, but where are they!

            Many thanks again - Katina

          9. GailAnn | | #15

            Dear Katina

            I have two featherweights.  One of the tan/green ones, from the '60s.  Also one of the black ones, from the '50's.  The black one is actually a 222, (as oposed to the more famous 221) and the flat bed pulls off, allowing it to function as a free arm.  I know you will love a Featherweight, use it every day and never part with it.

            My cousins who live in near Gordon, Wisconsin, only just got electricity in May of 2006, having lived in their house for 17 years.  After 2 consecutive, very hot Summers, they decided it might be worth the $3,500.00 to bring an electric pole out to their property.  Now they have FANS.........................

            They are just regular folks, who take showers, go to church, hold jobs, and send their children to school on the bus.  Gail

            Edited 6/1/2008 2:14 pm ET by GailAnn

          10. katina | | #18

            Yes, it's amazing how we find it impossible to live without electricity; this sewing machine search is a case in point - where to find a model that doesn't need electricity to operate it.

            Thank you very much for your input.


          11. Ckbklady | | #16

            Hi there,

            I don't think a Featherweight can be treadled or handcranked - you need a external motor and belt to make it possible. Also, a spoked handwheel is helpful for a handcrank conversion.

            I'm on another list with Annie, so I'll drop her a line and see if she has some more ideas for you.

            :) Mary

          12. katina | | #17

            Mary, thank you very much for this information and for taking the trouble.


          13. Ckbklady | | #19

            Hiya back,

            I dropped a note to Annie and am sure she'll have good ideas for you. She's an authority on all things people-powered.

            Best wishes,


          14. damascusannie | | #20

            I've put the word out to the Treadle On forum, esp to the British members and I'm hoping that someone across the pond will be able to help her out.

          15. Ckbklady | | #22

            Bingo - Annie! Thanks!!

            That's a great idea. The Euros will have good local suggestions, surely.

            Katina, help is on the way!

            :) Mary

          16. katina | | #21

            Hi Mary

            Love your expression "people-powered - that's Gatherings, for sure.




          17. Ckbklady | | #23

            Oh, I'm tickled pink you like the "people powered" idea. It's a popular phrase to describe treadles and handcranks, since the necessary momentum for them to work comes from people gently pumping the treadle foot base or turning the handcrank. People power the machines!

            If only we could treadle the Internet! But we're grateful for the electricity - it has given us the Internet and connected all of us kindred spirits. It can shrink the world - especially when someone wants to help someone an ocean away. The way the folks here help each other and keep in touch is another wonderful form of "people power".


            :) Mary


          18. katina | | #24

            Wonderfully expressed! And think about this - the Goraveci family in Albania has absolutely NO concept of what we're doing, no way that I could even begin to explain the computer, the internet and Gatherings to them.

            Be well.


          19. Ckbklady | | #25


            Well, in many ways, lucky for them - life sure was simpler before all this technology.

            I think you're doing a wonderful thing.

            :) Mary

          20. katina | | #26

            Yes - up to a point!

          21. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #27

            Katina, I just ran across this hand cranked machine for sale on eBay. Their ad indicates they prefer not to ship out of the USA. They will do it, however, and you'd need to contact them for shipping costs.Good luck.http://tiny.cc/tNuA5

          22. katina | | #28

            Thanks very much for this! Will look into it.


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