Facebook Email Pinterest Twitter X Instagram Tiktok Icon YouTube Icon Headphones Icon Favorite Navigation Search Icon Forum Search Icon Main Search Icon Close Icon Video Play Icon Indicator Arrow Icon Close Icon Hamburger/Search Icon Plus Icon Arrow Down Icon Video Guide Icon Article Guide Icon Modal Close Icon Guide Search Icon

Conversational Threads

New Home Treadle machine – wheee!

Ckbklady | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Well, I guess I should be careful what I wish for! After hemming and hawing over the EuroPro Shark Intellisew computerized embroidery machine at Target a couple of weeks ago, and deciding against it for the very reason that it was way too high-tech for me, I was in a thrift shop yesterday and scored a 1908 Light Running New Home treadle sewing machine with the treadle table for $100. Half the price of the embroidery machine, and as low-tech as they come!

The dusty machine body was in a ratty cardboard box with many assorted small table pieces, two boxes of feet, a packet of needles (!!) and a manual that is 20 years its junior. The table had all four side drawers intact, the upper drawer removed and slightly modified and sure needs a cleaning. While all of the working bits are filthy, both the machine mechanism and the treadle move cleanly without any squeaking or other worrisome sounds – triumph! Oh, that the former owner could have slipped a note in the box telling me of the origins of the machine and the wonderful things made with it.

The machine is wonderfully different from my usual machine – the three bobbins are like thick 1″ nails with a head at each end. The bobbin shuttle looks like the top of a fountain pen. I’m nervous of harming it – there was only one in the whole lot.

I’ve placed a hold on a book at the library that will help me determine the actual model number of the machine, and I’ve downloaded a manual for a similar New Home treadle machine from the Smithsonian online. (Now isn’t THAT remarkable – I can go to my 21st century computer and print a 100-year old sewing manual!)

But now I have to inch towards my wonderful new dusty friend and clean him up and set him in his table and get to work. Help!

Has anyone here cleaned something of this sort before? What should I use on the ornately painted exterior of the machine? I’m fine with cleaning the inner workings – pipe cleaners and machine oil will do the trick, and there appears to be no rust inside at all. Does anyone know if there are any parts beyond the leather belt that I need to assemble the machine in table correctly? Should I take a chance on the original needles (which are remarkably the same as the Schmetz needles of today)? Can anyone suggest a source for parts?

I don’t want to take the machine in for service if it doesn’t need it, and hubby is a talented woodworker, so I know he can reassemble the top of the table with ease (he paced around the table for an hour last night, wanting to get going right away).

My sewing machine and serger are Fred and Mrs. Fred, respectively, so this little guy must be Ralph. (M*A*S*H* TV-show fans from the 70s will know the reference). He’s pretty ornate for a Ralph, but he’s a Ralph all the same.

So Christmas came early here, but I have some work to do before Ralph speeds his way through some 21st century fabrics. Can anyone give me tips to approach my new friend?

Thanks, everyone, and happy holidays!

🙂 Mary



  1. marymary | | #1

    Mary, you can go to http://www.treadleon.net/ to learn all about caring for your new-to-you treadle.  You will find it will work even better once it is properly oiled and lubricated.  Treadle On also has a email list that you can join.

    Join Yahoo Groups Vintage Treadles: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vintage_treadlesewingmachines/?yguid=97372818 . 

    Both groups can help you tremendously.

    1. Ckbklady | | #5

      Hiya MaryMary,

      Thanks so much - I've bookmarked the sites and will join up once the holiday madness subsides. They look like great resources, and most incredibly, the Treadle On group is here in Seattle! Thank you so much!

      :) Mary (Singular)

      (edited to add the great Seattle revelation!)

      Edited 12/21/2007 1:42 pm by Ckbklady

  2. GailAnn | | #2

    Dear Miss Ckbklady:

    Such wonderful memories!

    I don't have any advice for you as to how to get your new/old machine up and running, but I know you will LOVE it.

    I made all of the costumes for OKLAHOMA on a treadle machine while I was in high-school.  If I had one today, I'd still be using it.


    1. Ckbklady | | #6

      Hey Gail,

      Oklahoma, eh? Now you've got me humming!

      Yes, I'm tickled pink. I can't wait to sew with it, and quietly! What a thought! Fred, my late 80s White sewing machine, is a noisy fella. I still can't quite imagine what near-silent sewing will feel like.

      :) Mary

  3. katina | | #3

    Congratulations on you new baby! You will get all kinds of info if you Google antique sewing machines.

    Hey, maybe we should go for a Model T Ford instead of TTS...!


    1. Ckbklady | | #4

      Hiya Katina,

      Sure - a Model T would be luvverly! I see black brocade silk seats and a woven steering wheel.. ahhh. Now you've got me going, and dear Amber is probably breathing a sigh of relief that we've wandered away from her thread! :)

      Thanks for the congrats - I've had no time to play with the machine since I'm embroiled in Christmas madness - cookie baking, cake making, turkey brining, table decorating, dog-coat sewing...but Ralph is patiently waiting. After all the busy nuttiness of the next few days it will be a delight to play with such a quiet machine.

      :) Mary

  4. Teaf5 | | #7

    A hundred-year-old sewing machine has been through a lot, so you can relax about approaching and using your new friend.  Also, since there were so many of those machines made, and they lasted so long, they are not particularly valuable as antiques and probably won't become so for another three hundred years--so you really don't need to worry about losing precious value if you restore or re-build it.

    Your husband can use his woodworking skills and modern products to make the working surfaces smooth and clean; you don't want anything to snag fabrics as they pass over the wooden platform.  Light sanding and a couple of coats of polyurethane clear finish works very well.

    It's easy to get parts if you know the date and model of your machine, but the ones you have are not likely to be harmed by normal use anyway, so go for it and enjoy!  Like a book, a sewing machine is best when it's being used, not stored away or protected behind glass.

    1. Ckbklady | | #8

      Hiya Teaf5,

      Well said! I quite agree - I would never simply collect machines, regardless of their ages. I'm not interested in collector value. I'm interested in cleaning up this machine and running it regularly. It's in too good shape not to.

      I know the date of the machine by its serial number, but alas, not the model # yet. I have ordered more library books that may help, and will sign up to the TreadleOn discussion list to appeal for help. They look like a good bunch - also interested in using older machines and not simply collecting them.

      It's reassuring to hear that parts can be had. I'd love another bobbin shuttle, just in case.

      Thanks so much!

      :) Mary

      1. MaryinColorado | | #9

        What a joy!  I look forward to hearing of your adventures with "Ralph".  But as he purrs along so quietly will you decide to call him "Ralphetta"?  just teasing! 

        All my cars have been "girls" until this one, Skye, is a "boy", it's funny how we just "know" these things.

        Have fun in the New Year and many blessings!  Mary

This post is archived.

Threads Insider

Get instant access to hundreds of videos, tutorials, projects, and more.

Start Your Free Trial

Already an Insider? Log in

Conversational Threads

Recent Posts and Replies

  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |
  • |

Threads Insider Exclusives

View All
View All