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damascusannie | Posted in General Discussion on

Hi everyone! I’m Annie from Wisconsin and I learned about your group from a member on Treadle On, a forum for those of us who choose to use non-electric sewing machines. I’m a professional quilter who hasn’t used an electric sewing machine in over eight years. I’ve also worked as a theatrical costumer and make historic costumes for wearing when I demonstrate the use of people-powered sewing machines at quilt shows, museums, historical sites, re-enactment events, etc… I’m looking forward to spending some time with all of you.


  1. Crazy K | | #1

    Welcome, Annie!  We're neighbors......I'm in Minnesota.  I sew with all the bells and whistles but I do remember the treadle machines.  Sometimes I think it would be fun to have one in the wings in case of power outages.........but they rarely happen where I live!

    Hope you enjoy the forum.  Lots of expertise and a little humor out there!

    Happy Stitching!


    1. damascusannie | | #2

      Hi Kay! I'm a former 'mud duck' --I grew up near Mankato. I got my first treadle when we were looking for period authentic accessories for a 1920s bungalow. For kicks, I tried sewing on it and never looked back. I've been using them regularly for 17 years and exclusively for about 8. I collect machines from one of the major manufacturers (National) and am considered an authority on their machines. I'm also pretty well-known in the sewing machine collectors world for free-motion quilting on treadles.

  2. AmberE | | #3

    That's very cool. Welcome from the editor of Threads!

    1. damascusannie | | #4

      Thanks for the welcome, Amber. I've heard nice things about you!

  3. MaryinColorado | | #5

    Hi and welcome!  What a wonderful career you have created!  It sounds fascinating!  Mary

  4. GailAnn | | #6

    Greetings Miss Annie, a treadle will definitely be my next machine. 

    We are neighbors at heart.  We have 7 acres on the Eau Claire River in Douglas County where we hope to retire and meet eternity. 



  5. solosmocker | | #7

    Hi, Annie! Welcome aboard the ship. I sew on a non embroidery computerized machine but inherited my MIL's treadle. I passed it on to DD who has it in a place of honor in her home. solo

  6. User avater
    blondie2sew | | #8

    Wow welcome! I am glad you found us!! I would love to see some of your great work!! make sure you take pics and post it in the gallery!!I can't wait to see you around...love all the great minds around here and I know you will enjoy it as wellagain
    Welcome oh yeah I am in WA State so a bit far!!

    1. damascusannie | | #9

      You can see pictures of some of my quilts and examples of machine quilting with a treadle sewing machine at: http://community.webshots.com/user/damascusannieFeel free to wander around in the albums.Annie

      1. User avater
        blondie2sew | | #10

        Wonderful Thanks I will take a peak!!

      2. Josefly | | #16

        It's a treat to look at your quilts. Thank you for the link. Also, the "lessons" were interesting. I think this is the first time I've read about zeroing the stitch length. One of these days I'm going to earn to free-motion stitch.

        1. damascusannie | | #17

          I personally found free motion quilting easy to learn, but I think the fact that I use my treadle to do it makes a profound difference because I have such perfect speed control. The trick is needle speed and hand movement working in harmony and it just seems easier to achieve that with a treadle sewing machine.
          The trick for zero-ing the stitch length on older machines without droppable feed dogs is handy, but not necessary if your darning/free motion foot fits the machine correctly because it negates the action of the dogs by lifting completely off the fabric at the point when the dogs would normally be moving the fabric. Without a foot to push against, the dogs can't move the fabric. I often forget to drop the dogs on my quilting head and I never bother to check the stitch length when I'm free-motion quilting. I purposely leave them up when I demo the technique to prove that droppable dogs aren't necessary.Annie

          1. Josefly | | #18

            The few times I've tried free-motion have been without a foot at all - I don't own a darning or free-motion foot. My old instruction manual says to raise the throat plate, lifting the fabric above the feed dogs, but that decreases the space between the fabric and any foot I might use - that would make it tricky I think, with two layers of fabric and batting in between. Mind you, I'm a complete novice at this - only experimented a little, and usually forgot to lower the presser-foot lever, resulting no tension, and a snarl of thread under the fabric. But I'll try your tips - free-motion is one sewing trick this old dog would like to learn.

          2. damascusannie | | #19

            What model machine are you using? You can get after market darning feet for low shank, high shank, and slant shank machines. They aren't expensive and make all the difference in the world. I can actually free motion quilt on a machine by backing the presser foot pressure way off and covering the feed dogs with something flat and slick like a business or index card, but the extra friction from the foot makes the job a lot harder and the edges of the tape tends to peel. Too bad because I'd use my National Two Spool (uses a second spool of thread instead of a bobbin for quilting) if I could get a darning foot for it. It's too much work to quilt on it without one, but its obsolete top-clamping system for attaching feet means that I can't get a darning foot for it. It would be lovely to quilt without having to stop and wind the bobbins so often.

          3. Josefly | | #20

            I use a Singer Touch and Sew 603 E. It has some nice features, but one thing I don't like is the shallow space between throatplate and presser foot - makes it difficult to sew on thick layers. When I play with free-motion I'll try the things you suggest. If you can do it on a treadle, I should be able to overcome my machine's limitations, I think. :>) But there's no speed control on my machine, and I think you're right about the treadle having that advantage. It's been a long time since I sewed on a treadle machine, when I was about 12 years old. My mother had a 1940 or so Singer, and it had foot/knee pedal, lasted until she died in 1999. But our neighbor had a treadle in the 1950's, and she kept that thing purring. I remember being surprised at how easy it was to get used to pumping the treadle. I think it's fascinating that there's a group of dedicated "treadlers."ed to add: I've seen the darning feet, just haven't wanted to buy one yet unless I think I can get skillful enough at maneuvering the fabric to do decent stitching.Did you do that beautiful leaf or feather-pattern stitching I saw free-motion?

            Edited 1/8/2008 12:53 pm ET by Josefly

          4. damascusannie | | #21

            You really need to get the darning foot BEFORE you attempt free-motion; it's the foot that makes the process possible. It's very difficult to comfortably move the fabric around without one. They aren't expensive, I paid $20 for my best foot, and $5 for one that's very, very good. Yes, the feathering is done free-motion; it has to be done that way.Annie

          5. Josefly | | #26

            Okay, it's good to know the foot is important - maybe that's the reason I've not had better success! Thank you.That feather stitching is so beautiful - it looks like a programmed design - hope you're not offended by that; I just mean it's so perfectly done.

          6. damascusannie | | #27

            Funny you'd say that about the feather stitching looking programed. I quilted a raffle quilt a couple of years ago that showed up later at a local quilt show. The organizers were sure that the label which clearly stated that it was quilted on a treadle was wrong until they asked one of their guild members who has a long-arm machine to take a look at it. She thought it looked like a pantograph design until she saw the label--then recognized it as one of mine. She is a good friend of mine and knows that I don't have a long-arm machine and was able to set them all straight. Not only was it not a pantograph, it was all unmarked free-hand work. Too funny! Shows how easy it is to achieve consistency when you've done something for a long time, I guess.

          7. Josefly | | #28

            That's fabulous! Not even any markings to guide you!I saw some amazing quilts last summer during a trip, when I happened upon the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky. I'm not a quilter, so I'm not familiar with the names of experts at all. Do you by any chance have a quilt exhibited there?Ed. to ask: Not being a quilter, I also can't imagine how you can stitch such a large piece on a regular machine. I can just see myself trying to cram a quilt through the space on the right side of my needle, on my machine! I'm in awe of your abilities, period, let alone on a treadle. Forgive my gushing.

            Edited 1/9/2008 10:55 am ET by Josefly

          8. damascusannie | | #29

            Paducah, KY is the premier quilting museum in the U.S. The most prestigious quilting show in the world is held there each year. I haven't exhibited a quilt there yet, and am not planning to attempt to get into the show until the "Triple Whammy" quilt is finished. It's the only one I've done so far that I feel is worth going through the rigid jurying system for entry into the show. I have at least one treadling friend who has had quilts in the show, though. As far as handling the quilt under the arm of the machine, it's not as bad as most people think. I loosely pleat the quilt under the arm to get to the middle and then work my way out toward the edges. It's not fun working in the center of king-sized quilt, but you aren't in the center for very long so once you get that section done, it becomes much easier. I'm holding a machine quilting retreat at my house in February because of the demand for machine quilting classes on home-use machines.Annie

  7. Ckbklady | | #11

    Hiya Annie!

    I'm the Treadle On newbie and Gatherings regular who sent you here. I'm so glad you made it over! You'll love this bunch - friendly and talented folk.

    I just want to tell all the Gatherers what a great time I've had getting to know the gang at Treadle On - it's like a parallel universe of like minds.

    :) Mary

    in Redmond WA and happily on both forums!

    1. Gloriasews | | #13

      Hey, Mary, in this month's American Quilter magazine (volume XXIV, No. 1), there is an article that may be of interest to you.  It's about a woman in California who has converted some old electric sewing machines to treadle & also has a collection of treadle machines.  She is an avid quilter & has made all of her quilts on a treadle machine.  A very interesting article.


      1. Ckbklady | | #14

        Why, thanks, Gloria! I'll check it out! That sounds wonderful!

        :) Mary

        1. Gloriasews | | #22

          You're welcome!  That issue is particularly good (American Quilter), as it has 2 articles about digitizing your fabric, too (making fabric out of your photos or scanned pictures) - really exciting, as we can do it on our computers (mine, anyway) without buying new programs.  Now, I just need a pile of computer fabric sheets . . . $$$


      2. damascusannie | | #15

        The gal in the "American Quilter" article is Donna Kohler, I believe. If so, she's also been on "Simply Quilts". She's well-known for her knowledge of sewing machine use in the collector world.Annie

        1. Gloriasews | | #23

          Yes, it is Donna Kohler, Annie.  We don't get Simply Quilts here, but I had read about her previously, too.


          P.S. - Thanks for your website - very nice quilts!  Your knowledge on free-motion sewing is, no doubt, equal to Donna's.  Good for you for enjoying your treadle machine - it'll go on forever, without having to be serviced all the time, eh?  And it is soothing to sew like that!  Happy sewing (& quilting).

          Edited 1/8/2008 2:14 pm by Gloriasews

          1. damascusannie | | #24

            Donna's a wonderful spokeswomen for us treadlers, but we've noticed that the we are getting more attention in general. My friend Mary and I were featured in "Acres" (a national magazine for folks who've purchased New Holland farm equipment) this fall and I've been interviewed for a couple of different local newspapers in the past couple of years. I think that the renewed interest in quilting and antique quilts has spawned an interest in the way that old quilts were made so it's natural that treadle sewing machines would come to mind.

          2. Gloriasews | | #25

            It's funny how things come around again & become popular, eh?  You're right about the new interest in antique items & methods.  A good thing, too, that this knowledge isn't lost.  The sewing machine manufacturers are probably surprised at all this interest in treadle machines, too, in this high-tech world.

            That's wonderful that you've been interviewed - another star is born - yay!  We look forward to seeing articles with your picture on them in quilting & sewing mags soon.


      3. Ckbklady | | #30

        Oooh, Gloria, you may have created a monster, giggle.

        The American Quilter magazine is the first quilting magazine I have ever bought. I absolutely loved the article you recommended. Thank you for thinking of me and mentioning it.

        But, oh, my heavens - now I want a Tin Lizzie, and my local Quality Sewing & Vacuum Center is going to have a demonstration of one later in the month. Hopefully I'll hear the price and pass out cold.

        Thank you for opening up more creative possibilities for me!

        :) Mary

        1. Gloriasews | | #31

          Sorry I was the one who created the monster!  But creative possibilities do abound out there.  Now you know what it's like!  Glad you liked the article.  This issue was particularly good, eh?  I am very excited about trying out the fabric stuff (2 articles!) on the computer one of these days (I didn't know that it could be that easy).  Every article in this issue (for once) was of interest to me.

          Yah, you'll find the price of the Tin Lizzie pretty high, but there do seem to be other, smaller longarms out there now that are less expensive.  Unfortunately, quilting is an expensive hobby!  I read an article last month that stated that the average quilter is well-educated (most have university) & earns on the average $87,000/year (for those who work outside)!  Also unfortunately, I'm not one of those :(


          1. Ckbklady | | #32

            Gosh, I wonder why the high income for quilters? I'd love to read the demographic report on that.

            I can't really justify a Tin Lizzie, and I have nowhere to put it - they sure take up a lot of room! Can they really be more than the fancy embroidery machines? I saw some of those at the November sewing show that were regularly $9000, on "sale" for $5000. That's a good used CAR!

            :) Mary

          2. Gloriasews | | #33

            It was a survey of quilters, & that was the average income & education of those who work outside the home at professional jobs (quilting was their hobby). 

            The longarm machines make quilting a large quilt so much easier than trying to roll it up & doing it at home on your sewing machine, but they do take up a lot of space (not to mention the cost).  They don't do embroidery.


          3. Ckbklady | | #34

            Wow - that sounds like an interesting study. I'm a (perpetual) student in Accounting, with access to college databases of scholarly articles. You've got me wondering if I could find any interesting articles on the subject. They'd sure be more fun than what I'm reading on Medicare tax!

            I'm not in the market for an embroidery machine, but wouldn't it be nice if the free-arms COULD embroider? Imagine HUGE designs in the middle of a big quilt. Lovely.

            :) Mary

          4. damascusannie | | #35

            >>I'm not in the market for an embroidery machine, but wouldn't it be nice if the free-arms COULD embroider? Imagine HUGE designs in the middle of a big quilt. Lovely.~~Actually, as densely as the quilting is done these days, it IS embroidery, not quite satin stitch but getting there! Word on the street is that if your quilting is more than 1/8" apart these days, it's considered inadequate. This is from a professional quilter friend who served as a judge's scribe for the Minnesota state show last year. And are you familiar with Hollis Chatelaine's work? She takes the major prizes at most of the big quilt shows in the Non-Traditional and Art Quilt classes. Check out this site and remember that what you are looking at is free-motion quilting!http://www.hollisart.com/gallery_figurative.phpAnnie

          5. Ckbklady | | #38

            Holy mac! I can't imagine how Hollis Chatelaine makes PICTURES with embroidery like that - and with no feed dogs, blimey!

            I like the "1/8" or worthless" idea - funny! I wouldn't last 15 seconds in competition.

            :) Mary

          6. rodezzy | | #39

            Thank you for that site on Hollis Chatelaine's art quilts.  I saw her on Simply Quilts some years ago and was also amazed with her work.  I make quilts and belong to a quilt guild, but do nothing like that.  I don't even like doing the quilting, I just like the designing and piecing.  I'm just being honest.  And the lap quilts and bed quilts I make are utilitarian at best.  They have utilitarian beauty. giggle.  I have made a few wall quilts, but they were for the guild shows or I've made on large wall hanging for my cousin's house who has very high ceilings. 

            But I love the work of others and I have a library of almost all of the quilt shows that were on TV from 2000 through about 2005.  I stopped taping.  But I often go back and put them in and run them when I need inspiraction for quilting or any craft. 

          7. damascusannie | | #40

            >>I don't even like doing the quilting, I just like the designing and piecing.
            ~~You are hardly alone in this! That's why there's been such a thriving business for long arm quilters. I actually have a quilt finishing business for folks who quilt on "people-powered" machines. I do all my quilting on a treadle and after these women have pieced their tops on a treadle or hand crank, they want them finished that way, too. Now that a girlfriend and I are branching out into quilt patterns, I'm dropping the finishing business and now I'm finding myself holding a quilting retreat to teach some of my former clients how to machine quilt their own quilts.Annie

          8. Gloriasews | | #41

            Thanks so much for the website - nice stuff!  I've seen her work in a quilt magazine in the past year.

            Yes, you could do the thread painting with a longarm machine, once you became proficient with it.  But - I am really surprised about the 1/8" quilting you'd mentioned.  I hadn't read anything about that before.  Quilting that close together would work for wall hangings, but I can't see it being used for bed quilts - they would be too stiff, don't you think?  There would be no drape or softness & definitely no "cuddle" quality.


          9. damascusannie | | #42

            >> Quilting that close together (1/8") would work for wall hangings, but I can't see it being used for bed quilts - they would be too stiff, don't you think? There would be no drape or softness & definitely no "cuddle" quality.~~I agree, but let's face it, the quilts being made for the big shows are never going to see time on a bed! The Best of Show prize this year at Paducah is $20,000--would you put a $20,000 quilt on YOUR bed? Many (most) of the top quilts eventually end up in museums, corporate collections and galleries. They are works of art, not bed-warmers.
            I like heavy quilting because it keeps the cotton batting from breaking apart inside the quilt. I have quilts with stitching that's probably only about 1/4" apart. They aren't too snuggly at first, but with use and washing, they soften up. The low-loft battings that we machine quilters use are never really cuddly anyway. Annie

          10. Gloriasews | | #44

            You're right about the prize quilts - they probably never see a bed!  Like you, I have no designs on entering any in quilt shows - from what I've read, some of the juries are pretty scathing & snobby.  At least I know the quilt police won't be pointing out MY errors :)

            In some applications, I like the high-loft polyester batting - it's light-weight & shows off the quilting to advantage, but in that instance, it ISN'T 1/8-1/4" apart.  :)



          11. damascusannie | | #36

            Prices for longarm machines. Yep, they are VERY expensive and you definitely get what you pay for. Even though I don't have one, I talk to a lot of people who do and belong to a professional quilters group in which I'm the only member who doesn't own one, so I hear a lot about the industry. My friend Lee says that she plans to spend at least $10, 000 to replace her current machine with a newer, better model and that doesn't include remodeling the room to house it. It made a whole lot of sense to me to figure out how to machine quilt on my regular machine when I learned that! I have less than $500 invested in my custom table and that includes the cost of the five sewing machines mounted in it! I figure that I can quilt a lot hours at a slower pace before I can justify a longarm machine. Annie

          12. Ckbklady | | #37

            Hmmm, $500 for a bevvy of machines or the price of a used car for one? Good decision.

            :) Mary

  8. Ckbklady | | #12

    Hey Annie,

    I noticed that our editor, Amber, expressed interest in a treadle article and invited proposals. See her post by searching for message #5666.175 (in the discussion thread, Talk With Amber). I replied to her that she might contact you (message #566.177), or, in fact, you could contact her by replying to her directly through the Talk With Amber thread.

    I'd love to see an article on treadles, having had one for a whole 3 weeks!

    :) Mary

  9. Jumala | | #43

    Hi, I grew up with a Singer threadle machine in northern Wisconsin. Mother traded it in for an electric Singer (black metal). Learned how to sew about 6 years ago. Want to look for a suitable threadle table that would work with the new Janome threadle SM so when I go camping, I can sew there. Now live in Madison. Have fun!


    1. damascusannie | | #45

      Make sure your Janome has an external belt groove--without it, you can't use it in the treadle cabinet. Also, if it's computerized at all, it's not suitable for treadling. What kind of sewing do you do when camping? If it's mostly straight stitch, a nice handcrank machine would be easiest to travel with--they are the original portables.I live between Rice Lake and Menomonie and we spend a lot of time near Cable, north of Hayward.Annie

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