Karen writes about life as a Quiltmaker in Austin, Texas; surviving in an empty nest, marriage, cooking, gardening and (did I say?) Quilting...

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A New Life for an Old Girl...

My latest fun project has been the restoration of a Singer model 15 Treadle Sewing Machine. With Tiffany Decals, this old girl has some real class. Her commission date gives her a "birthday" of February 13, 1914. So, she is just a few years shy of 100.

She has a lovely new home in my 4 drawer Victorian Singer Cabinet. I bought the cabinet many years ago (at least 25), and it became something of an inspiration. I acquired it initially strictly because of it's looks, restored it to learn something about preserving these lovely old oak pieces, and eventually started learning about these old machines. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was dragging home other old Singer machines and restoring them to working condition. The cabinet originally came with a terribly hard worn "Sphinx" Decaled Model 27. I looked  high and low for suitable replacement, but never really found one that I liked. Early on, I knew I wanted to return the treadle to working condition - with a period machine. The find of the Tiffany was fortuitous, as a collector show. It had grubby plates, and was a bit dirty, but seemed to show good potential, with a good bit of it's decals still extant, and wear not beyond the realm of further use. It did not have suitable plates for the rear and side, so after further search last year, a good set in a period design were found.

Last week I finally got the restored head up and running. With a new belt, she purrs along, and I pulled out the purple "Texas Two Step" quilt I've been working on to give it a go. It will take some use and practice to get smooth at using the treadle... it takes some getting used to! A bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach in terms of the coordination needed to pedal with your feet and guide with your hands. The right hand has to stand at the ready to help stop the machine, I never did get the hang of that manuever.

The purple top is one I've been working on off and on now for two years. I've only worked on it at Mom's house, using her mother's model 66 treadle, which I also returned to good working order. I want to at least have a top that I can say I produced by "foot power". I'm thinking it would be fun to demonstrate the treadle at some fairs or such.... hmmm?  Enjoy the photos.