I am not a seamstress. All my clothing gets sent out for alteration. I do have a modern sewing machine because I wanted to be able to hem my pants and skirts. I am a short person, you know vertically challenged? I also wanted to use the machine for crafts but have never been able to thread it, let alone sew with it. Maybe one day I will find the machine that works for me.
Sewing machines have been around for years. “Sewing machines did not go into mass production until the 1850s when Isaac Singer built the first commercially successful machine. Singer built the first sewing machine where the needle moved up and down rather than the side-to-side, and a foot treadle powered the needle.” History of Sewing Machine
I love the look of those old treadle sewing machines. John and I have been making tables and drawer cabinets form these old treadle machines for ages. We still have a few of these redesigned antiques for sale in the online shop at our website.
Rough and over 100 Years
Recently I posted on Instagram and FG a few pictures of three very old machines that we saved. I thought we could use them as a decor feature.
Now, these sewing machines are old and not in the greatest of shape. But, I thought they would look good in an industrial business setting. Perhaps a restaurant with vintage decorations, a quilting store or a hobby store, a loft/house with steampunk decor. I cleaned these machines and John made a wood display box to set them into for placement on a shelf or tabletop.
One is called a Golden Star and the decals on that machine are striking. I know the machine is over 100 years old and believe that fact might be appealing to an antique lover. Kovel antiques noted: Golden Star was a model made by A.G. Mason Manufacturing Co., an Ohio manufacturer in business from about 1903 to 1916. After that, the company became a subsidiary of the Domestic Sewing Machine Co., then a brand owned by White Sewing Machine Co. of Cleveland.
The others: the White and Singer are in a rougher condition but again, I can see how they might appeal to someone looking for a rugged industrial or antique look. I am unsure how to evaluate the price of something like these machines. So, I am leaving them open to interpretation so I am basically offering them for sale as a “make me an offer” selection.
The Nicer Set
We do have two machines that are in much better nick. I put a bit of work into these two items. I went online to see how the restorers actually got old treadles machines back in service. I did not wish to do that, but I wanted to get them to look as nice as I could.
I just love the metalwork on the Singer
It was recommended to me that I clean them various products. There are some really strong sewing machine aficionados with strick rules about cleaning and restoring these machines.
I tried two methods of cleaning. One with machine oil and another with a car wax called Zymol. I got my Zymol products online from Amazon.
Both videos I watched recommend carefully wiping the surface with a soft brush or cloth, cleaning with some soap and water, and then either using tons of sewing machine oil and then wiping the machine off. Buffing with a bit more oil or wax to finish.
Or using Zymol cleaner, wiping that off and then apply Zymol car wax with a final buffing. I actually preferred the Zymol method, which I used on these two machines: Singer and White.
A third method was to clean the machines with GOJO hand cleaning: making sure NOT to use the cleaner with the pumice as it would strip the finish left on the machine. The using oil or wax to buff.
A Chewing Out
I put the two items on sale on Etsy. I was surprised at the number of people who wanted to purchase the machine thinking it was restored and in working order. But after I got it established that the machine did not work and was only for decor, I got a complaint from a “customer”.
She told me that the Singer- the machine in the black box, is a “special” machine that is treasured by collectors. The fact that I took the machine from the treadle and put in in the box was a sacrilege to her. She said people like me had no right to ruin these old machines, etc.
Well, I was quite taken aback. There was nothing I could do about that machine. When I got the machine and cabinet, it was locked up and rusted with no wires or electrical connections. It was not going to work again. If it was restorable as it was, any restorer could have purchased it, cleaned, re-decaled, rewired, etc.
Who Wants Old Treadle Machines?
Turns out there are quite a few people who want these machines.
- The machines that work are easily sold in foreign countries. People without steady electricity use them to earn a living.
- Some specialty sewers want the final look obtained with these machines and stitches
- Other want to clean and restore an antique
- There are collectors of certain brands, certain models of the machines
- The wild ones who take these machines and either restore or collect and paint them with wild styles and colors.
If anyone reading wants any of these machines, I am selling the polished two for $50 each and again, the others are “make an offer items.”
Looking forward to hearing from you. I would especially love to hear from someone who uses an old treadle machine
Thanks for visiting- talk soon
Take good care