If you enjoy quilting or sewing, or just want to learn how to, then a treadle and/or hand crank sewing machine may be just right for you.
I learned to sew at a young age but never really got into it until I started using a treadle sewing machine as an adult. Yes, I had my electric Singer with fancy stitches at the push of a button that I had labored to purchase on layaway early in my womanhood. I had even used it occasionally to sew clothes for my children and me, but sewing wasn’t a passion. As I started using a treadle I found that, with hindsight, I had gotten a little bit nervous every time I went to step on the electric pedal. This is because I was never exactly sure how fast it was going to go.
Now I don’t want to step on any electric sewing machine users’ toes. Electric machines are awesome and can do just about anything these days. My friends turn out many handsome and well-made quilts with these modern marvels. But, if you like to really know your sewing machine and be able to work on it and maintain it yourself, then a treadle or hand crank just might be right for you. The joy of being able to oil it and know exactly what it will and will not do when you want it to is wonderful. They are very easy to use and you do not need to have special instruction or computer classes to learn to sew with one. Your head won’t be spinning with all the choices of exotic stitches. You just sit down and sew. In fact, they are so easy to learn that a very young person can learn to sew and find creating small items fun and exciting as well.
These machines were very well made with heavy-duty parts, loads of torque, and able to sew through many layers of thick fabric without any effort at all. Quilting over multiple seams is a cinch and making garments of various types, especially with bulky material, is also well suited for a treadle.
Precision and control are readily available to a treadle or hand crank sewing machine user. YOU are the controller, so how fast or slow you need to go is up to you. Tricky machine appliqué around intricate designs is attainable with the use of these people powered sewing machines. You can go a stitch or two at a time or, with a simple rocking motion of your legs, you can go at high speeds on straight long seams.
It is not hard work at all to use these machines, as many people may think. With a well-oiled machine, getting it to go is no more exercise than rocking in a rocking chair or turning a crank with your pinkie finger. Sorry, you won’t grow big muscular calves or arms with these babies.
There is also the charm of using an actual working piece of history, be it American, German, English, or any other country. These machines are many times passed down within a family through generations and are heirlooms to be cherished and appreciated.
There really is no drawback to using a treadle or hand crank sewing machine for quilting or most sewing. You can do button holes, fancy tuckering or pleating, ornamental zigzag, piping and such with attachments that many times come with the machine, or you can purchase from other collectors or find at sales or thrift stores.
So, if you enjoy history, being relaxed while sewing, using a machine that is easy to understand, being in full control, and being able to maintain your own machine, then a treadle or hand crank would be a great fit for you!