Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Our 1915 Singer Red Eye Treadle...

Click on arrow in the bar above to watch the video © 2010 jim otterstrom

Peggy treadles away at our 95 year-old Singer Model 66 Red-Eye.

This reliable old machine was purchased something like 20 years ago from a local antique & junk shop for $75. It runs like a top, purrs like a kitten on steroids, and consistently sews a perfect stitch.

We also have a 1917 Singer Model 99 Hand Crank "portable", which also runs perfectly. The 93 year-old hand-cranker was found here at a Big Bear thrift store, where we gave $50 for it maybe 18 years ago. For my money these are two of the best purchases we've ever made, as these Singers seem nearly indestructible, and all you need to run them is a tiny bit of muscle power. I don't think technology gets much more elegant than this, I could wind bobbins all day just to watch the bobbin winder work!

Last summer we downsized our bed from a king size to a queen size (when we found a like-new second-hand mattress set for free) and, in this video, Peg is altering one of our old king size sheets to fit the new mattress.

Peg still has her fancy Viking electric machine but she's really enjoying working with the treadle right now, and getting some practice on it, because she wants to use it for her upcoming sewing project.

This post also seems the right place to share with you this post, at, about Anne Kusilek, a professional quilter and sewing machine collector who, since 1990, has done all of her sewing on human-powered machines. Did you check out Anne's custom sewing table with five machines mounted above five individual treadle bases? An inspiring post and a beautiful collection of machines too!

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Blogger CatHerder said...

Growing up we had one of those...then in the 70's my mom traded it in and got a brand new Singer (with button holer etc)...I have a newer version as well..and cant master it to save my soul....i have seen a few on craigslist and freecycle but havent been quick enough to grab them...i MUST have gosh it was SO MUCH SIMPLER!!

3:54 PM  
Blogger CatHerder said...

btw, the sewing room looks FANTASTIC!

3:54 PM  
Blogger robin andrea said...

What a beautifully crafted machine. They just don't make them like that anymore. It's great to watch Peg do all of that human-powered. Excellent!

4:08 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

These are still being made. I have seen new ones here made for use in remote Pacific Islands, and in your neck of the woods, Lehman's sells them
Though I think they're overpriced!

I had an old Singer treadle about 20 years ago, but gave it away for lack of space when we moved. I've regretted that ever since.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Kate said...

Sorry, second post. Have done some looking up and you can get an 'antique' one for 140 -150 $'s on ebay. The Lehman's ones are nearly $1000 !!! and apparently the cabinets are not very good. Sigh.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Tabor said...

What a reassuring post. We can get by on less and quality made is usually last decade's model. I do love the floral decor on that machine.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How cool is that! Exercise and sewing together! I have a cabinet from a treadle machine but no machine.

1:08 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

I have my Grandmother's machine just like this one. It's beautiful! But, when it was delivered, they took off the leather cord that runs the machine. Any idea how I can put it back on? Please email me at if you can help! Thanks, and I'm so glad these great machines are still being used. I'm hoping to get mine up and running again very soon!

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! I haven't been to your site for awhile, and it's serendipity that I found this post. I just bought the same machine and am trying to clean and repair it. Unfortuneatly, I unwisely took it apart before taking a photo. I'm having a tough time fitting it back together. Would it be possible for you to take a close up shot of the portion near the wheel that turns on the end? I am working on the part that holds the bobbin winder. I would really appreciate it, as I've been unable to find an exploded view of the machine. Can't wait to be able to sew like Peg!

3:31 PM  
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