Saturday, April 25, 2009

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

Everyone, I'd like you to meet my sewing buddy Miss Eleanor Davis. She's a Davis vibrating shuttle treadle from some time in the 1920's. She is not a Vertical Feed, the most commonly known and sought after type of Davis, but she's one of my best sewing buds. Her presser foot measures out to a perfect scant 1/4" allowance. She knows enough about sewing, that she really only needs me to treadle. If she could figure out a way to self treadle, I'm sure I wouldn't need to do anything but cut pieces and leave them stacked on her cabinet. When I woke up in the morning, she would have them all taken care of for me!

This week, Eleanor and I have been making blocks for the Dear Jane Big Siggie Swap. That comes to a total of 84 blocks sewn, pressed, stamped and signed. And yes, I did give her full credit on the blocks, and included her name too! Unfortunately I forgot to get pictures before I packed them up and sent them (I was pushing to get them out to the Swap Mom before deadline).

For those of you who don't know, I sew almost exclusively on treadle and hand-cranked machines. I suspect it has to do with the episode of getting my sewing badge as a Girl Scout, when my Mom would constantly warn me that I was going too fast and was going to sew through my finger on her electric. Regardless, I find treadling a nice activity - there's something soothing about the steady rhythm of treadling while watching pieces go together. No noisy motors. No guessing at speed. Just nice steady pedal, stitch, pedal, stitch - and as a bonus, the ferrets like to ride on the treadle pedal while I sew (then chase the quilt blocks as they spill off the back while chain piecing!)

I'm sure a lot of you may have a family machine tucked away in storage, or sitting in your living room as decoration. Think about giving them a try! On a treadle, there is virtually nothing to go wrong. Unless they're seriously rusted or deteriorated, all you need to do is find a belt, oil them up, maybe grease the treadle moving parts a bit, and you're off. You may even notice that you get a true straight stitch (if you're detail oriented enough to notice that type thing). Modern machines that are made to zig-zag have play built into the needlebar to allow them to move back and forth. Treadles have one mode only. Straight. And the stitches themselves are a nice, neat, straight line, not the series of angled lines in a row you get from a modern machine. Plus, Earth friendly power, the ability to work even during a storm if your lights go out - you really can't beat them!

If by chance you're interested in giving yours a rehab and try, or if you're interested in getting one, there's a great group on line at where you can find support, information, and even people who will help with parts and supplies. Plus the neatest local gatherings (called TOGAs for Treadle On Gathering and Academy) that you'll ever get to attend.

OK - time to get off my treadle soap box, and back to all the rest of the 500 projects in process! And I'll get pics up once I get the swap blocks back, so you can see the final result!


  1. Pleased to meet you Miss Davis! You're a pretty one! I'd love to see a picture of the cabinet you reside in! :)

  2. I am thrilled to have a siggie created by Miss Davis (and her helper...)

    Ruthann (DJ group)

  3. Very nice Davis! Wish mine looked that good. Both are orphan heads. The ferret is pretty neat too :)