What comes to mind when you think of a treadle sewing machine? Probably the sewing machine that your grandmother used for stitching clothes for the entire family; now that sewing machine is hidden somewhere in the attic collecting dust or maybe it’s now on sale at a shop that sells antique items.
Both of this could be true; your grandma’s old treadle sewing machine could either be hidden in your attic or it could be part of an antique shop. First introduced to the public by Isaac Singer in the 1850s, the treadle sewing machine became an instant hit. This was the first time the average woman could stitch clothes, curtain, and other fabric for your house and family in the comfort of her home. The treadle sewing machine was a truly remarkable invention.
How the Treadle Sewing Machine Works
A reminder of America’s industrial knowledge and might, a treadle sewing machine is a mechanically powered machine operated by pushing back and forth a foot pedal manually. Today, the treadle sewing machine is found at antique shops, in auction houses, at garage sales, and even in junk stores.
If you’ve never used the treadle sewing machine or seen anyone use it, then you may want to know how this classic sewing machine works. If that is the case, then you’re in luck; we are going to provide you with the details of how the treadle sewing machine works.
A large rubber belt is used to operate the treadle sewing machine; this belt stretches from the balance wheel to the bigfoot pedal at the lower side of the machine. Most treadle sewing machines do not have any feature for adjusting the stitch length. In other words, only a single straight stitch is possible with most treadle sewing machines. However, the most durable, delicate, and aesthetically pleasing stitches are produced by these sewing machines.
Unfortunately, treadle sewing machines have become a bit of folklore with the advent of electric-powered sewing machines; these machines are faster and more efficient than the treadle machines. Over the years, sewing technology developed and the electric-powered machines became increasingly advanced; this pushed the treadle sewing machines further into the background.
Today, people prefer to use electric-powered sewing machines over the treadle machines because they offer increased utility and many decorative stitches. However, treadle sewing machines have not completely faded into obscurity. Many people have preserved and maintained the treadle sewing machines or their parents, grandparents, and even great grandparents to this day.
Some of these sewing machines have a black head with gold decals and a cabinet with several drawers on each side. These drawers are used for storing sewing accessories such as needles, pins, thread, scissors, a tape measure, lubricating oil, and extra bobbins. Now that we have a basic idea of what a treadle sewing machine is and how it works, we can move onto the discussion on the treadle sewing machine parts and functions.
The Different Parts of a Treadle Sewing Machine and Their Functions
When we talk about the parts of a treadle sewing machine, then we can categorize them into two different types: the upperparts and the lower parts. Some of the major components that make up the upper part of the treadle sewing machine are Head, Arm, and Bed.
On the other hand, the major components making up the machine’s lower part are the Belt Guide, Band Wheel, Dress Guard, Treadle, Legs, and Belt Shifter. Let’s now get into the details of the components that make up the upper and lower parts of the treadle sewing machine.
The Upper Parts of the Treadle Sewing Machine and Their Functions
We already mentioned three components that make up the upper part of the treadle sewing machine. Following are the other components that make up the upper part:
- Balance Wheel/Head Wheel
- Needle Plate
- Bobbin Case
- Thread Guide
- Bobbin Cover
- Thread Cutter
- Bobbin Winder
- Tension Disc
- Face Plate
- Take-up Lever
- Feed Dogs
- Stitch Regulator
- Spool pin
- Needle Bar
- Slide Plate
- Needle Clamp
- Reverse Lever
- Pattern/Stitch Selector
- Press Foot Lever
- Presser Foot
Following are the functions of these components that make up the upper part of the treadle sewing machine:
This is the sewing machine head’s curved part that comprises of the mechanism to operate the needle.
2. Balance Wheel/Hand Wheel
The mechanism is set in motion by the balance wheel. The wheel is used to raise and lower the needle manually. A motor drives the wheel; this motor can be turned by hand to adjust the height of the sewing needle. The component is located on the sewing machine’s right side.
The machine’s flat portion, the bed is mounted on the feed dog which lies beneath the machine; this is also the position of the lower thread and the shuttle. The bed is used for stabilizing the machine to allow it to say in one place.
4. Bobbin Case
This is where the bobbin lies. The bobbin case not only holds the bobbin but it also provides the lower thread with tension. The needle wraps around the bobbin thread, as it is pulled around the case that holds the bobbin. Additionally, the needle thread is pulled up through the needle plate.
5. Bobbin Cover
This is a cover for the bobbin and the bobbin case.
6. Bobbin Winder
This component winds the thread and controls the bobbin; it is basically a mechanism for winding the bobbin thread.
The bobbin is the component that provides the lower thread. A stitch is formed by looping together the needle thread and the thread of the bobbin.
8. Face Plate
This is a cover which provides access to the needle bar’s oiling points, take-up lever, and presser bar when it is removed.
9. Feed Dogs
Small pieces of textured metal, feed dogs move the fabric while it is sewed.
This is a sewing machine with a carry case or cabinet.
11. Needle Bar
The function of this component is to keep the needle at one end by using a clamp. The needle bar provides motion to the needle.
12. Needle Clamp
It is used to hold and tighten the needle. It keeps the needle in position.
Featuring a hole for thread at one end and a point at the other, a needle is an extremely lean piece of metal. Fabric is stitched by using a needle.
14. Stitch Selector
As the name suggests, the stitch selector selects the type of the stitch i.e. whether the stitch will be an embroidery stitch or a straight stitch.
15. Presser Foot
Attached to the machine shank, the presser foot keeps the fabric in place while it is sewed.
16. Pressure Foot Lever
It is used to lower or raise the presser foot. The tension discs are engaged when the pressure foot lever is lowered.
17. Reverse Lever
This is used to deflate the lever, allowing the mechanism to reverse or move backwards.
18. Slide Plate
A rectangle-shaped movable plate, the slide plate covers bobbin case. This makes it possible to remove the bobbin case without having to lift the machine.
19. Spool Pin
Present at the top of the sewing machine, the spool pin is used to hold the thread packages.
20. Stitch Regulator
It is used to control the fabric stitches’ length and width.
21. Take-Up Lever
This component plays a key role in the threading of the sewing machines. The take-up lever is moved up and down with needle to maintain an appropriate tension.
22. Tension Disc
It is used to control the tightness and looseness of stitches.
23. Thread Cutter
Attached to the machine’s left side, the thread cutter is a tiny blade in the later models of the treadle sewing machine that conveniently cuts thread tails.
24. Thread Guide
It is used to hold the thread in place and guide it from the spool to the needle.
25. Needle Plate
The needle plate is made of metal and covers the bobbin casing and the feed dogs; it can be used to guide the fabric through at a seam that it is allowed.
The Lower Parts of the Treadle Sewing Machine and Their Functions
Following are the lower part of the treadle sewing machine and their functions.
1. Band Wheel
Throughout the belt connection, the band wheel leads the balance wheel.
2. Belt Shifter
It is used to detach the belt from the wheel.
3. Dress Guard
It is used to keep the dress safe from the wheel.
4. Band Wheel Crank
It is used to move the band wheel.
5. Foot Pedal
It is pressed with feet to drive the band wheel through the pitman rod. The basic purpose of the foot pedal is to start, run, and stop the machine.
6. Pitman Rod
It connects the treadle with the band wheel crank.
They are used to provide support to the machine’s cabinet.
8. Belt Guide
It keeps the belt in position.
Our Final Thoughts
If you ever get to use your grandma’s old treadle sewing machine, you can use this guide as a reference to know the exact treadle sewing machine parts and functions. This will make it easier for you to use the sewing machine.