Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Treadle Sewing Machine

by Molly Jebber, Amish Historical Romance Author

Did your grandmother have a treadle sewing machine?

Old Order Amish still use this machine in many of their homes to make their dresses, aprons, men's shirts, pants, and more.

I can’t sew. The best thing I can do with a needle and thread is sew on a button! I admire all of you who sew curtains, clothes, aprons, and more. I admire all of you who can sew.

After college, my girlfriend, Joanie, planned her wedding. She was an excellent seamstress, and she used a Singer sewing machine to make all our bridesmaids dresses. I was amazed.

Here are some interesting tidbits about the history of the treadle sewing machine:

The treadle sewing machine is powered by a foot pedal. The operator uses their foot to control the needle going up and down to make the stitches on the fabric.

In 1846, Elias Howe patented the first practical sewing machine. He had a disability that left his arm weak, and this made it hard for him to do manual labor. The disability also caused him pain and tiredness. This is what spurred him on to create the sewing machine to make it easier to stitch things. Later in his life, he returned from England to find Singer and other manufacturers were using his patents to make sewing machines. He took them to court and won. They had to pay him millions of dollars.

In 1851, Isaac Singer patented his sewing machine, and with each model, he made changes to improve the machine. Singer became a household name, and we still identify to this day with Singer sewing machines. Isaac Singer went from rags to riches and used his wit to earn money and create the first Singer sewing machine. He had twenty children and made each one of them rich with his business. He trained his salesmen, sent them door-to-door, and his business became very successful.

By 1863, Singer held 22 patents and had sold 20,000 sewing machines per year. In the next eight years, Singer Manufacturing Company sold 180,000 sewing machines. Singer was responsible for inventing the foot pedal to drive the needle up and down versus the hand crank.

Do you sew? What is your favorite thing to stitch? Answer this question in the comments below and you will be entered for a chance to win a copy of ELLIE'S REDEMPTION. Please leave your email or Facebook page below in the comments so I know how to reach you if you win! Thank you!

Winner for August contest: Connie Ruggles! Congrats.
Winner for September contest: Betti Mace! Congrats.

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  1. Thanks for your post! I used to sew, I took sewing in 4H as a teenager. I had to model a nightgown I had made at a regional competition!! No so easy for a shy, insecure teenager! I used to make my children's pajamas. But I guess it wasn't my favorite hobby as it went by the wayside in the busyness of life. Now I have a love/hate relationship with it. In retirement I want to try some quilting so I had better have a few "dates" with my machine!

  2. I learned to sew on my grandma's sewing machine, many, many, years ago, lol. I don't have a favorite stitch and don't sew anymore but I have done a lot during my lifetime.

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy of "Ellie's Redemption", I really enjoy your books.

    wfnren at aol dot com

  3. I learned to sew from my mother. I have a few things that I made years ago that I'm especially proud of. I made my own wedding dress from lots of satin and lace. Then a few years later I made a three piece suit for my husband.

    I also made matching dresses for our 4 daughters and myself for Easter one year. Left over fabric from them became dresses for each of their special dolls. In recent years I haven't done any sewing.

    I actually got my grandmother's sewing machine after she passed away. It was originally a treadle machine. At some point she paid to have it converted to electric so the treadle is no longer there. It is operated with a knee pedal now.

    Thank you for a chance to win your book.

    debbiewilder (at) comcast (dot) net

  4. I learned to sew from my mother and as 4-H projects. I've enjoyed making my own clothes and for others in the past. Our grandmother had a treadle sewing machine. I sure wish I had it today. I enjoy seeing my Amish friend's treadle sewing machine in her home.

    One summer, I made numerous Christian school uniforms for the staff including myself as a part-time staff member.

    This was a wonderful read with the tidbits about the treadle sewing machine.

    marilynridgway78 [at] gmail [cot]com

  5. This was what I was looking for, thanks for the information and for your article.