Saturday, February 25, 2012

Musical Sewing Machines: When the music stops, who is in the cabinet?

 My husband's grandmother's 1922 Singer Red Eye 66-1 treadle has gone to live at DD Aurora's.  The MIL and I are thrilled that she wants it.  Aurora says it is an art object.  I say that she should know how to operate all of the devices in her house.  This argument is designed to appeal to the engineer in her.  Let you know how that goes...

cleaned up well, don't you think?

Naturally I have to have another treadle.  Last Easter I bought one with a pretty rough cabinet and a gunked up Singer 127 Sphinx inside.  I bought it for the treadle because I already had a Sphinx.  Then DD Emily extravagantly admired my Sphinx and its hand crank (she loves the rhythm of the vibrating shuttle).  I cleaned the gunky Sphinx and gave it to her for Christmas.

So I had an empty treadle but like I said it was cosmetically rough.  It does have drawers, this photo shows it in prep for cleaning. 

I watch CraigsList daily, and although there are a lot of truly delusional sellers out there, there are also good machines going for reasonable prices. 

Before restoration


Eventually it all came together:  a CraigsList posting for a nice looking treadle with a Singer 66 Lotus inside.  I've been yearning for a Lotus as an art object.  I wouldn't turn down another Red Eye either.  They are both beautiful, beautiful machines, but a pain in the neck to treadle, IMHO.  You'll see the Lotus later after a good cleaning, and with a hand crank.  Maybe that won't turn backwards and break the thread EVERY SINGLE TIME I pause for a moment.

Studio student Heather likes the people powered machines and will be taking the funky treadle home with a Riccar 108 zig-zag machine inside, a post-WWII Japanese vintage beauty. 

Riccar 108, near-mint all metal powerhouse
So what is going into the newly acquired 7-drawer treadle?   A Singer 115 with Tiffany decals.  The 115 has the reputation of being a good treadler, and I am looking forward to the test drive.  The irons have been restored and the cabinet is almost finished, so it will be soon.

Singer 115 after about 20 hours of cleaning and polishing

In other studio news, it's amazing how much can get done while baby is sleeping.

Raven checked out a Singer 185, but prefers the 99.

Her second project is a teddy bear.  She tried out the incredibly cute tiny clothes pins that I found in the office supplies section at Walmart.  Much less intimidating than sharp pins and they worked out well.

She finished sewing the bear and took it home to stuff it.

Is 5 months too young to start sewing lessons, do you think?  He really wants to get his hands on this machine.


  1. Lovely cabinet. I have a 7 drawer with a Singer 15 in it. I just converted my 66 Redeye to a hand crank yesterday (finished it today).

  2. Your Tiffany is gorgeous--as is the the 7 drawer cabinet. I would really love to have one someday (I have two 5-drawer).
    I never bonded with my 66 Redhead, although I used it for many, many hours. And for the record, mine always wanted to treadle backwards too. However, I'm pretty sure it was the machine, because now that I have a Necchi BU in the same irons, they almost never tell it to run backwards!
    Today I took the 66 (just the head) and some old motors and lights and several foot controls to the OSMG in our town, and he fixed my Featherweight foot control. The 66 is a beautiful machine, but it had just become clutter in my home, so I bid it farewell.

    1. I've got a Necchi BU waiting for restoration. I've heard even more good things about treadling that one than the 115 and plan to check it out. I also want to try a 15 in there, but that's another restoration project.

      Nice trade with the OSMG!

  3. Love the little clothespin idea!

  4. Your Singer 115 Tiffany is a gorgeous machine that would look beautiful sitting in that 7 drawer treadle. Love the little guy wanting to start sewing lessons, too cute.

  5. Your Tiffany is beautiful. I'm not sure I have seen one before. Can you add a Singer Hand crank to non-singers? I love hand cranks. I have two 99's and a 66 converted. I don't sew on them, but I love looking at them!

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