An Old White Treadle Sewing Machine
I have loved antiques for as long as I can remember. As a girl and teenager, I loved buying antiques and vintage clothing. I would love visiting my grandparents in Wisconsin and combing through the basement full of treasure, toys, artifacts, photos, all with a history. Over the years, my Grandpa and Grandma gave me sweet little treasures of their past and of their family. I am so grateful for these sentimental pieces of my family’s history.
While all the pieces are little, and perfect props for many of my photos, I have always loved antique and vintage furniture, but not had anything beyond the antique organ that was my husband’s when we got married. In Alaska, vintage and antique furniture is 3 to 4 times as much as the rest of the states. It’s ridiculous. Even a banged up piece can cost a small fortune, which would explain why the desire for antique furniture has mostly been laid aside.
But there was one day early this summer that my dear cousin who also has a fondness for things of old, told me that she and her husband happened upon some antique treadle sewing machines, and would I like one? I have always loved treadles, they’re antique and sewing combined, of course! But the cost versus the functionality of a piece like an old treadle never seemed impeccably practical. And so, I admired them, but never planned on owning one, until my cousin had an abundance.
I looked through her newly acquired stash, and fell in love with the treadle that was in pretty rough shape cosmetically. Her top was burned, the varnish yellow and chipping. The front apron had come off, and lets just say, only someone who could see beyond the dirt, paint splatterings, burned ash, and broken pieces would have the audacity to believe this treadle could become beautiful again. But I saw the beauty, hidden underneath, the curves on the piece, the carved details, the scrolly handles, yes, I was smitten. But I didn’t know how to tackle a project so huge.
Then my cousin happened upon a woman who knows how to refinish and fix treadle machines. One day in July, she came out and replaced the top with another and worked on refinishing the chipping varnish, while my cousin and I sat in the glorious sunshine, gently scrubbing old machine heads with a toothbrush.
I brought the gorgeous White treadle home. She was every bit as beautiful as I had imagined. I have to say, I think it is the most beautiful treadle I have ever seen, and I got it for the small cost of having someone work on it for a couple of hours. Amazing!
The head is also stunning. It was one of my cousin’s favorites, but she parted with it, (thank you), and it is the perfect fit for the girliest treadle in the world. I love it. And, it really does sew. I have yet to thread it up, but I think it would be fun to give it a try.
One of the drawers holds a box of old feet and attachments. When you see the photos of the women at the turn of the century with all the perfect tucks, this is how they did it. This head (the sewing machine) and treadle are both from around the turn of the century.
After I brought it home, I gave it a generous two coats of MMS Hemp Oil (the wood was so dry). I was going to clean the iron base with dish soap and water, but found out that was a big no-no, since old metal and iron just rust. Instead, use oil to clean metal. I used singer sewing machine oil and an old toothbrush and I was astonished at how it brought the iron base to life. There was even the famous gold “WHITE” lettering that had been hiding underneath dirt and scum.
My husband repaired the apron front on my birthday (that’s a good husband). The mechanics and engineering of this old pieces is brilliant, when the machine (head) flips up, the apron also goes up making room for legs to press the pedal.
I am in love with this old, truly antique piece of furniture. It is used more as an end table (with coasters of course!) than the functionality of a sewing machine, but it makes me smile. I am so thankful, that God went above and beyond, and found me the prettiest treadle for an incredible deal, just because He loves me and knows the secret desires of my heart.
Thank you for coming along with me on the journey! Have a blessed day!
Wow! That’s beautiful! Even to someone who knows nothing about these things:)
Thank you Janelle. I actually feel a little ignorant too, but I can’t ignore the intricate carving, the patina, ahhh, it’s just eye candy to me. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Just LOVE this! Sharing tonight on the Link Party!
Thank you Suzanne!
Just popped over from Suzanne’s to see this amazing find! I am not a collector but live on the Canadian prairies where it seems finds like this are rare and very expensive too! I learned how to sew on an old late 1950’s White’s electric sewing machine so the White’s brand has a place in my heart and I have not seen a White’s treadle before- only Singers. I cannot tell you how lucky you are to have this one come your way in such good shape -the embossing on the machine looks as flawless as possible for it’s age and complete with the attachments kit is really something!
Thank you for stopping by Kari, and sharing. So cool you learned to sew on a an old White. And I think living far from more civilized urban areas makes us all the more grateful for incredible pieces! I am very grateful for my cousin’s generosity. This piece makes me smile everyday, for sure. I feel blessed.
I have one too, and am so pleased you were able to restore it. Mine also needs a lot of work, and am pleased that you shared the info that it IS possible.
I’m glad you have a treasure. Best of luck as you restore it to its purposed glory.
I found a singer base (treadle), stashed away in a shed at an estate sale ($30), dug it out, used cc hubby stove cleaner on it!!! Found a beautiful, curvy piece of wood for the top. It meets u with a vase as u come in my house,- then I was able to buy another singer tread at an used second hand store, it had been there quite. Awhile, not any longer ($15), in my car for slot of TLC, hubby worked on the machine and me on the cabinet. Now we’re hooked, recently picked up another ( both range in early dates), hopefully they will find “forever homes’
What a beauty!!! And that cabinet looks like tiger oak – gorgeous in it’s own right! I’m not a treadle-person but I’ve been sewing for over 60 years. I’ve used many different machines, but White Rotary models are some that I really like. I learned to sew around age 8. Mom taught me on her 1949 White Rotary 77, which was a knee pedal type and set in it’s own cabinet. Not a pretty machine but a real workhorse. When I graduated from high school in ’69, she and Dad gave me a Kenmore 158-14001 as a grad gift. I LOVED it and used it for many years. The ONLY problem I ever had with that Kenmore was switching to a foot pedal from a knee pedal! I am very fond of vintage Kennies and now have a nice collection of different models. I’m also looking for some White machines as well. There’s a 1926 or so Family Rotary model that’s white bronze and embossed – exquisite. I’ve been watching one on a bidding site, but the owner wants more than I can afford. (sigh!) Maybe one day I’ll find an affordable one.