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Treadle Sewing Machines Information

Category Sewing
The manual treadle sewing machine harks back to a time when in-home electricity was not common place. It is still used in areas worldwide that lack electricity. Some crafters and seamstresses enjoy the excellent stitching quality and the gentle clickety-clack of the foot powered mechanism. This guide contains treadle sewing machine information.


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By 1 found this helpful
May 11, 2010

I have a Singer treadle machine model, #w20841. I cannot thread it. Any ideas how I can find out?

By joyce from Shawnee, OK


May 15, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I've owned 3 treadles, a White & 2 Singers. They all thread in basically the same way.
These older machines are quite simple to thread & your best bet would be to find a video on U-Tube of someone demonstrating it, but if you're like me & have only dial-up internet & can't get videos, I will try to attempt describing how to do it:

* Look at the machine diagram below & if you see in anything in "quotes" that means the item in quotes is shown in the drawing below:

FIRST: You need to know that the take-up lever needs to ALWAYS be ALL the way up before you start to you thread!

SECOND: Any time you move the "Machine Pulley" wheel (the wheel to the right that moves the needle up & down) you ALWAYS need to turn it towards you which would be Counter-clockwise & NEVER turn it clock-wise!


THIRD: To know WHICH DIRECTION to thread the machines needle from (in ANY machine) you look where the last thread guide is & if it is in the front, you'd thread the needle from the front, if the last thread guide is on the left side, you would thread the needle from the left

1) Put the thread on the "Spool Pin" (facing either way)
2) Then pull strand of thread over to your left & slide it in the first thread guide you come to (not shown on drawing)
3) You will see the round "Tension" dial (with numbers on it). Put the thread inside the dial from the right to the left under then BETWEEN the 2 round circle/disc plates
4) Now bring the thread up & into the "Take-Up Lever" & thread it from right to left
5) Then bring thread down through the next 2 or 3 thread guides
6) Thread the needle.
* Remember to thread the needle (as stated above) looking where the last thread guide is on your machine.

---> Almost all machines thread like this: First through a thread guide, then down & through the upper tension, then up through the take-up lever, then down through the thread guides & into the needle.


BOBBIN THREADING: (there are 2 types)
1) If you have a "drop-in" bobbin & put the bobbin in so if you pull on the thread, the bobbin would spin counter-clockwise. Slide back the metal plate that covers the bobbin, drop the bobbin into the machine, then slide the thread in to a slot which is the Bottom Tension & slide the plate back in.
2) If your bobbin casing is the kind that comes out & you remove from the machine, have the thread bobbin thread face the same way, then pull the thread into the little slot, (near a tiny screw, this screw is the bobbin tension). Next, hold the little lever out (this prevents the bobbin from falling out) & use it as a handle to put the Bobbin casing back into the machine.

You need to get your bobbin thread up. To do this, simply hold on to the top thread with your left hand while you spin the "Machine Pulley Wheel" towards you (counter-clockwise) with your right hand & the bobbin thread will come out & be on the top. Each time you sew, it helps if you hold the 2 threads in you fingers while you sew the first couple of stitches so the bobbin thread doesn't get sucked back down into the machine.


---> This sounds very difficult, but it's super-easy if someone showed you how... It's just hard to write it all out!




Your antique machine will need to be oiled before you use it! Find directions on how to oil on the Singer site or on the web. It's super-easy! Don't pay someone to do it for you! ...If you care for this machine, it will last another 2 or 3-hundred years! It would also help if you take some canned-air & a little paintbrush to clean & blow away any dust & lint that's accumulated inside the bobbin, underneath & in the upper machine.

* ALSO: Some old machines are timed differently & need to be re-timed so our modern needles work with them. So if your machine is having problems, maybe it hasn't been timed to modern specifications. I don't know much about this, I just know that they needed to do this to one of my treadles. Here's some more info:



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By 0 found this helpful
November 7, 2018

I have a Eldredge treadle. It was gifted to me in '09 after my bf's grandmother passed. It has sat around all these years and I've finally overcome my fear and decided to restore the treadle.

My question is this. I can't seem to find any information on when she was made or where for that matter. It does have a serial number 1311592, but nothing else. It has a decal on the front of the arm that says, "The Eldredge" and on the back of the arm it says, "Improved Eldredge B". I've researched a lot and every image I seem to pull up doesn't match my treadle. I've found manuals a plenty of another Improved Eldredge, it's similar, but not at all exact.


I would just like to get a date because I want to set up a memory book with his late grandmother and great grandmother and any information I can find about this particular model. So that when it's not in use (I do plan to use it) this memory book and pics of the grandmothers can rest on top.

So any info on a possible date would be so greatly appreciated.


November 7, 20180 found this helpful

In June of 1890, Eldridge was consolidated with the National Sewing Machine Company. Your machine is at least that old.

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November 7, 20180 found this helpful

Perhaps this blog can help! Maybe the author has additional sources.

Your idea is lovely! It is so sweet to preserve history like this!!

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November 8, 20180 found this helpful

There is a lot of information about the Eldredge and National Sewing Machines but not a lot of actual information that makes it possible for just "anyone" to date one of these machines.

  • Your machine had to have been produced after 1890 since it has a National Sewing Machine "badge" on the front (nameplate).
  • I cannot find any statement showing that the name Eldredge was completely dropped in favor of using the National Machine name so it is possible the Eldredge name stayed on their machines until they closed the factory.
  • There is evidence that National Sewing Machine company sold machines to several companies placing whatever name that company wanted to use (clones) (just like the Japanese companies did with the "Singer" model).
  • Here is an ad from 1879 showing a similar machine but it cannot be yours because this was 11 years before National was started.
  • Even Wikipedia does not say when (or if) the sewing machines were renamed to National. I cannot even find a date when treadle machines were dropped from production.
  • Here is a link to Eldredge manuals but some of them are no longer available and your machine may be one of the missing ones. You can look at the pictures and writing to see if your machine is mentioned.
  • It is possible that you could contact this company to see if they can tell you which machine is yours and if they have a manual. I certainly think a manual would be worth the few dollars they are priced. It may take a few days to get an answer.
  • Here is a link that you can purchase (usually) replacement parts and needles/bobbins for antique/vintage machines.
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November 9, 20180 found this helpful

I think for your purposes you can safely put 1890's and it will be great. You can also put in a note re the manufacturer and how important the sewing machine was to the development of society in ways that we completely overlook nowadays

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May 11, 20100 found this helpful

I need the name of a company that sells treadle sewing machines.

Mary from AR


Treadle Sewing Machines Information

Have you tried Lehman's Non Electric Catalog? They are based in Kidron, Ohio, USA and sell a lot to the Amish. (11/23/2004)

By Peach

Treadle Sewing Machines Information

There are two companies that make modern treadle sewing machines. Janome, the 712T is a nice looking machine. The other company is Singer that makes a dual electric/treadle. You need to have a treadle table for either machine. I would like to purchase a Janome, but am having trouble finding a treadle table. There are no modern day manufactures that I can fine, and I hate to destroy an antique to acquire a table. (05/31/2009)

By Sally Saunders-Przybil

Treadle Sewing Machines Information

Janome 712T Treadle Machine


By Richard Shaffer

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