Friday, May 13, 2022

My New Treadle!

 Last November, I heard about a Willcox & Gibbs treadle on the Salvation Army website.  The treadle was in Santa Monica, California, and they didn't ship, it had to be a local pick-up.  One of the ladies in one of my vintage sewing machine groups said that she lived an hour from there and would be happy to pick up the machine and hold it for me, so I went ahead and bid on the treadle.  

Well, I bid on the treadle, and at the end, there was a bidding war between me and one other bidder.  It was going up, $1 by $1 for a while, but, in the end, I won the auction for a whopping $32!  Woohoo!

Nancy picked up the treadle a few days later, and when she got there, she discovered that the treadle drawers were full of goodies (not mentioned in the ad).  Woohoo, even better!  Nancy was drooling over the decals and the lovely attachments in the drawers (these seldom come with any of the attachments).

Well, Nancy held my treadle until Kim could pick it up.  Kim drove it to Flagstaff, AZ, where Wendy held it until my nieces friend could pick it up and drive it to Albuquerque, NM, where it changed hands 3 more times, and then it headed to Silver City, NM, where Anne and Bob picked it up.  After they picked up the treadle, it got to vacation with them across several states for the next 3 months before it finally got to their home in Wisconsin.  Last Saturday, hubby and I drove up to Wisconsin to pick up the treadle (and eat some yummy venison with Anne & Bob).  

This week, I've cleaned the treadle irons and the wood cabinet, and today I cleaned the sewing machine.  The entire treadle is in great shape for a 109 year old machine.  It was dirty, especially the treadle irons, which had some rust on them.  

before cleaning

before cleaning

lovely treadle peddle

I cleaned the irons outside (in the 90+degree heat).  You can see the rust on these 'before' photos.

belt guard

Here are the irons after cleaning and then waxing (Howard's Feed 'n Wax was used).

belt guard


One of the feet that holds the wheels on the treadle is broken.  Nancy found 2 treadle wheels in one of the drawers.  Since the metal foot is broken, there isn't a way to fix this (the broken part wasn't in the drawer).  At least it is the back wheels that aren't on the treadle anymore, so it tilts a fraction of an inch backwards.  Not a problem.

Front wheels

back wheel (not broken)

back wheel, broken off

Next was cleaning the wood on the cabinet, then waxing it (also with Howard's). 



after cleaning & waxing

Today it was the machine's turn to get cleaned & polished.  First, the before photos (it wasn't very dirty).
before cleaning

before cleaning

Serial #A586194 (from 1913)

thread and lint in the looper

dirty hand wheel

After cleaning the lint out and finding a whole bunch of thread wrapped around the hand wheel (I've not seen that before this machine)....
lots of lint around the feed dogs

threads wrapped around the hand wheel

the thread I got off the hand wheel

Finally, the treadle is re-assembled (except for the treadle belt, which will happen after I post this).
1913 Willcox & Gibbs treadle

I did test it, and it sews nicely!  This machine makes a chainstitch.
stitching from the top

stitching showing the chainstitch underneath

I told you that this treadle came with several attachments in the drawers.  Here is what came with it.
ruffler with original instruction sheet

original manual (109 years old)

Tuck Marker in original box

Wide, Narrow and Linen hemstitchers

wrench, gathering foot, quilt bar and seam guide

Oh yes, and Anne gave me some original W&G needles from her Boye needle case (Thanks Anne)!
2 Boye needle cases for W&G's

I have done some other things this week besides cleaning the treadle.  My Treadle On group is having an Advanced block exchange using the Radiant Sun's pattern (curved piecing).  I was smart and bought the templates, not just the pattern.  Those templates are worth every penny!

Earlier this year, I went thru my batiks and pulled fabrics, then bought the few colors that I didn't already have.  This week, I cut the pieces I'll need for the 3 different colorways (24 blocks in one colorway, 12 blocks each in the other 2 colorways).
24 blocks worth cut

12 blocks worth cut

12 blocks worth cut

Cara Gulati, who wrote the pattern, has a great YouTube video telling how to make this quilt from picking the fabrics thru stitching the blocks.  Hopefully the curved piecing goes as well as the cutting did.

I have two different sew-in's next week, so I'll be prepping some things to work on for them.  What are you working on this weekend?


  1. Oh wow, you did an AMAZING job of cleaning this machine. I can tell it is going to get a lot of love and attention. Can't wait to see how you enjoy using it. Treddle on.

  2. I love the treadle peddle! It's a beautiful machine.

  3. Oh if that machine could talk! It looks beautiful after you cleaned it up.

  4. I am always impressed by your machine restoration. I have never seen/used a chainstitch machine.


  5. What an awesome job you did of getting this machine cleaned!!! I've never used a chain stitch machine but it looks like it would be interesting. Also the attachments will be fun. Enjoy! ~Jeanne

  6. You are a miracle worker with that machine! Just noticing your floor and spindles on the stairs...just like mine!

  7. that is an amazing machine looks wonderful after you cleaned it. good luck on the curved piecing. pretty fabircs. I was at quilt retreat with a small group this last week trying out a new place it was great. too great with connecting quilt shop...

  8. What a wonderful blog post! I loved reading about the cooperation from others to get the machine to you... and watching over your shoulder seeing how you cleaned the machine. And what a gorgeous machine she is!

  9. WooHoo, what a steal and successful pony! Beautiful machine! And to have all those goodies in the drawers is fantastic!

  10. I really like that the maker of that old machine made it functional as well as beautiful. They didn't have to use all that fancy work on the legs, but they chose to. 100 years later, I appreciate their choice!

  11. Wow! What a treasure you found. You brought it back to life. It looks amazing now! Congratulations on your purchase. Enjoy! ;^)

  12. Hi Cheryl! Wow she looks amazing..... great job! And I'm so glad she made it safely. I love the thread catcher and have made a few! Thanks for letting me be part of the journey! And I've made Radiant Suns (I know Cara) -- feel free to play with the layout! I did and I love it!

  13. The machine is well traveled and is gorgeous after you got it all cleaned. Oh the radiant suns looks like it will be a lovely quilt. Love your batiks.

  14. Woohoo! Great Pony Express story and lovely machine - lucky you!!


Comments are IMPORTANT to me. Thank you for commenting. If you are a no-reply commentor, please leave me your email address, so that I can reply to you. If you don't want everyone to see your email address, then you can send me a private reply (my email address is listed under my profile).