Posted in Sewing

The Free Sewing Machine Company

January 15, 2014 - 12:00 pm

Another treadle machine followed me home. I couldn’t help it. She’s beautiful, and her cabinet is probably the nicest piece of furniture in the house. Beauty pics later; this is sort of a drive-by post. For now I’ll post the craigslist photos:

craigslist-2

craigslist-1

I have a lot of work ahead of me to fully restore this machine. She’s in by far the worst shape of the machines I’ve acquired so far, but oh, my. This machine is a whole nuther level of engineering up from the Singers. Wow. 

Everything is lubed up and moving freely now, so I can start evaluating. The only thing stuck is the throat plate screw, which I worked around for lubrication purposes. I doused it liberally with WD-40 and I’m hoping that will remind it what the purpose of a screw is. 

With just a little oil on its ball bearings the treadle spins 50 times from one kick before reversing directions, and then will sit there oscillating indefinitely. 50. My other irons go about 12, and I thought that was nice. I’m used to the momentum of spinning wheels, not these monster iron things. 

Which, by the way, I have the bruise to prove. I was working on the drive band and pinched my thumb in the works. OW.

Awesomized

On the machine side of the engineering, I’m impressed by how finely pitched all the adjustment screws are. No need to turn the knobs 1/10th of a turn on this beauty. A full turn will barely make a perceptible difference in tension settings. The machine will also go a sizable number of stitches with one spin of the hand wheel. I didn’t count, but at least a dozen. Will C. Free appears to have been a big fan of ball bearings. All the major junction points have bearings that let the machine just glide. Quietly. Check out this YouTube video:

It’s even better in person. 

There is a lot of corrosion and some pitting on the formerly shiny parts, and I haven’t gotten all the dead spiders out of the cabinet yet, but not too much rust all things considered. All of the functional parts are brightening up now that they’re moving.

And she makes stitches:

IMG_0993.jpg

Pretty stitches, once I frobbed the shuttle a bit so the top thread could glide past without catching things got much nicer. Things are a bit lumpy in the background, but that last line of stitching is perfect. Flawless. Just what I would expect from this level of engineering.

IMG_0992.jpg

I also noticed the stitch quality seemed to improve when I pushed the bobbin winder into play enough to tighten the drive band up, which doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. And two footed treadling was definitely better; I can’t keep my treading smooth when I one-foot this beast.

I’m naming her Charlotte after my granny, who got me started with textiles. She had me knitting and sewing at 4, though even she couldn’t teach me to crochet. :-) Granny always appreciated the finest things in life. She lived modestly, but well. I believe she would have liked this machine.

Recent Posts

Baby Blue FMQ treadle machine

Today’s job was to get the Japanese 15 clone set up on the treadle and sewing. I managed to complete ...

Read More

Plans and Obstacles

This morning I woke up with a Plan.Yesterday morning I finally took the time to create some quilt sandwiches to ...

Read More

Franklin-Free Frankentreadle

Last week I ended up with two Surprise! machines: a Free parts machine the same model as Charlotte but with ...

Read More

The Art of Asking

Last night David and I went to Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking book tour/show. There was singing and silliness ...

Read More

Kenmore 158-540

Today I’ve got so many things to talk about.I’m excited about Curls and want to show off Jasper McTavish and ...

Read More

Comments

Deborah Robson

January 15, 2014 12:00 pm

You’re going to have me getting my old treadle machine back in action yet. I just got it back in my house (it’s been 1200 miles away for a number of years). With its cabinet, of course. I used to love using it. When it made a stitch, it made a STITCH. I love the activity of treadling, too.

Welcome to Charlotte!

Sharon Weaver

October 30, 2014 12:00 pm

Can you please tell me which needle the Free uses?
thanks,

Jennifer Leigh

October 31, 2014 12:00 pm

It uses a standard “universal” needle, happily. :-)

Leave Comment

%d bloggers like this: