What Is A Treadle Sewing Machine: How To Use And More

Last Updated on 9 months by Susan Mayrich

The answer to what is a treadle sewing machine is that it’s a mechanical type of sewing machine. The operation for it is manual, and we’ll discuss it in more detail below. You’ll also found out how to use one and if it’s easy to do. 

what is a treadle sewing machine

Another helpful article that you can check out discusses how to use an old sewing machine. You can combine the knowledge in it with this article to familiarize yourself better with old devices. And if you need to revive the look of your model, try this guide on how to polish a vintage Singer sewing machine


Everything To Know About Treadle Sewing Machines


What is a treadle sewing machine?

A treadle sewing machine is a mechanical type of sewing machine. You will operate it via the foot pedal that you’ll push back and forth. Because it needs manual intervention to work and it lacks other features such as stitch modification, most people prefer electric sewing machines, and treadle sewing machines themselves are hard to find besides in garage sales or antique shops. 


How does a treadle sewing machine work?

A treadle sewing machine works depending on how the user presses the pedal. The machine turns according to the rhythm of your feet since it controls a flywheel connected to a handwheel via a belt. Therefore, precision and technique are necessary for you to sew according to the speed you like. 

You can only sew with a single straight stitch on a treadle sewing machine compared to modern sewing machines. There are also no features to adjust the stitch length and other ways to personalize your sewing. However, this very simplicity and straightforwardness of the treadle sewing machine make it easy to use and durable that you will see most units as antiques to this day. 


What Is Treadle Sewing Machine Used For?

A treadle sewing machine is used for making straight stitches without relying on electricity and motors. It is perfect for users who prefer the simplicity of sewing machines or even youngsters interested in learning machines that their grandparents have used. Those who choose to keep their home as sustainable as possible opt for the human-powered treadle sewing machine.

Another way to use the treadle sewing machine is for relaxation. It is best for slow and intentional sewing, so people who treat sewing as a way to unwind will love treadle models. And best of all, it runs quietly, so you don’t need to worry about disturbing other people with it. 


Are Treadle Sewing Machines Hard To Use?

Treadle sewing machines are not hard to use, but getting used to the pedal’s rhythm might take practice. Remember that the sewing speed depends on your feet since the treadle motion turns the sewing machine as it spins the flywheel and handwheel. You also want to ensure that the belt that connects these two wheels remains tight, or you may find it harder to sew with a treadle model. 

  1. Unfasten one side of the belt and slide it off
  2. Cut off a bit of the belt and staple the new end
  3. Reattach the belt accordingly so that it still successfully connects the flywheel to the handwheel 
  4. You will probably need to tighten your treadle sewing machine belt, especially if it’s not been used for a long time
  5. A tip to keep the belt from getting stretched out when not in use is to slip it off the flywheel via the lever and then only reinstall it when sewing

How Do You Use A Treadle Sewing Machine?

  1. Keep the sewing machine unthreaded and get a fabric piece for practicing first 
  2. Place both of your feet flat over the treadle and turn the handwheel towards you to move the machine
  3. The wheel should turn as you rock the treadle back and forth with your feet
  4. You don’t need to press hard like driving with a gas pedal, but instead, your rhythm will keep it moving
  5. If the rhythm is wrong, the wheel can move in the opposite direction since you’re too early for the machine
  6. To stop the needle in a specific place, move the handwheel to position the needle with your feet on the treadle as if you put a car in brakes

When Did They Stop Making Treadle Sewing Machines?

It was in 1889 when Singer Sewing Company developed the first electric sewing machines. Even when Singer was still offering hand and treadle machines with electric units, these motor-powered models gained popularity. It was also in the 1970s when electronic sewing machines were introduced to the market.

Are you interested in who makes Singer sewing machines? Please read our discussion about it. 


Are Computerized Sewing Machines Better Than Mechanical?

Computerized sewing machines are better than mechanical ones because they have convenient stitch controls, needle positions, and automatic thread cutters. However, mechanical models also have an advantage over modern ones because their lack of complex parts means they’re simpler to use and likely to last longer. 



And that’s it! We just answered what is a treadle sewing machine, which is a mechanical, pedal-powered unit. Your rhythm will control sewing speed, so it’s simpler and more straightforward to use than electronic models. 

If you have more questions regarding sewing machines, feel free to browse our blog. 


0 thoughts on “What Is A Treadle Sewing Machine: How To Use And More”

  1. i have a THE FREE treadle and for the life of me i can’t figure out how to seperate the machine from the desk. i have it flipped back it has an oil pan and two large hooks that move with the back wood piece, want to remove to clean it up away from desk. it’s a self loading.


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