The Story Continues
I can’t believe it’s been almost two years since I posted “As The Treadle Turns”. And, it almost has a happy ending.
This beautiful 31-15 treadle machine has been a monkey on my back. My friend says she loves vintage sewing machines because there’s no drama; no electronics to go wrong; and straightforward sewing.
Well, in my case; I was the drama.
There was lots of test sewing, but I admit I didn’t put in the hours to practice treadling. I watched Tim Latimer do free motion quilting on leather; how hard could it be?
On my first attempt at just straight stitching, I assumed I could use a regular sewing thread on this industrial machine. Lots of broken thread later convinced me that this was not the right choice. Maybe if I had practiced more and could keep the machine going forward instead of lurching backward, it could have worked.
I had some bonded nylon leftover from when I attached glass eyes while making teddy bears. I used it to quilt a double-sueded leather to make a computer bag. There were several dropped stitches but it sort of worked. Where it failed was sewing the bag together. During my testing before I bought the machine, I was able to put five layers of thin leather together and it sewed fine. What was I doing wrong? More drama.
So, I stopped for a while. Sent a few frantic emails to the person I bought it from hoping for some guidance. She had no problem sewing leather. She’d done it with this very machine. I was wondering what kind of leather she used.
Next, I tried Coats and Clark® thread. Bonus, there are more colors to choose from. It frayed; it broke; and skipped stitches. Fail.
So, I stopped for a while. Maybe the seller could come out and give me some lessons?
Her suggestion was Mara® 100 Tex 30 All Purpose Thread. It says its high quality, 100% Polyester thread, with high breaking strength. And it may be all that, but other than samples, I couldn’t get it to sew a nice even stitch.
So I stopped for a while and worked on my Pfaff 7570. A machine I’m comfortable with and have been sewing on for over ten years.
I thought about selling the treadle. Who would buy it? It’s beautiful, but so heavy. I didn’t know any sewers who didn’t already have several machines to their name. Maybe I could get a machine that was made jut to sew leather. Their prices were steep and did I want something else that would frustrate me?
So I stopped for a while.
The other day I decided I was going to conquer this machine and practice a little. Being a glutton for punishment, I got out the nylon thread again. If I was just practicing, what did it matter?
Thread does matter. So I pulled out the Mara thread. Still not working.
My last hope was Gutermann Tera® 40 Tex 75 upholstery thread which has the strength of bonded nylon but is 100% polyester. And, good for me it has high breaking strength and good abrasion resistance. Yes, this is a mini commercial for the thread. But, I also checked the bobbin case and noticed that the set screw was set way too loose. A few turns with a screw driver corrected that. I tweaked the top tension as well.
I cautiously started to sew a piece waxed canvas to test the thread out. My mouth dropped as I saw the perfect little stitches. But, could I replicate them and actually make a bag?
I’m happy to say that “As The Treadle Turns” has a happy ending. I finished a bag yesterday and I’m ready to start on a new one soon.
Tera® does have a limited color selection so maybe after I’ve done a few more bags I’ll find that I could use Mara® with a lot more choices.
Either way, I can look at my vintage 31-15 Singer and smile.
Several days later . . . I stop for a while.
My glee was short lived. I cut out my next bag and was anxious to use my treadle again. All I did was change the thread color. It was the same brand. I don’t think I did anything else different, but I couldn’t get it to sew a stitch.
I emailed for some help and got a few suggestions, which I tried to no avail. I’m 99% positive that it’s user error; I just can’t figure out what this user is doing wrong.
So if there’s anyone out there who has a treadle and knows the magic formula. Let me know- P L E A S E!