Friday, September 28, 2012

Adventures with a Treadle Sewing Machine: Cleaning the Singer

So I stayed up way too late last night but it was well worth it. The Singer is now shining in her cabinet! All that's left to do is to oil her, wax the cabinet and attach the belt. I am so excited to get sewing!

As promised, I am posting before and after pictures. The very first thing I did was to wipe her down with a soft cloth and warm water with a splash of dish soap. Then I decided to work on all of the chrome pieces. To clean the chrome I would pull each piece off as I was working on it and clean with metal polish. I did one piece at a time so I wouldn't forget where each piece went. Some pieces were really dirty so I would also scrub with a fine steel wool pad. Then follow up with more metal polish.

I then wiped the painted part of the machine down with sewing machine oil . . . if you are cleaning a machine be very careful with what you use on the paint, especially if your decals are in good condition! After wiping down, sewing machine oil is your best bet.

Not too shabby for 106 years old, right? 

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Adventures with a Treadle Sewing Machine: Make That Machines!

It's been a busy week with refinishing in our house and not all of the projects went well. As promised . . . I was sharing the ups and downs of the White Treadle Sewing Machine fix-up and right now, it is mostly downs. We applied 2 coats of stain but the beat up wood was not taking to it nicely. The top was completely splotchy and not at all what I had hoped it would be.

The wood just looks sad. But I am still so in love with this beautiful cabinet.

One thing you must learn . . . I refuse to quit until I get what I want. So I will continue to work until I achieve what I have pictured in my mind. My husband and I have decided that this will be our biggest project yet . . . we are actually going to re-veneer the entire top of the table. Therefore, this cabinet will be put to the side until the new year. I will need to make some money before I can purchase the wood veneer and there are a few other projects that are taking priority. I will continue to clean and prep the sewing machine head in the meantime. 

It is not all bad news though. My husband surprised me this week by purchasing a stunning Singer 15-30 with Tiffany decals as an early birthday present. The cabinet and the machine are in fabulous condition. The only flaw in the cabinet is that it is missing it's lid (eh . . . it's too pretty for me to care . . . I am just going to sew a beautiful dust cover for the machine) and the machine just needs a little bit of cleaning and polish. 

I am so in love with this beauty! And my amazing husband for allowing me to own 2 stunning pieces of history! I was dying to treadle and I was sooo disappointed when we realized how much longer it would be until the White would be up and running. I should now be treadling by Sunday night! 

I am going to get back to cleaning the machine head before bedtime! I will share pictures of how pretty it looks all cleaned up. I also am wrapping up another furniture makeover which I hope to have completed by Saturday morning! 
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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Adventures with a Treadle Sewing Machine: Many Days Later

I feel like I have already lost count of how many days I have been at work on the new old machine. I have become quite discouraged over the past few days . . . I have not been too pleased with the results I am getting and am now even considering re-veneering the piece.

I made the mistake of staining over the wood putty without sanding it all down as well as I should have. Note to self . . . next time use pre-stained wood putty and be sure to sand as much off as possible. I am glad I tested one small piece.

It was awful looking. But I promised to share the best and worst of this project with you. This resulted in another day of sanding.

I did do one coat of stain but did not get a chance to photograph it yet. I am not liking the way the stain is taking so we will see if another coat of stain makes a difference. The machine itself is still being cleaned. I am still trying to clean all the rust off of the chrome pieces. There is only so much scrubbing you can do in one day.

To top it off, we have had rainy days lately and I cannot carry the machine in and out myself. Therefore, I have been left with only evenings or weekends to work so that I have my husband here to help me lug it in and out. Needless to say, it has helped to make the project last a while. 

I am so grateful that my family is willing to put up with our entire dining room being re-arranged as the table sits against one wall and the machine is perched in it's own spot on the dining room table.

I have not given up yet though. I will continue to try to make this machine look as good as it did back in the day. I am just so anxious to start sewing on it.

I will also be embarking on a bedroom re-vamp over the next few weeks. It will take a while, as I will be painting during nap times but the best projects are the ones that you are patient with. Stay tuned for updates on all my projects!

SIDE NOTE: I wish I would have tried a restore-a-finish before stripping the whole piece . . . although it was in very rough shape. Also, for anyone interested in great information pertaining to treadle machines, check out

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Adventures with a Treadle Sewing Machine: Days 2 and 3

I have been making some pretty good progress over the past 2 days considering the rough condition this treadle machine was in. Yesterday I took some photos of how everything looked after the wood hardener had dried over night. 

I used wood filler to fill a lot of the cracks but do not have photos yet as I will be sanding everything down tomorrow. I then proceeded to wood glue a piece of the table that had lifted apart. 

Luckily, the wood glue worked like a charm. Everything looked great when I took the clamps off this morning.

I also spent last night cleaning the iron legs and pedal. I thought it would be an easy project. I started by scrubbing every last inch with some baking soda paste and a toothbrush. I then wiped everything down with a wet sponge followed by an immediate drying with paper towel. But it still wasn't clean. It took 8 more wipe downs before everything was finally clear of years and years of filth. Poor machine. 

Here are the before pics:

And even a during pic:

And the after pics! The right side is pretty badly chipped but all the rest looks great. I figure the right side just shows its aged charm. The bottom still needs to be polished but I am saving that for last. 

I called it quits for the night after all of the cleaning but I was right back at it today. During the little man's nap time I decided to start tackling the filthy machine! Here is what I was looking at as I sat down today.

I decided the best way to start would be by tackling all of the removable pieces. Here are before pictures of the items I decided to tackle today. 

And here is a during pic. This piece was in really bad shape. Even after cleaning it has little luster left to it. :(

It took baking soda paste and a toothbrush, then a desperate attempt at soaking in some Coca-Cola, and finally some WD-40. I then decided it was time to take a break again so I polished all the pieces before placing them back on the machine. I am not sure if any further cleaning on these specific pieces will do anything but I may try one more bout. If anyone has any advice on what to use to help these really come clean, please do share!

Here are pictures of the pieces after some elbow grease today:

I also used sewing machine oil on a cotton ball to clean all over the decals and the machine itself. So far I did 3 wipe downs and the machine is looking much better. A few more times and it might finally be clean. 

And that was all I had time for today. I still need to tackle all of the pieces that did not come off. I also have to clean the bottom of the machine as well. Quite a rewarding project so far though . . . I just am dying to get this whole thing sewing again! Such a beautiful machine . . . it's so sad to see how neglected it was. Hoping to stain the cabinet tomorrow! 

Stay tuned . . . 
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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Adventures with a Treadle Sewing Machine: Day 1

Disclaimer: I am not a professional furniture re-finisher and I would never recommend refinishing anything antique that may be of value. This post is just to share my adventure . . . not to tell anyone how they should handle a refinishing project.

That being said, this is either going to be my greatest refinishing project ever OR it could end up being the worst! So I thought it would be fun to document my adventure as each step happens . . . no matter how much a success or mistake each step is!

My husband purchased me a treadle sewing machine as an anniversary present last weekend! Being as thrifty as he knew I would want him to be he found me a fixer upper. It is a White Treadle and it is beautiful . . . or at least it was beautiful at some point in time!   :)  

Really I do find it beautiful even if it is in beat up condition! But as I looked closely at it I knew there would be a lot of work to do to really make this piece shine. It sat for the week and most of the weekend . . . yes, I wasted this beautiful 70 degree weekend. I complained all summer about it being too hot for re-finishing projects and then I wasted the beginning of the weekend. In all fairness though, I was unwinding after all the craziness of the little man's birthday bash. 

I finally began to tackle this beauty today though. I removed the sewing machine and then my husband and I lugged it back down the stairs and straight outside where I was able to begin cleaning it off. As I looked at it closer in the sunlight it became obvious that this poor machine had been neglected for a very long time. I am almost convinced that this was stored in a leaky garage or a very, very wet basement. But for kicks and giggles I really like to imagine that it was forgotten about in a barn somewhere. 

It appears that most of the piece is covered in wood veneer, which with time and the poor conditions it must have been kept in has either began to warp terribly or is now crumbling off of the table. 

This is how I can justify refinishing this piece. I sincerely believe this piece would have been put into the garbage or sold for parts if my husband hadn't bought it for me. I know it is not worth anything in the condition that it is in and since it is a personal item that I would never dream of re-selling I knew I wouldn't be hurting any value by re-finishing the project. 

Here are some closer looks of the table:

Yep . . . that is bird poop on the table! YUM! And when I removed the sewing machine I found bird seed in underneath it. If you look closely you can see that this entire side of the table is missing it's wood veneer top. I think I may like the planks better than the veneer. 

This is the other side which is covered with veneer. It has some wear and tear but is still holding up. 

This is the center of the table. Lots of wear but again more solid than some of the other areas of the table.

This is the right front. Once again, some bird poop. You can also see that some of the finish has lifted away from the piece. I am hoping some wood glue may help hold it in place. 

Center of the front. Again . . . a lot of wear on the wood veneer but I really don't want to refinish this part. Despite the twig detail having worn away I like that you can still make out the "WHITE" outline. Hoping to figure out a way to keep the veneer from completely falling apart. 

Right side of the table with wear along top and bottom.

Left side is in the best shape, mostly worn on the bottom. 

One of the drawers. This is the one in the worst shape. I may keep an eye out on ebay and craigslist to see if any one is selling any of these drawers. The drawers seem very brittle.

I decided to try re-finishing the top and just touching up problem areas around the sides. So today I carefully sanded away all of the finish (and bird poop) from the top of the table. 

After the sanding.

This part of the table was in the best condition and it has an awesome yard stick engraved on one side (of course I managed to not get it into the picture). The only thing I did here was sand down the side of the back piece so that the table would come completely up into place. If you look at the original picture you can see one side of the table was sloped downward because wood was scraping and not allowing the whole table to pop into place. 

While I was at Menards on Saturday shopping for a matching stain for the table I stumbled upon this can of Wood Hardener from Minwax. I love their stain and figured I would give it a shot on this very old and weak table. I cleaned all the sand off of the table and let it dry a bit before applying. Then I applied the Wood Hardener wherever the wood was cracking . . . so basically just about everywhere. 

It looked pretty once on but we will see how it all looks in the morning when all is dry. I am really hoping it will help to preserve this piece. 

After all of this work I had run out of day light. So my final project was just to start cleaning up the treadle and the legs. I was amazed at the difference made just by using some dish soap and water and wiping dry immediately. It still needs a more thorough cleaning (I have to do some research on the best way to bring this part back to life) but I think the difference is already remarkable.

I am calling it quits for tonight but hoping that if the little one takes a good nap tomorrow that I can make a little more progress! 
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