Friday, May 27, 2011

Two Crank-y Quilters!

Yesterday started out very windy and rainy, a continuation of the night before……a perfect day to sit in and sew! Wednesday night had some horrendous storms blow through, starting around 1am and continuing through dawn……and on into Thursday morning --- but even if the power were to go out ((which it didn’t!)) It wasn’t about to stop our agenda for the day!

I spent yesterday getting to know my new hand crank machine! I think the thing that freaked me out the most was worrying that I would forget how to wind the little shuttle bobbins, get them in wrong, etc. I wanted to spend enough time at it that I knew what I was doing when I do it at home!

Sewing on a hand crank is really sweet….GREAT for precision work! I started out on some paper pieced blocks…easier to guide while sewing on a line. Sewing with a hand crank is much like trying to pat your head and rub your tummy at the same time with opposite hands. But with a bit of practice, you can feed it straight and keep a good seam allowance….having a piece of tape as a guide helps a lot, and if you fork your middle and index finger of your left hand in front of your work so you have two points of pressure on the fabric, it is much like feeding with both hands…it just takes a bit of practice!

Diane was sewing on this lovely serpentine machine circa 1880 or so!

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Isn’t she a beauty?? Look at those lovely decals!

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We set up at the dining room table and worked much of the day on our pieces!

The one crazy thing on my end? I kept automatically trying to feel for the foot pedal before I could start sewing. And there IS no foot pedal! You just crank! I finally crossed my ankles under my chair to stop the reflex!

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Can you see the blur of my hand?!?!? Around and around and around and around……my machine makes a BEAUTIFUL stitch!

Diane has a great collection of treadle machines, hand cranks, and electric vintage machines. They are just wonderful! I’d love to take my hand crank to retreat at some point and just work on her for the weekend.

A funny discussion soon followed…..”My right arm is going to get really strong!” “What can I do for the left to balance it out?” “I suppose you could sit on the other side of the table and crank backward with your left??” “You could do hand weight exercises in between with your left!” “Hey, what if we sat on those balance balls and worked our core muscles at the same time??”

The thought of having a bulging hand crank bicep is just hilarious!

It does take longer to sew a seam with a hand crank than it does an electric machine. I thought of ladies making clothing circa 1910 when this machine was made…you’d have to crank forever just to get to the end of one skirt seam……but for working on miniatures? And paper piecing? This is really REALLY fun!

I haven’t been so excited about anything since my easy bake oven when I was 10!

We did take a little lunch break when the weather cleared and found ourselves out in the country here:

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Grannie’s Sweet Tooth has amazing sandwiches on homemade bread, desserts and cookies to die for, and a wonderful atmosphere! Just a little “mom and pop” kind of place in the middle of rural TN……if I lived close, I’d be visiting often for things like “Home made ice cream sandwich” or the “hot fudge brownie sundae”. It’s just a few miles up the road from Diane’s….

After lunch a nap was most needed, and enjoyed! In the evening, DIane’s friend Jonnie joined us….she is here from out of town for my lecture tonight and workshop tomorrow!

Yes, SUNDAY --- I am headed HOME! It’s been a whirlwind trip through TN and AL and I’ve had a ball, but the call of home is strong…..

As I write this, it’s not quite 6:30 am, but I was awakened by the birds chirping ((Which means it must not be raining)) and I think I’ll throw on my running shoes and head out for a walk before everyone else wakes up and gets going….

Today?? I get lessons on sewing on TREADLES!! WHOoooooo!


  1. Thanks for showing what a hand crank looks like. I have never seen one before, let alone use one. So I think I'm safe from the one sided strong bicep.
    I really would love to know more about treadle machines. I have an old black and gold sewing machine, that possibly could have started life as a treadle. I've been on the look out for a base for it. The only thing that I can be sure of is that I need to do something with it, in order to get it out of the attic. I don't think it's been used in twenty years:-(
    So does Jane have a blog where shares all of the information about using an older machine. Or does she know of a great refrence book?
    May you have safe travels home!

  2. loved reading this blog...I have several hand cranks..but never had a go..neither are they in that condition I might add...so great..thanks for sharing bonnie

  3. How fun can fun be? I'm glad you're having a wonderful time with your handcrank and with Diane. The reason I sought out a treadle in the first place was because our rural electric co-op kept loosing power when I was in the middle of a project and was so frustrated I'd just go take a nap. My handcrank is a Singer 99 from the 1930's that I converted to handcrank. At home most often I'm piecing or quilting on a 1936 Singer 15-88, although I sometimes use a 1919 Singer 66. The only downside is that my heart breaks when someone designates one of these beauties for the dump or some weird garden conversion when it has at least another 100 years of use if cleaned up and oiled!I'm glad you and Diane had sooooo much fun!

  4. How wonderful for you to take some quality time for yourself. This is so Bonnie and I am positive you were born in the wrong time span - LoL Judy C

  5. That is really cool ... and I know what you mean about reaching for the foot pedal. I sew on a 1980's Bernina 930 and a 1930 Singer with a knee pedal rather than a foot one. The Bernina has a similar knee gadget that lifts and lowers the presser foot, but I can't use it because of the confusion with the Singer. I usually have both set up on the same table, but I sometimes find myself tapping the Bernina's pedal when I'm actually sitting in front of the Singer and wonder why nothing is working.

    And I am not anonymous - Google has me stuck in some kind of vortex login loop whenever I try to comment - I'm Kristen at tenquilts [at] gmail.

  6. I keep 'meaning' to make a quilt using one of my treadle machines but I always just go at it with one of my 1970's era Pfaff 1222s. Between my husband and myself we have probably around 75 sewing machines of various makes and styles including a hand crank. I might have to pull that one out sometime also!

  7. I LOVE handcrank machines and treadle machines. I only have one handcrank - a beautiful Vickers that is so wonderfully balanced that she continues sewing for a bit after I stop cranking - I finally found the rhythm so I can let her finish the seam for me! It sounds like you had a wonderful time! And for those who asked about learning more about people-powered machines, I would direct you to the wonderful group called Treadleon! See what it's all about at http://www.treadleon.net/ - you will be amazed!

  8. Those are just the neatest! I have never really seen one, just treadles. One question though, If you want to do a backstitch do you crank the opposite way? Just wonderin'

  9. This is so cool! Looks like great fun! I'm going to keep my eyes open for one!

  10. I like seeing the hand crank machine but I doubt I'd ever sew on one. I like my electric machines way too much :-)!!
    Have a safe trip, can't wait to see how you quilt up the baby quilt.

  11. Best of all are the treadles ! Easy to regulate the spead and great exercise for the calves ! Two hands free - only downer is the lack of zig-zag !
    I have an old hand /converted to electric machine. ( one of a variety of ages !) It runs like a dream and even my walking foot and 1/4 inch foot fit ! It weighs a ton so never budges an inch on my table either ! Happy cranking !

  12. I have 3 hand cranks, and you are right, they are a pleasure to use. I also have recently begun to spin (on a spinning wheel, not bicycle type spinning)and was teased that my right calf and ankle would be in great shape....

  13. Thanks for showing your way of stitching on the hand crank. You're ready for a day like last week when the lights went out. You are sure enjoying the time you're away from home.

  14. Great post. Sounds like a relaxing time.
    Would love to get my hands on a hand-crank
    they are so gorgeous
    oh, yes, and practical.
    hugs Bonnie,

  15. That bobbin shuttle is just gorgeous! Never mind that I have enough machines, but I am lusting after a handcrank (in case electricity becomes as dear as diesel around here LOL)

  16. Seeing that bobbin and the shuttle??/bobbin case?? thingy in your hand in that picture brought back memories. I found one of those shuttles/bobbin cases somewhere around the house when I was a kid and never knew what it was. Now I do...50 yrs later...and it must have come from Grandma's old treadle machine that she traded off for the electric one I learned to sew on. She never liked the electric and never sewed much after that.

  17. Treadle On is a great email list for people who actually use their hand crank machines and Treadles. ISMACS is a great collector email list for vintage machines- treadle on up to around 1950. I love my treadle, and am actually in the process of converting another one to a hand crank.I find it so heartwarming that these machines, that were SUCH a labor saver in their day will still sew for us.How many other things from a hundred years ago are still perfectly functional? I always wonder about the women who used the machines before me.

  18. OH, I forgot to say, don't lift the machine by the handle. The handle was really only meant for lifting off the lid. If you lift the weight of the machine it will break the locks.

  19. Treadle sewing I can do. I'm hoping to get one of my machines converted into a hand crank soon. Glad you enjoy the people powered machines.

  20. Those little hand-cranks are beautiful! I remember sewing on my grandmother's treadle and pricking my finger. I was about five and cried and cried. All the adults laughed because I didn't even break the skin. Of course, that only made me cry more! I smile every time I think of that incident. Thanks for the reminder.


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