Thursday, April 23, 2020

Sewing Wild & Free!

This was my yesterday!

And part of my Tuesday too if we confess it all - 

This lovely machine,from the Free Sewing Machine Company of Rockford, Illinois was made somewhere after the turn of the 20th century.  At a time when beauty and style were as important as function.

A machine to last a lifetime.  And many more at 100 years old.

The old advertising card for this model.

It opens up to so much space beneath!

It was September when I met with a cute group of quilters on my way to Pennsylvania for the hand off of this beautiful machine.  It has taken until now for life to slow down enough for me to really get into this machine and get her up and running.

Other than some lint dust and grime – who knows when the last time it actually sewed on – all it took was a slight adjustment of the tension on the shuttle (Thread used to be way thicker then and it needed more tension for today’s finer threads) and the top thread adjusted to work with the new shuttle tension before we were off and rolling together.

Click to Play:

She is a sweetheart of a machine!

And yes – she has a manual!

I will likely scan and make a PDF copy of the manual as the pages are very brittle.

Lecture on using quality thread!

(Somethings are still the same!)

Are these peacocks??

The serial number is behind the pillar.

The closest date I can even find on this machine is somewhere between 1911 and 1920.  From what I found out, the Free company didn’t keep records as meticulously as Singer.  So other than the fact that this machine HAS a serial number, the serial number isn’t any good at really dating the machine.

And the patent was applied for – but was it ever granted?

She is a honey of a machine -

in the ONLY parlor cabinet that I have found I could sew in comfortably – my knees were not inside of a box – and this machine sits taller than some treadles I’ve sewn at.

When I shared the video through facebook and instagram yesterday I was asked why the spool pin is upside down.  I know someone will catch it here, so I’ll tell you!

LESS DRAG. And I also like the thread coming off the back side of the spool, not the front.  I’ve been told that matters.  Why, I don’t know – This way the thread comes off counter-clockwise. 

Other things about this machine – check out the stitch length regulator at the base of the pillar.  Up for bigger, down for smaller.

I did wind a bobbin and it was effortless other than it takes a lot of treadle foot power to wind a long bobbin. It was a great way to get all of the new oil down into places where it hadn't been for decades and the more I treadled the quieter the machine got – SO HAPPY to be sewing again.

Yesterday’s lunch by the fire.

I cooked my lunch at Quiltville Inn today. I miss the hustle and bustle of machines sewing and laughter roaring within these walls.

I await the day with great anticipation when we can safely open the doors and let the quilters back in.

I was there waiting for the pest control guy to come do his quarterly treatments for bugs and critters and other things that happen out in the country.

I'm so glad that he is considered essential so that we will be ready when the time comes – whenever it comes.

We awoke to rain again this morning and it is supposed to continue through the day.  It’s one of those soft and soaking spring rains – and it is soothing and lovely.  But it doesn’t help when I was wanting to get Zoey out on another long walk!  I’m waiting for the next sunny day.

So to beat the rain, let’s start this day out with a healthy belly laugh:

Thank you Stephen – posted through facebook.  LOL!

It’s week 5 or 6 of lock down for us I think.

Send more humor – I think we need it!

I will be drawing for the winner of our April Quilty Box Gift-Away TOMORROW morning so be sure you get your entry in on THAT POST.  It’s a great one for lock down – a whole fabric kit is included, all you need to add is backing and batting.

And we are one day closer to releasing Part 5 of our Unity Quilt Along!  How is yours coming?  Have you watched any of the recommended shows and series or listened to or added any Audio book titles to our Binge Worthy tab?  It’s so fun to see what you find entertaining and worth stitching to.

Quiltville Quote of the Day -

Life is still rich with abundance.

Give with your heart and you will never run out of what comes back!

I see so much of this in action as I watch folks all around the world making masks for people they don't even know.

It's a scary time to live in, but our hearts are huge when it comes to caring for others and just look at the human spirit in action!

Do you think we can keep some of this alive when the virus is long past?


  1. wow a real honey of a machine and sooo quiet too!

  2. I checked the binge list and saw that Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is included - one of my favorites. I like her independent spirit and her clothes are gorgeous!!

  3. Beautiful machine! I know you'll enjoy her.

  4. Hi Bonnie, my home was Rockford, IL and my father worked for the "Free" for many years. Free was bought by New Home which became Janome. We had one of the first New Home machines which were electric. I found a base of a treadle New Home machine and it now is my sewing table.
    Mary Kay Mullen in WI

    1. This is wonderful to know.

    2. I grew up in Rockford too! Never knew there was a sewing machine company based there. I would love to find one now that I know about it! My mom had a Singer in a cabinet and sewed all the clothes for herself and my 3 sisters and I on it. And that was the machine I learned to sew on. I remember it being very quiet compared to today's machines!

  5. The machine is a beauty, love the decals.....would love to have a treadle, good for exercising the legs. Have a safe day.

  6. What a beautiful machine Bonnie! I would love to learn how to treadle. Thank you for always sharing your beautiful machines with us.

  7. I enjoyed reading about Honey.

  8. Beautiful machine! I love the old instruction book :)

  9. Best of all... you can sew even if you lose power! Light up some kerosene lamps or candles and quilt away. Is it hard to handle a treadle?

  10. I enjoy using my two Free #5 treadles and my Elgin (manufactured by Free) treadle. I likely have Free back up/extra machine head.
    Free designed and engineered a very vibration free Vibrating Shuttle mechanism.
    The Elgin treadle drawers are locked when the lid and machine are closed keeping those little fingers away from dangerous sewing items.

  11. Bonnie, I have my grandmother's machine which is a Free also! I need to get a new belt for it. Can you share with me where I can locate one? I have never sewn on it and now I'm anxious to give it a try!

    1. Any sew & vac machine repair guy should be able to hook you up. Or try ebay :)

    2. Thank you Bonnie! Enjoy your machine!

  12. Nice machine. It is beautiful. Good thing you will make a photo copy of the booklet, you could probably submit it to the Vintage Sewing machines where they do compile various manuals for reference purposes. I bet they would like that.
    It is dreary in Virginia. I hope we see some sun today

  13. Bonnie, I think those are Phoenix birds. And yes, there is much abundance in the world - it's a matter of what we focus our attention on (good or bad).

  14. What a surprise I had this morning when I got to your post! I have the exact treadle machine. It's a beauty but it sits idle while I work on my computer driven sewing machine. Even the cabinet is quality built. I've often started to get it cleaned and working, especially when I read your posts praising the "experiences" of sewing with a treadle. But I do not have a manual and all the accessories have me intimidated. Not sure of the needles it needs, bobbins,etc. Is there a way I could find a copy of the manual since I have no experience with treadles? I've been pondering selling it because my days are filled with using up my stash for charity quilts.

  15. Several years ago, when I got a Free treadle, you could contact the company to get a date for the machines. Not sure if you still can or not.

  16. This post is so beautiful and i have to learn how to treadle.
    tailoring machine. thanks for sharing your post.


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