"She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:27

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

How to Clean a Treadle

  Happy National Sewing Machine Day!  I thought I would tell you how I clean my old machines.  I counted up my machines today and I have 11!  As ya'll know, I love my old machines, the only thing is that they are not always clean when you get them and need a lot of work!  If I wanted a clean machine, I would have to pay a lot more money for them then I do.  I am not an expert and am still learning how to take care of my machines, so if you have any suggestions, please share!  I have asked different people what they do, and some things I cannot use because of my asthma.  Lots of people use kerosene, I can't do that.

Check out my Pinterest board for vintage machines.
First of all, water is your machine's enemy.  There are people who can use water and get up every little drop, but I ruined my first machine, so will not try that again.  It will destroy the decals on your machine and cause rust.  I use straight Murphy's oil soap and then clean it off with sewing machine oil.  Many people use plain sewing machine oil to clean their machines.
Cupcake is model today!
Be sure to always protect your work surfaces.  Usually I would pull the machine out and lay it on a towel, but the industrial head is heavy, so I just left it in the cabinet and laid a towel around it.  I also use Murphy's on the wood.  I actually use Murphy for a lot of my cleaning around the house.  It is all natural and smells great!
I needed to clean the inside of my machine.  I cleaned underneath the machine and then under the face plate, I clean both the same way.
As you can see, she was pretty filthy, but not too bad for a 122 year old!
Can you see the thread stuck to the grime?  This is a Singer, be careful if you are cleaning another machine because when I took the face plate off of my New Home, the insides fell out and it took me a while to figure out how to put her back together.
I even found a needle in there!  Make sure you do not lose your screws, I usually put them in a bowl, some people use egg cartons to put pieces in, in the order they come off.  I have not ventured to take apart more than the face plate yet.
I use Gojo to clean the insides of my machines.  I use a lot of paper towels, cotton balls an q-tips to get in the small spaces.
I have also taken my husband's screw drivers.  I have a "surgery" kit for getting the grime and stuff out.
I use dental picks to clean between the teeth on my feed dogs, between screws, etc.  There is always grime in those hard to reach spots.  Long tweezers for pulling out lint, thread, etc.  A magnet  (the green thing) for helping you find dropped screws and needles, and I found that great rubber mallet in my husband's tool box too.  I confiscated it!  It's great for when something is stuck like your slide plate.  You don't want to use a hammer because you don't want to damage anything.

So that is how I clean a machine head.  It takes a lot of elbow grease and time, but well worth it.  So far I have spent about three to five hours on this machine and it still needs a lot of work!

Don't forget to oil your machine when you are done, these old ladies love their oil!

Update:  My friend Sue wanted to add a few hints:  :Be sure to only use non pumice GOJO.  I also use the cosmetic cotton pads for some areas where a thin cotton is needed.  Cotton String for polishing posts.  Run the string through your McQuire's ALuminum polish, around your needle clamp bar, bobbin center, thread holder one complete turn and shimmy it around.  Amazing how well it polishes things.  The tiny brushes for cleaning between dental crowns etc. are also great for tiny areas.  Hope this helps. "

If you want to convert an old machine to a hand crank, here are some figures for you.  Let's say the machine was $20, you want a base for it, online they are like $40 unless you can get someone to make one cheaper.  Then you need a spoked wheel, which with shipping would be about $20, and then you need the hand crank assembly for another $20 with shipping.  (they are heavy!)  So you are looking between $80-$100 to convert a machine you paid $20 for.  Just a little FYI!  Not to mention the cleaning!

If you have any questions or tips, please share!

I read a great article on sewing machine facts today I wanted to share with you too!
Here it is!

Happy Sewing!



mtnquiltr said...

Thanks for this tutorial, Missy! I have a Featherweight that would benefit from a good cleaning.

Podunk Pretties said...

Thanks, looks like a lot of elbow grease is needed also!

retrorevival.biz said...

This is good info, Missy. Thanks for sharing. I'm a big fan of Murphy's Oil and use it a lot in our home!

Unknown said...

I too have an antique singer machine. I have never cleaned it though. Could be scary. Thanks for step by step pics. will give it a try - when I'm feeling brave!:) found you via 'flusterbuster' link up. I hang out over at www.ritewhileucan.com where I talk about lost art of letter writing and stationery

donna said...

Thank you so much for sharing Missy. Mine needs to be cleaned. This is very helpful.

Patricia said...

Thanks for the tips.

Unknown said...

Great tips and Cupcake is totally adorable! Thank You for sharing at the Fluster Buster party, you guys have a fantstic week, Lizy party co host

LV said...

Great information for those that sew. My mother had an old Singer that she took very good care of. Do not know what she did tho as I never asked.

Connie Kresin Campbell said...

Thanks for all the great info Missy, like you I love my old machines!! Thanks for sharing.
Freemotion by the River Linky Party Tuesday

jeanne, backyard neighbor said...

Wow, cleaning an old sewing machine is a work of art in my opinion. You sure shared some very useful information. Thank you so much.
xo, Jeanne

My Sister Made Me Do It.... said...

Missy thanks so much for the tips! I am not going to start right now but I will certainly use these tips when I get up the time and the nerve to clean my treadle! Have you thought about making a page with a tab on your blog for tutorials and "how-to's"?? this one will be perfect for that!

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial. I love old sewing machines. My grandma used to do all her sewing and patchwork quilts on one. Mama still has it, but it doesn't get used. Thanks for sharing with us at The HomeAcre Hop!

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Anonymous said...

I was given a vintage machine from 1925 and am restoring it. I have never restored one so of course researching as much as I can. I did not know it would hurt the paint and decals to wipe it down with plain water. I did wipe nine down with a wet soft cloth and then I applied sewing machine oil. If it is going to damage the decals will I notice it right away or does the damage occur over time. They look fine right now but based on your instruction above, I am now worried I harmed this vintage machine.

Missy Shay said...

Anonymous, I hope you read this, I'm not able to reply without an email address. You would notice if the decals were silvering already.

"Oh taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." Psalm 34:8