quilts, treadle sewing machines, crochet, watercolor, dogs, & other fun stuff

Treadle Update, Mostly

Here I am again, trying to do better than one blog post per month… 😅

The first topic for today is a bit of a weird one.  Remember those mysterious paper circles (“confetti” with something inside) I found in a small box with the spare needles for the Minnesota?  Here’s the photo again, for a reminder:

I couldn’t figure out what they were, so I asked somewhere online– one of those helpful groups of people who enjoy identifying random things for random strangers– and several people said they look like “ammunition” for an old-fashioned cap gun.  I tried hitting one with a hammer (outside).  There was no bang or smoke, but perhaps that’s not so surprising, considering how old these may be.  Maybe they’ve been exposed to too much humidity over the years, or maybe that one was just a dud.  Either way, it definitely smelled like sulfur, and looking online for images of “round caps”, I see some that look similar.  I feel confident that’s what these are.  

How funny!  I wonder how they ended up in this sewing machine cabinet, and when they were put there… Were they confiscated from some disappointed, misbehaving child?  Or were they doled out a few at a time for good behavior?  After all, there are also a few “gold star” stickers in that same box… We’ll never know, but it’s fun to imagine.  

Also, more vintage Americana– flags, the cross, and cap gun ammo! 😆

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I wanted to remove the presser foot from the Minnesota, the other day, only to discover that I couldn’t budge the thumb nut that holds the foot in place.  I hadn’t tried it before, but it hadn’t occurred to me that it could be stuck.  I tried applying sewing machine oil and letting it sit overnight, but it didn’t seem to help.  Eventually, I just wrapped it in a rag and used a pair of pliers to give the stuck thumb nut a gentle twist.  Success!  The foot is now removable again, though I don’t think I’ll be doing it that often.

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The next challenge with the Minnesota was something that’s been nagging me ever since we first set it up and got it sewing.  This cabinet has an automatic lift, which means that when you lift the lid of the cabinet, there’s a mechanism that swings and lifts the machine head (hidden inside the cabinet when it’s closed) up and into position– automagically! 😉  Well, mine can use a little help on the way up, but it does most of the work for you.  

From what I gather, most of the time there’s a chain as part of the mechanism, and you can see it lying flat in a groove, when the table is open.  With mine, it’s not a chain, but a thin band (belt? strap? ribbon?) of metal.  It works the same way a chain would, but it was bent out of shape and not lying flat when the table was open.  I didn’t want to do anything too rash, for fear of breaking something or making the table extension (which was nice and level) too tight to lie flat.  

So for a while, I just left it as it was and sewed.  The problem was that the bend in the metal band bulged right behind the needle area.  As I sewed, the fabric would end up against the bulge, and it would frequently either catch or go under the band.  Frustrating!  It was time to try fixing it.  

I enlisted Donald’s help, and we gave the whole set-up a closer look.  There was a bit of twisted wire linking the end of the band to the adjustable screw that attaches to the lift bar. The adjustable screw couldn’t be adjusted enough to fix the problem.  I’m not sure if this band is original or a repair, but it seems likely that at least the twist of wire might have been a repair, because it seemed to be too big, creating too much of a gap between the belt and the adjustable screw.  It essentially rendered the adjustable screw useless.  

(This is probably as clear as mud!  Sorry!)  

In the end, Donald cut off the old wire, and he replaced it with a smaller twist of wire.  That enabled us to readjust the screw, and that– combined with some judicious tweaking/bending of the metal band– flattened the bulge considerably.  

It’s still not perfectly flat, but it’s much, much better than it was.  I’ve done a little sewing since the fix, and the fabric is no longer catching or slipping under the metal band.  Woo-hoo!  Thank you, Donald!  

I also opened the little access panel on the back of the head and oiled the inner workings of the sewing machine.  I don’t know if it really needed it, but I’d seen that recommended, and given how long it’s probably been since the machine was used, it seemed like a good idea. 

So far (knock on wood) it’s sewing very well.  I’m much better at starting it than I was, though there’s still room for improvement through practice.  At least I haven’t had trouble for a while with the wheel trying to roll backwards.  

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I haven’t been doing a ton of crafting, but there’s been some activity.  A little diamond-painting, a few more rounds on the doily (“Oculus of Stars”), hemming some curtains, and quilt-piecing.  

Here are some snaps from the past however-long-it’s-been…

The crumb blocks in the photo above have long since been taken off the design wall. I’ve joined them into strips for the on-going crumb quilt project.  I need more of those crumb blocks, so I’ll be returning to that soon.  The string-y star has temporarily side-tracked me.  This is what I’m making with the string-piecing I did on the Minnesota.  (Still very much in progress, obviously!)

These are BIG blocks… It’s been a while since I worked on something on this scale.  (Or have I ever, before this?)  It comes together much more quickly this way, doesn’t it?!  Even if you’re not exactly working on it at lighting speed.  

Need to decide how wide the sashing between them will be… (I don’t enjoy deciding things like this!)
…The latest string-piecing to come off the treadle… They’re for borders along just the top and bottom of the quilt with the string-y stars.  We’ll see how it comes together… Flying by the seat of my pants, my usual quilt-making style!
Well, that’s about it for today.  I’m still loving the treadle machine.  I just used it for a while today, during a thunderstorm.  Didn’t want to risk plugging in the computerized machine, and to be honest, it’s more exciting to treadle, anyway.  The only problem is that if I’m only comfortable doing string-piecing on the treadle, I’m going to need a steady flow of string-pieced projects to keep it in action!  Maybe I’ll try crumb-piecing on the treadle and see how that goes… 


I’m Michael (a female Michael, to remove any doubt).  I live on the Alabama Gulf Coast with my husband, Donald, and our crazy American Eskimo Dogs. 

I love to fill my spare time with various crafts and other hobbies, and this blog is where I share photos, record my progress, and ramble endlessly.

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