How To Restore An Old Singer Treadle Sewing Machine

The Singer treadle sewing machine has been an iconic piece of furniture in homes around the world since the 1890s. Not only is it an attractive addition to any living space, it’s also a highly durable machine capable of lasting generations. With just a bit of know-how, anyone can restore a Singer treadle sewing machine to its former glory and reliability.

The first step to restoring a Singer treadle sewing machine is to gather information about the makes and models. Knowing what type of Singer treadle sewing machine you have will help you determine which parts are necessary for a successful restoration. Research online or consult with a professional if you have used a specific model or need additional information.

When you’re ready to start restoring your Singer treadle sewing machine, it’s important to give the machine a thorough cleaning. Disassemble the machine and clean it by hand with a soft cloth and non-abrasive cleaners that are safe for wood and metal. Special attention should be given to the machine’s throat plate and hook assembly as these are the most susceptible to dirt and wear. Lubricate the parts with sewing machine oil and reassemble the machine once it’s satisfactorily cleaned.

Repair any broken or worn parts. Minor repairs, like replacing a hook assembly, can usually be done with common household tools, whereas more complex repairs, such as replacing the motor, may require the help of a professional. Make sure to use only original Singer parts for your restoration.

If the Singer treadle sewing machine’s finish is worn, scratched or faded, it’s a good idea to refinish it. Remove the current finish by sanding it to a smooth surface and applying a thin coat of a compatible finish. If it’s possible to match the existing finish, it’s best to use the same one. Once the new finish is applied, wax the surface to seal it.

The best way to find parts and accessories for a Singer treadle sewing machine is to look online or visit a local sewing machine shop. If you need a specific part or accessory, these types of shops are great resources for finding the correct model. Additionally, there are many online groups who specialize in Singer machines and can provide helpful tips and advice on which parts to use and the best methods for repair and restoration.

Finally, once your Singer treadle sewing machine is restored, it’s important to keep it well-maintained. Make sure you oil and clean the parts regularly to ensure the best operation and longest life of the machine. Inspect it periodically for wear and tear, and repair any broken parts as soon as possible. Check online for additional maintenance best practices to get the most out of your Singer.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

The greatest challenge in restoring and maintaining a Singer treadle sewing machine is troubleshooting the various issues that can arise. Many of the most common issues are related to problems with the belt, bobbin, needle, and bobbin case.

If the machine is making loud noises or not operating as expected, it could be due to a problem with the belt. The belt should sit snugly against the pulley with no slack, so tighten it if it appears loose.

The bobbin is the small spool that contains the thread. This is responsible for creating the stitches on the fabric, so be sure to use the correct size for your Singer treadle sewing machine. Additionally, make sure that the thread is properly loaded onto the bobbin.

The needle is another important component and should always be checked for proper tension and size. The needle should be replaced regularly to ensure optimal performance and should be compatible with the machine’s thread.

The bobbin case is the part of the machine that holds the bobbin and thread. If the bobbin is not loading properly, it could be a problem with the bobbin case. Inspect the bobbin case for dirt or damage and replace it if necessary.

Waxing the Machine

When restoring a Singer treadle sewing machine, waxing the machine is essential to keeping it running smoothly and preventing rust and wear to its finish. To wax the machine, use a non-abrasive wax that is compatible with the machine’s finish. Use a soft cloth to apply the wax evenly and remove any excess.

It’s important to wax the entire machine, including the parts underneath the machine and in any hard-to-reach areas. When applying the wax, be sure to pay extra attention to areas that are susceptible to wear, such as the moving parts and the bobbin case.

Applying wax regularly is an important part of maintaining the Singer treadle sewing machine and keeping it in working order. Wax will protect the machine from rust and dirt, help lubricate the moving parts, and reduce friction. Additionally, wax will help preserve the machine’s finish, ensuring that it looks great for years to come.

Cleaning and Lubricating the Machine

In order to keep a Singer treadle sewing machine in top condition, it’s important to clean and lubricate the moving parts regularly. Before you begin, make sure to unplug the machine from power, then open the panel to access the parts. Use a soft cloth to remove any dust, dirt, and residue.

Once the machine is clean, use a lubricant that is compatible with the Singer treadle sewing machine to lubricate the parts. Apply the lubricant directly to the moving parts, avoiding any excess. Be sure to clean any excess lubricant that may have come into contact with the machine’s finish.

Lubricating the parts of the Singer treadle sewing machine regularly is essential to maintaining the machine and keeping it in top condition. For best results, lubricate the machine at least once per month or after each major repairs or restorations.


Singer treadle sewing machines are timeless classics that have been an important part of the history of home sewing for more than a century. With just a bit of knowledge and a bit of effort, anyone can restore a Singer treadle sewing machine to its former glory and keep it in working condition for years to come. From researching the type of machine to cleaning, repairing, and waxing, restoring a Singer treadle sewing machine is sure to be a rewarding experience and a great investment in the future of the machine.

Geoffrey Kirby is an experienced author and sewist who has been creating sewn projects for over 20 years. He has a passion for teaching beginners and inspiring more advanced sewists both online and through his writings. Outside of writing about sewing, Geoffrey loves to explore new techniques and styles of sewing that incorporate upcycling fabric remnants into sweet items with personality.

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