how to sew on a vintage treadle – part 2: the bobbin thread

So here’s the next installment of the series on how to use a vintage treadle. For part 1 have a look here. The bobbin thread spool can be found by removing the lid by the needle

Carefully take the spool out

We now need to take the bobbin out and place it on this part at the back of the machine

and click it into place:

The bobbin should be empty but I only have 3 and there was enough blue thread on this one that I wanted to save, so that’s why there’s already some thread on it.

We now need to put the spool of thread in place at the top and find out how to guide it down to the bobbin. General rule: any hooks that are there are probably meant to be used.

Wrap some thread onto the bobbin.Now we need to undo the screw on the crank, so the needle won’t turn when we wind the bobbin.

Now we can wind the thread onto the bobbin using the treadle pedal. Do this in one swing, don’t stop in between. Especially if you’re new to treadling you may get it to turn the wrong way when you stop and start again and then you’ll have to start all over because the thread on the bobbin gets tangled. When the bobbin is full, we can cut the thread and click it back in place. Remember to also retighten the screw!

The loaded bobbin goes back into the bobbin case and just like with modern machines, the thread needs to be guided so it hooks into the bobbin case correctly.

Done! We can now carefully put the bobbin case back (carefully because with my machine the bobbin falls out of the case easily and it can be a pain to go rummaging for it in the container in the table).

Stay tuned for part 3, where we will learn how to thread the top thread!


8 thoughts on “how to sew on a vintage treadle – part 2: the bobbin thread

  1. bambooska

    I thought this was helpful too, to those who sew. You know what? This totally makes me want to join a course or something who can teach me how to sew. This and piano lessons are my next goal. I mean it.


  2. Pingback: how to sew on a vintage treadle – part 3: top thread «

  3. Susan in TX

    Hello — I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading your website!

    It was so surprising to learn that you were writing your blog in English, as your second language. You do so very well. I would really struggle if I attempted to compose a tutorial in any language other than my lifelong one!

    Thanks also, to the contributor who simplified for us the method of creating a french seam. I too, have only one sewing machine among my “herd” that has zigzag or utility/specialty stitch capability. All my others are straight-stitch only, so it’s advantageous to do quality finishing techniques that do not require zigzag, nor the use of pinking shears.

    I just wanted to add my personal opinions based upon many years of general sewing experience, and more recent hints I’ve learned regarding these wonderful vintage machines and their maintenance [care and feeding].

    It is very important to keep the machines clean, inside and out, and clear of thread debris, dust and old oil residue.

    While it IS necessary to keep the machine properly oiled [consistently, yet conservatively] with light oil designed specifically for sewing machines, it is NOT to any benefit to drench it in excess oil, to the point of it ‘dripping’!

    A single drop of oil at each of the indicated points [basically, wherever metal meets metal, and needs to move for it to function], maintained regularly – whether the machine is used or not, and especially if it is to sit idle.

    My machines do not have the oiling points [ports] indicated in Red for easy identification and visibility; I wish they did!

    However, my wonderful sewing machine repair fellow — with a “teacher’s heart”, and a real gift of getting these machines to listen to him, respond, and ‘behave themselves’ — has reminded me of another tip:

    ONLY oil the holes/ports in the machine head that you can see do NOT have metal spiral threaded areas down inside them [as in a screw’s threads]. Those metal, screw-threaded holes are intended to receive metal attachments, [such as a stitching guide] or accessories, to screw into the machine or its bed/work surface.

    After giving a drop at each appropriate location, wait a few minutes for it to flow into the crevices, then operate the machine – withOUT thread in it, just the needle.

    Repeat as needed with just the conservative one-drop-per-oiling point, until it turns easily, and sounds just as smooth.

    Next, pass a scrap piece of fabric across the throat plate, under the needle, [still not using bobbin thread or top thread], as if you were stitching it, and this should help catch any excess oil, without getting the oil on your actual fabric or thread.

    Now with a clean, soft cloth, put a drop or two [not a gushing amount] of the same proper sewing oil on the cloth and give the outside of the sewing machine a gentle but thorough wiping down; finish by wiping all surfaces with a clean, dry cloth to eliminate any excess oil.

    Now load the bobbin thread, according to the bobbin, and style of bobbin case or shuttle that your machine uses [if any].

    Also remember to wipe up any excess oil that reveals itself after oiling, throughout the machine.

    For those who use the class 15 style bobbin case [as is shown in your photos], there is a tip to keep the bobbin of thread from falling out of its case while trying to insert them into the area underneath the needle/throat plate.

    As you place the round class 15 bobbin into the bobbin case, there are two protruberaces to notice.

    The first is a fixed metal protrusion on the metal bobbin case that needs to fit into a particular spot/position within the bobbin race [the round, fixed place, where the case installs into]. This has to be done more by feel than sight, as it is difficult to see in those obscure locations, in virtual darkness inside the machine, and with one’s own fingers in the way!

    The second is a hinged, movable “wing” that you need to hold onto securely, while inserting the round bobbinful of thread into the bobbin case.

    If you hold onto the hinged “wing” at 90 degrees to the bobbin case while in this “open wing” position, it should PREVENT the wound bobbin from spilling out of the case, and dropping into the underbelly of the machine — most frustrating to locate, retrieve, and start again!

    Once you have a secure grip on the wing of the bobbin case, gently load it into the opening by feel, and gently rotate it into position. When it feels properly in place, let go of the hinged wing and the bobbin and its case should have a very small bit of play, but should remain in place until you need to remove it for refilling, or brushing out accumulated thread lint/debris.

    The old adage of a picture being worth a thousand words is true — I feel that I’ve used at least that many in describing what a single photo could have demonstrated; but I do not have a way to upload that here, so I hope that my wordy description will suffice.

    In summary: once everything has been cleaned, oiled, run briefly a few minutes at each oiling without thread, exterior surface wiped down with oil/wiped again thoroughly with a clean dry cloth, it’s finally time to insert the bobbin thread, and the top thread, per thread guide instructions.

    Many such operating manuals, or threading diagrams are available online for free from various sources, in downloadable/printable PDF format.


    1. tidytipsy

      Susan, thanks so much to taking the time to write all of that out, that is so helpful!
      I guess my ‘dripping with oil’ could be misunderstood, I also only put one drop of oil in the specified holes and don’t drench my machine in it 🙂 I was really surprised how much oil they used when I gave it to the service people.
      That you should sew a few lines on scrap fabric is also something I forgot to mention, thank you! It would be terrible to ruin good fabric with oil stains!
      As for the bobbin: You can’t actually see it in the picture very well but I am actually holding on to the little wing thingy that should prevent the bobbin from falling out of the case. I know it usually works like that from my old machine but it doesn’t work on my treadle bobbin case, though I don’t know why. I guess that function must be broken, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to remind readers to be careful in that step. You’re right though, with most bobbin cases it should work just fine and prevent the bobbin from falling in the underbelly of the machine 🙂
      Thanks again!


  4. Pingback: how to sew on a vintage treadle – part 1: oiling | little home by hand

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