how to sew on a vintage treadle – part 3: top thread

Part 3 of this series of tutorials on how to use a vintage treadle. This time we’ll be threading the top thread.
For part 1 have a look here and part 2 can be found here.

We’ll start off by placing the spool in place on top of the machine.

Now comes the tricky part: There will be lots of different hooks to guide the thread through. As a rule: if it’s there it’s meant to be used, so just try to find your way through there as best you can. If you have trouble sewing later, go back and try a different way.

On my machine it goes like this: top tension

Top tension 2: be sure to come down in a straight line at the right here and then guide the thread through the discs and then through the hook on the left.

Use every hook you see:

I have marked all the places the thread needs to be guided through on my machine with red dots. Your machine may be a little different, but the general direction of the thread shouldn’t differ all too much.

Down by the needle we will need to use another hook and then thread the needle from left to right (not from front to back as with modern machines!).

When you’ve threaded the needle, hold on to the thread tightly and turn the crank slowly by hand. The bobbin thread should plop up.

Grab both threads and guide them to the back.

Close the slider for the bobbin case and you’re ready to sew!

Part 4 will deal with changing the needle and adjusting tension and stitch length.


7 thoughts on “how to sew on a vintage treadle – part 3: top thread

  1. Ann

    Thank you – my husband has just purchased a Phoenix treadle machine for me and the only manual we can find is in German!


  2. Veronica K.

    This is fascinating! I’ve never sewn anything with a treadle, though the museum near us has a hands-on display with one, so I got examine one then. I’ll be looking for your next post! 🙂


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

  4. lis gielen

    Thank you! I just got a similar phoenix machine I’m trying to get started again. I don’t seem te be able to find the part on tension. Did you get to write that at all?


    1. Kristina Post author

      Hi Lis, congrats on getting a Phoenix! I’m afraid I never did write that tension part – I’m so bad with series of posts. The tension is adjusted by the big silver knob (you can see it very clearly in the second photo above). I find that I need to keep mine extremely loose for sewing! Hope that helps.



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