No need to get frustrated with your treadle sewing machine. Normally the old treadles no longer have instruction books with them, therefore it's up to the owner to try to figure things out. Even a basic thing like putting on a new belt is an impossible task when you don't know where to begin and what steps to take to get it in the right position and secured properly.

As a sewing machine repair person for over twenty five years, I’ve seen almost every problem that can happen with your home sewing machine.
I’ve seen women so frustrated with their new found treadle sewing machine that they were ready to set it aside for looks only, just because they couldn’t figure out how to use or operate it. Normally the old treadles no longer have instruction books with them, therefore it’s up to the owner to try to figure things out. Even a basic thing like putting on a new belt is an impossible task when you don’t know where to begin and what steps to take to get it in the right position and secured properly.
If you stop and think about it, the treadle machine is the machine all sewing machines of today were modeled after. The electric motor was added to take the place of the foot power of the treadle machines. The shuttle was changed from the bullet style to the present style of a small round flat shuttle directly under the feed dog and needle bar, etc.

I’ve had many requests to try to locate an instruction manual for treadle sewing machines, to no avail. After years of request after request for information on treadle sewing machines, I was finally talked into writing a book of general instruction for the treadle machine. Keep in mind that there are many different styles, brands and manufacturers of treadle sewing machines, and some are made in other countries. With that in mind, I could not include each of them specifically and cover the small differences they each may have, therefore this book is written in a “generic” style so that the information could be applied to any treadle machine.
Specifications
Your sewing machine is a wonderfully useful machine when working properly, a frustrating, confusing monster when it's not. Oddly, a vast majority of machines sent to repair shops for repairs, could be repaired at home with little or no technical knowledge.

The first thing to remember is not to panic! Don't let your frustration get in the way of your good sense. Depending on the type of problem you're having, the following suggestions may be of immediate help to you.

TENSION: As you change projects and start sewing on different weight materials, you should test stitch on a piece of scrap material of the same weight before beginning the actual project so you can adjust your upper tension to that particular fabric. As an example, if you're changing from a denim type fabric to a silky fabric, you would definitely want to make sure the tension is correct and the stitching looks right before you start to sew the garment.

To determine whether the upper tension is too tight or too loose for the fabric you're wanting to use, try the following test. Take a small scrap of the fabric, fold it, and stitch a line ON THE BIAS of the fabric, using different colors of thread in the bobbin and on top. Grasp the bias line of stitching between the thumb and the index finger. Space the hands about 3 inches apart and pull with an even, quick force until one thread breaks. If the broken thread is the color of the thread in the needle, it means that the upper tension is too tight. If the broken thread is the color of the bobbin thread, the upper tension is too loose. If both threads break together and take more force to break, it means that the tensions are balanced.

BOBBIN: The most probable cause of the lower thread breaking is an improperly wound bobbin. Regardless of where you wind the bobbin, inside the machine, on the top of the handwheel or on the front side near the hand wheel, the basic "bobbin" rules apply.

** Always start with an empty bobbin. Never wind one color over another color.
** Don't wind the bobbin so full that it would be tight and hard to insert into the bobbin case. Most machines have an automatic "shut off" when the bobbin gets full, but if yours does not, be careful not to fill it too full.
** Wind the bobbin evenly across and in level layers.
** Never mix different sizes of thread in the bobbin and on the spool, unless you're doing sewing machine embroidery or some specialty type of sewing. Using different weights of thread on the spool and in the bobbin for general sewing will cause ragged stitches as well as other stitching problems.

NEEDLE: Probably 25% of machine repair jobs I go out on, the only problem was that the needle was put in backwards. I know you're probably saying "I've been sewing most of my life and I know how to put the needle in the machine"; however many times a seamstress will get in a hurry and not give the needle a second thought when putting a new one in the machine. If your machine will not pick up the bottom thread or skips stitches badly, in most cases it's because the needle is in wrong.

Each sewing machine requires that the "flat" side of the needle be put in a specific way - facing the front, the back, etc., depending on your particular make and model. If you have a sewing machine that takes a needle that doesn't have a flat side, you'll notice that each needle has a groove in it where the thread lays as it penetrates the fabric. Depending on whether your machine shuttle system faces to the front or to the left, the groove of the needle will also face front or left.

MACHINE THREADING: An additional area to check for stitching problems is whether the sewing machine is threaded properly. Each machine has a certain sequence for threading, and it only takes one missed step in the sequence to cause your machine to skip stitches. If you're in doubt, take the top thread completely out and start all over again.

Many times it's the small things that cause frustration and loss of sewing time. Taking just a few minutes before starting a project to make sure everything is in order can save hours of "down" time, not to mention frayed nerves and the possibility of having to take the machine to the repair shop unnecessarily.
There never seems to be enough hours in the day to do all that we have to do. The last thing a sewer needs when she sits down at her sewing machine is to have everything go wrong! The needle breaks, thread jams in the bobbin area or keeps skipping stitches or a number of other frustrating problems that keep the project from being completed. These problems happen to the novice sewer as well as the seasoned pro, and while we would like to blame the sewing machine and perhaps "throw it out the window", there are measures the home sewer can take to correct most problems or even prevent them from happening in the first place.

The sewing machine needle is probably the number one cause of problems for sewers and crafters. This may sound silly, but the first thing to check when having stitching problems is whether the needle is in backwards. Oh, I know you're saying "I've been sewing most of my life and I know how to put the needle in the machine", but in about 25% of the sewing machine repair jobs I go out on, the only problem was that the needle was put in backwards. If your machine will not pick up the bottom thread or skips stitches badly, in most cases it's because your needle is in wrong.

Each sewing machine requires the "flat" side of the needle be put in a specific way - facing the front, the back, etc., depending on your particular make and model. Sewers in a hurry to get a project done may simply insert the needle and not pay attention to the position of the flat side, and immediately begin having problems. If by chance you have a sewing machine that takes a needle that doesn't have a flat side, you'll notice that each needle has a groove in it where the thread lays as it penetrates the fabric. Depending on whether your machine shuttle system faces to the front or to the left, the groove of the needle will also face front or left.

A needle that is dull, bent, or simply the wrong size or type can cause major sewing problems. Just because the needle "looks good" doesn't mean that it is good. A small "snag" on the tip of the needle can cause runs in the fabric, and even a slightly bent needle won't sew properly. A good rule of thumb would be to change the machine needle before each new project, and, because some fabrics and fabric finishes can increase wear on the needle, you may need to change the needle during the project if you notice stitching problems beginning to appear.

Always use the right size needle for the type of fabric you're sewing. I've seen sewers trying to sew denim with a fine lingerie type needle simply "because the needle was in the machine and still a good needle", and others trying to sew fine fabrics with needles that are much too large. A needle too fine for heavy fabric can bend or break when it hits the fabric, while too large a needle for the fabric can make puncture holes in the fabric and also cause the thread to pull unevenly while stitching. Do yourself a huge favor and check the machine needle before you begin any new project. The second thing to check is the thread itself. We have found that "cheap" thread is definitely not a bargain! The fibers of the "bargain" thread splits easily while you're sewing and can cause knotting of the thread, breakage of the thread and can also cause a build-up of lint in the bobbin area and along the thread line from the spool to the needle. If you hold a length of the bargain thread up to a light you can readily see the frayed edges and roughness of the thread. Stick to a good quality thread and you'll minimize the potential problems.

An additional area to check for stitching problems is whether the sewing machine is threaded properly. Each machine has a certain sequence for threading, and it only takes one missed step in the sequence to cause your machine to skip stitches. If you're in doubt, take the top thread completely out and start all over again.

Many times it's the small things that cause much frustration and loss of sewing time. Taking just a few minutes before starting a project to make sure everything is in order can save hours of "down" time, not to mention frayed nerves and the possibility of having to take the machine to a repair shop unnecessarily.

Reuben Doyle, a sewing machine repairman for over 25 years has written "Sewing Machine Repair for the Home Sewer" and "Serger Repair for the Home Sewer" for those who would like to end the frustration of interrupted sewing projects and unnecessary trips to the repair shop. Each book contains problem/solution scenarios, expert tips on maintaining your sewing machine or serger, and information that sewing machine repairs shops don't want you to know!

Old Style Treadle Sewing Machine with Spindle Bobbin - (How To). Here is an informative on a treadle sewing machine from Singer. Learn how to thread, load the bobbin and get going with these old-style classic sewing machines.