front wood piece

My Great-Grandmother’s Sewing Machine by Jennifer Beckstrand

A few years ago, my mother’s aunt asked if anyone in my family would be interested in my great-grandmother’s old treadle sewing machine. I thought it would be wonderful to own something my great-grandmother had used, and I asked my great aunt if I could buy it. I brought it home and didn’t really know what to do with it, so I put it in the guest room tucked tightly in its cabinet so the grandkids wouldn’t play with it.

When I started writing Amish fiction, I became more interested in treadle sewing machines. Many Amish fraaen (wives) sew all of their family’s clothes. Since most Old Order Amish don’t use electricity in their homes, some of the Amish still use the old treadle sewing machines. Others use modern sewing machines powered by small batteries about the size of a toaster oven.

Seven years ago when I wrote my third Amish romance, Miriam’s Quilt, I did extensive research on how to operate a treadle machine, but the research didn’t inspire me to pull out my great-grandma’s machine and try it out. It did give me greater admiration for my great-grandmother and Amish women everywhere who did and still do sew with a treadle machine.

Today, I went to the guest room and opened up the sewing machine. This is an absolutely beautiful model, and I wanted to share some photos with you.

This is the sewing machine sitting in its cabinet. Notice the “Singer” name formed in iron underneath. (I’m guessing it’s iron. I still don’t know so much.)

treadle sewing machine

When I got the machine, it still had a pincushion and some rickrack in one of the drawers.

You have to open the cabinet like this to get to the machine.

sewing machine cabinet

As you can see, it’s a little dusty inside where the sewing machine actually rests.

dusty sewing machine

The machine swings out of the cabinet, then you have to close the front piece of wood, and the machine rests on the front wood piece.

front wood piece

The artwork on the outside of the machine is exquisite. (Click the image to enlarge!)

Here is the serial number.

sewing machine serial number

In a few minutes of research online, I’ve discovered that this machine was manufactured in 1874—a true antique!

The husband of a friend of mine refurbishes old sewing machines, and for Christmas, I’m going to ask my husband to get the sewing machine refurbished for me. It is already beautiful. Can you imagine what it will look like when it’s cleaned up?

Jennifer Beckstrand is the award winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. Huckleberry Summer was nominated for the RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice Award and the 2015 RITA® Award, and Huckleberry Hill won the 2014 LIME Award for Inspirational fiction. Both Huckleberry Hill and Huckleberry Christmas appeared in list of top ten inspirational books for 2014. Visit for recipes, upcoming events, and news about books and giveaways.

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10 thoughts on “My Great-Grandmother’s Sewing Machine by Jennifer Beckstrand

  1. OMGosh! This brings back memories of my childhood! My grandmother had a singer sewing machine that looked exactly like yours, cabinet and all! So awesome!

  2. I have a small collection of antique machines and this is the model I am always looking out for but very difficult to find. You are so lucky to have one and especially the one used by your great grandmother.

  3. My Aunt had a sewing machine that looked similar to the one in the pictures I can remember going to her house and her sewing on it them was some good memories!

  4. Wow! How neat! My sister-in-law has one that belonged to her grandmother. I love to own one and learn to use it.

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