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Topic: Breathing life back into a vintage Fiatelli sewing machine - *Finished Project*  (Read 4798 times)
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« on: July 27, 2013 11:35:18 PM »

During each of my pregnancies I long to sew baby clothes on a treadle sewing machine.  In my pregnant bipolar mind, somehow, baby clothes sewn on a treadle machine were softer than baby clothes sewn on an electric machine.  Smiley  It didn't have to make sense.  One day I won a treadle table for a mere $10.  I brought it home, cleaned it up, and it sat waiting for a machine.  It had to be the *right* machine.  So one day, tired of scanning craigslist and gazing at machines I could never afford I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote down what I needed.  I wrote...

I need a sewing machine that...

Can be used as a treadle machine.
Has a built in zig zag stitch
Is compatible with Singer accessories
Has multiple needle positions
Has multiple stitch length
Costs less than $30
Preferably powder blue

The very next day someone listed a Fiatelli sewing machine on the local auction where I had won the treadle table.  I bounced through the week on pins and needles.  Stylish; It was designed at a time when people thought we would be driving flying cars and vacationing on the moon by now.  They listed it as "unknown condition" which we all know means "can't get it to work", but in my experience people often give up when things aren't easy so I was unconcerned.  The day finally came and I won the coveted machine for a mere $5.  We picked up the machine and brought it home.  

The poor machine did not even come with it's foot pedal, but as I planned to convert it for treadle use I was undaunted.  I unscrewed the machine's motor from it's back and took a good, hard look at it.  It was filthy.  It's condition was absolutely deplorable.  It had been neglected and outright abused.  The wheel would not turn.  The needle barely moved.  I opened the machine and proceeded to clean.  The scent of WD40 filled the room and cleaning clothes littered the floor as I hunched over the machine for the next 12 hours without stop.  I dismantled every section of the machine, cleaned it, and refitted it.  There was not a single section of the machine that worked as it should.  Several sections showed where previous work had been done, only the technician had dismantled parts and reassembled them incorrectly.  No wonder the machine did not work.  Sad  The poor machine cried, and I cried with it, as I wrestled with gears that did not remember how they were supposed to fit together.  Such a disservice to such a piece of vintage art.  The light switch disintegrated when I touched it, so it had to be replaced.  It came with a turn switch, but when I searched for a new one all I could find in a low profile chrome switch was a push switch.  I wired it all up with a new, longer cord.  The deck had spots where the enamel had been ....damaged and rust had set in, bubbling up into nuggets.  The bobbin plate showed ... gouging  O.O  I sanded the plate and deck spots down to protect the fabric which would be passing over them.  Before I was done I spend 20 hours taking apart, cleaning, correcting, reassembling, regreasing, rewiring.  The moment finally came when I lowered it into the treadle table, laced the leather belt over the Fiatelli's wheel, around the table's wheel, slowly rocked the pedal and held my breath.  The wheel turned, the fabric moved, and the needle went up and down.  All of this with only a whisper to tell that it was working.  The sheer quiet startled me.  Never before had I been able to sew on a machine without the NOISE that accompanies electric sewing machines.  I could sew on this one while my infant and toddler slept!!!  Something I had NEVER been able to do before without fear of waking them.  Smiley  I was elated.  I can sew forward and backward.  Straight stitches are no problem.  It has a zig zag stitch, but I am still learning the tension to make the machine happy.  That is my struggle, not the machine's.  There is no manual available for this machine.  I have been able to find only one other Fiatelli mentioned online in the U.S, and it is not of this model.  I intend to study machines of other makes which have similar working in other to learn to use this one.  I am so happy I was able to save, and breath life into a BEAUTIFUL machine that other's had given up as garbage.  

« Last Edit: July 28, 2013 07:23:38 PM by midkiffsjoy » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2013 03:00:56 AM »

Wow! What an incredible journey!!! My hat is off to you!!! The sure pleasure of sewing while the baby sleeps...what a plus!!! You've turned a pile of metal into a thing of beauty. Great job!!! Hope you share here the treasures you sew! Love your narrative. Thank you for sharing.
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2013 03:46:09 AM »

What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing it with us.

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« Reply #3 on: July 28, 2013 08:18:31 AM »

You and this beautiful machine are going to share a special bond for life. This is a lovely story. I'm so impressed with your mechanical engineering skills!

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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2013 10:22:48 AM »

Lovely story. Well done for persevering. You deserve to have a long and happy relationship with your treadle.
« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2013 07:13:18 PM »

My Fiatelli and I are learning to quilt.  (Actually it probably KNOWS how to quilt, and I'm just the one who is learning : )  I hope to make lots of little dresses, but right now we're working on this ....


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« Reply #6 on: August 02, 2013 07:24:09 AM »

Congratulations! This has been chosen to be a Featured Project!

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« Reply #7 on: August 02, 2013 09:07:00 AM »

Congratulations! This has been chosen to be a Featured Project!
Wow!!! Congratulations Midkifffsjoy!!! A super craft!
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2013 10:04:44 AM »

Holey Moley I'm very impressed by your story. I'd love to hear how you learned to take a machine apart and back together.  I have an old Kenmore machine that needs a new motor because the older one very frayed.   

 Job well done.  I'm very glad to hear a zig zag can be placed on a treadle.   Job well done.
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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2013 10:33:34 AM »

You are amazing!!!

I have boxes of vintage piano music.  Some as old as 1890's!  PM me if you'd like some!

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« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2013 04:55:54 PM »

Absolutely beautiful!
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2013 08:30:21 PM »

Soledad- I learned by doing, I guess.  Smiley  I've been taking things apart to see how they work for as long as I can remember (and I can remember having my diapers changed).  It used to drive my parents batty.  lol.  So I looked for screws and unscrewed them, and took LOTS and LOTS of pictures.  Cheesy  Really old machines have fewer parts and are made of metal so they last forever and are less complicated.  (Did I mention that my Fiatelli weighs 30 lbs all by itself???)  Start visiting your local thrift stores regularly.  I don't know how much sewing machine motors cost new, but the old machines pass through thrifts stores.  My fiatelli cost $5 at auction, and my Elna cost $2 at a thrift store.  Both of them came with motors.  

Now I have a 60's Singer that is more complex that has a gear that needs to be replaced.  I've read online about timing, etc.  I'm working up to fixing it.  lol  

btw....  THANK YOU for making this a featured project!!!!  *squee*  I'm so excited!!!! Cheesy  lol  Cheesy
« Last Edit: August 08, 2013 08:41:33 PM by midkiffsjoy » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2013 05:55:01 AM »

Love everything about your inspiring story! Kudos to you and your little machine that could!!! Excellent!

recycled repurposed denim and such for handmade accessories!
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