February 19, 2013
Handcrank Singer 99 in the house
My two daughters (4 and 6 yrs) are always very interested when I do any sewing on my W&W D-9 treadle machine, and really want to use the machine themselves. This is difficult since they are not big enough to both have their hands manipulating the work and their feet on the treadle to drive the belt. Its also tricky to get the belt going the right way every time until you get used to it, and if the action is run in reverse for more than a stitch or two things will get tangled up or at least unthreaded. Most machines treadle D-9s have an anti-reverse pawl riding on the flywheel, but mine was broken and I haven't bothered to fix it yet.
I asked about a good people-powered kids machine on Treadle On, and the overwhelming response was that the Singer 99 in handcrank configuration was an excellent machine for kids. With the handcrank there is no ambiguity about which way its going to run the machine when you start cranking it. The kids can also reach the handcrank and guide the fabric reasonably at the same time, this machine being a little smaller than typical. I just finished reading an interesting biography of I.M. Singer by Ruth Brandon, so I was also happy to enjoy some fruits of the Singer empire.
After doing some looking, an Onion (a denizen of the Treadle On list) offered to sell me one of her considerable collection of handcranked 99s. Shipping was expensive from Texas, but she did a fantastic job packing it and it arrived safely and in premium shape. The kids were excited to try it out immediately.
The action is so smooth and quiet and the machine is in very good condition. I've never used a handcrank before; it is oddly compelling and I'm looking forward to using this machine from time to time. This one is an original handcrank, not a conversion (though I hear the conversion kits are perfectly serviceable), and has the beautiful bentwood cover and a cute little bed extension.
The 3/4 size makes it look positively adorable. Its even got the scrolled endplate, which I prefer to the grooved deco style one fitted to some 99s.
We are truly living in the lap of luxury now that we've got TWO functional sewing machines up in here! Plus, with the low shank standard foot of this machine I can try out my mechanical buttonholer attachment. Becky thinks I'm a big sissy for struggling with whipping out all buttonholes by hand. Maybe by my 100th hand buttonhole I'll be fast enough that it won't seem so taxing on project time, but I admit I'm open to what the buttonholer can do for me.