Refurbishing my recently acquired vintage machines in many ways has been easier than refurbishing the cabinets. Betty’s cabinet (made in 1948) had part of the treadle intact, but the flywheel and foot pedal were missing, which made it impossible to use as a treadle. Sophia’s cabinet (made in 1911) had an intact treadle assembly, but the oak cabinet top was painted and “antiqued” and had buckling veneer on top.

Betty (15-88) in her original walnut cabinet. Notice that the treadle is not complete. You can see water stains on the right side.

Hubby had a busy time refinishing Betty’s cabinet top. It had been used as a plant stand and had a couple water rings and most of the varnish was missing. But the walnut veneer was relatively intact. He disassembled the entire table. We found a stain that mimicked her natural walnut color and now the components are stained and covered with up to 6 layers of varathane (sanded in between layers, of course).

Special Walnut is indeed special!

My issue, however, was that I wanted a working treadle machine. The cabinet top was almost refinished. And then Sophia showed up. But her cabinet was heavily painted. Would it be possible to salvage Sophia’s 1911 treadle and attach it to Betty’s 1947 cabinet top that hubby worked so diligently to restore?

We removed Betty’s incomplete treadle stand and quickly discovered that Betty’s treadle stand was about 2″narrower. After about a week pondering this issue, we decided to move the cabinet drawer assembly on Betty and reattach a bit further out towards the edges of the top and yes, we were able to fit the 1911 treadle base to the top…it was a tight squeeze, but it worked.

Hubby cleaned and repainted the treadle from Sophia!

Hubby then proceeded with painting Sophia’s treadle with Rustoleum spray paint after a good cleaning. I touched up the the gold SINGER and Singer medallion sections on each side of the assembly.

Betty’s incomplete treadle has been moved to Sophia’s painted cabinet and I plan to paint the cabinet.

So shiny!
Lovely walnut grain and repainted medallion on the treadle base!

The refurbished 1911 treadle bottom and refinished 1948 cabinet now house Sophia and we have the treadle going! The stitches are lovely! We were able to source a few missing parts (plate covers and bobbin assembly) on line.

Sophia in the refinished “Franken-cbinet” cabinet with the refurbished treadle. She sews beautifully.

Betty now resides in a Singer cabinet that I was using as an extra table.

Betty in the #42 cabinet.

Are you completely confused at this point? Trust me, we were too! One good cabinet top (1947) + one good treadle base (1911) = one complete treadle cabinet. I feel a bit like we were creating a Franken-Cabinet! Purists might object, but we have now refurbished and rejoined the best of both cabinets and created a working treadle from two free cabinets. Here are the two less desirable parts…Sophia’s top with Betty’s incomplete treadle base.

Sophia’s cabinet with the incomplete treadle. Stay tuned, I think I am going to paint this!

Considering that both machines were free (!!) I think we have done pretty well! I now have two vintage Singers that work and that I know I can fix myself. Of course, I need to practice my treadling to get a good rhythm going and then I will move on to learning to FMQ on Sophia.

Happy sewing adventures!



  1. Morning Lennea. I love how you both spent sooo much time on rescuing both lovely machine housing and machines. Sophies carved draws and long draw are so beautiful glad you have some thing in mind for them? Thanks for taking so many photo’s so we could follow step by step. I have pulled my 1930’s singer out of the boxes and have put her in the hall way to protect here from the high temps we have been having. I just love touching and looking at her like you do to I’m sure. Happy sewing and FMQ one day? Hugs Glenda

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Yes, Tom spent more time refinishing than I did taking machines apart and putting them back together! The old girls deserve our deep respect. I am thinking of an aubergine paint for Sophie’s cabinet; perhaps with some gold detailing…Perhaps a stencil…


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