Sewing Off the Grid, What do you do?

hand crank sewing machineHere in California, there’s an acute awareness of energy costs, as the fuel suppliers reap billions as we suffer. That aside, let’s say you’re interested in sewing, and you don’t want to use any electricity from the grid. What are your options?

Hand sewing?

Yes, you could call your needle a machine, but that doesn’t really go to the call to the question here, and there are quicker options.

Antique hunting?

Yes, you can get down to the antique store or junk store and look for a vintage treadle or hand crank machine. These machines can sometimes be had for a modest price, they’re usually attractive, and you can find out how to fix them by buying manuals available online. I’m told they’re durably made, and I do remember my grandmother’s old treadle, and wish I had it. But, when I was looking at this option, the machines I saw available cost over $1,000, so they hardly seemed the cost savings option.

Go where the Amish go

This is the advice I was given in my search for a new treadle machine. It was advice that worked out well, and I’m passing it on now. Folks, there are people in this country now who are off the grid by choice. Whole communities of them. Communities with money to spend. And, folks, there are mail order sources that supply them. Believe it or not, those mail order sources even have web pages!!! So, you can get their goods online, or shop comparatively, to see what is available.

And what is available?

The machines I’ve seen are broken up into two types. There’s the hand crank ones, with a crank on the wheel of the sewing machine, and there’s the treadle machines that you use foot power to power. Imagine, an exercise machine and a sewing machine in one! It’s pretty neat when you think about it, you can be working those legs while you make that pair of shorts to wear on them.

The hand crank ones I’ve seen are reproductions, so you’re confined to straight sew. You’re also confined to working just one arm when you operate them. But this might be an option for you.

The treadle machines I’ve seen mail order include a traditional one, which is a reproduction of the Singer 15, I believe, that old cast iron lovely that your granny used to have. (I’ll get back to this later..)

The other treadle machine I’ve seen is more like a modern machine, but powered by foot. Now, if you want a modern machine with all the stitches and functions, but want to power it off the grid, this would be a good one to look for. I haven’t been able to find it offline, but it is online at the on-line catalog for treadle machines and a lot of other off the grid things. I don’t have the URL right now, so don’t ask. You can find it the same way I did, by searching on Google for new treadle sewing machine. That’ll get you there, and prepare to be impressed. (Except by the price.)

Getting it Offline

I’m a great one for shopping local brick and mortar businesses, so I went to my local Singer distributor and asked the guy there if he could get me the Singer version, the reproduction of the old machine. Although it took a while for it to ship, he was able to get it for me, and assemble it too. After doing my homework on the web, I was able to buy the treadle machine of my choice from my local store!

This ISN’T a review of that machine, but

Let me tell you, it’s a kick to have that beauty here. The case isn’t made of the old wood, but it’s a lovely thing to look at, and functions well. The machine, well, if you like ornate, and gaudy, it’s all you could ask for. And how does it work?

To me, just fine.

Granted, I’m still learning it, but that’s OK. See, for me, sewing is a hobby, and messing around learning how to use the machine is just as much a part of that hobby as actually doing something.

Oh, yes, I have an on the grid machine for all those other things, like stretch stitches, buttonholing, etc, but for straight stitches, I can tell this Singer’s going to work just fine. (Especially now that I found the manual in PDF format online!)

So, if you’re worried about what you’ll do during the rolling blackout, or if you’ve moved to a cabin in the woods, but still want to sew, or if you’d just like to make a token protest against the outrageous gouging we’re getting by the energy cartels these days, consider sewing off the grid. Hey, use your solar radio while you sew, and really have a ball!

Something to think about, something to enjoy.