In 1954 my grandmother taught me to treadle in her little adobe house in El Paso, Texas. She had a Singer treadle sewing machine with a long bobbin and mysterious Egyptian decals. With scraps I made a shoe box full of doll clothes for my chubby baby doll. Those were the pre-Barbie doll days, before the wasp waistline, long legs and cleavage.

Years later she owned two treadle sewing machines and we treadled together. A few years after she died I bought my first treadle, in 1973, because it brought back warm memories.

From 1990 to 1993 my treadle was in storage when I lived in Holland. By the end of the 3 years I yearned to treadle again. When my feet finally hit the treadle all the memories of treadling with my grandmother came flooding back. It was then I decided I never needed to use an electric machine again.

Welcome to Treadle Lady

Memories of my precious grandmother are why I treadle

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Donna Kohler     
Fresno, California

Please note: I cannot value a machine for you. Check Craigslist or eBay for sales of machines. You can research machines online, start with
If you want to use a machine is the best! Also watch my YouTube videos and my book is very helpful.

Maria Astorga Amaya as a young woman about 1910 in Mapimi, Durango, Mexico and more than 50 years later in El Paso, Texas with her dog, Babalu.

Donna Kohler with 1889 Singer Model 13k, nicknamed Scottie because he is dark and handsome and made in Kilbowie, Scotland.

San Joaquin Valley Quilt Guild when asked, “How many own a treadle or hand crank sewing machine?”

The first question, when I speak to quilt guilds, is for a show of hands of how many own a treadle or hand crank. Many hands go up. When I ask how many use them, even on occasion, most hands go down. I tell them that is like having a classic car in the driveway and never taking it for a Sunday drive. I encourage them to clean them and get them in sewing condition.

During the slide presentation they meet some of my nicknamed sewing machines and learn the reason they have that nickname, they meet Miss Twiggy, Grizelda the Black Widow, Gibson Girl, Her Majesty, G.I. Elvis, Hot Legs and others.

Quilts that are shown are made entirely on treadles or hand cranks. Quilters are amazed that old machines can free motion embroider and quilt. By the end of the evening they are excited and tell me about their machine or that they are dashing home to see what it is.


Phone 559 355-3080
YouTube link to book trailer

My book available on For Sale page