Demonstrations of treadle sewing machines added to the quilt show

This year, as an added element of the Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival, Judy Jo Protiva, co-owner of Peace Valley Poultry, will demonstrate the use of a treadle sewing machine on the West Plains Mezzanine Civic Center.

His demonstration will take place from 10 a.m. to noon on June 3 and 4 during the annual festival that takes place in and around the Civic Center in downtown West Plains. The two-day event celebrates the music and culture of the Ozarks.

Admission to all festival events is free. Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Protiva is a wife, mother and grandmother who started using treadle sewing machines in the early 1980s. It was a lifelong dream of hers, she said, and she has finally able to find a suitable machine.

Before fixing the problems of her starting style, she started sewing pants for an exercise group. This, combined with her enjoyment of sewing for others and for herself, put her learning into high gear. She only sewed for the group for a few months, but continued to sew on the treadle. Soon the wheel would purr as it gently turned, needlework creations.

A year or two later, she sewed a teepee with her machine. She bought the canvas from a canvas company in Denver and sewed yards and yards of double stitching, forming the fabric into a teepee blanket. On the day she celebrated her elevation, she met Jim Protiva, the man of her dreams, and they were married a year and a half later.

Judy Jo Protiva had always wanted to sew for her own children, she says, and soon there were four children. Sometimes she would sew in the night to make dresses and shirts for her family, a faster process when it was quiet. Her eldest, Beth, remembers hearing the roar of the treadle machine as she fell asleep. As these children grew playing on and with the foot pedal they developed a natural rhythm with it, until they were old enough to sew they could handle the machine effectively.

For Protiva, the pedal represents not only a means of productivity, but also a sense of nurturing and caring for others that is passed down from generation to generation. All are invited to visit the mezzanine and discover these machines which are still used in many places today.

A treadle is a part of a machine that is operated by the foot to produce reciprocating or rotary motion in a machine such as a sewing machine, loom, grinder, to power water pumps, or to turn wood lathes, for example. They allow human power to machines without the need for electricity.

Most early sewing machines were powered by a treadle mechanism. The pedal was operated by stepping on it with one foot, or both feet, to cause a rocking motion. This motion turns a large wheel on the treadle frame, connected by a thin leather belt to smaller drive wheels on the sewing machine.

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