I finally got around to using my Great-Grandmother's treadle machine. Which she bought, used, back in 1911.
"I declare," said Ma, "I don't know how we ever got along without that sewing machine. It does the work so easily; tucking is no trouble at all. And such beautiful stitching. The best of seamstresses could not possibly equal it by hand."
-These Happy Golden Years, Laura Ingalls Wilder
It probably took me about an hour to finally get to sewing an actual straight seam. One thing that threw me off was that I had to crank the wheel away from me to stitch forwards, which somehow just went against my instincts. To get an even tread I had to put one foot forward and one foot on the back of the treadle plate, and there was a bit of a trick to it. And wow, it is slow compared to motorized sewing machines. But when I was done, I reached over to turn the machine off..... and there was nothing there. And that's cool.