The Singer is Dead, Long live the Elna

I was in the middle of working on a new, bias-cut handkerchief dress – out of a fabulous marigold yellow, cotton-silk voile that I found for 3 euro at the thrift store – when my husband came into the room where I was pressing open seams to say the dreaded phrase:

“There was smoke coming from the motor of your sewing machine so I turned it off and unplugged it before it caught on fire.”

…sigh. With only the back pleats and the hem left to do it was a frustrating development. Besides, I loved that Singer. My husband bought it for me (at the same thrift store) for 25 Euro and it had been a real workhorse for the last 5 years, zig-zagging through jeans with holes, sewing up dolls and clothes for the girl, and straight stitching through a fair number of skirts, shirts, and my first try at pants from my own pattern.

I tried to think positive, this was an opportunity to look for a more versatile machine that would work with knit fabrics, had newer feed dogs and perhaps even a presser foot that would not always send the fabric off at a slight angle. I live in the land of Necci…there was bound to be a cheap used one out there on, right?As they say in this country, “Eh no eh…” The only used machine in my budget (less than 100 euro including shipping costs) was an Elna Lotus SP35. She just came yesterday and here she is:

It took me some time to get both the lower and upper tension harmoniously adjusted to work with the fine voile – I’m glad to say that it came with both the original users manual and the sewing guide which both helped me fine-tune the tension and introduced me to a whole new realm of Italian sewing terms. What can I say? Sturdy, light-weight, quiet and with a sensitive pedal. I’m looking forward to experimenting with knits and in the meantime, I finally finished the dress!

I hand ‘pick-stitched’ the back pleats.

By bonniemcclellan

Mother, poet, american ex-pat from Texas living in Northern Italy.

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