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 ebay.it, 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.

How am I doing? Sew-sew…

Pair of palazzo pants that I’ve finally finished
Second of two shirts I’m making for Matthew

 I have been sewing like mad lately. I finally finished the pants pictured at left and I’m wearing them! They’re really comfortable and great for hot days when one’s legs are not ‘summer perfect’. Made in cotton sateen, they’re a cinch to iron after hanging up to dry.

I have almost finished the second of two white shirts I’ve been making for my husband this summer. I decided to do the pin-tucks by hand on the second one and then made the mistake of hand-sewing the top-stitching! Now I have done all of the top-stitching  by hand so that it has continuity but…whew it’s a lot of little stitches.

Detail of pin-tucks on shirt

 Meanwhile, I realized only this morning that the girl’s kindergarten had sent home a list of ‘stuff to get’ for the summer session, one of which was ‘uno zainetto’ (aka a little knapsack). I hated to spend yet another 10 euro on some made in china nylon thing that would fall apart after 30 days (or the zip wouldn’t work or, or, or…). So, I made this little knapsack from a dress that my mother had made for her when she was three. It was nice to re-use this fabric for Robin Kay because I have a hard time giving away things that my mother made for her and, darn it, she keeps getting bigger and growing out of them anyway!

Cute little knapsack I made for my daughter to carry her things to ‘summer school’

So sew…that’s been my pile of projects lately (now that it’s too hot for knitting).