Sunday, 19 July 2009

Sewing machines, Elna, Good value, faithful friend

I can't remember not having a sewing machine. I remember one called Little Betty, which sewed a chain stitch when I was very small. The trouble with that was that it easily unravelled as it wasn't a lock stitch.

Then, when I was about seven, I was bought a full-size treadle sewing machine, which did "real" lock stitch. I think Dad picked it up at an auction. It had a wooden cover, which, when removed ready to sew, made a stool for me to sit on. I don't remember when that was sold.

Mum had a hand operated Singer when I was young, on which she made most of our clothes. She'd been a dressmaker and cutter before she married Dad, so it was second-nature to her, and we were cheap to clothe because of this, and always nicely turned out.

I remember being allowed to use her machine when mine had gone. Later, hers had a motor added, wow, no more turning of the hand-wheel! Yerars down the line, when my brother and I were older, Mum took a job in a sewing machine shop, becoming the manageress. She bought a Bernina, which she still has, nearly 40 years on. She always said that you get what you pay for, and Swiss machines were the Rolls Royces of the sewing machine world.

After I was married I sold my green enamelled machine and treated myself to my Elna SU. A Swiss model on a par with the Bernina that Mum had, but this was pneumatic!! It has little cogs to change around to enable fancy stitches, but I have to admit I haven't used many of them.

That machine helped me to furnish our house with all its curtains. I made fitted sheets, pillow cases and duvet covers. Thick winter dressing gowns for both of us - we didn't have central heating initially, so we needed them!!

I made many of my clothes, and trousers and even a tailored jacket for my husband. I sported a beautiful long cape in the 1970s, and maxi skirts galore. When I discovered I was pregnant I'd made three maternity dresses over a weekend. I made tiny vests and nightshirts ready for the baby, and all the bedding for the crib.

I'd say I made about 90% of Rachel's clothes when she was small, including romper suits with poppered legs. I carried her around in a sort of papoose that I made from a Vogue pattern in beige cord fabric, lined with a delicate rusty patterned fabric. When she moved to a full-sized cot, all her bedding went through the Elna.

I got the Elna out the other day to shorten some curtains from the last house to fit the ones in my new bungalow. I started to sew and was appalled at the racket emanating from my faithful old friend.

I took her in for an estimate to see what was the matter with her. The mechanic rang me on Friday. All she needed was a service, whew! She's been on the go for over thirty years, and never let me down. You really do get what you pay for, don't you? She was expensive, but has been worth every penny. And the service is only costing about £50, then I'm hoping she'll last another thirty years.

It's good to have a friend - no flesh and blood with this one, but treasured nonetheless :-)


  1. I hope it works again after its service. By the way, I've set up that other blog I mentiomed, at, have a think about whether you want to join in xxx

  2. I forgot to tell you I'd visited, sorry! I think it's a good idea:) xx

  3. I have an Elna SU still going strong after 40 odd years. The drive belt isn't as tight as it might be, but I don't think a week goes by without me using it. If it gets a little noisy I clean the spool race out with a cheap paintbrush and give it a squirt of oil.

  4. I always oil mine before every use - Mum used to sell machines as well as sew, so I was brought up to maintain it well. It's now back to normal, and even has a new light bulb, so I can see what I'm sewing!!! Should last me out, I hope, now :)

  5. I used Elna machines during high school where I learned to sew. I love the smoothness of the way their motors run.


Sadly, I've turned on comment moderation as I recieived a pornographic advert from another country. Unless your comment is particularly unpleasant, rest assured, it will appear on the blog!

Thank you for your understanding :)