Monday, July 28, 2014

Grandmother's Vintage Sewing Machine

Years ago, my parents gave me a box that contained my Grandmother's sewing machine.  All I knew was that it was an Elna and needed repair.  I never opened it and packers put it into a collection of boxes over the years as it moved from place to place with us.  This year I finally opened the 4 layers of packing materials and this is what I found.
An Elna Lotus SP, designed by Raymond Loewy.  
I learned from the International Sewing Machine Collector's Society that it was made between 1969 and 1977. The Museum of Modern Art in New York selected this compact machine, with its clean lines, for their 'Design Collection.'
 Like a lotus, its petals open up to reveal a compact, but utilitarian machine, with a variety of stitches and functions. The top of the machine has its own built-in tool caddy, but a few of the tools are missing.
Raymond Loewy also designed the Avanti.
I had a friend in college who drove one. I thought the car was so James Bondish and he was just the coolest for driving it! Unfortunately, I never succeeded in getting more than a spin around the block (in the car, that is.)

How does it sew??  It has a beautiful stitch, but is probably better suited for garment sewing.  I have a very hard time getting it to stitch over bulky seams and I have to give it a little manual help every once in awhile to get it to start a seam. Each time I use it, I learn a little more on how to make it function the way I need it to.

Why am I sewing with it???  We moved up to Colorado in mid-July and I brought both my daughter's Bernina (lighter than mine) and the Lotus.  The Bernina will not turn on, so the Lotus is all I have to sew with.  I have restricted myself to sewing things I can over-size and custom cut to help deal with the lack of precision.  I sure miss Bernie and now have more empathy for students with older machines!

And besides, I have not done all that much sewing. Here is what I have accomplished:
From Kim Diehl's book, Simple Appeal.  The name of the quilt escapes me. 
I love the graphic nature of the quilt, but had a hard time picking the border.   
My progress on 'Sunflower Gatherings' by Lisa Bongean.  The wool applique extends into the pieced setting blocks, so each block is only partially done.  Wow, each block is so detailed with lots of embroidery...not my favorite thing to do!  Like my Pennies from Heaven quilt, I think this will also be a scaled down version of the original.   

And finally, 
'Mini Around the Pumpkin Patch'
Red Button Quilt Co.
16"x 19"

I did not lug my Sashiko machine up here, so this one will have to wait to be finished until I return home in mid-August.  

Now back to gardening, hiking or anything else we can think of to do in the glorious out of doors!


  1. What a cool sewing machine ! Never heard of this machine before . Your quilts are wonderful. Looks like you are getting lots of sewing done to me ;-) Enjoy your getaway to Colorado !

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  3. I have my mother's Lotus Elna and it works very well. The air cushioned foot pedal took a little getting used to. I found a 1/4" foot for it and I take it to classes since it is so light. Enjoy yours!

  4. My friend has a little lotus and swears by it. For someone who had trouble with choosing a border, it looks fantastic. Enjoy the rest of your holiday. Plenty of time to sew when you get home.

  5. It's special to have those old machines especially when they belonged to a family member. I agree they require more attention from us to sew on though. Yours is a beauty as are all your quilts. I really love that first one and I think that border is perfect for it. We are having gorgeous weather here, too.

  6. I've never seen this machine. What a cutie! I do remember the cars--beautiful and exotic! I never got to ride in one. Your works in progress sound so much like mine--lots of scaled down items here, too.

  7. That little Lotus machine sure is cute! Very unusual. Having machine problems does hamper your enjoyment of sewing though. Your projects look wonderful! I got Kim's new book, but have not had a chance to make anything from it yet. Lot of nice projects in it.

  8. Sorry about your Bernina! Sewing machine troubles are no fun :-( Who knows, maybe you will make a pal out of this sewing machine after you work with it for awhile!

  9. I'm drooling over your quilts! I need to make time to piece!

  10. Great story about your Elna. Hope Bernie doesn't require much service. Your projects look very nice.

  11. You have a sweet little machine and a nice story to go with it. The projects are looking great, especially the Kim D quilt.

  12. What a treasure you have! I bought my Lotus in the early 70's and still use it occasionally. It stitched through many, many Stretch and Sew projects and for many years was my only sewing machine. Today, it's great for classes.
    You are correct about difficulty sewing over heavy seams and have probably discovered that you must always, always pull the threads back behind the presser foot or spend a long time clearing out the thread glob that happens when you forget to do this. Thanks for the info on this machine, and have fun sewing with it!

  13. What a nice little treasure from your grandmother! Enjoy sewing on it! Your Sunflowers quilt is looking awesome! Beautiful finishes on the mini pumpkins and your Appeal quilt too!

  14. Making wonderful use of your time despite the obstacles. So good to hear that you also can struggle with fabric choice. Sometimes I think that I am the only one. Thank goodness for this wonderful "blog" support group.

  15. I like how those Elna's have the folding out tray. I considered purchasing a vintage Elna Grasshopper but have not done it.


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