Friends, you are to be forgiven for thinking that this portable, circa-1969 sewing machine looks an awful lot like an Elna Lotus -- on acid.
It's approximately the same size, the same weight, the same shape, and
has the same swing-down doors. And they're both all-metal, mechanical zigzaggers.
But there are differences. The Elna Lotus was made in Switzerland. The knock-off was made in Japan and badged "Penncrest," a J.C. Penney brand, and sold as the Swing 'n Sew. (Swinging was a very Sixties concept -- remember the Polaroid Swinger instant camera and the 1966 Ann-Margret film, The Swinger?)
One thing I really like about the Penncrest is that it has a reverse lever. To reverse the Lotus, you have to turn the stitch length knob all the way to the left and back again to your designated stitch length -- very inconvenient, imo. The Penncrest is the simpler machine: while later models offered more stitches, this one does only straight-stitch and zig-zag. (The Lotus boasts a blind hem stitch, a stretch zig-zag, and a multi-step buttonhole.) The Penncrest has a 1 amp. motor and takes class 15 bobbins.
Maybe it's on account of the foot (similar to a vintage Singer's), but I prefer the experience of sewing on the Penncrest, and it has a beautiful, balanced stitch. It's not as smooth, silent, and refined-feeling as, say, a Singer Featherweight, but what Japanese machine is? It's very similar to the Elna, however.
Best of all is the flower-power styling -- very reminiscent of a Singer Genie, maybe better!
There's something extremely unpretentious about this Penncrest Swing 'n Sew. The Elna is austere and stiff -- certainly well-designed, but kinda' high-brow. The Penncrest evokes less Swiss precision than shag carpeting, black-light posters, and lava lamps. And J.C. Penney.
Did YOU swing in the "Swingin' Sixties" and what did that refer to exactly -- go-go dancing? We owned a Swinger Polaroid camera, which was a little messy to use, as I recall.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!