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Oct 10, 2014

Good-bye, Elna Lotus + How Did I Not Know About Botani Trimmings?

Friends, I sold another sewing machine this afternoon: my Elna Lotus.

Even though she had cosmetic issues (and who doesn't), she was a very solid stitcher and quite quiet.  I never could get over the fact that to reverse, you had to turn the stitch length dial all the way to the left and then back to your original stitch length position -- a headache, imo.  I never warmed up to her.

I've now sold three machines and donated one; I'm proud of myself.  Unfortunately, I still own a dozen others.  Since some of you may wonder, here's what my collection currently consists of:

3 black Singer Featherweights (practically silent and oh-so-smooth)
1 white Singer Featherweight (unnecessary; not as quiet as my black FWs)
1 Kenmore 158.1040 (another unnecessary machine, never sewn anything with it, but cute)
1 Kenmore 158.141 (my go-to zigzagger, great for straight stitch as you can adjust the stitch plate)
1 Singer 15-91 (beloved)
1 Singer 201 (also great)
1 Singer 66 treadle (I should use this more than I do. A wonderful machine, but I'm lazy)
1 Singer 66 Lotus decals (lovely to look at; never use)
1 Viking 3240 (no-frills zigzagger; I wind EVERY bobbin on her, that's all she's used for)
1 Bernina Record 930 (My best free arm)

The next to go would have to be the white Featherweight and the 3/4-size Kenmore (158.1040).  It would hurt to sell the 66 with the Lotus decals, but it takes up a lot of room and is never used.  We'll see.

Today I found a great source of high-quality rib knit -- Botani Trim. (A big thank you to Clio for mentioning it to me in a comment yesterday.)

How did I not know about this absolutely jaw-dropping trimmings store that's only eight blocks from my house?  I visited today with my Canadian friend Jo, who's been vacationing in NYC this week.

Botani (263 West 36th) is huge -- an entire city block deep!

Their collection of zippers (particularly the Italian brand Lampo), buttons, snaps, buckles, rivets, and more, is enormous, and they have a great selection of rib knit trim -- precisely of the weight and quality I was looking for.

Their colors are largely limited to conservative mens outerwear colors -- navy, gray, camel, black, browns, forest greens, and beige (solids, no stripes).  But it's the real deal.  (Pacific Trim had a wider variety of colors.)

Even though I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the Garment District, like many (most?) people, I tend to frequent the same stores.  For example, I never walk down 36th St. (I'm mainly on 38th & 39th, with occasional forays to Elliot Berman on 35th.  I also hardly ever go east of 7th Ave.)

Speaking of Elliot Berman, we peeked in there too, primarily to visit Eugenia, my favorite fabric store employee (along with Diane, who works the register at Mood).  I was surprised to find a bolt of this leopard-print knit: look familiar?

And that's it!  Thank you for your many suggestions about rib knit sources yesterday.  Who knows -- there may be something even better than Botani out there.

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. Botani is indeed awesome. I agree about visiting the same stores over and over- even though we moved from the area, when I visited last month I just went to the same few stores I always did.

  2. Botani is one of my favorite stores, aside from the gorgeous stock, it is actually in the 21st century when it comes to merchandising, and it's well lit, a definite improvement on most of the stores in the garment district.

  3. My Gimbels machine has that same color carrying box as your Singer Lotus! What's a shame is that the Gimbel's, even after repair, doesn't sew particularly well. The presser foot just doesn't press down hard enough, so your fabric sort of floats around a lot while you try and sew.
    I still haven't tried my Grammy's old portable singer so finger's crossed it works better than that. If you ever want to unload one of those black singer featherweights I might be interested ;) I've been sewing on a table/converted treadle one all week at work and I'm now reminded just how solid machines used to be.

  4. So much jealousy over that store...

    1. Me too...wish I lived close to NYC (although my wallet would HURT).

  5. Wow, I would sure want to know if there was a store like that near my house too! What a great find!

  6. I can testify to the charm and use of the 158.1040. Does not have the muscle of a full size machine, but travels well to do alterations like a champ and is easily tuned up at home (kinda the VW Bug of sewing machines). Where do you keep all these treasures?

  7. I'm a little jealous of your machine collection! I desperately want a treadle singer , I think I could justify it as exercise don't you?

  8. I'm so jealous you can just walk into Botani's! I use Pacific Trimming online, what a great site. Botani online appears to be zippers (Lampo) only.

    1. I noticed that too, with a bit of disappointment. I am looking for sources of ribbing. But, I appreciated finding the reference to Pacific Trimming. (I would love to visit the garment district)

    2. Robyn, there were some good sources mentioned in yesterday's post's comments.

  9. Thanks for mentioning that Botani sells ribbing. I've bought buttons from there and oogled the Lampo zippers but didn't realize they had ribbing and I need to get some for little kids clothing!

  10. So basically, you're saying that you don't read my blog... right, Peter! (LOL) - Seriously, Dude...

  11. Yowsa! I didn't know about Botani trims either! Like you, I usually shop on 38th and 39th Streets between 7th and 8th Avenues. I will be sure to pay them a visit during a lunch break. Thanks for sharing!

  12. I must visit Botani on my next trip to NYC. Is ribbed knit trip appropriate for sweaters available there, too?

  13. I can never find good knitted ribbing for polo shirts or sweatshirts or anything else, but its nice I know where now from this blog.

    Have you ever considered purchasing a new sewing machine, I'm curious to see if you would. Maybe get into some embroidery work, ie, like the inside lining of a jacket etc. Maybe a babylock serger, and get more into sportwear. I am please you are cleaning house on your sewing machines, I have too many but don't want to part with any. I love my 15-91's, leather, sunbrella fabric, heavy canvas for bags, i think i could even hook up a servo motor to one and it would be as good as any industrial sewing machine.

    You should go window shopping and try some of the new machines. I also think if you sell a few of your featherweights, they will fetch you 350 plus.

    Just some things to think about.

  14. Just shows we don't know whats round the corner ! Gemma (UK)

  15. I hope you remain friends with us.

  16. Being American and Canadian, I want to say

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING !! to all your readers from Canada.

  17. I would be more than happy to take one of those FW off your hand and send you Pay Pal $$ for it!!

  18. I am pretty sure a version of that Lotus Singer sits under plastic and wood outside our house (under roof), rather rusty, still possibly usable, who knows. It's rusted to such an extent that I could not make out the serial number properly, so I'm glad for more hints about its possible provenance - at least the model, which is more than I knew before. :-)


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