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Jul 11, 2015

My Latest Vintage Sewing Machine + Paisley-palooza!



Readers, behold my latest vintage sewing machine, an Elna Supermatic I purchased on eBay!

Take a good look, because it's going back to the seller next week.  Long story short, it's a dud, nothing like the machine described in the original listing.  If you're interested, here's the video of the machine supplied by the seller:

Here's what my machine sounded like:



Trust me that this was not simply an oiling issue; there were other problems with the machine as well (due to poor packaging most likely).

To make matters worse, the seller never responded to my inquiries.  I reported the seller to eBay, eBay decided in my favor, and in a few days I will receive a pre-paid shipping label so I can return the machine.  If the seller doesn't reimburse me for the full cost, eBay will cover it.  I wish I could say this is the first time I've had trouble with vintage sewing machines on eBay, but it isn't.  I've had a lot of good luck too, of course, but I'm thinking from now on I'll limit myself to flea markets and Craigslist, where I can test my machine before purchasing it and don't have to worry about sub-par packaging and expensive shipping.

In other, happier news, I've started Zack's dress shirt.  I'm making it out of a beautiful cotton paisley with the olive and salmon pinks Michael, Christina, and I agreed were his most flattering colors. So far it's coming together beautifully.  







The only challenge has been matching the pattern across the two front pieces (taking into account the the left piece will lap over the right), and figuring out how best to cut the yoke: in the end, I opted to cut it perpendicular to the selvage, not that anyone's going to notice -- there's so much going on in this fabric.





I hope to finish the shirt tomorrow and to give it to Zack on Monday.  Lots more work ahead but I'm really enjoying the process and find I'm working more calmly than usual.

Hope your sewing projects are going well.

Have a great day, everybody!

Saw this old Singer industrial at the flea market this morning.

28 comments:

  1. I am sorry about the sewing machine, but the shirt fabric is beautiful. I am thinking that if the colors in the shirt look good on your client, you can use the color dots in the salvage to help you choose other fabrics, and so on and so on. I do not know why I'd never thought of that before.

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  2. To maintain continuity in rants, is her name Christina (the first post), or Christine (this post)?

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  3. Ebay will actually deduct money from the seller's funds. They have a paypal account and then a backup which is their bank account.

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  4. Beware cutting on the warp as it generally has less give than the weft in a standard tabby weave like this. SO beautiful that fabric though! I am sure all will be well! x

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  5. Sorry about the eBay bother you're having. Here's a little something that might tickle you and cheer you up. Not my GIF, just passing it on.

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v509/LynnLob/for%20others/Simplicity%20pattern%20gif_zpshspofpv8.gif

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  6. I learned to sew on an Elna exactly like the one you need to return. Then I replaced it 50 years ago with my current Elna which has sewn millions of kilometres since and still hums along obligingly. What a pity your Elna experience didn't work out.

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  7. Glad you are getting a refund on the lemon. I can't wait to see Zack's shirt...I love the fabric. I wish my husband would let me make him a paisley shirt!

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  8. Yes! Loved the paisley fabric on him and I've got a fondness for paisley too. Ack, ebay is great about things when they go wrong like that with purchases. I learned the hard way too. A couple years ago I purchased a vintage sewing machine and had to end up sending it back. Seems that the word operative to the seller meant that the hand crank would turn not that the machine could actually sew, BAH. Now its only hands on sight seen purchasing when it comes to these vintage beauties. Arn't vintage sewing machines so alluring like vintage cars when you see one you just want to touch it, start fiddling with it and go for a test drive : )

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  9. It's never a good sign when a seller's demo video features running the machine with the presser foot down w/out fabric. Strange that the seller wouldn't respond to you but it's clearly the same machine. (Some really unethical sellers will attach others' videos to their listings w/out disclaimers.) It appears the clutch may be partially disengaged among other possible issues. I'm glad eBay was able to work it out to your satisfaction.

    Depending upon the price you paid, the attachments might have been worth the price regardless of the machine's condition. A set of Elna attachments can be very expensive -- then again, you have to have a working Elna to use them. :)

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  10. Sorry the Elna didn't work out. Glad here is resolution for you. the shirt looks fabulous. Can't wait to see it.

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  11. I understand this all too well. Now I just search in vain locally.

    The great joke for me is that the machine I covet is the same damn model I learned on and HATED as a kid. It had secret features we did not know about at the time. Damnable! I'll wager the kids of the woman we gave it to STILL have it in the original case.

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  12. What a bummer about the machine! But I'm glad you will get your money back. I look forward to seeing the finished shirt.

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  13. I guessed/hoped it was an Elena Supermatic when you dropped the Swiss hint. For some reason, I have had a hankering to try one of these and have been looking at them on Ebay. The look and the knee trigger are what have intrigued me....and I don't have a Swiss sewing machine. Your sad experience has stalled my quest. Darn it. A good review probably was all I needed to scratch the itch. Sorry that you were disappointed, but glad to hear that there is a remedy and that Ebay is responsive.

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  14. Have you ever thought about owning a Singer 401? The cams are easy to find and I really believe it's Singer's best zig-zagger..........right up there in quality with the legendary 201. I use mine constantly.

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    1. I still haven't tried any of the Singer slant machines. I'm reluctant only because I'd have to deal with a whole new group of presser feet.

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    2. It's so much easier to see what you're working on with a slant machine that it's totally worth it. My favorite all time Singer is the 301.

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    3. Very valid point and I've seen groups of feet at all price ranges........think about Peter!

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    4. I had a 401, bought for almost nothing at Goodwill. After thorough cleaning and professional tune up, it sewed beautifully, albeit noisily. I wanted it to be my buttonholer setup machine since the slant needle buttonholer had cams for very wide holes. Setting up the buttonholer was a real pain, since you had to change out the throat plate. So I sold it on Craigslist to a good home and reasonable profit.

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  15. Not a vintage machine user, prefer modern machines, but I am sorry you got a dud because I know how much you love using them. Great fabric and colors. Can't wait to see the shirt.

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  16. I have two 401s in my collection and after a long and difficult bonding period, I finally got to the point that I would voluntarily decide to use one for a project now and then. The gear drive does give a sense of ... I don't know - mechanical stability ... but, I had a hard time getting over that sound of coins rattling around in a tin can, kachink-kachink-kachink. I spent hours and hours taking out, verifying and cleaning that horizontal rotary hook system, but nothing seems to make it "sound" smooth. And I always heave a sigh of relief when I go back to one of the quieter and smoother machines like the featherweight or an old ratty Nova 900. I'm definitely not a fan of the Supermatics. Can't figure why the German and Swiss engineers wanted to use a friction pulley/wheel. (Beyond my mechanical knowledge.) At least some of the Pfaffs that had it, had a dial to back the wheel/pulley away from the hand wheel when you weren't or aren't using the machine. But any Supermatic I've ever seen had a friction pulley with a flat side from sitting unused for years. That made them run very noisily, if they ran. Some of the later models are supposed to be better, but I've never had the courage to try one. After all... how many more machines does one need, that do exactly the same thing as the others! From my mouth to ...

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    1. Have you tried oiling around the captive bearing near the top of the gear drive shaft? Over time, the lubricant inside the shielded area petrifies and it is often a source of roughness (or slowness) in 401s. But I agree that while reliable and a fine stitcher, it has a tinny quality that I've never liked.

      As for sheer number of machines, well...need's got nothing to do with it! :)

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  17. The machine you purchased in great condition can out sew anything. HOWEVER, There are issues with this machine:
    1. There is a rubber tire in the machine in the mechanism that make the shaft go and your needle bar, over time, the rubber degrades and becomes flat .. to change it .. there is a guy on line and a website .. just look it on sewingpatternreview and it will cost 50-100 bucks to fix it
    2. The packing on ebay is mostly likely to blame from what you saw and what you got .. but that's ebay .. its not like buy a machine that is packed and shipped in styrofoam tight and not move ...
    3. Peter ... your sewing is stepping up to the professional level and maybe couture if you can learn how to fit .. boobs and curvy bodies, short tall and it all ... however .. you need to think about buying a professional machine .. ie .. industrial and also a great bernina which may not be in your budget .. but you are in nyc .. local listings i am sure you can find a good machine. I use a bernina which i love, good sergers/overlockers, cover stitch machine and vintage singer machines 15-90/91 and a 201. The singers are my go to machines for leather canvas .. making handbags, leather pants, you name it. They do one thing well .. and sew a great st8 thru anything.

    Please continue to clean up your machine inventory. Please work on your professional sewing techniques and tools. Please go apprentice with KennethD. King .. he will teach you all you need for making couture woman's wear .. and also read Claire Shacfer she will give you great techniques for haute couture.

    I think I said this before ... you need to step up your game, your tools and techniques. I think you love doing this ... so go for it .. big time.

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  18. The problem with your machine is that the drive shaft has slipped, and it's not a difficult fix.

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    1. I'll look into that (I still have the machine; ebay reimbursed me), thanks!

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  19. Sorry about your bad experience, as a vintage machine lover myself it must be so frustrating to get something that's not what you were led to believe. I love the paisley material, it is so vibrant! As always I love to dip in and out of your blog!

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  20. i love your blog. i'm a Singer collector; two hand cranks and 3 treadles. Your blog is creative and original. If I come to USA next year I'd like to find out the best places for fabric shopping in New York.

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