Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The perils of having an old sewing machine

The past week I have felt a bit as if I were watching the outside world through the wrong end of binoculars....two sick kids followed by snow and ice has meant I have hardly been anywhere, seen anyone and the Christmas shopping has just had to stop.

Last week was odd as they both slept during the day and in the strangely peaceful house I was able to finish my skirt and the cowl scarf in the previous post.

My sewing machine (a 1970s Elna) had not been working properly for some time but with the unexpected time I had, I was able to get a look at it. I had previously joined the Yahoo group Elna Heirloom Sewing upon a suggestion from Sigrid at Analog Me. I found that my machine (a lotus) is not a common model in the group discussions and advice and I didn't get very far. But the group discussions showed me how many people out theere are fixing their own vintage machines, and reading the discussions gave me the confidence to have a look at the machine myself, rather than trek over to the repair shop.

I got it to work by carefully cleaning out the bobbin mechanism with a paintbrush. Previous to this, the bobbin kept sticking and then the needle would unthread and I would have a jam of threads coming from the bobbin. It worked and the machine started to run smoothly.

I was able to sew the facings and the piping onto the skirt. Then a couple of days later I tried to sew the seams - I had to repeat the cleaning process before the machine would work. Ah, the joy of an old machine...

In the meantime here is the skirt, with apologies for the poor photo quality. I left my camera in the car, and the cold seems to have affected it. I used the Sew U skirt pattern and added the facing to the outside so I could have the piping effect. I was tempted to put in side pockets but didn't want to spoil the line. The fabric is the greenish-grey I bought to make these trousers The binding is from some red and white polka dot fabric and I had the shiny red buttons in my button box.

I am hoping this skirt will be versatile enough to wear in lots of combinations. It was sooooo nice to sew a garment after not sewing any since September. It made me realise how much I love making clothes. I am working on my sewing plans for next year in my head.
My children are now much better but they have kindly given me their sneezing, coughs and temperature, so once I am better I can get outside and get some better skirt photos but I am too impatient to wait till then and wanted to show it now.


  1. Well done for persevering with your machine! The skirt is lovely, I especially like the piping!

  2. Wonderful Skirt! I love how you have put the facing and piping on the outside. Hope you feel better soon xxx

  3. I love the skirt! the red piping and buttons give it a very original touch! Very creative.

  4. Oooooh, I am loving what I see in that skirt! Hope your machine continues to behave from now on :-).

  5. I love the skirt. Such a brilliant idea to flip the facings to the outside. I hope the machine cooperates--those Lotus models are so cool. My weapon of choice with my vintage Viking is Tri-Flow oil.

  6. The power of red buttons! :D
    Looks great!

  7. Great skirt! It's great to see what you've done with this pattern, and this one is versatile with those nice touches (piping I've yet to conquer!) that make it unique.

    Sorry to hear about your machine, so frustrating! But you know I'm all for fixing things myself so good for you :) You know I had a similar problem and it turned out it was a tension issue -- the bobbin kept jamming because I had no tension with the needle thread. I doubt that's your issue, but I recall how it took me forever to figure out (and there was lots of yelling and swearing involved).

    Happy New Year!

  8. Thank you for all the lovely skirt comments. I am so pleased with how it turned out. Piping is one of my new favourite things. Flu and a dodgy moouse have prevented me from responding sooner. SIgrid, I am going to try out some oil, I am goign to try and get Elna recommended oil....