Several years ago when my dad started working in the auction field, I asked him to look out for just two things on his travels around Far North Queensland.
1. A 1972 Blythe doll
2. An Elna Lotus sewing machine in working condition
He hasn't come across a Blythe doll yet, but a few years ago I was at the Canberra Quilters quilt show and he called me on my mobile phone. He was at a Salvos in Cairns, he said, and they had an Elna Lotus with a certificate from an electrician saying it was in working condition. And they wanted $40 for it. Did I want it?
I think he ended up paying $30 for it. The intention was always to bring it back to Canberra, clean it up a little, and sell it for a profit, splitting the proceeds. You see Elna Lotus sewing machines, even those made in the 60s, are very popular with quilters. They are light, very portable, sew beautifully, are known as absolute workhorses and are as cute as all get out. And they go for hundreds of dollars.
I did a little sewing on it when I got home but it sounded like a loud boat motor (like the boat motor was in the room next to the machine), and was a bit slow to get going when you pressed the foot pedal. It has a few little chips and scrapes, and a tiny bit of rust has crept in and the chrome on the handwheel has mostly gone (a victim of living in the tropics) but you could hear the mechanics as it sewed and they sounded great (noisy but great), and I thought I had a good little machine which someone else would love to buy.
For years when I mentioned I had an Elna Lotus I had offers from other quilters. LOTS of offers. But I always turned them down. What was wrong with me? I had this sewing machine for the sole purpose of selling it! It was only after the last offer from a very dear friend a few months ago that I realised something.
I actually wanted to keep my little Elna Lotus. Better - I wanted to sew on her. So I had her checked out and serviced by my sewing machine guy. He loved her as much as I did. And he agreed that she was too noisy. So he fixed her, and now she's a lot less noisy, and I probably won't get kicked out of my quilting class in Sydney later this week anymore. Phew.
Isn't she cute? She is so light, and she has the fold down sides for a sewing area. The foot pedal fit perfectly under the arm.
Everything about her is beautiful, and clever. Check out the accessories area at the top of the machine.
And the little thread holder that pops out of the top.
The dials are clean and functional.
I love the brownish yellow glow of the light - none of that harsh blue light in the more modern machines.
I love the spring than comes down to pull the bobbin out.
Best of all, her stitch is perfect. I'm sewing the last three blocks of my second scrappy trip around the world quilt on her. It only feels right to. The smell of sewing machine oil fills the sewing room. You don't get that smell from computerised Berninas.
Did you know that the Elna Lotus was designed by the famous industrial designer Raymond Loewy? He also designed the Shell logo, the interior of the 1975 Air France Concorde, the interior of the Skylab, and the Studebaker Avanti.
Photo by carphoto
I can see some similarities, can't you?
The Elna Lotus was considered such a siginificant design of the 20th Century that it was included in the colllection at MoMA. I mean, it is pretty special.
I'm so glad I decided to keep her, get her fixed up and start using her. I think we'll have years of fun together.
And Dad? Thanks. I owe you $30.