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Thread: Calling out for all opinions on sewing machines

  1. #1
    Junior Member geckos42's Avatar
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    In a previous post I shared that my beloved Elna SU air electronic was stolen. Unexpectedly, my X-husband (!!!) bought me a replacement found on eBay. I took it to a technician and his evaluation is: It's not worth repairing. :cry: It has an attached base for setting it in a sewing cabinet and many of the external parts are not Elna parts and would have to be replaced. The biggest issue is the base, because without it removed, the "free arm" isn't accessible. But, with it removed, there's no base for the machine to stand on, so it would be even more wobbly and unstable than in it's current state. I brought the machine home and have set it aside until I have an epiphany.

    Today I found the exact same machine in a gorgeously handcrafted wooden, fully-stocked cabinet (thread, bobbins, notions). The cabinet has an "elevator" (?) for lifting the machine. The sides of the cabinet open out fully and the top opens too. I'm not sure if it's both sides, or just one. In any case, it seems like a screaming deal I shouldn't pass up. The down side is: It would involve a 7-hr drive (one way) to get it. The trip alone would cost about $200. And, being an older Elna, is this really what I want/need? Will it solve my need for a "quilting" machine?

    I only began quilting in March, 3 months before my machine was stolen. I pieced quilts with the Elna, but hadn't quilted on/completed any of the 5 quilt tops I started. Right now I'm borrowing a Janome and finished all the tops.

    So, do I take advantage of what feels like an exceptional once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity ($200 for machine AND cabinet) or should I hold out for a newer sewing machine with modern functions such as needle up, needle down, etc.? Can I attach an even -feed foot to the Elna? Is the Janome even-feed foot compatible? Or should I continue using the Janome?

    What experience do you have with an Elna SU air electronic (circa 1985)? I'm all ears! Thanks in advance for your input.

  2. #2
    Super Member fabric_fancy's Avatar
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    i never worked with an Elna SU but i do have many vintage singer sewing machines (8 to be exact from the 1890s-1970s).

    i never really sew or quilt on the vintage machines i just like to collect them even the FWs.

    i only use modern sewing machines that have many bells. i wouldn't want a machine that didn't have needle up/down, a knee level, a needle threader, various machines stitches for machine applique, a large harp and throat, etc.

    for me the hard part was finding all these features in a reasonable price and i purchased the Juki F600 for less then $800.

  3. #3
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I don't have any experience, but I believe the Elna SU air electronics are collectible machines and highly prized by those who have one.

    If I am reading your post correctly, the total cost would be $400. Could you perhaps dicker with the owner, pointing out that it would cost you $200 just to make the trip? If you could get it for $300 total, it might be worth it.

    A lot depends on what your taste is. If you love older machines and cabinets, this could be a great deal.

    Concerning the walking foot, I'm sure there are walking foots available for the Elna. It is probably a standard short-shank machine. The Janome foot may have a different shank, though.

    Harp size becomes important when you go to machine quilt your tops. With a small harp size, you need to split your batting in order to machine quilt a large quilt. However, it's do-able provided the motor on the machine can handle quilting.

  4. #4
    Super Member Dolphyngyrl's Avatar
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    depends on what you want in a machine, some features on my machine that is new I love, and once you have them its awkward to sew without them. There are some niceold machines but I love my new feature on my espire can't live without them

  5. #5
    Super Member nursie76's Avatar
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    I think it depends on a lot of things....what your budget can handle and what you really want/need. I love the older machines, but since I have had my Berninas, I am very spoiled with the features of a new one. Some of the upper end Janome's are nice, and I test drove an upper end Elna at a quilt show that had a lot of the features of the new Janome Horizon, at about 1/2 the price, thought I can't remember the model. So, first decide what you can afford. Then, go out and test drive as many different makes and models at dealers in your area. That way you will get the feel for what is available out there...then, you can decide if you want to go with an older machine like you had, or, if you really would like a new one that would support what will probably soon be your "quilting addiction". And remember, many dealers take trade-ins, so there are some nice gently used pre-owned machines out there that can be had for a decent price. If you did that, then as you grew as a quilter, you could trade up like I did with my Berninas. Whatever you decide, good luck and don't forget to show pics of your final decision.

    Let me add, that my DH worked a deal where he got an Elna 7000 (older machine) for free. The other day my daughter was doing some alterations and was sewing on chiffon. She needed a hemming foot attachment and the Elna had one. It worked like a dream and she is now on love with the Elna, which she has named Elaina...So, I do understand your love for your machine which was stolen.

  6. #6
    Super Member
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    Any chance the seller would meet you half way to exchange the machine for cash?

  7. #7
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    I would check local dealers and see what they have in trade ins. That way you can bring scraps and try the various stitches and different brands of machines. They will have a (short) warranty on used machines. It does sound like a good deal, but a two day trip is not. Do you like the Janome your using.

  8. #8
    Super Member nursie76's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmy
    I would check local dealers and see what they have in trade ins. That way you can bring scraps and try the various stitches and different brands of machines. They will have a (short) warranty on used machines. It does sound like a good deal, but a two day trip is not. Do you like the Janome your using.
    Taking scraps to try it out is a great idea. When I got my Bernina 440QE, it was 4 years old and got the remainder of the 20 year warranty along with it.

  9. #9
    Super Member Candace's Avatar
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    Someone once said, "Vintage machines are like buses. Another one will come by, you just may have to wait a while". Personally, a 7 hour drive would completely nix it for me. I've seen these go for less on ebay and someone local to me couldn't get rid of one for $40. Yes, they're desirable and great machines, but there will be another closer to you for less if you're patient. My two cents.

  10. #10
    Super Member leatheflea's Avatar
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    My modern machine gives me fits. Had I not given my old machine away I would use it for piecing and leave the modern for quilting only.

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