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Thread: Necchi and Singer and Elna Oh My!

  1. #1
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    Question Necchi and Singer and Elna Oh My!

    Hi everyone! I am a new member, new to quilting and am determined to not get bogged down by trying to use the wrong equipment for the job. I am 61 and have always wanted to quilt (modern and colorful) so no time like the present. So far I have made two tops, sandwiched one and am ready to machine quilt.

    Delima: I have 3 sewing machines that I have fallen heir to and have various levels of experience/love/frustration with. All have been serviced and are in good working order I am just looking for advice as to which machines for what task and if, as a quilter, if any of them are just not up to the task.

    1. Singer 221 - Was my mom's, sews like a dream, love her, and I have done all my piece sewing on her. She is a keeper - no question.

    2. Elna supermatic* - It does not have the 'free arm' that I have seen in photos of the Elna when searching and there does not seem to be any other info on the machine itself. I know my mom (who was an amazing seamstress but not a quilter) loved it, but I have found it to be persnickety as to stitch tension, and just behavior issues that, not being a very experienced sewer, have frustrated me.

    3. Necchi BU Nova with Wonder Wheel - I have no manual and right now can't even get it off zig-zag. Wow, that was a sad confession. I know this is a beast of a machine and the motor is powerful, but is it a winner in the quilting machine contest?

    Basically, other that the Singer 221, are either of these worth getting over the learning curve and using for quilting or am I better off saving my pennies and investing in a medium-arm machine that will be less frustrating and serve me well into the future? I do see large quilts in my future, so that is a consideration. No long-arms for me though. Since these are all vintage machines, I figured I would go to the experts. Help!
    Last edited by QuiltnNan; 01-20-2019 at 09:42 AM. Reason: shouting/all caps

  2. #2
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    I have a feearm Supermatic, the beige and tan version, which I think was the last of the Supermatics (maybe the white one was the last?). I have seen flatbed version of the twotone beige/tan, as well as the white version. I think they were called "Supermatic Plana" or something like that. The tension should be easy to adjust, there's even numbered settings for bobbin tension and rather accuratey too. Tension can have something to do with cleaning and threading, and I know you have to make a point of getting the bobbin thread fully into the tension spring by pulling the thread down behind the bobbin case. It's easy when you know it, but a common issue with these models. I know two people who use their freearm Supermatic regularly even for quilting, even as their go to machine. A flatbed version in a cabinet should be luxury. There are a few here on the forum using Necchi Supernovas too, so it's well withing doable.
    Last edited by Mickey2; 01-20-2019 at 10:19 AM.

  3. #3
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    It depends on what kind of quilting you want to do and the distance between the needle and the side of the machine. You need the biggest harp possible to squeeze the quilt through. If you like modern quilts and want to do rows of straight quilting, then your machines can handle that. If you want to do free motion quilting , you need to be able to cover the feed dogs or lower them.

  4. #4
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    I do want to do FMQ and that has been my issue. I can only cover the feed dogs on the Singer and I don't have a foot that would work, so would have to purchase. Plus the throat is small at 5" which is pretty limiting, so I have ruled that one out for anything but piecing. The throat on the Elna is small too. And not in a cabinet.
    I guess the real question is for the Necchi - it has the largest throat and the most powerful motor, but as a new quilter and a not-super-experienced sewer, I figured I am going to have to pay someone to instruct me on getting me up to speed on using it for FMQ. I am trying to reduce frustration on my part and perhaps selling the Elna and putting that money (plus, plus) toward a new mid-arm machine. I realize I am speaking to the vintage fans here, so be gentle.

  5. #5
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    The Supermatics are tough and strong machines up to most jobs, don't underestimate them. I keep mine for the double layer cams, freearm and capability for larger size needles. I have an eye out for a Necchi BU too, but I have yet to find one near me. The BUs are well worth the money and effort of fixup, they all metal, very sturdy construction. If it meets your requirements I don't see any reason to hesitate.

    My memory of a black BU is a super smooth machine, easy to use, and stitching effortlessly through layers of cotton canvas, flat felled seams, etc. I would guess it's all about cleaning and oiling to start with. For freemotion there there are usually both vitage and new jumping feet availabe. There might be a bit of trial and error for the feet with spring action, but you will find something that works for you.

    You should get far with basic cleaning and oiling, take the bobbin case, race and hook out, the off the bobbin cover and throat plate to clean. Scrape corners, grooves and every tooth in the feed dogs clean with a tooth pick. Take off the face plate, clean, and detect all oil points and give them a few drops of oil. Where the needle and presser bar goes up and down needs oil too. The same for the cover in the back, most holes on top of the machines are oil points, and there are lots under the base. Every joint, hinged part, where metal move against metal needs oil. A BU is luckily relatively simple for a DIY fixup, and the most likely replacement parts are motor belt and bobbin tires. With a bit of search you should be able to identify the correct replacement tires for the winder and the wonder wheel.
    Last edited by Mickey2; 01-20-2019 at 01:44 PM.

  6. #6
    Junior Member Steelsewing's Avatar
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    FMQ is available to you on the Necchi BU. There is no need for a cover plate. A feed dog drop lever was not something everyone looked for in a sewing machine in the early 1950's - but the Necchi BU has one. It's just not up on the deck where you might expect to find all feed dog drop levers a decade later. The feed dog drop lever is located inside the bobbin area and it's accessible when the bobbin cover plate is slide open. Once you know where it is, it's easy to access. If you roll the machine up and look, the lever is almost obvious. It's brass.

    Name:  BUFeedgdroplever.jpg
Views: 400
Size:  61.8 KB

    Here's a photo from my BU showing the feed dog drop lever in the blue circle.

    If the machine has sat idle for a long while, then I would be gentle with that lever. It should move with very little resistance... but if it doesn't want to turn... some sewing machine oil or spray lubricant should be considered.

    The differences between the original Necchi BU model and the Necchi BU Nova are very few. The machines are nearly identical. Here's a link to a utube video demonstration that goes over all the BU controls. Again, do not force the controls if they don't wish to move. The machine may need a good clean & lube.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqpZcwoEbiI
    *Note: Tonight's clairvoyant meeting cancelled due to unforeseen circumstances.

  7. #7
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    I agree, the Singer is good for piecing, I gave an Elna to my daughter who sold it but I know the girl she sold it too and she'll get more use out it than my daughter ever would. When I used the Elna it did everything, but it was a tad noisy even with TLC and lots of oil/grease. My friend uses a Necchi that has been her mother's/hers for 50+ years, going strong sews perfectly but currently has bobbin winder that is less than optimal function. I'll have to ask my friend if she has ever dropped the feed dogs

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steelsewing View Post
    FMQ is available to you on the Necchi BU. There is no need for a cover plate. A feed dog drop lever was not something everyone looked for in a sewing machine in the early 1950's - but the Necchi BU has one. It's just not up on the deck where you might expect to find all feed dog drop levers a decade later. The feed dog drop lever is located inside the bobbin area and it's accessible when the bobbin cover plate is slide open. Once you know where it is, it's easy to access. If you roll the machine up and look, the lever is almost obvious. It's brass.

    Name:  BUFeedgdroplever.jpg
Views: 400
Size:  61.8 KB

    Here's a photo from my BU showing the feed dog drop lever in the blue circle.

    If the machine has sat idle for a long while, then I would be gentle with that lever. It should move with very little resistance... but if it doesn't want to turn... some sewing machine oil or spray lubricant should be considered.

    The differences between the original Necchi BU model and the Necchi BU Nova are very few. The machines are nearly identical. Here's a link to a utube video demonstration that goes over all the BU controls. Again, do not force the controls if they don't wish to move. The machine may need a good clean & lube.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqpZcwoEbiI
    Wow, that was the most helpful reply I think I've ever seen!

  9. #9
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    Luckily I did have the machine serviced before I even thought about using it. It had sat idle for about 10 years and I had no idea how to do it myself, but knew enough to get it done before I attempted to use it. Thank you for the reply on lowering the feed dog. I will give that a go before I buy the correct foot/feet I will need and make sure that function is in good working order. I do want to remove the Wonder Wheel since it is bulky and not something I will use for awhile. I can always put it back when I get more comfortable with the machine if need be. Thank you all for your good advice!

  10. #10
    Super Member Irishrose2's Avatar
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    After you oil the machine, warm the ZZ parts with a hair dryer. I recently had to do that with a Universal that thought its ZZ days were over. Worked like a charm.

    My Elna is newer than yours - the 62C (light blue), but it can't quilt at all. The presser foot pressure is self adjusting and is too tight for good piecing and FMQ. Being a ZZ machine, it also eats corners on HSTs.

    My FMQ machines are a pair of Singer 301s. I have also used my Necchi VN which is an older single stitch machine - probably about the same throat space as a Singer 15.

    It sounds like you are enjoying your venture into quilting. Welcome!
    Last edited by Irishrose2; 01-25-2019 at 08:28 AM.

  11. #11
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    I went to our local Singer repair and they had the right walking foot. They made sure it was the one that was perfect for the featherweight before selling and I also got the 1/4" seam foot, but must admit I don't love it. Finding it is easier to do a scant 1/4" with a standard foot and a piece of tape on the plate portion. There is absolutely a big learning curve here, but between YouTube and this board I am learning so much. Thank you all! Taking my first class soon and feel like I have a great machine to take and a good basic knowledge. Basic being the key!!

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