Green Machines

I like old sewing machines, but I particularly like old GREEN sewing machines. I’m not sure why this is. There’s just something about them that gets me all excited.

Which is why I have a few.

Which is why I’m going to show them to you, maybe infect you with green sewing machine envy – maybe ensure that I’m not the only one in the world bringing these babies home. (Mr. C. would appreciate my having competition.)

First up is my Singer 185K.


This girl was made in the Kilbowie plant in Clydebank Scotland (that’s what the K means) in 1958. Just fyi, you can look up the year of manufacture for many Singer sewing machines, using the serial number stamped on the machine, on the Singer website, right here. This girl is a real trooper. She sews beautifully and is powerful. I don’t think she’d been used much at all before I got her – for $11 at the thrift shop. As a bonus, she came with a buttonholer, in the groovy green case that Mr. C. calls the Space Pod.

Next up is my Elna Supermatic (SU) from 1954.


This is not the Elna Grasshopper model but its successor. Elna’s in this era were made in Tavaro Switzerland. That little lever at the top opens to reveal a mechanism for inserting cams – these make special stitches other than straight stitch. It has a built-in buttonhole function – you use the zigzag cam – and was distinctive for having a free-arm design. The metal bit hanging down the front is a knee lever, used instead of a pedal. The case for this machine is metal, as well, but opens so that the cut-out exactly fits the machine’s free arm. You slide the case around the arm of the machine to make a larger sewing platform.

This particular Elna SU is missing the Bakelite box that also fits around the free arm and holds bobbins, feet and thread. Although the machine originally would have come with a set of cams, this one has only the zigzag one. It has the distinctive “growl” typical of these machines when they need a repair – it sounds like a tank when it runs. This is because the wheel thingy has become flattened and needs to be replaced. I’ve looked at doing this myself but will probably have the sewing machine guy do it for me one day – even though I doubt I could actually break anything on this machine. It is built like a tank.

Just for comparative purposes, here’s a slightly later Elna Supermatic (SU) from 1959.


It’s not green, but is very similar otherwise. This one does have the Bakelite box, just so you can see what it looks like. It also has had some redesign in the wheel so that growly tank repair isn’t ever going to be necessary. Finally, the cam mechanism is slightly different. In the earlier model, the cams were secured with a locking screw – on this one, they pop off when the spindle is depressed. So, even though I have the cams for this one, they are slightly different from the cams that fit the earlier model.

Why am I showing you these now? Well, because I added another to the flock. Here she is:


The flash has made it look less olive green than it is in real life. The Hugin is a Swedish machine, clearly derivative in design from the Elna – it’s more derivative of the original Elna machine (#1, also called the Grasshopper, which you can see right HERE.) The manufacturer was Carl Gustav stads Gevarsfaktori in Eskilstuna Sweden – which primarily made rifles known as Swedish Mausers. The company was later acquired by Husquvarna. I’m not sure of the date of production for this machine, but I think it must be before 1950. It does need new belts as the ones it has are loose. It needs a new light, and I thought it needed a bobbin – but Mr. C. found one between the lining and the case. The bobbin is machined out of solid metal – he told me this, then said “just like a gun part.”

Then we both laughed.

What’s interesting about it is that all of the access panels are on spring steel – instead of being screwed in. Mr. C. is now convinced that he should be able to take the whole machine apart into its components, oil it, and reassemble it in less than five minutes – like a good rifle.

I’m waiting for that.

Both the name (and the colour) of this machine meant that I had to add her to the flock. In Norse mythology, Hugin and Munin were the two ravens who answered to Odin. They flew around the world each day and brought Odin all the news. Hugin means “thought”, while Munin means “memory”. I love the idea of a sewing machine being named after a mythic bird.

How about you? What do you collect? Are there certain things – like green sewing machines – that you just can’t resist?

23 thoughts on “Green Machines

  1. Oohhh I love your green machines!
    I plan to have a few older machines after we move. When we moved here 9 or 10 years ago space considerations meant I had to give a few up. I got a brand new one a year later but it just doesn’t have the personality and I will be getting rid of it during this years culling. We will be moving sometime in the next 12 months and are getting rid of a lot of our stuff. (This house is not handicap accessible and our next place must be.)
    My husband Oscar will understand if older sewing machines show up in my studio. One of his prized possessions is a Featherweight.


    • Ah, Diana, I have a Featherweight, too. It’s just so cute! I like to take it to quilting workshops – hmm. Haven’t done that in a while!



  2. Those are so cool. Me, I am a treadle fan. I have an old one in the basement I am saving to get restored. The machine works, the wood cabinet needs some love. I figure when the “Big One” hits, I can still sew… that and my fabric stash with all my canned goods will make me famous and slightly safer than some neighbors.


    • Alicia – these are just the green ones. I have treadles, too! (Another post for another day.) And canned goods. And fabric stash. Hmm. We’re doing that twins tragically separated at birth thing – think you and Pam were originally part of a triplet-set? 🙂



  3. Well I have machines too . . . and I know you’re not surprised. Yes, the collection includes green–the Elna grasshopper I learned to sew on, although technically it now belongs to the daughter.

    There’s also a White rotary with krinkle finish (from the 30’s) and a Featherweight. Oh, and a Freedom I got at a yard sale for $1 that’s up at a lake I visit in Washington just incase I need to fix something while I’m there.

    None of them do anything fancy. I’m starting to covet one that does fancy computer stitches…


    • Oooo, Gina, I want a Grasshopper!

      IMO you’re better off with the ones that use cams to do fancy stitches – and there are lots of vintage machines that do. The mechanical solution is less likely to go wrong, and more easily fixed if it does.



  4. Yeah, I know. Except I had one of those Touch N Sews (that have cams) and it died a rather expensive painful death. And the daughter has a new Brother she got for cheap that does fancy stitches. And I saw a Hello Kitty one . . .

    But I shall resist. :sigh:

    BTW–I am making serious inroads in my yarn stash. It could even encourage me to make some progress with the piles of fabric I have around here.


  5. LOL. I’ll lend you Sara (the daughter).

    She made me go through all my boxes and Make Decisions. So, I dumped a bunch of yarn I was going to never use. Then, while my guard was down and I was feeling grateful, she made me start on a sweater and is encouraging me to work on other projects that Use Lots of Yarn.


    • Well, I have lots of sweaters on the needles, and am just trying to get more of them done. Did the big sort and redistribute a couple of years ago, so everything I have is stuff I love.

      My big stash management strategy this year is zero acquisition. Of course, I’m not exactly managing that, but incoming quantities are lower than they’ve ever been before. And this is good, because I’m still knitting as fast as I can.

      I’ve also realized what gets done and what doesn’t, which means better planning in future. I should write a post about that…Friday is open.


  6. hello. i just recently acquired a hugin sewing machine at an auction, like the one shown above, but i’m clueless as to how to insert the bobbin, etc. i learned to sew in my mother’s green metallic husqvarna, but this tiny machine baffles me. is there any way I can get a hold of the manual, or any kind of instructions?
    by the way, i am in southamerica


    • I haven’t found a manual anywhere, daniela. Good luck – and if you find one online, please let me know!



  7. Yippie! I bought a Hugin sewing machine to day! There was no manual?? so I did not get the threading right. May be i will find out? Or do anybody have a manual? PDF-file will do good…


  8. About bobbin? It looks like it is smaller than normal bobbins. Same diameter as Singer but thinner.
    So I hope I can find some for mine machine.


    • I forget what the bobbin is like. I’ll have to dig my Hugin out later today and have a look.

      Mine also needs a replacement belt. I’ve had no luck finding one of the right diameter. :-/


  9. Thanks! If you can give me the dimensions I would be glad. After that I hope I car tread the needle right, and try the machine. I like to have thing working.


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