The Green Herd Grows

Some of you may have noticed that I have an affection for vintage sewing machines, and that I particularly like the green machines.

Just to recap the rest of the Green Herd, here’s the Arrow and here are the Singer 185, the Elna Supermatic (actually there are two Elna Supermatics, but only one is green) and the Hugin. Recently, we saw another green machine (I forget what kind) and Mr. Math was prepared to lug it home. Nope. It didn’t make my little heart go pit-a-pat. I told him that there was only one more green machine I wanted – a Grasshopper.

Hip hop. Guess what turned up?


This is an Elna #1, commonly called an Elna Grasshopper. It is the first design produced by Elna, beginning in 1940. This particular machine dates from 1950 and was made/wired for the Canadian market from the outset. It has a knee control, which is folded down in this shot. The entire top plate is actually just sitting in place in this shot, because I have taken it off to clean inside the arm. (Dustbunnies love it in there.) It’s a straight stitch machine and this one sews beautifully. The green and black box to the back left is the attachments box, and this one came with all its special feet. It also has an aluminum plate, and I can’t figure out what the heck that’s for. As is typical of many Elna models, the hard carrying case unfolds to create a table that fits around the free arm of the machine to make a larger sewing surface.

Here’s some more about Grasshoppers. There are pix on this site of the case, the case being used as a table, and the nifty way the accessories box fits along side the machine in the case.

This just might mean that the Green Herd is complete…

P.S. Here’s the mysterious aluminum plate that came in the attachments box. It says “Swiss made” like all of the Elna attachments so, so it must belong. It looks so useful, but I can’t figure out what it’s for.

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?