October 23, 2013

McKay Champion 77 Stitcher (19??)

I wrestled with this purchase for a while; it's always hard to balance need, want, and access.

1st I needed an insole stitcher so I can take my men's sandals to the next level. What I really wanted was a lock-stitch machine but  they are just too expensive. But then I was lucky that the "Lucky 7" shoe repair shop was selling out machines near by.

Petar was gracious to give me a demo on it. She's a big old piece of cast iron, may be 70 to 100 years old, I'm still looking for more in depth info on when they were manufactured. Probably weighs in around 300 lbs but the guys at Grosse Pointe Moving and Storage handled it well.

So far I'm very happy with it having the fun of cleaning, polishing, adjusting, and figuring out what does what and why. 

It's a chain-stitch machine but depending on the project and how you design your works it is just as sound of a stitch as the lock-stitch, its just not what you would use on a Goodyear welt.

I have learned a lot about these machines and am looking forward to doing more than just practice stitches with it. 
It's certainly not a "point and shoot" machine you are really just stitching one stitch at a time, you watch very closely as each stitch is completed and go to the next; that's OK because there is no hurry to screw things up.

Used it officially for the 1st time on a pair of experimental men's sandals. It performed very well, I still need lots of practice, but it did exactly what I intended; reinforce the glued straps.

October 6, 2013

Elna Special (1969)

I see these things occasionally and because they are not that attractive I never thought to look into them.
But because the Swiss made Elna has such a reputation, devoted following, and the price was right I decided to see what the Special had to offer.

It has a few miles on but not abused, it took a several hours to to bring up to respectable condition; every little corner and part needed cleaning including the foot pedal and ditty box.

It came with no manual so in my "free manuals" search I found the one that Tammy posted up! Thanks very much to her.

It has that crazy box that turns it into a flatbed; beautifully made complex sheet metal stampings, nice interior finish with several attachment straps to hold everything in place. However, the exterior is a military grey crinkle finish of all things, it really doesn't go with the modern looking machine at all. Without the case it is an exceptionally lightweight machine.

Now for the problems; I tried way too long to get the button hole wheel to free up, it is almost unmovable with two thumbs on it. Secondly the electronic slow speed on the foot pedal won't work.

Now for the good part; man can this thing sew beautifully! I tested it on some medium thick upholstery leather and the result was perfect.

Not a "style leader" like the Lotus it was however definitely headed in the right direction. Functionally the big dials are easy to turn because they allow for a "three finger" grip.

It is a fine Swiss made Elna machine.
I'm going to give it a try as a replacement for my 360 which currently I cannot get the reverse to be anywhere near the same length as the forward length.

As for Swiss cars... there are none from this period, or almost any!
We'll have to go to Italy, just across the Alps and look at Design in general.

However, apropos to nothing but color, fashion, and beauty:

Typewriters were a favorite for innovation and design until their demise.

'Valentine' typewriter designed by Ettore Sottsass with Penny King, made by Olivetti & Co, Italy, about 1969

Here is an interesting progression that follows sewing machine design too!
The next few steps continue the decline of the curve until the 70's when none were left.

Fashion History

October 2, 2013

Necchi BU Supernova (1956)

Well I have heard about them and of course I have the greatest respect for the Nora and the Nova so when one came along I went for it.
It came with all of the parts and pieces, manual and the unusual stitch selector ditty box.

I could see thru the grime that it would clean up OK, and the paint job that the Italians did is 1st rate.

I never cared much for the fat head and that lazy curve leading back to the hand wheel but the clean and compact styling kinda grows on you.

The front and rear 3/4 views are quite elegant.

It has the whacky rotating throat plate which is of course a great idea just maybe not worth the trip, on second thought however, one might be inclined to use the correct throat plate because it is so easy to switch back and forth?

I did a side by side test with the Nora to see if there was a discernible difference and I think the jury will admit that the two sound and feel identical.

It has a very nice two speed switch on the right; I'm allways interested in slow speed for leather work.

A delightful machine includes the bobbin winder that is completely covered "aircraft" style. The aluminum parts shined up like new.

Motorsport racing was passing through what are now considered there "Golden Years" the pace of innovation, the truly beautiful forms are soon to eclipsed by computers and the wind tunnel. Through the 50's the forms were emotional, often erotic and very inventive. 

So there is that reverse curve inspiration!

I simply can't resist a good cutaway.

And again the form vocabulary is all there on the race track.