Ashby’s posted an ad on FB about the new Elna Lotus sewing machine. The earlier Swiss-made version of the Lotus (circa 1968) is found in the Museum of Modern Art. The early Lotus was designed to be a lightweight travel machine and is becoming increasingly popular with sewers as an alternative to the beloved Singer Featherweight.
Intrigued, I did a little online research on the *new* Lotus. $1200 is the suggested retail for this *travel* machine. (Update 7/5/12 – the selling price is about $800.) Really? Upon closer observation, I discovered the original Lotus holds its value pretty well. Previously loved machines in excellent condition can go for about $600. Even more interesting is that the successor to the original Lotus – the Stella – is in even greater demand. Ray White, who is considered “Elna Man” by those on the Yahoo Elna Heirloom Sewing Machines list-serv, sells his Stellas in top condition for just under $1,000.
I do own a 1983 Elna Carina SU that my sewing students use – mostly due to the speed controller and the ample area under the harp. Increasingly, I find myself taking this machine to class and sew-ins with me instead of my 1951 Singer Featherweight. Why? It does a zig zag and buttonhole – something my beloved FW does not unless I haul the heavy attachments for it. Plus, there’s also the uniqueness factor. In one of my quilt guilds, it used to be that only one or two of us had a FW, now it seems like everyone has one. The Carina doesn’t have the visual appeal of the FW, but it is much, much quieter and has a heavy duty motor. It also weighs less than “Old Faithful” – my Sears Kenmore 18830 – that I’ve kept as a backup machine for several years.
Vintage machines have a timeless appeal. They also last. In addition to the Featherweight, give those European made mechanical machines from Pfaff, Elna and Bernina a second glance if you happen to see one in a sewing shop or thrift store. Most were manufactured prior to 1990 in Germany or Switzerland. I keep looking for a reasonably priced, not-so-pretty FW that still sews well that I can send off o become my painted turquoise beauty. I’m going to add the Carina and Stella to my watch list as well.