The very first sewing machine I bought as an adult was an old, beat-up Elna SU flatbed (blue & white model) that had been surplused by the Atlanta Public Schools. I found it in the used machine department at the Singer dealer over in Lindbergh Plaza. A coworker told me to go snatch up the machine ASAP and even lent me $50 for the down payment. I happily sewed on that machine for five years until something metal in the camshaft cracked and Mr. Vinson (our local Elna man) deemed it too costly to repair.
I’ve been through many different machines since then – trading up as my sewing skills improved and to accommodate my new quilting obsession. While my main machine is a Janome 6600P, I’ve also added a vintage Singer Featherweight to my collection. It’s neat to sew on a bit of history, but the novelty has worn off. Why? Because I need a travel machine that can do a zig-zag AND buttonhole in addition to a straight stitch. Besides, too many people in my sewing/quilting circles have FW machines. I have a penchant for the unique.
And because I’m a top load bobbin kind of girl, I’ve narrowed my search for a vintage travel machine to an Elna Lotus or Stella. Apparently other folks are wanting them too because the prices can approach $1000 for a machine in near pristine condition, complete with original accessories. Not too worry, some web surfing revealed a Clark Howard version of the Lotus – the Swiss Elnita manufactured from 1976-1980. It looks to be a stripped down version of the Lotus and the price appears to be much more budget friendly (for me anyway). I currently watching one on Ebay. I’m also scouting Craigslist and local used sewing machine dealers to see what I can find.