Meet Greenie, my vintage Elna Grasshopper

-Hello. My name is Catherine and I’m addicted to vintage sewing machines

-Hi Catherine

Another stockholm thrift store find. It’s like THEY find ME.

So I was just browsing. You know. Killing some time. No intention of buying anything. And then I see this:

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How intriguing. Vaguely military. No label or markings. But I just knew.

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Yup. A cute little green Elna 1. The first model Elna produced. Original case, accessory box, a couple of presser feet. 200 Kr ($33.) Sold. He wasn’t quite as heavy as my Bernina 730 Record, but I had some sore arms after hauling him back to Gubbängen.

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When I got home I excitedly unpacked Greenie. He came with the original manual in Swedish, and tucked in the manual was the original receipt, dated 1959. He cost 350 kr 55 years ago.

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The green-lidded accessory box:

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And the best part:

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The case the turns into a sewing table.

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Can you see what beautiful condition he’s in?

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A little bit of cleaning with a looped pipe-cleaner and some compressed air, and Greenie was sewing nicely. The Elna 1 is a straight stitch only machine and has limited capabilities, but I’m pretty happy. The knee pedal is really nice to use, although it takes a little getting used to.

And here’s a sneak peek at my lovely new green Anna Dress.

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I’ll model it when the rain stops.

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Teaching yourself to sew

You know on Project Runway when one of the contestants says “I’m self-taught” and wears it like some kind of badge of honour, sneering at the poor suckers who spent 50k on design school? Well I totally get it. Kind of.

Of course in the internet age no one really teaches themselves to sew. Unless you are locked in a room alone with your sewing machine and some fabric. You learn by reading blogs and tutorials, by using indie sewing patterns that guide you through the process of making a garment, but most satisfyingly (and this is why I can relate to the proud self-taughters,) you learn by experimenting, figuring stuff out, finding ways to do things that make sense to you and you learn by making mistakes.

So if a make has glaring mistakes (and mostly those mistakes are glaring only to the maker,) I’m not going to get all bent out of shape. I can learn from them and do it better next time.

Take a look at my BHL Georgia dress:

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Not bad. The seams are a bit squinty in the front and the bodice lining keeps popping out. That’s because I ironed said said lining on the hightest heat setting, burning holes in it and ruining my iron. Yay! Learning experience.  I also learned that stretch fabrics are nothing to be afraid of. This is a rather heavy stretch denim I picked out from the bargain bins at Ohlsson’s Tyger on Sveavägen. It was easy to sew with although I suspect I didn’t get the grain quite right. I didn’t even need to put in a zipper. I can wiggle into it from the bottom up.

Georgia looks more difficult than she is. The bodice was surprisingly simple, although I got the centre seam and the little peak slightly misaligned. (Next time, next time.) Probably the most difficult thing about making this dress was turning the straps right side out after stitching them. Heavy stretch denim is a nightmare to turn.

Best part? This dress is comfy. I wore Georgia for drinks with Scotty on my birthday.

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Ignore the lining.

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Pattern: By Hand London Georgia

Fabric:  Stretch denim from Ohlsson’s in Stockholm

Time to Sew: A leisurely afternoon and evening

Cost: 110 SEK ($16) plus pattern

Will I wear it? Yes!

Would I make the pattern again? Yes, I’d like to make the wide strap version in a patterned fabric.