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Why my Elna sewing machine is bad… Or, don’t buy an Elna 2007!

December 8, 2010

I am still snowed in here, so what better way to pass some time than to have a good, long moan about my sewing machine, an Elna 2007.

My first machine was an old Singer made in the 60s which had a lot of use and was not worth the price it would cost to repair.  I had a chat with the gentleman in the Singer shop who serviced all the machines, and he told me that Singer was no longer the best brand of sewing machine to buy.  He recommended Elna and Janome to me, and informed me that they were in fact the same company.  I took his advice gladly, because he wasn’t trying to sell me anything, or to take my money, and he had serviced and fixed thousands of machines of all different brands, so he knew what he was talking about.

When I went on the internet to look for a new machine, I was seduced by the Cooper Sewing Machines website (aka ‘sewing machine discount’), because of their choice, prices, and favourable descriptions.  I had a look at some Elna models and some Janome ones, but I was inexperienced in both sewing and using a machine, so really I had no idea what to look for.  I simply went off the advice given to me by the repair man, and chose an Elna 2005, which as far as I could see was the best machine in my price range (£160ish).  There was a banner at the top of the page saying ‘Call us for extra discount!’, so I rang up to place my order over the phone.  The man I spoke to seemed so helpful, and offered me a free upgrade to the next model up, an Elna 2007.  And that was that.  Sold.  If only I knew then what I know now!

It took me a while to get to know my machine, and to feel ready to attempt to use its various functions.  It wasn’t until over a year later that I first tried a buttonhole, and that was where my disappointment in my choice of machine began.  No matter how many times I tried, the one-step buttonhole function would not work.  I spent hours playing about with it and trying to get it to work, but to no avail.  It was completely erratic, but I put it down to my own failure to operate the machine correctly, rather than a design fault.  A couple of years later, Julia had a go to see if she could work it, but she couldn’t.  In the meantime I found a way of doing buttonholes manually, but they were always a bit unpredictable, and they all came out slightly different sizes, so doing buttonholes became something to dread.

Somewhere along the line, the automatic needle threader stopped working.  It jammed, and the bit that pulls the thread through the needle became misaligned, so that every time I tried to use it, it would get stuck.  I had to stop using it completely.

When I embarked upon my City and Guilds course and had to produce sewing samples, I played around with the zigzag stitch length and width, as I’d never been happy with it.  Cotton fabric would often be pulled or gathered under the stitching so it didn’t lie flat.  After consulting the manual, I was led to believe it was a matter of needle thread tension, so I adjusted this and tried again, and it made no difference.  I adjusted it the opposite way, and again, no difference.  I tried the same stitch with the tension set to 0 right through to 9 and each time it was exactly the same.

It was at this point I booked the machine in for a service.  I asked the gentleman to give the machine a general service, and to fix the automatic needle threader and buttonhole.  I thought all my problems were over, but I was wrong.

The man spent a good few hours working on my machine, and it has so many faults with it that he couldn’t even bring himself to charge me: I think he felt sorry for me!  He said that the 2000 range of Elna machines (by this I mean the 2003, 2005 and 2007) are all badly made, and that its components come from several other brands.  The automatic needle threader, which he said was bent and unfixable, is a Brother part.  The buttonhole foot was unlike any he had seen before and was not a Janome (who now own Elna).  He said he wouldn’t be able to fix it, as it is a design fault.  He also said that the needle was too far forward on the machine, so that when it goes down to collect the bobbin thread, it’s brushing against the needle plate.  He said he could fix this by drilling into the needle plate to make the hole slightly larger and he could also move some parts back slightly, but this would require extra time.  By this point, I was so disappointed that I didn’t want him to waste his time on it.  If he couldn’t fix the buttonhole, to me it wasn’t worth fixing at all.

I said to him that Elna was one of the brands recommended to me several years ago, as well as Janome, and that I thought Janome owned Elna, and he said that my Elna machine and others in the 2000 range (the 2003 and 2005) were made before Janome took Elna over.  In fact they were made at a point where the Elna company were in transition and were briefly owned by Husqvarna.  At the time, the latter were not at all interested in Elna’s success as a brand, and so although they produced a few machines, they were basically bits of other machines thrown together (hence the Brother needle threader).  It was after this that Janome took over Elna and now their machines are almost identical, and of very high quality.

You can imagine my disappointment.  I am left with a machine with several parts that don’t work, and other parts which are not working as well as they should be.  The fact that I’ll never be able to get the perfect buttonhole with this model is the worst thing for me, but now I know how crappy the whole thing is I feel like chucking it out of the window!  I’ve just invested a lot of money in my sewing hobby, buying an overlocker, a dummy, furniture for my sewing room and some small tools, and I thought the service would be the end of that spending, but now I’m faced with the prospect of buying a new machine.

One thing I am sure of though: if I do buy a new machine (and I suspect I will), I will be buying it from the kind and helpful man who spent one Friday afternoon free of charge getting even more frustrated with my machine than I have, and who was happy to speak to me at length on the phone when I needed more advice afterwards.  What a kind, helpful, informative man.

If you want to know more about which sewing machine companies own which others, and which ones are best, read this.  I found it just after writing this and found it really interesting.

73 Comments leave one →
  1. December 9, 2010 2:44 pm

    Hello
    I found your post about the elna really informative. I have a 1970s elna which I am having long term problems with so my sister and brother offered to buy me a new one for christmas. They wanted me to tell them what to order and I found the Coopers website and was looking at elnas partly because I have this idea they are good machines. But maybe my thinking is outdated as I am basing it on my mum’s knowledge of sewing in the 1980s! I too know a local repair shop which also sell machines and think now I may go there Now. I hope you manage to sort out your problems with the elna – I know how frustrating it is when the machine goes wrong.

  2. tabathatweedie permalink*
    December 9, 2010 5:50 pm

    Hi Minnado. I’m glad you found the post informative, it was good to get it all off my chest!! I spoke again today to the repair man I talked about, and he assured me that Janome do now own Elna, and they manufacture all Elna machines now. So you can be sure that if you’re buying a new model, it will be made by Janome even if it is the Elna brand. Janome is a very good brand to look at if you’re buying a new machine because their machines are so competitively priced, and the parts are all easily available. Janome don’t make anything other than sewing machines, so you can be sure you’re getting a well made machine. The thing to watch out for is that websites like Cooper’s (sewing machine discount) might be selling brand new machines, but when were they actually manufactured? I mistakenly thought that my Elna 2007 was made in 2007 – silly me! I think places like Coopers get in stock which may be ‘new’ in the ‘unused’ sense, but has been stored in an unopened box for months or even years – in other words, old stock. I’m not sure how much you’re looking to spend, but today the repair man recommended to me an Elna 2800, which he said is exactly the same as the Janome 525s, which won the Which? best sewing machine in 2009. Just don’t rush into your decision and get as much advice as possible! Good luck!

    • Dix permalink
      August 20, 2014 8:46 pm

      The Elna’s made by the Swiss are great. Late ’70’s and early 1980’s are the best machine I have ever used. I have worn out TWO sets of diamond feed dogs on my SU69

  3. January 7, 2011 10:28 pm

    I just googled Elna and came upon your post and my heart sank as I read it. I bought an Elna 2005 about ten years ago (I think) and I have hated that ruddy machine! The amount of times the thread has snapped on me (and I have cursed) is uncountable. The tension has never been perfect. I’ve never tried the buttonhole but maybe that was crap too.

    Anyway, the bolt keeps falling out of the mechanism now and I need a new machine. There is so much choice though – John Lewis recommend Janome or a heavy duty Singer. Someone in the Midlands recommends Elna or a Husqvarna and I’m getting confused. Not sure whether to risk an Elna again either!

    Thanks for your post though – I sympathise.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 8, 2011 11:06 pm

      Hi Simmy. I don’t know much about Husqvarnas, but from what I have heard, Janome makes reliable, good quality sewing machines which are reasonably priced. The parts and extras are so readily available as well. Janome do make Elna machines now, but often you pay more for the Elna brand than the equivalent Janome model! If there’s a sewing machine repair person near you (often based at a local sewing centre), I’d recommend getting his/her advice – after all they see a huge range of machines and they know exactly how they all work (or don’t work). Good luck!

    • Bea permalink
      October 18, 2015 8:18 pm

      I’ve got the 6005 and thread snaps all of the time on it, too – good thread.

  4. January 10, 2011 9:59 pm

    Hello again and thanks for replying. I think I’m going to go for a Janome 4023(?) now. I’ve spent so much time on finding a sewing machine that it’s getting boring! There’s a sewing machine chap in Horsham I might contact though – thanks for the tip.

  5. January 21, 2011 8:24 pm

    I reckon you should have stuck with that old Singer, they don’t make machines like that any more! Your SM Man was wrong to advise you otherwise.

  6. Bobbie Taylor permalink
    March 11, 2011 12:59 am

    I have had my Elna sewing machine for about 25years and it has been brilliant. Sorry to hear that they may no longer be the good quality machine that I bought. I still use it regularly and must have saved myself hundreds of pounds over the years, as well as giving me immense pleaure.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      March 11, 2011 3:44 pm

      Hi Bobbie. Yes, I have heard that Elna used to produce really high quality machines until they were briefly taken over by Husqvarna, who weren’t interested in Elna’s success as a brand. Now that Elna machines are manufactured by Janome, they are good quality machines again, but sadly often priced more highly than the same Janome model: basically Janome are taking advantage of Elna customers’ brand loyalty.

      Juliab – I do regret getting rid of my old Singer, but only from a collector’s point of view and not from a practical sewing point of view. It was a very basic model which I think had about 8 stitches. I can see you know what you’re talking about though – I wish I had given it to you! However, I am IN LOVE with my new, computerised Janome and I wouldn’t go back to a mechanical machine now.

  7. March 16, 2011 5:56 pm

    hi,
    i googled elna reviews and came up with your post. i really appreciate independent reviews and reviewers bcse one only seems to get a rehash of the brochures specs.
    i own an elna jubliee a brilliant workhorse so i went back to them. now i also own a 5200 which is good, but has some major design flaws IMO.
    desperately looking for a 8100 independent review.
    thanks for the janome lead perhaps i should consider them.
    best,

  8. kt5pies permalink
    July 19, 2011 10:57 pm

    Just trying to use the automatic button hole function on my Elna 2005. Feelling a little sad now that I’ve read your post as my machine is totally unpredictable. My mum bought mine for me and I so want it to be good.

  9. September 2, 2011 8:18 pm

    I upgraded from a Kenmore to Elna back in the late 1980’s. I’ve had an Elna 7000 and now an older Elna 9000. It is Swiss made and has never given me trouble. I stopped sewing for a few years and then started back. I got my Elna 9000 professionally cleaned and it sews like it did when I first purchased it. The Elna brand was an excellent sewing machine when it was totally Swiss made..

  10. Dianne permalink
    October 4, 2011 1:51 am

    My husband bought me an Elna 2005 for my birthday in 2002. It has been nothing but a pain in the —. The tension,needle threader,button hole maker never quite worked right. I would have it serviced again and again but after a while the same problems would happen again. I’m looking to trade it in for something else.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      October 5, 2011 12:23 pm

      Hi Dianne. Trade it in, you won’t regret it! It isn’t worth the cost of servicing and repair because it badly made in the first place.

      Corinna – You’re right, the Elna brand was excellent when it was Swiss made, and the older machines are good quality. The new Elnas are also good as they are made by Janome. It was during that brief period of transition between manufacturers that the quality of the machines plummeted.

  11. Jackie permalink
    October 10, 2011 11:04 am

    What a relief to know I wasn’t going mad – I have an Elna2007 too and guess what – thread snaps, zig-zag erratic etc… Not going to waste my time having it serviced – think will get rid of it – funny thing I bought mine through John Lewis!!

  12. Julie permalink
    December 7, 2011 9:16 pm

    I have an Elna 2005 and it’s a hunk of junk. I, like you, listened to the sales person who highly recommended this machine and I ended up paying a lot of money for it too. I do BASIC sewing and have had nothing but problems with it. I hate it!

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      December 8, 2011 10:31 am

      My sympathies, Julie!

  13. Rosemary permalink
    January 30, 2012 6:55 am

    I bought an Elna 9000 used several years ago. It is simple to operate and the stich quality is excellent. At the time I purchased it, I had also tried out newer Elna model at the same shop. The repairman who had worked there for years told me to actually sit down and try both machines and I would find I liked the older machine better. He said the older 9000 machine was made in Switzerland and was an excellent top of the line machine. The other Elna machine which I definitely could see the stitch quality was not as good and the motor sounded more tinny was made in Japan. He had the blue book and showed me that for several years Elna had machines made in Japan and then had gone back to having them made in Switzerland. So in essence, I bought the Elna 9000 cheaper than the newer model and have been very happy with it. Anyone buying a used Elna, I would highly recommend you talk to the repairman at the shop about where a particular model was made. If he’s honest, he’ll tell you. I should also mention that my original sewing machine bought back in the 60’s was a top of the line Elna at the time and it still works.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 30, 2012 9:54 am

      I agree, always speak to the repairman!

  14. Carol permalink
    February 19, 2012 10:53 pm

    RE: ELNA 2005 – Shortly to be advertised “Spares!”, having been thrown from a second floor window. I always imagined the failings were mine. How could it be my machine, because I was led to believe ELNA was at the top of its game. After owning one for the best part of ten years, and experiencing problems with zig-zag, double overlocking, thread tension problems etc. I now have reached the conclusion that it will make a far better door stop. I am now looking for a replacement. Glad I read this review, as I was considering servicing the 2005, but now I will just replace my nemesis.

  15. Janet Christensen permalink
    February 21, 2012 9:10 pm

    Thank you for this information. I have had my Elna Supermatic for 39 years. I sewed most of the clothes for my husband, myself and my five children for most of those years. The other day I went to sew some baby blankets and it conked out. I was wondering which brand to buy. I knew that Elna was the best buy in 1973 but I was not too sure about now.

  16. Moggo permalink
    April 28, 2012 11:33 am

    I have been having problems with my Elna 2007 which I bought about 5 years ago. I used to sew dresses, skirts, trousers on my Mum’s old Singer with no problem.
    I started sewing again after a bit of a break using my new Elna and have found it a nightmare – I have had similar problems to those mentioned above – thread constantly breaking (driving me mad!), irratic zigzag, non-working needle threader and useless buttonhole feature.
    I am so pleased to have read all your comments! I really thought I was going mad – every sewing project feels like a battle. It is taking me three times as long to finish anything and I find myself avoiding any topstitching, zips or buttonholes.
    I was considering getting it serviced to see if that helped – but I think, thanks to all your comments I honestly won’t bother and will now look for a new machine.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      April 28, 2012 4:58 pm

      Thanks for your comment. I think you would be better investing the service money in a new machine – then you can enjoy sewing again rather than finding it a chore! 🙂

  17. Linda Longmuir permalink
    May 1, 2012 8:50 am

    Glad to read that Janet Christensen has had a great run from her Elna. I have had my Elna SU (manufactured between 1972 – 1976) for 40 years and never had any problems, (only parts worn due to the amount of use) and I would recommend this model to anyone.

    My daughter recently borrowed my machine while hers was getting serviced and loved it so much I searched ebay until I was able to get one for her also. They are selling for almost as much as I paid for mine in 1972.

    I have made hundreds of items of clothing for my family and clients and it is still going strong.

    Due to the amount of use over the years the paint has worn off around the flywheel, reverse lever and free arm were the fabric feeds in.

    I can only interate that my Elna has been worth ever cent, it has been saved my $$$. I have been told by serviceman that it was one of the best sewing machines ever made.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      May 1, 2012 9:23 am

      Hi Linda, thank so much for your comment! I’m glad to hear your Elna machine has been good to you. I hope I have made it clear that I am in no way saying that Elna is a bad brand, or that all Elna machines are worthless. I merely wanted to raise awareness that *some* modern Elnas were made on the cheap, using a range of parts from different manufacturers, and as a result they are very poor quality. My Elna 2007 is an example of one of these machines. Since Janome took over Elna, the quality of the machines has improved again and they are more reliable, but it is worth knowing that Janome are cashing in on Elna’s former popularity by charging a higher price for Janome machines with Elna branding. So, if you’re buying a new Elna now, you’d likely get more for your money buying a Janome model at the same price.

  18. Linda Longmuir permalink
    May 1, 2012 11:56 pm

    Hi Tabatha, I was very diappointed to learn that the newer Elna’s have not maintained the quality of the older models and there is nothing like word of mouth to either tarnish or enhance a reputation of a product. I would have to admit that for a number of years, if I was looking to upgrade my machine I doubt I would have purchased another Elna, they just don’t look to have the same quality about them. Hope everyone that is having issues with their machines find a solution that is not too costly. Good luck.

  19. Sewerrower permalink
    June 24, 2012 12:36 pm

    Great post..and I can understand everyone’s frustration. It is impossible to find good independent sewing machine reviews. I have a Pfaff 2144 that has basically blown up on me after 7 years (and >$6k…) and recently found out there there were all sorts of issues with this machine. The dealer helping me now said it was a good design that was poorly manufactured. I did all of the research I could when I bought it but had no idea. At least knowing this now explains some of the frustration I have been having. My understanding is that this machine was launched during the Husqvarna takeover of Pfaff. Now I am considering an Elna Excellence 720. The dealer helping me out with my 2144 said it is an absolute workhorse, and is what she uses. For embroidery I am going to switch to an embroidery only machine.
    My mothers Pfaff, built in 1969, is a great machine that is still going strong. While I did not expect a computerized machine to last > 40 years, I did expect it to last a lot longer than it has. Especially since I took it in for regular service.
    One of the other women working in the store also had a 2144…she said hers died after only 5 years and she switched to a Brother. Pretty depressing for what was their top of the line machine. Lesson learned, I guess ( I am moving towards the acceptance phase :)).

  20. josie permalink
    October 6, 2012 3:15 pm

    I am thinking of buying a Elna 744 overlocker any one got any reviews. Josie

  21. abi ali permalink
    December 31, 2012 7:53 pm

    hey i purchased a elna 2800 today.. dont know anything about machines but SMD told me thats its fit for my needs and very sturdy.. i hope there right as iv not seen any reviews..

    i was looking to get the fs40 by brother but was told that although they offer variety they are more plastic…

    is the elna 2800 gooood?

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      December 31, 2012 8:08 pm

      I’m not sure, I’m not an expert on every machine made by Elna! Perhaps when you have figured it out, you can comment back and tell me!

  22. m crawford permalink
    January 6, 2013 5:51 pm

    have an elna 2007 for about 12 years, bought it new in John Lewis as it had embroidery function, better than my old singer, never had any problems but i never bothered using the needle threader, i found that the instruction book helps as different tensions are required for different embroidery stitches……..a little experimentation and it all works perfectly,

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      January 7, 2013 7:58 am

      I’m glad yours works well although I am surprised! How about the buttonhole function?

    • Steph permalink
      December 7, 2013 4:05 pm

      Would you be interested in scanning the 2007 manual electronically or making a hard copy? I lent the manual and my machine to a friend many years ago and the manual was never returned to me. I have struggled with this machine ever since. Such a nightmare! I would love to use the embroidery stitches again. I’d be willing to pay you $20 for your time 🙂

  23. Jenny permalink
    February 9, 2013 7:25 pm

    I had an Elna 2007 a a gift about 7 years ago [bought from John Lewis]. I had only ever used it for very basic taks, but recently went on a course to learn to use all the functions. I have never been able to make the “automatic” needle threader work. I had no success with the autmatic buttonhole and also had trouble with the blind hemming stitch, which seems to go the wrong way i.e. you have to put the bulk of the work through the machine instead of just the hem, so this would not work with large or bulky items. I had always thought it was just me, but my teacher could not get any of these functions to work properly either. I only wish I had done this course while the machine was still under warranty, and I would have exchanged it for a different make or model.

  24. Anne Morgan permalink
    March 5, 2013 3:27 am

    I have an Elna 9000 and it is wonderful. My only problem is that I have been trying to find a darning/free motion foot with no success. I had not used it for several years but when I recently began sewing again, it works beautifully. I learned to sew on a 1930’s singer treadle machine(that was my mother’s machine and I think it still works). I know the one my grandmother had still sews a beautiful straight seam.) Then in the 50’s got a featherweight singer and never had a problem. Then in the 60’s I bought a top of the line singer which never worked. I finally sold it for $25 after advising the buyer that she was wasting her money. My next machine was a White which did everything it was designed to do. Then I bought the 9000. I now have the 9000 and the viking #1+ for the embroidery feature. The biggest problem with sewing machines is that the companies don’t continue to make parts for the older models, even when they were wonderful. I was in the pfaff store the other day and the top of the line machine was $9,999.00 (that is not a typo).

  25. March 16, 2013 8:52 am

    I have the 2005 elna (i call it something starting with C). Its the most awful machine ever. I got it on sale 5 years ago, it was recommended by a sales assistant for a beginner. And its useless, i thought it was all me and that i was a crappy wanna be sewing lady. But coming across your blog, has made me so happy, it isn’t me, its the stupid machine. I’ll be chucking it out and getting new one.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      March 18, 2013 4:02 pm

      Hahaha! Thank you for your comment. Good luck buying your new machine!

  26. March 19, 2013 2:09 am

    New machine is purchased and low and behold i can sew! Old elna will be chucked off a cliff face soon ;P

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      March 19, 2013 10:50 am

      Hurray! Excellent!

  27. April 14, 2013 10:16 pm

    Hello, I’m so relieved to read your comments about the Elna 2007! I thought it was too hard for me to understand, as I’m not very good with technical things.Mine has been nothing but a pain! I bought it from John Lewis, and they have been no help at all.
    I wish I’d taken it back during the warranty period, but it’s too heavy for me to lift.
    I went back to the store twice to find out how to thread it, it continually pulls the threads, won’t thread automatically.
    I am experienced sewer, have been to courses at night school and sewn everything from clothes, boys’ trousers, curtains, bedding, reupholstery etc etc.
    I have now had my old Jones Zigzag from the 60’s repaired, and am happily using that again.
    I really resent the money I’ve lost on the Elna – if John Lewis really cared, they wouldn’t sell stuff that doesn’t work, but I’ll never get a refund now!

  28. Angie permalink
    June 29, 2013 4:32 pm

    I can’t believe no one has mentioned Bernina’s? I’ve had 3 Elna’s two older Swiss made models one of which was worked to death and the other is still trucking – now inherited a 2002 – not of the same quality but works ok. Have 4 Singers ranging from 1922 model to 1977 a good work horse just before their junky ones – the Samba range made in Brazil 😦 terrible machines. I have a Pfaff overlocker – pretty indestructible but always given tension problems – but every friend of mine has a Bernina and all our guild favour them as the best ever

    • October 27, 2016 9:06 pm

      Angie,
      I always sewed on 1970’s Sears Kenmores (Kennies), since I could never afford new, and they are truly workhorses. However, one by one they are aging. They also don’t have anything too fancy! I always dreamed of owning a Swiss, or German machine. I purchased a 10 yr old Bernina a month ago, and from the first stitch I was sold. Then I found an older Pfaff at a thrift store and brought it home. Same thing! Sews like a dream after a little TLC reconditioning. Another friend gave me a Elna 9000 with everything, but her angry teenager tried to sew his cell phone and broke the needle bar. Looking for the part so I can sew on this beauty! Haven’t found one yet! Would love to find this part, anyone?

  29. mariondel permalink
    July 8, 2013 7:47 pm

    i have had an Elna Super since 1970ish. It has performed brilliantly, having been heavily used in the early years and more occasionally recently. I see them on ebay for in the $100-200 range. They would make excellent beginner machines. Just be sure they are tuned and serviced. Shipping is difficult because they weigh a ton. Unfortunately mine conked out last week: it simply does. Maybe all it needs is a new pedal/cord assembly.

  30. Vanessa White permalink
    November 23, 2013 4:18 pm

    Where can i find a manual for my 2006 elna machine 0021855,j3-q47

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      November 23, 2013 5:12 pm

      I’m sorry, I have no idea!

  31. Tarien Roux permalink
    November 29, 2013 1:17 pm

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve just begun my research and you have left me with much to chew on.

  32. Steph permalink
    December 7, 2013 3:56 pm

    I agree! I have and Elna 2007 which I bought over 10 years ago. The automatic threader work a few times, but quit working altogether. I thought I was just me that had a hard time with the “automatic ” button hole foot! The thread always bunched up and looked terrible. It looked better to just free hand it. I lent my machine to a friend and threw the owners manual in to help her out. She returned it and when I asked about the manual, she said it was never in the box. I know for sure it was in there, but I thought, no big deal, I’ll just contact the company and get a new one. The reply I got was to go to the store that I had originally bought it at and ask them for a new manual. Not only was it extremely unlikely that the sew-vac company would have some random extra manuals lying around nearly 5 years after I bought it, but the shop did not exist anymore. Minor detail, right? Unfortunately the company does not offer an online version of the manual for those older models. I struggle with trying the figure out the correct tension and stitch settings for the different projects I’m doing. It’s a shot in the dark every time and I am an experience sewer! The one positive thing I will say about the machine is that it is pretty heavy duty. I have sewn with some very heavy fabrics and it does a good job managing that. I am overall pretty dissatisfied with this machine, and I won’t purchase another one. I can’t wait until I save up some money for a new one.

  33. Robert permalink
    December 15, 2013 1:34 am

    Hello everyone,

    Early last year my lovely, elderly next door neighbour who is a retired seamstress asked me if I would have a look at her old Singer sewing machine that she has used for many decades as its timing was out. As my health isn’t very good these days – and which was especially poor last year – I had to turn her down.

    About three months ago after my health had improved sufficiently enough to concentrate, I told my neighbour that I would check her sewing machine over and repair it if possible. Unfortunately, she said that she had thrown it out just months before and had been hand sewing since.

    Now as my neighbour really is fantastic, caring woman who has helped me out more times than I can remember, I decided to get her a sewing machine as a combined birthday & Christmas present. As I needed to know what days she would be at home next week rather than out Christmas shopping or visiting her friends and family, I told her that I will call on her one day next week at her convenience as I have a present for her, though I did not tell her what it is. That was when I received a huge amount of flak from her. You see she’s the type of person who loves to help others but gets annoyed whenever someone does something for her, especially when they spend money on her.

    As I knew how she would react I decided to buy her a very, very cheap, and I do mean cheap, Brother LS14 sewing machine. It’s that cheap I hope I haven’t made a huge error, though I know from many years of experience from working on all types of ‘white goods’ that, apart from refrigeration units, appliances manufactured these days rarely last longer than three to five years, so I’m hoping that this Brother sewing machine will at least be good enough for her to mend and do simple alterations to clothing and will live long enough to see out its three year warranty. Its warranty was one of the reasons why I bought this Brother sewing machine, though my neighbour did say last year that she has always been a Singer girl.

    Once I decided to buy her a new sewing machine, I started doing some research and sadly found out that the Singer brand is but a pale shadow of its former self and that the much sort after, though extremely expensive Bernina brand is a favourite amongst quilters.

    If I survive my neighbour’s ire next week and this sewing machine does prove to be a “pig in a poke” it can be returned free of charge as long as it’s returned within the 30 days since it was purchased. If that’s the case, then I’ll get her a better sewing machine next year, perhaps something from Janome, or Pfaff.

    Fingers crossed for next week!

    “The trouble with doing nothing is you never know when you’re finished!”

    • Anne, LCSW NC permalink
      December 15, 2013 12:13 pm

      Robert, if you can find a Singer 401 she will be thrilled. I just bought one from a man who collects them and repairs for $140 and it sews beautifully. These were made in the 50’s before the company went crazy for a few years and made plastic junk. I hear they are back on track but after buying one in the 60’s I still don’t trust them. This machine out does my #1+ viking and my Elna 9000 both wonderful machines.

      My machine repair person tells me that the Brothers all have to be sent to an authorized dealer for repairs. Here in NC that would be an all day drive. That said my sister bought a WalMart Brother and says it sews if you don’t want to do anything difficult.

      • Robert permalink
        December 16, 2013 2:45 pm

        Hi Anne,

        Thanks for your reply. You are correct of course because during my few months researching into sewing machines, I have indeed noticed an ever growing second-hand market for the older style sewing machines from the sixties, fifties and earlier. Unfortunately, they are becoming quite expensive to buy and in some instances, they now cost more to buy second-hand then they did when new!

        Something similar happened in photography where excellent manual focusing lenses that cost many hundreds of pounds new during the 1970’s were being sold for just £50 – £100, but soon after people starting reviewing the fantastic qualities of these metal bodied beauties on websites like YouTube, the prices suddenly escalated once dealers realised that there is a demand for them. Now their second-hand value is par to their original new price.

        The other problem of course is that due to my very poor health, I’m now housebound, so I’m unable to visit any venue to collect a sewing machine, such as those advertised for sale on websites like ebay or Gumtree etc.

        Nowadays I have to buy everything on-line and it has to be delivered. So a heavy sewing machine of yesteryear might be too heavy for me to carry. As my lovely neighbour will be 83 years old very soon, I doubt she would find it convenient to carry a heavy sewing machine either. I know that whenever she used her old sewing machine, she did so on her dining table and would always put it away once she was finished using it.

        Over this past year when she has mentioned doing sewing for her children or grandchildren, I’ve ask why she has never bought another machine? She said that today’s machines are mostly computerised which she says she would never be able to figure out how to use them. If she was going to buy one, it would have to be a no-nonsense, basic sewing machine with just the functional stitches needed to do simple sewing projects, such as altering/repairing clothes etc., and that she has no desire to start using patterns to make her own clothes again. So it wouldn’t be worth her while to buy one.

        However, two weeks ago she told me that she had spent the previous day hemming by hand, eight pairs of work jeans for one of her son-in-laws and that her right wrist was aching. That’s when I decided to get her a basic machine as a combine Birthday/Christmas gift. I’m 99.99% certain that she does not know that my present will be. I haven’t told her daughters either when I see them visit her. But knowing my neighbour as I do, no doubt she will say that I should not be wasting my money on her.

  34. Robert permalink
    December 21, 2013 1:24 pm

    Hello everyone,

    I thought that I would write and tell everyone that my present to my neighbour went down exceptionally well.

    As she was unwrapping her present, she told me off as usual for wasting my money and then tried guessing what it was. She failed.

    Once she had opened her present and realised what it was, it was lovely to see a massive “Cheshire Cat” smile appear on her face. She couldn’t believe that someone was thoughtful enough to get her a sewing machine as a Birthday & Christmas gift. She said it was perfect for her as she only needed a machine to do straight & zigzag stitches and no complicated computer to keep annoying her.

    I only needed to very slightly help with certain instructions, such as filling the bobbin and threading of the machine as it differed somewhat from her old Singer sewing machine, but once it was ready to sew, she needed no more help from me as her expertise took over.

    So one exceedingly happy neighbour was left to enjoy her present…

  35. Allan permalink
    February 4, 2014 5:54 am

    Cut out all the guesswork and pain and buy a Bernina; second hand or new. It is a family owned company and the ones I’ve serviced are brilliant. I love the really old black Singers that just do a straight stitch and wouldn’t part with the three that I own; an 1891 Vibrating Shuttle 27 hand crank, a 1939 electric converted to a hand crank and an old treadle machine with a reverse lever. The old Elna Supermatics (1950′s) were a terrific machine but hard to find these days. The Necchi Supernova machines of the mid to late 1950′s were also very reliable. Forget Husqvarna. They are really well designed but full of plastic parts which are nigh impossible to obtain once broken. I’ve heard varying reports about Janome; some good, some bad but I have no personal experience of them. My wife owned a late 70′s model and it was a “shocker”.

    • Allan permalink
      February 4, 2014 6:18 am

      I forgot to add in my previous comment: DO NOT go near the Bernina Bernette machines. They are not true Berninas and are regarded as rubbish in the industry.

      • tabathatweedie permalink*
        February 4, 2014 9:34 am

        Thanks for your comment. I have also heard that Bernina Bernettes are no good!

    • Trudi permalink
      April 12, 2015 9:30 am

      Elna Supermatic was the top model of Elna sewing machines into the mid-70s! I purchased mine in 1973 after tossing up between Bernina and Elna, but didn’t like the idea of a knee starter instead of a foot pedal. My old Elna had a total of 5 services over the years and it still works great.

  36. Dave permalink
    February 5, 2014 5:23 am

    I still use my grandmother’s Singer Featherweight (1920′s) and love it. It has sewn clothes (my grandmother and mother), ski pants (me), tents (me), gaiters (me), and even through three layers of leather and cardboard (to make cases for medical tools). The buttonhole attachment works great, as does the zig-zag/decorative attachment. It can use fine thread as well as pretty heavy carpet thread. This little full-rotary machine just keeps on sewing, and the maintenance is so simple I can do it myself. My sister traded hers in for $25 credit on a new machine several years ago, but I’ve been offered $500 for mine and turned it down. My children will be getting this machine someday and it will probably STILL work well. By the way, I’m a man who was taught to be able to take care of myself, just as I’ve taught my daughters to do auto repair and construction/remodeling. Learning to be independent and capable is not gender-specific.

  37. Kath Wheat permalink
    March 24, 2014 5:51 am

    My husband bought me my Elna sewing machine for my 20th bithday in 1978 (36 years ago) – I sewed clothes for all my 3 children, wedding dresses, fancy dress costumes, husbands shirts etc etc etc – could not fault this machine over the years. It gave me 35 years of excellent service, but got badly damaged in a house move. I am looking to buy another Elna in the very near future. I was taught to sew on an old Singer treadle machine. Thank you Elna.

    • Elizabeth M Robinson permalink
      October 1, 2016 3:48 am

      I learned to sew on my grandmothers singer treadle machine in the early 1960’s. Purchased an Elna 6004 used about 15 years ago, it has been magnificent; sewed quilts, Halloween costumes, draperies and more. It is still the best sewing machine i have ever used….i did inherit that old treadle.

  38. March 25, 2014 10:04 pm

    I am sad that your Elna wasn’t working properly. I have a 60s touch & sew Singer and sad to say, I really don’t like it. It is always jamming and I have a sneaking suspicion the timing is already thrown off after a couple uses. It’s been serviced twice in the past year, yet I am still having trouble. I came across a 70s Elna Lotus. Someone had left it by the dumpster and I am so glad I picked it up. It’s never been serviced since I had it. All the accessories are missing, but it sews so well. I haven’t had any issues with it, however it is just a basic machine. No extra frills. No electronics. It does zig zag, reverse, and straight stitches. That’s where it’s capabilities stop. I am not a fancy sewer so this works perfectly for me. I really like it! Thanks for informing us about your troubles with the early 2000s Elna models. I have been looking into a full-sized Elna

  39. Paperboat permalink
    March 1, 2015 9:36 am

    Thanks so much for your detailed post! Have you any experience with the current model Elna 2000 or Elna Elina 21? There’s very little reviews on the later..

  40. Trudi permalink
    April 12, 2015 9:24 am

    First of all, I wouldn’t consider a Janome in a fit! Second, since Janome bought out Elna a couple of decades ago, the same applies to newish Elnas. Having said that, I still have my 43 year old Elna Supermatic, which was the top model back in the sixties and seventies and it still works like a charm. Trust me, that machine got a work-out and a half!

    Sewing machines I would consider now are Bernina, Husquvarna and Pfaff (Pfaff is now owned by Husquvarna). For a cheaper machine, I would go for a Brother.

  41. Merridee permalink
    May 11, 2015 5:52 pm

    HI i have an Elna 2002 and have used it for 25 years without any problem, i have it serviced regularly like once every yr or two yrs depending how much i sew. I have a repair man in OHIO that has serviced dit once in four years. i keep it clean and oiled and needle changed after xx hrs of sewing. The throat place of the machine became chipped, he told me there is no way of repairing it or replacing it. So i sew with the thread cutting itself at the worse possible moment. I checked o line, and have now found a throat plate for 2002 machine and am waiting for it to arrive. When you need parts try on line first saves lots of money and disappointments. My husband bought me a Brother Disney 950 two yrs ago went on the fritz two weeks after warntee expired, the expense was terrible. May you enjoy the years to coming with your sewing. Also when you get a new machine be sure it includes sewing lessons free…i have to go to 50 miles to get them but worth it. I make sure to block off 3 to 4 hr span of time, due to the traveling. Enjoy your hobby.

  42. Morag permalink
    May 19, 2015 4:32 pm

    Hi, I am so glad I found this,I was thinking of buying an Elna 2000 tomorrow but now I am having second thoughts. Any thoughts? Thanks for this as I only do repairs and want a really basic machine.

  43. Beth permalink
    September 29, 2015 5:22 pm

    Oh I just had to comment! I saw a few posts above me that someone recommended Pfaff or Husqvarna….NO NO and NO!!! Singer, Pfaff and Husqvarna are all owned by SVP company. I have the Husqvarna Sapphire 875 and it is a piece of expensive JUNK!! I bought it two years ago and I now have the same saga as the original poster of this thread. Only my issue is all in the tension discs…which, to my irritation…is written about and complained about all across the board by so many other Husqvarna owners. You will not get any decent customer service from them either. My dealer is a total loser on this issue and from what I’ve read, the Pfaff’s are now having the same problems…we also all know what happened to Singer.

    Please, for the love of all things sewing…stay away from Husqvarna. I have a small Brother that I am going to have serviced and it has been decent for it’s size and price. I fell in love with the Janome 8900 but it really is out of my price range at this point. I was just offered the Elna’s that are the equivalent to Janome 8900 but honestly, why be one company with two different types of machines and styles to compete? Jack of all trades, master of none? After reading the reviews…I’m a huge skeptic. Thank you btw for your Elna review….I’m going to treat is as a warning to steer clear of this brand and I think even Janome’s too.

    I’m going with a Juki F600 and 2010 for FMQ. Solid reputation, price point is more my style and life is good…I hope. Last thing I need is another paperweight I can’t sell. 😡

  44. Bea permalink
    October 18, 2015 8:10 pm

    Actually, I have a 6005 which seems to be very fussy and unreliable. I am willing to chalk some of this up to user error, as I’m not a trained seamstress and often find tips online to fix errors I’ve made (like birdnesting being avoidable by doing the first few stitches by hand-turning the wheel). But, the needle threader was bent when I bought it and the owner of the shop had to sort of bend it back. Now, the whole needle threader is stuck, after only two years of use. Really, all of the parts on such an expensive machine should last longer than that. Can’t think of a user error to cause it, but I might find differently. I’ve found online reviews of machines to be so mixed that I’ve begun to think that what one knows has to dovetail with what the machine tends to do in order for its use to go smoothly. Maybe there’s something no one tells us: One has to take classes.

  45. Penny watson permalink
    October 9, 2016 10:32 pm

    Thank you so much for the review of your ’07 Elna. I have been a long time fan of Elna since I bought my machine around 1968. Three years ago I had the motor replaced, it’s first trip to the repair shop. But lately I have been looking for a second machine and since my old Elna has been so good to me, I was thinking of a slightly used Elna. I certainly will not take a chance on those years!

  46. November 25, 2016 6:37 am

    Hi. I was searching the Elna brand online and came across your blog. I am looking for a new sewing machine. I have an Elna 2130. I have used it for basic sewing, never tried the button hole feature! In some respects it has been a frustrating machine, cotton breaking, needles breaking whenever the fabric is a little thicker. As a matter of fact I don’t sow all that well but I am taking a course in pattern making and design and so I thought I would need an upgrade. Here in South Africa we pay a small fortune for things like a sewing machine. Interestingly you mention that Elna is owned by Janome. I can purchase a Janome 8077 for R3,699 but an Elna that seems similar will cost me R10,999 – that’s for the eXperience 540. Is the Janome as good as the Elna? Do you know? Here in South Africa everyone buys either a Bernina or Elna. Singers are also available but considered more for industrial use. Actually Janome is sold here by one of the big supermarket stores. It’s rather surprising and I would love to purchase the machine for R3,699 and brag that is as good as any Elna.

    • tabathatweedie permalink*
      November 25, 2016 7:29 am

      The Janome 8077 is the exact machine that I now have! It is brilliant. I love it. Never had any problems with it at all.

  47. Lyn permalink
    December 8, 2016 7:34 am

    I have an Elna Lotus bought in 1968 and it still works perfectly. I bought another Elna a few years ago but it is nothing like my Lotus. I gave my newer one to my son and his wife and am still using my Lotus. I really love my Lotus. What a pity Elna is now manufactured in Asia!

    • Debbie Henderson permalink
      December 24, 2016 3:20 am

      I was gifted with an Elna 9000 Diva 2 years ago. I think now that it is about 22 years old. I have not had any trouble with it until today, when I tried to use the one step buttonhole attachment. I wasted several hours trying everything I could think of to make it work. I wish I had found this website before I tried it. Has anyone had any luck with the simple automatic buttonhole foot? I’m trying to finish a project for my granddaughter before Christmas. I may have to forget the buttons and rework the dress with a zipper,

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