Tuesday, July 5, 2011

2nd Hand sewing machines: Identifying the clutter that comes with them!

I recently acquired a Necchi Mira.  It’s a cast iron machine in what’s called a ‘Coronet’ cabinet.  This looks like a small chest of drawers but the front (with three drawer pulls) is actually just a false cover for the bench, which pulls out and away from the usual desk type of cabinet.  The pulls get yanked on over the years (and the seat is purty heavy) and the top one is missing (aargh!).  I doubt I can find a replacement (these have two screws on the back at 2” center) so I’ll probably need to buy a full new set from one of the Home stores (unless one of you can help?).

I digress already: here’s the dilemma:

You have a terrific old SM (sewing machine…some of my pals have written me some very strange replies when I forget to translate that one!) with loads of widgets, clutter, thread and you-name-its in the drawers.  Maybe the previous owner (who is usually the younger female relative of an old lady who died) even donated several shoe-boxes of miscellaneous sewing paraphernalia.  There was probably a clause in the contract that said “No picking, take it all or nothing!”.  So now someone else’s problem has become your own.
You get home and unload it all from the car, which is now rendered sans housing for the unforeseeable future.   You are amazed at the mountain of clutter that lays before you and the sheer volume of large black spiders with hour-glass markings running to the four corners of your formerly tidy domicile.  So you run inside for a swift jar of cooking sherry…yeuch!  You resist the urge to dash out immediately for a fifth of decent vodka.  Instead, you contemplate your folly!

You spend 3 days cutting the thread that’s tangled up between the bobbins, reels, zips and other paraphernalia of a lifetime of messy sewing activity.  Then you spend yet another day prying out rusty pins from the teeny space between bits of wood at the bottom of drawers and the task begins to pall on you.

So, you do the basic tidy, pins, thread and buttons all cleared out and relegated to their particular jars and boxes.  You pause to contemplate adding a wing to your sewing area but crush the thought a-borning lest you lose sight of the awful task at hand.  There remains a great pile of stuff that may or may not belong to this sewing machine, some other sewing machine, the kitchen, the draperies, the hospital, the first edition of the Guttenberg bible etc.

Primal scream!

One could take the easy way out and re-home the SM, leaving everything in the drawer(s) but some of the stuff clearly belongs elsewhere and may even complete another machine (owned by someone else or maybe even you!).

And so…the detective works begins!

I joined the relevant SM on-line group and downloaded the pages of the 90 page manual pertaining to accessories.  I find about half of them and set them aside.

I also found several presser feet with the word ‘Singer’ or ‘Simanco’ stamped on them and a few others which are obviously wrong because they are slant shanks or short shanks (the Necchi Mira is a high shank machine).  So here’s a few photo of the stuff I’m now looking at and cannot identify:  Any help would be gratefully received!

I forgot to put a scale in.  The above instrument is about 3” long and the various ‘needle’ attachments that seem to go with it  are quite fine.  The bit on the left is plastic (was it used to spear an olive at the last party the sewing-lady attended, or is it relevant to this doo-hickey?).  The bit on the right is just a piece of wire (from the box of the chow-mein consumed during the final sewing session?)

The spherical handle on the thing that looks like a screwdriver base is about 1” diameter.  It’s hollow but not magnetic.  The handle turns but the inside handle moves just a hair.

The two vaguely triangular things look like shelf supports but why are they different?  Maybe they fit in a sewing box/base?

The most interesting thing in this collection is that widget on the bottom row, 2nd from left.  There’s a little thing on the pointy end that looks like a tiny crochet hook and a spare one hanging off the handle.

The two bullet-looking things are quite heavy, one has a little bump on the end and the other a little hollow area but they don’t join together.  Are these weights of some kind?

The circular plastic thing in the middle, at left looks nondescript but I’ve seen this before in the drawers of other SMs.

Any thoughts at all, would be appreciated



  1. Good luck with the Necchi. Can't help with any identification

  2. The rectangle with the hole in it covers the feed dogs for darning or free motion Quilting. She may have used singer feet as a high shank would fit any high shank. My solution is to put stuff in a ziplock labled with the machine and ask around at any sewing event I go to. At least you got it all untangled!

  3. I can help with a lot of it :) I tried twice yesterday to repy to you AGGGHHHH !!! ... here goes the top photo contains, blue crochet hook and punch needles of various sizes for rug making :) the black knob tool is for punching holes through leather and doing eyelets with .. those bullet type things goes with it as does the round bit and the bit with dint in it .... the little piece with the hook on is to thread machines with / needles .. the other bits on the 2nd photo I think are all to do with attachments but with out handling them can't be tooo sure .... hope this helps you :) love mouse xxxxx

  4. Difficulties Posting:

    It's not user friendly. I've had trouble too. When you go to post a comment, you must choose one of the options from the 'Comment as' box. You can always choose 'Anonymous'. However, when you hit 'Post Comment' you must see the scrambled letters to know you succeeded. It's a good idea to copy it before you do that. If you don't see the scrambled letters, your comment is lost forever but it doesn't tell you, so you don't even know about it.

  5. Thank you Elliott. I'm sure you are correct because another friend said the same thing but I can't figure out that feed-dog cover thing. It doesn't cover the entire length of the dogs and I can't find any way to screw it down either.

    I'm sure it would be useful if I could make it work because I got a Greist buttonholer but it's missing the big plate that screws down over the dogs to protect them.

  6. Thanks so much Mouse! That's all very useful information.

    So those bullet things are pressed together to make a dent into leather? Now I'll search and see if I can find user instructions anywhere.

    This is much appreciated!

  7. The feed dog cover is from an Elna supermatic and it just snaps in to cover the feed dogs. Works great.

  8. Thank you for that last thought. That little feed dog cover has the word 'Caroll' on it. Does that mean anything to anyone?

  9. Read my comment of 04/10/2015 at http://strontiumforbones.blogspot.com/2015/03/too-much-vitamin-d-can-be-bad-for-you.html

  10. I cannot help you identify anything, just wanted to say how much I have enjoyed seeing the photos, reading your blog (do you write professionally?), and these great answers. It is so much fun to learn new things, isn't it.

  11. Thank you so much, dear Butterfly. No, I don't write professionally. Sometimes when I get a burst of dumb hilarity I will write something on the spur of the moment and dump it on people (what else to do with it really?) for a laugh

  12. Hi Kathy,
    I lost your email so I thought that I would contact you here.
    You were looking for a Bernina 121. I saw one listed on ebay and thought I would let you know.


  13. Hi Troy,
    I still have your email somewhere (buried with a gazillion others!). Thank you so much...I'll go check out that machine