This 1977 Kenmore was the second vintage machine I purchased and it’s wonderful finish and appearance belies the fact that this machine has seen thousands of hours of use and has probably sewn a million stitches.
In the mid seventies Singer had slipped and was still making good machines, but in order to cut costs they had outsourced production and were using a lot more plastic internally which we now see failing in many of their models. Kenmore machines really were the best value for the money as they could run against machines like Bernina and Pfaff, which sold for twice as much and in many cases, were actually less capable or versatile.
If one adjusts for inflation, this machine cost the equivalent of $2000.00 (in 2019) and it is one of the few vintage Kenmores that currently rates a fairly decent price on the secondary market as they are quite hard to come by. I figure that many people who bought one originally are still using their machines as there is simply no reason to upgrade when a machine is this good.
There is something to be said for all metal construction and extremely high quality standards, and I suspect a machine this this will sew for 100 years.
It has never failed in any task and I often use it as the standard by which other machines are judged.
We picked this Husqvarna 1090 up on one of our daily adventures this past week for a ridiculous sum of money, ridiculous as it was so little and the shop selling it really had no idea. To them it was just an “old” heavy sewing machine and they had a few later model plastic machines selling for twice as much.
I have been running it through it’s paces and have to say I am very impressed with the user friendly design as if you have used a sewing machine, this machine is not going to confuse you. The display tells you everything you need to know from what foot to use, and what needle is required.
It has not seen much use and was recently serviced by another local shop, it runs beautifully and makes an incredibly nice stitch, which is what one should expect from any Swedish made Husqvarna.
Dr. Ramon Casas Robert created a working example of the “Grasshopper” as early as 1934 and after being forced to move to Switzerland due to the Spanish Civil War, sold his patents to the Swiss manufacturing firm, Tavaro.
The first Elna left the factory in 1940 and estimates of their total production and sales vary widely over it’s 12 year run, it was supplanted by the Supermatic in 1952.
The design is pure genius, being made of cast aluminium it only weighs 7kg / (15 pounds) and is much lighter than the comparable Bernina 121. It is a rotary hook machine which makes it extremely smooth running, and the case converts to become a sewing table.
The machine packs up very well and is extremely secure in a case that has been likened to a military shell case.
I should note that Elna never called this machine a Grasshopper, this was a name coined by the many fans of this machine.
Pearl and her brothers and sister were at the sitters for almost a month as we finished up our move and got the house ready for them, having a flock of birds is more complicated than having a mammalian companion.
They came home yesterday and we could not have asked for a better Christmas gift to have our family back together.
Pearl supervises me in the shop and as soon as she got home she seemed ready to get back to work.
When this Singer 29k arrived (a customer’s machine) and got cleaned up, it was missing it’s finish along the upper arm, main arm, base, and the treadle was pretty much bare metal.
It was also missing some important parts which we were able to source, and we also upgraded the hardware in the treadle to standard threading, and re-tapped the base of the machine to an M10 machine thread. This will make replacing these screws as easy as going down to the local hardware store if one gets lost.
Sometimes I see before and after pictures where it looks like all a person had to do was wipe off a few decades worth of dust, which acts as a wonderful protect-ant.
This machine took more than 20 hours in our workshop, after cleaning and detailing the small parts the machine was re-enameled, with careful attention made to preserve the original decals. As the machine would never look perfect or brand without a complete strip down and new decals, we used old fashioned methods to do a sympathetic restoration of this nearly 100 year old beauty.