What a lot of excitement the other day!  Hubby and I were helping out at a summer fête, which included a car boot sale (Jumble Sale for us older bods).  During one of my breaks from holding down the Bric-a-brac stall (to raise money for my niece’s school) I had a wander and spotted this.

Grasshopper 01

Nothing to really spark interest, except to wonder what’s inside . . . and that’s when it gets exciting.

Grasshopper 02

The case starts to open out with a flap, and show a lovely grasshopper green . . . and then

Grasshopper 03

Ooooh yes!  An Elna sewing machine.  And not just any Elna sewing machine.  This is what is affectionately called “the Grasshopper”.

Now, I have to admit, I didn’t know that when I saw it.  I just knew it was old and I wanted it, regardless of whether it was in working order or not.  A little bit of haggling took place, and it was mine for 12€.

Back home, I googled, to learn more about this machine.  Made in Switzerland, between 1940 and 1952 it was Elna’s first mass produced portable sewing machine.  It was nick-named “Grasshopper” because of its green colour, and its physical appearance (more photos when you scroll down).   Was produced in 3 series with very slight changes made. My machine is dated August 1950, so is the third series.

It’s ever so nifty!  First of all, as you can see, the travel case opens out . . . and serves a purpose because

Grasshopper 12

It becomes a sewing table!

There is no foot pedal, but a knee lever which swivels out and unfolds into position to operate the machine.



Has a light under the neck.


Grasshopper 06

This is where the lower bobbin goes, and where tension is sorted.  There’s even a thread cutter incorporated just behind the foot.

Grasshopper 08

The stitch size regulator.  The Grasshopper can only do straight stitch.  When you slide the lever away from you, the machine does a reverse stitch.

Grasshopper 16

The wheel is low down, and you can see here where bits go to wind up a bobbin.  There is also a bit sticking out for a speed regulator, but that accessory was missing from my box.

Grasshopper 05

It came with many of its original accessories including oil cans and screw driver. In the special box (missing its lid) which has a place at the back of the machine.

Grasshopper 17

Grasshopper 18

The box has little feet that slot into the holes in the base.

Everything is so well thought out!

Anyway . . . husband checked out the wiring.  Grasshopper runs on 110V and came with a transformer.  And, despite being 67 years old, it works!

However the belt was rather slack

Grasshopper 07

So I have MacGyvered a new one using a rubber seal for preserve jars.  I now need to sit down, with lots of patience, and tweek tension.  Grasshopper sews, and with a lovely quiet whir . . . so if I can get tension worked out, then I plan on piecing a small patchwork project on this lovely piece of machinery.



33 thoughts on “Grasshopper

  1. Fantastic! I am grasshopper green with envy.
    I did see an Elna at a vide grenier last year – although not this model in its nifty case – and I still regret not buying it.
    Have fun playing with your new toy.

    • yes, I’ve got another old Elna upstairs in the attic: a Primula, which belonged to late MIL. That probably dates back to the 1960s maybe early 70s but it just looks like an old sewing machine whereas Grasshopper seems genuine “vintage” if you know what I mean.

  2. It’s such an elegant shape too, so much nicer than modern machines, and obviously a lot better designed and sturdier; I can’t see my Janome lasting 80 years! Well done on your excellent purchase!

    • I inherited my Mum’s hand-cranked Singer in the 80s and stupidly gave it away shortly after. Wasn’t into sewing then, and was short on storage space. Now, I’m kicking myself, of course! I’ve been looking at ads for old machines, here in France, and there are no hand-cranked ones in sight. All old machines seem to be the treadle ones.

  3. What a lovely find!!! I learned to sew in school on a machine with a knee lever, I found it very hard to get used to the pedal variety. I think you will find that this machine is a work horse that you will love having – you will do more than quilts on it!

    • I don’t think there’s anything special to learn about using this machine since all it does is straight stitch. The tension tweeking is really the only thing to do, and that will depend on fabric

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