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Forum > Sewing Machines > Buttonholes on a '70s Elna SU ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Buttonholes on a '70s Elna SU
I can't figure out how to do buttonholes on my Elna SU
nettybean
nettybean
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Date: 2/4/10 3:00 AM

Hi All,

This may be a bonehead question, but I've been fighting with my machine for the last hour and it's winning... so I'd better ask.

I have my grandmother's Elna SU (from the late 70s, I think), and have just recently started sewing again after a long absence (like, ten years). All is going well, but I've come to a snag when trying to figure out how to do buttonholes.

The instructions in my manual (manual 2) seem too short, and I can't help feeling like it's leaving out information. Why can I only find instructions for a "reinforced" buttonhole? Does this machine do normal (simpler) buttonholes?

The problem I'm having is this: I put on my buttonhole foot, set all my knobs to the blue buttonhole setting, and stitch... one row of neat little satin stitches appears on the left, but then I can't figure out how to make the machine turn back and do the other (right) side. I've tried this a few times different ways... and can't seem to get it.

I've never done a buttonhole on a machine in my life, and this is killing me! I want to put the buttons on the otherwise very pleasant to sew Tulip Skirt (by Jenny Gordy, from the debut issue of Stitch magazine) and wear it already!

Any tips you have would be appreciated, and don't feel bad if you have to point out the obvious to me. :)

Betakin
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Betakin
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In reply to nettybean


Date: 2/4/10 3:17 AM

I'm sorry but I don't know this machine. I don't know if it is a 4 step buttonhole or a 2 step as some machines or a one step.
If a 4 step and you have already done the left side then you need to set the machine to the middle needle postion to do the bar tack (end) then the right side position to do the right side..then back to the middle postion to do the bartack (other end).

Some machines only have the settings as L, M. R, where other machines might have a special buttonhole knob that is numbered to turn to the different numbers as you complete your buttonhole. Start with number 1 then go to number 2 etc. Some machines start with a bartack..or the end..where others start with one side of the BH and some might do the first side in reverse. After doing one side, stop the machine at the size of the button you are using then do the bartack stitches then do the other side of the BH..and end with another bartack.

If the machine does a 2 step BH it is usually a round end and of course just done in 2 steps..usually numbers are on the buttonhole knob.

If the machine does a one step BH, that is entirely different. After the BH foot is put on then a button is required to be put into the foot, then slide the foot so that the button is snug, pull down the BH lever and lock it behind a little notch then sew..and the machine does makes the entire buttonhole as you press on the foot control


Sorry, I cannot be of more help. I hope you get it figured out.

-- Edited on 2/4/10 3:26 AM --

gloucester
gloucester
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Date: 2/4/10 12:53 PM

Hi, nettybean,

I've just bought my SU, so am definitely no expert, but I hope I can help a little.

The instructions for the simple buttonhole are in book one (the red one) (pp. 24-25 in mine, or 32-33 for the no-turn version--I'll write about that version, OK?).

So, you're good down the first side so far, right? Then raise the needle, set the stitch width knob to 4, make a few stitches for a bar tack, and raise the needle again.

Move the stitch width knob to 2. Sew up the second long side now (edited to add: the machine should do this in the right direction all by itself--it's keeping track of where you are when it's on the buttonhole setting), stopping just short of the end of the first side. Raise the needle again.

Set the stitch width knob back to 4. Finish the buttonhole by making a few stitches for another bartack. Raise the needle again.

Lastly, set the stitch width knob at 0. Sew a couple of stitches just to fasten off the threads.

Then cut open your buttonhole.

I haven't had any trouble sewing out the buttonholes yet with those directions, though I'm not crazy about their appearance so far. I'm thinking it's one of those things that is just going to take some practice on an unfamiliar machine.

Hope that helps--best of luck!






-- Edited on 2/4/10 12:57 PM --

nettybean
nettybean
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Date: 2/5/10 1:33 PM

Thanks for the info-- I'll definitely look for the simple buttonhole instructions in my manual 1 (though mine is blue... hope it has the same info) and try to do one.

Here's hoping it works!

PS-- when you do a simple buttonhole with satin stitch, are you feeding a thin cord into the middle of the satin stitch? (my manual says to do this for the reinforced buttonhole... I think mainly to fill out my satin stitch). I've tried to do satin stitch twice without the cord and both times my machine jammed/ate my fabric. FUN.

Thanks for the tips!
-jeanette

Rita K
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Date: 2/5/10 2:59 PM

nettybean,
By now you may be past needing help with your buttonhole, but here goes:

I have the AirElectronic SU from the late '70s and my book 1 is blue.
Pages 28-29 are the No-turn Buttonhole. This is the basic buttonhole instruction. Do you have these pages? The photos on p 28 are a little hard to see details in my book. To go down the second side use photos 5 on p 28 & step 5 on p 29. (For each step, you turn the stitch width dial to the next number.) The photos with the black background are hard to see but the white dot at the top of the photo shows the # needed for that step (2-3-4-dot). The photos under the ones with black background show in red what is stitched in that step/setting.

In the white book 2 the instructions on p 29 are for a reinforced buttonhole, which you do not need to do for your skirt. Book 2 is really more for various techniques & use of accessory feet.

You have a FABULOUS machine. The quality of engineering is extremely high, the machine runs like a dream, is very quiet & smooth. The stitch quality is fabulous. There are some books that were written just for this fabulous machine which you may find on ebay or used booksellers. One is Speed Sewing by Jan Saunders, another is Know Your Elna by Dodson/Ahles. Carol Ahles is renowned as an heirloom & fine sewing expert who was an Elna owner when she wrote her first book in the late 1980s. The Elna 9000 was engineered for those who did French Hand Sewing by Machine. It was prized by those who wanted to do it without doing it all as handwork. There is a Yahoo group for Vintage Elna owners & terrific knowledgeable people there.

I LOVE mine, used it for 10 years before upgrading to a computerized machine. I will never get rid of it. It is an heirloom worthy of handing on down.

Rita K
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In reply to nettybean


Date: 2/5/10 3:14 PM

Quote: nettybean
I've tried to do satin stitch twice without the cord and both times my machine jammed/ate my fabric. FUN.

Thanks for the tips!
-jeanette

A couple of hints:
When you start to sew, HOLD the tails of your needle & bobbin threads in your left hand & turn the hand wheel to lower the needle into the fabric taking a stitch or two. This should help prevent the thread nests, snarls, eating the fabric.

Also these machines are easy to maintain. Especially if the machine has not been used for months/years. Look in your manual for where to oil the machine. There are only a few places, well marked with red circles. ONLY USE SEWING MACHINE OIL, a drop or two in each spot, then without a needle or thread put the pedal to full speed & run for a minute or two to warm the machine & oil & lubricate it fully. The machine should run freely & easily. Use some scrap fabric to sew on to be sure you do not have oil anywhere that would get on your special project.

Enjoy your wonderful machine & post back to let us know how you're doing with it!
Re Becca
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In reply to Rita K


Date: 2/5/10 4:57 PM

I go through the steps numerically on the dial. Start at the back of the buttonhole.
Step 1 is the left side of the buttonhole stitching straight forward.
Step 2 is the bartack on the colse end of the buttonhole.
Step 3 stitches backwards to the starting point.
Step 4 is the bartack at the back end.

Does your thread only knot when making buttonholes? That sounds more like a tension issue.

------
http://beccabeckstuff.blogspot.com/

Damn the muslin, full speed ahead!

nettybean
nettybean
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Date: 2/5/10 6:35 PM

Good tip to hold the thread and manually do the first couple of stitches. Gonna try it now and see how it works.

I found the pages in my first manual! I guess I didn't see them because I was looking in the index for "buttonhole" not "no-turn buttonhole". Going to try it now!

As for maintenance... This machine had in fact not been used for 10 years or so, but I had it checked/oiled/etc. about a year ago by my favorite local sew/vac shop. It seems to be doing fine so far, this buttonhole issue (which I have a feeling is my brain, not the machine...) is the first I've run into. Off to try no-turn buttonholes! I'll update with how it went.

Thanks for the info!
-Jeanette

nettybean
nettybean
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Date: 2/5/10 8:52 PM

Thanks for all the help guys! Successfully got a buttonhole!

johnr55
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Date: 2/7/10 10:39 PM

Elna actually sold models under the SU name for about 20 years. The buttonholes do not work the same for all of them, but they all make a nice hole when adjusted properly. Do you have one of the later SU's with the dials on the front? I have one of those. Or is is the Star Series SU from the sixties, where the buttonhole is actually on the stitch width lever? Let me know if I can help, they are both easy to do but quite different in operation.

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