Micro Elite · Vertical rotary hook

It’s a girl!

I knew it – leaving sewing machines alone with the lights off is dodgy!

​Meet the latest addition: late 1950s Japanese Micro Elite. A very real lockstitch sewing machine, and not at all a toy – it will sew right through your finger like the big ones. It does straight stitch with reverse, is a vertical rotary, uses an industrial shuttle, bobbins and DBx1 needles and standard low shank feet. It’s got a 60W 0.3A motor, which works out very powerful indeed for such a little thing with low inertia. It can sew denim and leather like a cotton handkerchief. Bravo!

It folds up its work table for transport in its dainty little case with silver piping!

​This also allows easy access to the bobbin – or otherwise you could just turn over the whole machine. 🙂

I’ve had a Singer 221K Featherweight before, but I didn’t keep it because the motor seemed a bit anemic, the bobbins were uncommon and fairly expensive, and the bobbin case cost more than the whole machine… And I like to keep several bobbin cases for different types of thread. But of course the Featherweight is quite a bit bigger than Micro Elite – if the Featherweight is a 1/2 size machine, then Micro Elite is a 1/4 size one: bed length 9.5″ versus 7″, needle to column 5″ versus 3.75″, arm height 4″ versus 2.75″. In fact, these measurements are very close to those of Essex the chain stitcher (see my post on harp space for details on measurements of these and many other machines).


The upside of downsizing. 🙂

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18 thoughts on “It’s a girl!

  1. Elena,
    You are good at finding great but unusual machines – hats off to you. What are those two machines behind the Micro Elite in the top picture though? One looks like a free arm Neccho Supernova?
    Dan H

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    1. Well spotted, Dan! Necchi Supernova C and Vigorelli Fantasy (also by Necchi, does 17mm wide embroidery by moving the whole mechanism left and right). I haven’t written about these yet because I haven’t had a chance to play with them so far. Only checked for basic operation, cleaned and oiled, etc., and that was already a job and a half considering the state they were in! But functional, which is the main thing.

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      1. Elena,
        Looking forward to info. on the Vigorelli. Google shows very few links on’t internet about these – a very rare and interesting machine indeed!

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      2. It is one crazy machine! Even crazier than the Supernova with its cam combinations (this is all thanks to you, by the way). This Vigorelli is the first model in a series of machines with the left-right moving mechanism, and it is the most complex of them all. Six independent pattern modifier knobs and two pattern families per disk cylinder (a fixed combination), so you can combine two different patterns in one stitch, and not in an overlay but sequentially. Wow! But this is just from the manual and the projects book that came with it, I haven’t actually sewn any of it yet! But hopefully will have time later this month. 😎

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  2. What an adorable tiny machine! And excellent to hear it is functional. I agree with the above comment, you are very good at finding interesting machines.

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    1. Thank you! 🙂 I think I’ll be using this one, actually – for top stitching or a quick seam with a different thread which saves rethreading the main machine. I only keep machines that I think would be useful to me. Not a collector, just a plain old hoarder. 😉

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      1. Not a hoarder, not a collector buy an accumulator, I say with humour. When asked how many computers he owns at a job interview my son’s response was “working, not working, or total”. I use this same response when asked how many sewing machines I own.
        Have a great day.
        Robin Brown

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      2. My husband also counts sewing machine shaped tea pots, ornaments, embroideries, prints, books and fabric with sewing machines on. But there I say he’s cheating! 😉

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  3. Oh my god, so tiny and cute! And I love that even though it is so small it’s still a total workhorse! You find the most awesome machines. 🙂

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    1. It’s like one of those wild Przewalski’s horses: what it lacks in size, it makes up for in attitude. Amply. 🙂
      Przewalski’s horse is the only equine to have never been domesticated – and there’s a reason for that. 😉

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  4. I just got one of these little machines. I don’t have a manual though! I don’t know where to find one. Online searches proved useless largely, the one I found, no payment could be made via any of my cards.
    Have ordered some DBx1 needles. It all seems in great condition, motor runs. When I got it, the needle was bent and obviously not the kind you describe.

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  5. Elana,
    I have a Micro Elite also. I was wondering if you could give me advice on how to repair it. It’s completely locked/froze up. Also the clamp on the needle bar that holds the needle bar in place and raises and lowers the foot is cracked. Any idea where I could get a replacement part? I applied lot’s of sewing machine oil to all moving parts two times and still no movement. Any advice or help you could give me would be wonderful.

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    1. Hi Tresa,
      Firstly, you have to be patient. Apply oil, leave it soak for a day, repeat. Day after day – it might take a couple of weeks, so 10-15 applications. If you notice that there’s oil all outside the joints and it didn’t soak into the joints overnight, then you need to dissolve the dried up oil inside the joints first. The standard method is to use kerosine – use it instead of oil and do the same as before: apply, leave overnight, repeat. I prefer to use 3-in-1 oil for cleaning though which already has a solvent in it and doesn’t smell.

      As for parts, I don’t think you can buy any. Your only option is either to find another Micro Elite machine and strip it, or to see if parts of other machines might fit, but given the small size, I doubt it.

      Good luck!

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