Thursday, March 14, 2013

Toy Sewing Machines

Did you have a toy sewing machine as a child?  Today's sewing machines for children seem to be little more than disposable plastic junk that may or may not actually sew, but the toy sewing machines of yesterday are really a work of art.

I recently had the opportunity to see the incredible private collection of some expertly restored antique toy, portable, and cabinet sewing machines that dated from the 1850s to the 1950s. I really am amazed at the number of working sewing machines that have been produced over the years just for children to use.

This is a working antique Ideal Child's Toy Treadle Sewing Machine that dates to the late 1800s (it was probably made between 1880-1890):

The stand is only two feet high, and the base is made of cast iron. Isn't the scroll work on the treadle lovely? These toys machines were produced by several different companies in the US and Britain; this one was made in the United States and would have sold for around $5.00 in its day!   Here is a closer look, pictured with a small Mauchlin ware Clark's spool box with Clark's thread:

I can't help but show you this miniature hand crank machine (yes, it works) even though I do not have maker, model, or date information.  This is not the best photo of it, but it is the only one I have in which you can compare its size to the gentleman that is holding it!  I dub it "The Lilliputian":

However, the sewing machine that really charmed me (and made me green with envy, pun intended) was this perfect mint green Elna Junior from 1956, pictured next to its original red tin case:

The machine has all of its original parts and includes a working music box!  Can you imagine a little girl sitting down to sew while listening to the Blue Danube waltz?

Here's another view of the machine, case, and contents from a mint green model owned by the Brussels Toy Museum:

photo (c)Musée du Jouet de Bruxelles
I can't confirm this tidbit of information, but I heard that only 45,000 of these toys were made in 1956, and of course that makes them scarce today.

It took some searching but I found a You Tube video in which you can see (and hear!) a dark green Elna Junior with a working music box:

I wish that toy sewing machines were as beautifully made today; the examples I've shown you above work and are actually useful.   I don't need another sewing machine, but I'd love to have one a  mint green Elna Junior.  If you find one in good working order and want to part with it be sure to drop me a line!


  1. I can see why you were charmed by the Elna. What a cute little machine!

  2. Hi I have one if these, I'm in the UK so postage may be a nightmare, but I am looking to sell it. I have everything except the instructions. The metal case no longer stays closed on its own, please let me know if you are interested. Thanks Kerri x


I love to read your comments! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me.

If you have a question for me or would like a personal response, be sure to allow email replies in your Blogger profile or just leave your email address in your comment.

Have a great day!