Thursday, March 1, 2012

My Italian Boyfriend

Some of you know about my fascination with vintage sewing machines. I have a wonderful, modern Bernina Artista 630 on which I do the majority of my sewing. That said, there is something I love about the sound, the feel and the heft of machines made before 1965. In starting the compassion quilt project at our church I began looking for used machines at thrift shops.
A few weeks ago I found an Italian Necchi BCJ. The Necchi enthusiasts say the Necchi Italian machines were the best ever made, so for $15 I bought it. Languishing in a shed outside the store was a filthy Singer. It was so dirty I couldn’t even tell what model it was. The clerk threw it in for an extra $5. With high hopes I sent the Necchi to a repair shop to get a new motor and power cord. It was repaired and it sews Ok, but still needs some work on tension as it puckers fabric. I spent an afternoon working on the upper and lower tension and it’s still not right. I’m a little disappointed. I thought I would have a new love with this Italian. He just seems a bit fussy to me, just what I don’t need, a high maintenance boyfriend. But you have to admit, he’s got a lot of style going on.

Necchi BCJ

Then I got the Singer out of it’s filthy case, and found a very dirty 301A slant needle machine with years of lint and crud on it. I have had a yen for one of these for several years. I wish I had taken a photo before I began cleaning it.
I spent the morning cleaning and oiling it. It was not locked up, just dirty and in need of oil. After I got everything inside cleaned and oiled, I did a test sew. Perfect! I mean it was a perfect stitch! I had different color thread in the needle and the bobbin so I could analyze the tension, and it was perfect. Unbelievable. Tom put a bit of electrical tape on the cord and this boyfriend was good to go. I’ve ordered a new cord since I have to tape this one on to stay in the machine, but that is minor.  After the initial cleaning, the body still had some stains on it and needed extra TLC.

front before
back before

Having learned in another blog about TR-3 automobile cleaner and polish, I went to work on the stains and rust. This product is amazing.
Here are the after photos

front after

back after
In the world of vintage machines the Singer 301A is known as the big brother to the Singer Featherweight and has the reputation of being trouble free and easy to maintain, more like my kind of guy. Signore Necchi may be history.


  1. Does your necchi have a model number on the back? I can't seem to find anything out bcj. Is it possible it isn't threaded correctly, or that the bobbin is not inserted going the correct direction? How about the tension discs. Have you tried 'flossing' them with embroidery thread or pipe cleaners? I want to help! I wish I could get my hands on it!

  2. The smooth Italian is quite handsome but obviously the Singer is the one with the staying power. good thing you followed your instincts and bought it.

  3. Lot of elbow grease and the right product has that Singer looking good as new. In our area (near Ocala) is The Old Sewing Machine Man... he does repairs and refurbishing. Don't know if Necchi is one he works with. Seems as if you ought to be able to get that tension under control. I'd forgotted about that brand.

  4. If you can't get your Necchi to work for you bring it to me and maybe i can help. I am just north of Ocala, Fl. Here is a link to my web site.

  5. That TR3 did a great job, I have a couple of machines I'll be trying it on. Thanks!