Elna (Swiss company)

Last updated
Elna International Corp. SA
Type Société anonyme
Industry Sewing and textile machines
Founded1934;86 years ago (1934)
FounderAndré Varaud, Dr. Ramon Casas Robert
Headquarters
Meyrin, canton of Geneva, Switzerland [1]
Area served
Worldwide
Parent Janome
Website www.elna.com

Elna is a Swiss brand and former manufacturer of textile machines, including fabric presses and sewing, overlock and coverstitch machines. [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] Elna sewing machines are included in the collections of the Museum of Design, Zürich, Tekniska museet, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. [7] [8] [9] [10]

Contents

History

A Tavaro-made artillery fuze, Hameenlinna Military Museum, Finland Artillery fuze Hameenlinna 1.jpg
A Tavaro-made artillery fuze, Hämeenlinna Military Museum, Finland

The firm began as Ateliers Mécaniques de Précision Tavaro SA, founded as an export division of the Tavannes Watch Company (today part of Sandoz). [11] The company was known for high-quality clockwork artillery fuzes, which saw use most notably in the German 88mm anti-aircraft gun. Tavaro was once responsible for a full 11% of Swiss military sales to Nazi Germany. [12]

When the Swiss federal government restricted, then banned, exports of war materiel, Tavaro shifted to peaceful industry. At first, the factory exported watch parts & movements to the United Kingdom, in violation of wartime trade restrictions, for which the firm was recognized by the British government. [13]

The "Grasshopper"

Tavaro's first sewing machine had no official name - just a model number (500890) - but it was consistently referred to in sales literature simply as Elna (without a definite article). [14] [7] The creation of Dr. Ramon Casas Robert, [lower-alpha 1] a Spanish engineer, a working prototype was reportedly complete as early as 1934, but development was interrupted by the Spanish Civil War, and Casas was forced to emigrate to Switzerland. [15] Living in a Geneva hotel room, lacking capital or equipment, Casas sold his patents to Tavaro through a holding company, and the first Elnas left the factory in 1940. With most of Europe's manufacturing economy still devastated, Elna's market position was very favorable as post-war demand for sewing machines rose. Within a year, Elna International Corp. SA had been entered into the cantonal company register, though export did not begin in earnest until after the end of the war. [15] [16] [17] [1]

The first Elna, removed from its metal case Elna no. 1.jpg
The first Elna, removed from its metal case

Elna was a radical departure from its competitors, and its success permanently changed the home sewing machine market, introducing features now considered standard. Its most significant innovation is its free arm, a feature previously found only on industrial sewing machines. A free arm houses the machine's feeder and bobbin driver in a tubular arm-shaped bed, enabling material to be wrapped around the mechanism during sewing rather than simply resting on top of it. A free arm greatly simplifies sewing tasks like darning and hemming on delicate fabrics and difficult-to-reach seams - uses for which Elna was heavily advertised. Elna's drop-in rotary hook runs with little movement or noise, unlike oscillating shuttle machines popular at the time, which require a bobbin case and vibrate at high speeds due to air resistance.

Casas also recognized that "when a woman finishes sewing she wants to get the machine out of the way," [4] so Elna was designed to be portable and easily stored. It weighed less than 7 kg thanks largely to a body made from molded aluminium instead of heavy cast iron. Though sewing machines had been traditionally japanned in black with gold decals, Elna was finished in a distinctive matte green, giving rise to the machine's popular nickname, the Grasshopper . Its carrying case even doubles as an extension table, another widely imitated feature that would eventually become an Elna trademark.

Elna sold for US$179 when introduced in the US. [lower-alpha 2] [4] It was phased out beginning in 1952 with the release of the Supermatic. Estimates for total production range from 65,000 to half a million. [18]

Elna Supermatic

Dr. Casas' improved Elna, named the Supermatic, was the world's first home sewing machine with automated reverse feed. [4] [14] [19] Its cam reader, dubbed the Elnagraph, operated with two-sided cams interchangeable with a forked lock nut. [15] [9]

Later models

Decline and modern history

Elna's competitiveness declined sharply as imports from east Asia sharply undercut European manufacturers in price. The company was deregistered in 1995 and later absorbed by Janome. [3]

See also

Notes

  1. According to Spanish naming customs, the first or paternal family name is Casas and the second or maternal family name is Robert.
  2. Equivalent to more than $1,900 in 2019 when adjusted for inflation via CPI.

Related Research Articles

Quilting Process of sewing layers of fabric together to make a padded material

Quilting is the term given to the process of joining a minimum of three layers of fabric together either through stitching manually by hand using a needle and thread, or mechanically with a sewing machine or specialised longarm quilting system. An array of stitches is passed through all layers of the fabric to create a three dimensional padded surface. The three layers are typically referred to as the top fabric or quilt top, batting or insulating material and the backing.

Singer Corporation American manufacturer of sewing machines

Singer Corporation is an American manufacturer of consumer sewing machines, first established as I. M. Singer & Co. in 1851 by Isaac M. Singer with New York lawyer Edward C. Clark. Best known for its sewing machines, it was renamed Singer Manufacturing Company in 1865, then the Singer Company in 1963. It is based in La Vergne, Tennessee, near Nashville. Its first large factory for mass production was built in 1863 in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Sewing machine Machine used to stitch fabric

A sewing machine is a machine used to sew fabric and materials together with thread. Sewing machines were invented during the first Industrial Revolution to decrease the amount of manual sewing work performed in clothing companies. Since the invention of the first working sewing machine, generally considered to have been the work of Elias Howe and Englishman Thomas Saint in 1790, the sewing machine has greatly improved the efficiency and productivity of the clothing industry.

Sewing Craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with a needle and thread

Sewing is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with a needle and thread. Sewing is one of the oldest of the textile arts, arising in the Paleolithic era. Before the invention of spinning yarn or weaving fabric, archaeologists believe Stone Age people across Europe and Asia sewed fur and skin clothing using bone, antler or ivory needles and "thread" made of various animal body parts including sinew, catgut, and veins.

Bobbin lace Handmade lace

Bobbin lace is a lace textile made by braiding and twisting lengths of thread, which are wound on bobbins to manage them. As the work progresses, the weaving is held in place with pins set in a lace pillow, the placement of the pins usually determined by a pattern or pricking pinned on the pillow.

Machine embroidery

Machine embroidery is an embroidery process whereby a sewing machine or embroidery machine is used to create patterns on textiles. It is used commercially in product branding, corporate advertising, and uniform adornment. It is also used in the fashion industry to decorate garments and apparel. Machine embroidery is used by hobbyists and crafters to decorate gifts, clothing, and home decor. Examples include designs on quilts, pillows, and wall hangings.

Brother Industries Japanese multinational electronics and electrical equipment company

Brother Industries, Ltd. is a Japanese multinational electronics and electrical equipment company headquartered in Nagoya, Japan. Its products include printers, multifunction printers, desktop computers, consumer and industrial sewing machines, large machine tools, label printers, typewriters, fax machines, and other computer-related electronics. Brother distributes its products both under its own name and under OEM agreements with other companies.

Embroidered patch

An embroidered patch, also known as a cloth badge, is a piece of embroidery which is created by using a fabric backing and thread. The art of making embroidered patches is an old tradition and was originally done by hand. During the first half of the twentieth century they were commonly embroidered using a shiffli embroidery machine. High-speed, computerized machines have led to mass production.

Janome is a Japanese company that produces sewing machines, with manufacturing plants in Japan, Taiwan and Thailand.

Elna Baker is an American writer and comedian. She is also an producer for the radio program This American Life. She has performed her humorous stories for The Moth, BBC Radio 4 and Studio 360. In October 2009, Penguin Books published her book The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance, which chronicles her experience as a young, single Mormon living in New York City.

Allen B. Wilson

Allen Benjamin Wilson (1823–1888) was an American inventor famous for designing, building and patenting some of the first successful sewing machines. He invented both the vibrating and the rotating shuttle designs which, in turns, dominated all home lockstitch sewing machines. With various partners in the 19th century he manufactured reliable sewing machines using the latter shuttle type.

The Singer Model 27 and later model 127 were a series of lockstitch sewing machines produced by the Singer Manufacturing Company from the 1880s to the 1960s.. They were Singer's first sewing machines to make use of "vibrating shuttle" technology. Millions were produced. They are all steel and cast iron, and were built before the advent of planned obsolescence, and so they were designed to be repaired rather than replaced. Consequently many remain today, some in collections and others still in service. In company literature they were called "the woman's faithful friend the world over".

Erik Wallenberg

Erik Wallenberg was a Swedish engineer. He is credited for inventing the Tetra Pak tetrahedron packaging in 1944.

Singer Featherweight

The Singer Featherweight is a model series of lockstitch domestic sewing machines produced by the Singer Manufacturing Company from 1933 to 1968, significant among sewing machines for their continuing popularity, active use by quilters and high collector's value.

Evert Endt French designer

Evert Endt is a French designer.

Elna Borch

Elna Inger Cathrine Borch was a Danish sculptor.

Schiffli embroidery machine

The schiffli embroidery machine is a multi-needle, industrial embroidery machine. It was invented by Isaak Gröbli in 1863. It was used to create various types of machine embroidery and certain types of lace. It was especially used in the textile industry of eastern Switzerland and Saxony Germany, but also in the United Kingdom and the United States. Schiffli machines evolved from, and eventually replaced manually operated "hand embroidery" machines. The hand embroidery machine used double ended needles and passed the needles completely through the fabric. Each needle had a single, continuous thread. Whereas the schiffli machine used a lock stitch, the same technique used by the sewing machine. By the early twentieth century schiffli machines had standardized to ten and fifteen meters in width and used more than 600 needles.

Johan (John) Anders Lundqvist was a Swedish sculptor.

Douglas Forsythe Kelley

Douglas Kelley American Industrial Designer, who designed the T-chair and the Elna Lotus sewing machine.

References

  1. 1 2 "Internet-Auszug: Elna International Corp. SA". Registre du Commerce du Canton de Genève. Registre du Commerce du Canton de Genève. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  2. " Swiss Technics. Swiss Office for the Development of Trade. 1962. p. 50. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  3. 1 2 Cox, M. (2008). The Quilter's Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide. Workman Publishing Company, Incorporated. p. 127. ISBN   978-0-7611-3881-5 . Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. March 1950. p. 40. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  5. tide, the newsmagazine of advertising, marketing and public relations. 1948. p. 78. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  6. Dodson, J.; Ahles, C.; Stocker, J. (1989). Know Your Elna . Creative machine arts series. Chilton Trade Bk. Pub. ISBN   978-0-8019-7872-2 . Retrieved November 14, 2017. 237 pages.
  7. 1 2 "Nähmaschine, Elna, 1940". Museum für Gestaltung Zürich eGuide. Zürich University of the Arts. 2014. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  8. "Elna Lotus sewing machine, 1965". Museum of Modern Art online collection. Museum of Modern Art . Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  9. 1 2 ""Transforma" Sewing Machine". Philadelphia Museum of Art permanent collection. Philadelphia Museum of Art . Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  10. "Typ. 500890 Elna nr. 1". Tekniska museet permanent collection. Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology . Retrieved 16 August 2019.
  11. Bénédict Frommel (8 August 2011). "Tavaro". Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz HLS. Swiss Academy of Humanities & Social Sciences.
  12. Hug, Peter (2002). Schweizer Rustungsindustrie und Kriegsmaterialhandel zur Zeit des Nationalsozialismus (Swiss arms industry & trade during Nazi times). Chronos Verlag. ISBN   978-3-0340-0611-8.
  13. Picard, Jacques (2000). La Suisse et les Juifs, 1933-1945. Lausanne: Éditions d'en bas. p. 546. ISBN   2-8290-0245-8.
  14. 1 2 3 4 5 Sewing Machines: Historical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Institution Collections . Smithsonian Institution Libraries. 2001. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  15. 1 2 3 Godfrey, Les (2008). "History of Elna Sewing Machines". Needlebar.org. Retrieved 19 March 2019.
  16. Kiplinger's Personal Finance. Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc. November 1968. p.  38 . Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  17. Business Week. McGraw-Hill. 1949. p. 38. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  18. "Die hergestellten Varianten der Elna No. 1". graedel.de. Retrieved 19 March 2019.

Further reading