Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Hoard to Herd: The Italian Necchis

It had been quite a while since I worked on any sewing machines, but I got back into the swing recently.  And it's about time to get back to blog basics.

The Hoard:  My supply of vintage and antique sewing machines that I MIGHT work on someday.  Untested and uncleaned.  Just waiting for me.  Because when you get the urge to work on machines, it is good to have 50 or so just hanging around waiting for you.  And in this hoard were a bunch of Necchis.  Pronounced, if you are an American "neck' ee".  Everything sounds classier in Italian, so if you know how to pronounce this in Italian, spell it out for us in the comments.

I recently dug out ALL the Necchis I have been hoarding and checked them all out.  All passed and are now part of...

The Herd:  Vintage machines that have been cleaned, oiled, lubed, tinkered with, and tested until working perfectly.  Some of these I think I will keep.  Some I plan to sell.  And sometimes I keep them until EXACTLY the right person turns up who obviously needs a specific machine.

Necchi BU Nova

There are actually three of these, one plain old BU and two BU Novas.  I can see some mechanical differences but I really know nothing about Necchis.  

Except for the fact that all these Italian Necchis just blew my socks off.  If you have only ever sewn with a vintage Singer, bless its heart, it's like the difference between driving an ordinary car and driving a Mercedes.  Not the best analogy, Ferrari would get the country right.  But I have never driven a Ferrari and I used to own a Mercedes.  It was 15 years old when I bought it and it consumed 10% of my gross income keeping it on the road the one year I owned it but it WAS a Mercedes and it was a dream to drive.

The BUs reportedly are great to treadle and I do have such plans.  One of them was sold to me as a parts machine and was partially disassembled.  I reassembled it and it works just fine.  I re-dis-assembled it and have plans to paint it and keep it for treadling.  Once I'm satisfied with this I will sell the other two.

BTW, the word "plans" always means:  something that may or may not happen at an indeterminate future time.

It's easy to spot a zigzag machine:  more than one knob or lever!

Necchi Nora

I don't ever discuss price on the blog, either buying or selling.  Let's just say that I didn't have to think twice.  And it's pink.  That 1950's is-it-pink-or-is-it-beige color.

At checkout the clerk said, "oh, you got the Nietzsche machine."  A mistake I have heard several times, which I why I am telling you all this so you can be spared embarrassment.  For the correct pronunciation of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, click here.  You're welcome.

It didn't come with cams, but I found some on eBay.

Two-speeds!  One for speed, one for power.

Necchi Julia Supernova

I have really slowed down in machine acquisition (meaning less than a dozen so far this year) and have gotten rid of a bunch (half as many as acquired, as per usual).  This was one I could not resist.  And it was in a beautiful and very large midcentury modern desk which I regretfully left behind.  Just.  No.  Room..

The bobbin cover slide plate was missing.  I set up an eBay search and in about 2 months one popped up at a very reasonable price.

It came with ALL the goodies.  This is why I took a chance, spent more than my usual top price, and didn't mind a bit even considering that missing slide plate.  ALL the goodies.

All the cams, one of which claims to be a buttonholer and looks like it would take an engineering degree to master. (top left)

All the stitch designs are shown on this wheel, which you can turn to discover the correct cam and settings.

Flip the wheel over and there are even more stitch designs shown on the reverse.

And lots of feet too.

Necchi Free Arm Supernova

I don't have as many photos of this one as of the Julia, and wonderful as the Julia is, this one is the reigning monarch of the Necchi herd.  Why?  Two words

Free Arm

And another full kit of gear.

Only one thing could make this better.  It could be not gray.  Gray, my least favorite color.  I'm pretty sure this also came in pink.  And I have heard that it came in lavender.  Lavender!

* * * * * * * * * *

Are any of these going in my (possible) Christmas CraigsList sale?  Not on your life.  Eventually, after I paint one of them, the other 2 BUs can go.  Some day.  If that ever happens, I'll offer them to my fellow fanatics around here first.

Some day I will meet someone who NEEDS that Nora.  I'll know it when it happens.  It'll be someone I know, not a stranger from CraigsList.  This is the real reason I have 100 sewing machines.  I get such a thrill out of matching the right machine to the right person.

The really high end ones with all the bells, whistles and attachments?  Hoarded, like a dragon with her gold.  But eventually probably converted to money.  It's the sale of machines like these that keep this a more or less self-funding hobby.

Any Necchi fans out there?  I have been told that they tend to freeze up if not used regularly because the engineering is so tight (you can insert a better technical term there) that if the tiniest bit of oil dries, it seizes.  All of mine were turning when purchased and were oiled on the way in the door, but then sat for two or more years on the shelf.  And all turned freely when I got them out.  What is your experience with Necchis?


  1. I have two black BUs that I treadle and a pink BF that I keep at church for the quilt ministry. For years I did almost all my quiltmaking on the BUs. They are wonderful machines, and I’m glad you have a few.

  2. I have 14 of them at last count, including a Necchi BF (straight stitch) and a Necchi BV industrial (also straight stitch and set up as a treadle). Those two are my daily or almost-daily machines. They are indeed like Italian race cars. My heart goes pitter-pat every time I sit down to sew on one. Keep them in your herd. :)

  3. Might the freeze-up depend on what oil was used?

    1. Cheryl is right--Necchis do tend to freeze up because of the tight tolerances, and less so because of the oil. (The Necchi manuals do warn against using olive oil as a lubricant, so there must have been more than a few Italian housewives trying that, LOL.) Even when mine are cleaned up and running as though they have just come off the factory floor, they do need to be oiled more often than my other sewing machines--as often as every time I sit down to use the machine, if I am sewing a lot.

  4. Thanks for all the info! There was a Necchi listed at an estate sale here last weekend. I covered my eyes and resisted (no room, too many machines, blah, blah), but now I might be on the hunt for one!

  5. I just got a Necchi BU Supernova at a Rummage Sale. It's my first experience with one, and I'm amazed! There is such a difference from the American made vintage machines! If you are on facebook, consider joining the Necchi Sewing Machines group. They have manuals available for most of the machines, and I have learned so much already.

  6. I have 3 Necchis (one is a toy). I haven't cleaned up the other two. One of these days......I think I'm at the stage that I just want to downsize, and keep my favorites.

  7. Hi,
    I have a Blackside 221 that I cleaned the bed on. I was told to use thinned down Simple Green. BIG mistake. Took my center of the bed decal down to no color, and I'm pretty sure it went through some clear coat. I don't plan on selling it or anything, but the dullness in some areas bothers me. I ordered decals from Keeler that are more like stickers, to replace the center one. I thought maybe that would help me not not to notice so much. They don't have to be clear coated. I'm too scared to refinish it. Is there any way to make the dullness go away? I did use carnuba wax, but I still see it. I appreciate your taking the time to read this. Thank you, Pam S.

    1. Pam,
      Your Blogger account is set to "no reply" so I have no way of contacting you directly. And yes, I DO have a suggestions
      but it is a controversial one that I would not stand behind in all cases so I will not publish it here. If you see this message and contact me through my email cherylwarren27278@gmail.com I will answer.


  8. Janet Szabo (see above) had extolled the virtues of her Necchis so much on her blog that I bought a BU Mira with the decorative stitch, cam-controlled Wonder Wheel. The Necchi is my favorite zz machine, while the Singer 201K is my favorite straight stitcher.

    John Thomas in NC


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