Thursday, November 19, 2009

Necchi Mirella

A few months back, I spotted a Necchi Mirella on eBay. As is so often the case, the photos were few, dark and fuzzy. It was difficult to know what I was bidding on, but I was eager to see one of these machines up close. The very unusual thing about the Mirella is that it is designed for both motorized and hand crank operation. Switching between the two is simple and requires nothing more than loosening the motor clutch, pushing in a button and attaching the crank.

In no particular order, here are some things I've learned about the Mirella:
  • Straight stitch only, with reverse
  • Rotary hook
  • Mirella-specific bobbins required; no longer made and very scarce
  • Low shank, but Singer attachments don't seem to work well
  • Motor is difficult to access
  • The body is made of aluminum, so the machine is extremely light and easy to carry
  • The free arm is accessed by unscrewing a knob underneath the machine and removing the extension. A separate cover is provided to protect the bobbin area.

Accessing the gear area on a Mirella, or on one of its sisters (such as the Lydia or the Silvia), requires loosening a set screw in the knob located in the middle of the handwheel. Then the knob can theoretically be unscrewed by holding the handwheel steady with one hand and loosening the knob with the other. In actuality, this proved very difficult. I eventually got the knob free by removing the set screw, oiling with Tri-Flow through the set screw hole, cushioning the knob with a rubber jar gripper pad, grabbing the pad with pliers and applying force. It took some effort!

With the end plate removed, you can see the very simple inner workings of the machine. If this were a Lydia or a Silvia, you would see the nylon camstack between the top and bottom gears. This camstack is very often cracked and is no longer made. It is my understanding that repairs are all but impossible. If the crack is small, the machine can often operate and perform some of the stitches but not the ones controlled by the cracked area.



12 comments:

  1. Love your Mirella. I have a green one. Not working. I have the crank, bobbin case, and at least one bobbin. I did not know that bobbin were hard to find. I am "Sew Cool" on Pattern Review.
    Sew Cool

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  2. I got one of these machines at a garage sale, it was a mess, but after cleaning it up it is beautiful. Unfortunately it is missing both the timing belt and motor belt. Can't find anywhere. has everything else including manual and a bunch of bobbins. Any clues where i can get the belts, looks like the lugs are larger then most.

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  3. hello,

    I read your articles on PatternReview.com.

    I got a Mirella one but the handcrank is not fonctional. It feels like stuck by gear wheels but cannot find where the problem is. Would you pls share informations about this.......:)

    Thank you & have a nice day.

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  4. Hello!
    I am trying to find a bobbin case for my Mirella.
    Do you think it would be that difficult to alter another bobbin case to make it fit this one? By a machinist or gun smith, say?
    I have not seen the bobbin case yet to even know how different looking they are to another kind.
    I would really like to get mine to work!
    And perhaps get the machinist to also make me a handle--it kinda looks like a bent metal straw, doesn't it?
    Thanks!!!

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  5. Hello,

    Love your detailed article about mirella,
    I also got one but cannot move either by manual or electronic way.
    The repairman said it misses the motor belt which should be the yellow one near bottom.
    Now I'm trying to find the belt but it's really hard. Would you please provide photo with complete belt? or provide the number of teeth & size?
    Thank you~:)

    ReplyDelete
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  9. I know you wrote this review a few years ago, but do you still use and love your Mirella? I'm beginning to want one as my take-along sewing machine..... One happens to pop up on my local CL, but it is so high priced that I'm just waiting to see if the seller would eventually lower the price. Anyway, after using it for a few years, what do you think? Was it worth the investment? Do you still use it? By the way, I adore your blog and all the dresses you are making. Very envious of your talent, your sewing studio, and the fact that you get to spend much time in it! Lovely!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. UrbanRecyclist, thanks for the sweet compliments! In return, let me save you some money: no, I wouldn't recommend the Mirella at this point, except as an art object. With the help of my friend McKenna Linn I did get it operating properly. As a motor-driven machine, it is rather loud and rumbly. There is nothing special about the stitch. As a hand-crank, it's a hand crank. I love the romance of these, but I've found that I only use them for teaching kids or first-time sewers. They have a real gee-whiz fun factor, but for the type of sewing I do, they aren't really practical. For one thing, the portability doesn't help me, since I always seem to need an iron and my serger.

      My current hand crank is a pink Atlas with a reproduction crank. It is much smoother and easier to crank than the Mirella, and it's very rugged. Unfortunately it's also quite heavy! The crank comes from Stitch in Time on eBay, and it can be added to lots of different vintage machines with external motors.

      If you are interested mostly in the portability rather than the hand crank, Janome has some good lightweight modern machines. In vintage, a Singer Featherweight seems like a good compromise between size and usability, though I haven't had one of them. There are other neat vintage portables (Elna Grasshopper and Lotus, for example), but those are more difficult to find parts for, which I do think is an important consideration. I had a Lotus that I also ended up selling. Like the Mirella, it was rather loud and the sewing area felt cramped to me.

      The Mirella ended up going to live with McKenna, who collects Necchi and wanted it just to have it.

      Now I don't have a grab and go machine. I finally figured out that I don't seem to need one. For the past year I have been using my Juki F600 and my Pfaff 130 in an industrial table and I'm quite happy with those two. The Juki is certainly portable, but large, and I never take it anywhere. Thanks for asking and I hope that helps!

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the detailed feedback on your experience with the Mirella. Ok, I don't feel so bad that I missed the opportunity to get a pink Mirella.(within a day, it disappeared from the CL post, so I think it sold) It was SO expensive anyway. The hand crank option, though as impractical as it may be, is indeed romantic and one of these days I'd like to convert one of my machines to a hand crank and if and when power goes out, I'm going to take it out and suddenly start sewing!

      I have a featherweight which I just bought this month, but I'm wanting a Kenmore 158-1040, for its zigzag ability as well as its smallish yet all metal portability. I shall see what I will end up with. Thank you again for your help!

      Delete
  10. I have a pink Mirella sitting here in pieces for the second time. It showed up at my house many years back, someone had given it to my mother and she said it needed some work. It was frozen, the belts had turned to course sand in the bottom of the machine and the power cord was cracking along the entire length.

    I did get it unfrozen and got the crank to work. I picked up a timing belt but never could find a motor belt. Today, for grins I guess, I took it apart once more to get at the motor. And to re-oil it so it doesn't freeze up again. It's my understanding that the motor belts are difficult to find due to the custom size of the pulley. I'm going to see if I can replace the unique pulley with a more standard one and then see if I can find a motor belt that will work.

    I have a Necchi BU Nova as well. Also a several singers including the feather weight. Yes, likely I'm due for an intervention.

    ReplyDelete