I confess, I got bitten by the Necchi bug a few years back, mainly drawn by the sleek Italian styling. I don't know what it is about Italian styling; I recently saw some pictures of Italian fighter planes and battleships ... and they looked sleek as well!
My first Necchi was a Lydia. I enjoyed just looking at it so much that I had to try and complete the set.
Necchi machines went through four phases. Early models are plain -- but are attractive in a strong, utilitarian kind of way. These models are noted for their toughness and strength and include models like the BU, the BU Nova and the BU Mira. These all-metal machines already contain the "hump" in the head that smooths out in later models.
A second phase starts to smooth out the lines -- including models like the Lelia, the Lycia, and the Supernova. The Supernova was a top of the line machine and was comparable to the best anyone else could produce.
The third phase is the most beautiful -- these are the sleek-lined Mirella, Lydia, and Sylvia. These machines have an internal camstack and look like race cars. I believe they were produced in the 60's and 70's. The Sylvia represents the ultimate in this line.
Even though Necchi's were big hits in Europe, they never really took off in America. Necchi quit producing Italian machines and began importing a fourth phase of ordinary-looking machines from Japan and rebranded them. Eventually, Necchi went away; the line is now carried by Allyn International.
The new Necchi's may be good machines -- I don't know. I know they don't have the appeal and personality of the older Italian charmers.
Necchi produced two different models of the Sylvia -- the Multimatic and the Maximatic. The Maxi offers a few more stitches -- I have a Maxi and will be posting it soon.
Here's a threading diagram, plus it contains lots of information on the bobbin and the automatic needle threader.
The Sylvia is a free-arm machine; the sewing table base pulls off to reveal the free arm and the bobbin compartment.
The base also contains storage space for bobbins, needles, feet, and things like that. The table base and the sewing machine case are all metal.
Here's the bobbin and bobbin compartment. You press the little switch to the left of the door to open the compartment. I don't think my bobbin is exactly the same as the bobbin mechanism described in the above treading diagram. Mine sites in a little case -- it's a drop in bobbin, but you have to drop it into the case. If you look at the open compartment door, you see a round silver thing. This is a floating cover that will cover the bobbin when the door is closed.
I haven't figured out how to adjust the tension -- I did buy a Silvia manual (easy to find on the internet), but misplaced it (story of my life). The machine's still very usable -- any adjustments I would make are very, very minor.
The power switch sits on the rear portion of the machine. It's a rocker switch that offers three positions. The middle position is "Off"; the two extreme positions offer a "Maximum" and "Minimum" setting -- or Fast/Slow, Regular/Extra Torque. I haven't had to sew anything particular thick yet, but will use the "Slow/More Power" setting if I need to.
There aren't a lot of stitches on the Multimatic -- straight, zig-zag, three-step zig-zag, hemming, five step buttonhole (four step with a re-enforcing stitch), plus a couple of reenforcement stitches I can't figure out. You select the stitches by the top handwheel on the right side of the machine.
The two knobs on the front of the machine vary stitch width and stitch length. I didn't measure the maximum stitch length/width, but it's a little wider than the max on my Bernina 830. I'd guess 6 MM or so.
There's also a push-down bar on the front of the machine underneath the two width/length knobs. This bar kicks the machine into reverse when held down.
Here's a view of the machine from the right-hand side. The top handwheel selects the stitch pattern; the botton handwheel is the normal handwheel that brings the needle bar up and down.
The bobbin winder is to the right of the bottom handwheel. When you put a bobbin on, the needle bar gear automatically disengages. Winding does not stop automatically; you have to stop when the bobbin is full.
And a view from the rear -- two spindles for thread spools. The lever on the right side of the picture raises the presser foot.
Note the top thread tension adjustment wheel on the top of the head. It's easier to reach and read from the rear of the machine. When I'm sitting in front of the machine, I have to stand up to see what the tension is set to. Still, it's easy to reach and easy to adjust.
I have to set my top tension looser than the recommended "3" mark. If I keep it at "3", my top thread will break. Might suggest taking a look at the tension spring or wheels. I'll probably leave it as is, though. It works fine at a lower tension ... plus I follow the "If I don't touch it, I can't break it" philosophy!
I don't have a project ready for this machine right now -- am getting ready for some heavy travelling. When I get back, I'll prepare a sewing project and will post the results -- so check back in a few weeks!
I still wanted to let you see the stitches -- so here're some straight's and zig-zag's (including three-step) through some denim. The machine's not as quiet as a Viking, but it's not all that noisy.
There's plenty to love from a straigth appearance perspective -- this is a beautiful machine and it's pleasant to sew on a beautiful machine.
From a sewing perspective, the only thing I don't like are the two handwheels. I'm "programmed" to reach for the top handwheel to adjust the needle bar. I'll turn the wheel, then hear clicks because the top wheel is the stitch selector! I wish these two were reversed.
Other than that, the machine performs wonderfully. These are not real common machines -- you might see one or two a year pop up on Ebay. They go fairly cheap when they do appear, though. I got both of my Sylvia's for about $50 each.