articles, bernina

Purchasing a new machine

serendipity 3rd time with Bernina 1080As you know I work in a quilt shop/fabric shop/BERNINA and brother dealer.


And I’ve not ever tried to hide the fact that I’m a BERNINA girl.  I love my 2 BERNINA 1080’s and do not ever want to give them up.  They are workhorse type machines.  I know their sounds including when the bobbin is running out (if I’m paying attention).  I’ve been jonesing for a new Bernina since the 820 hit the market and now I’d love to get my hot little hands on the 750.  And before you ask NO I am not purchasing a new machine anytime soon.  In part because I love my 1080’s, in part because as a teacher who teaches machine quilting on a regular size home sewing machine I think is important to stay true to who I am as a quilter and in part because I love my 1080’s.  Yes I repeated myself but I do love them.  I’m considering naming them.  One of them I’ve had since December 1995.


Besides the 1080’s being a workhorse and liking the sound of it (which by the way the 750 has a similar sound) there are a few features that I, as a quilter, really like:

needle down (this works in 2 different ways – button on the front of the machine and with the foot pedal)

easily interchanged presser feet

extension tray

feed dogs drop

stitch length drops completely to “0”

bobbin winds easily and evenly

bobbin case is adjustable and I have an optional bobbin case with a slightly longer screw

adjustable tension

foot pedal with excellent control of the motor or an ability to control the machine speed

So what does the title of the post have to do with how much I love my machine?  Well it’s one of those on-going questions that I get from students and customers.  The current issue of Threads Magazine has a question/answer piece and I put this in the Hartsdale Fabrics E-News

Purchasing a sewing machine can be daunting for anyone, in part, because of the variety of machines available, the features and varying prices. The May issue of Threads has a brief article covering this very question. (We have several copies of this issue in store) One of the most important considerations is the dealership where you will be purchasing your machine. The dealer you choose is the person whom you will look to advice on how to use, maintain and get the most out of your machine.

First of all one of the MOST important things in purchasing a new machine is purchasing at a dealership.  Scope them out, check with people find out what they like and don’t like about the shop.  Find out what machines they sell, what the service is like, is the staff knowledgeable.  Does the shop offer classes and what is their focus (i.e. quilting, fashion, home decorating).  Whenever checking out a dealership remember that sometimes the staff have projects that they are working on to share a technique, demonstrate software, what a machine can do, make class samples and they may be doing this on their own time.

Second if you’re not quite sure what direction you’re going with the type of sewing you want to do the sales person is going to ask you a lot of questions.  They’re not being nosy they’re going through a process of determining your needs to help determine what machine of ours would be best for your needs right now.  Down the road you can always purchase up or down.

Third, know your budget.  We can check prices to see what falls into your range.  And yes, have a range.  This gives you way more options and allows us to show you more machines; machines that you can grow into.

Fourth, try the machines out and remember you’re not committed to the first machine you test out.  Feel free to head home do a bit more checking on line and more talking with friends.  This is all part of the process and we know it.  There are very few people who are like me, walk into the shop, spend a couple of hours with the staff and walk out with a machine.

Fifth, make sure you take the class(es) that come with the machine.  Ask questions.  Try your machine out before the class.  I know, I know most of us don’t read technical manuals.  And while those technical writers are doing their best to write for us in a way that we’ll understand it’s my experience that quilters and sewists learn visually and by doing.  You might be the one like me who figures it out on her own with a bit of direction, or not.

Sixth, most machines work the same way from threading, bobbin winding and how the machine takes the stitches. A minor change is how the tension is adjusted, this is very important for quilters to know.   The major changes come in how the bobbins load and the inner mechanics of the machines.  If you’ve got a machine that does embroidery that’s a whole other level of machine.

There are lots of great machines on the market.  If you’re a quilter or going to be a quilter the list I started with is essential.  Anything beyond that list is a bonus.  I’ve quilted king sized quilts on my home sewing machine.  It took a bit of time, a comment from Paula Reid on Simply quilts and lots of determination.   You can do whatever you set your mind to with whatever machine you have.

Yes, I am a BERNINA girl.  I’ll always be a BERNINA girl.  I’ve tried lots of machines, I’ve quilted on lots of machines, I’ve taught on lots of machines and I know without a doubt there are a lot of good machines out there.  I’ll do whatever I can to help you to use your machine (for quilting) and use it well.

That said I’m once again promoting my classes at MQX/New England Quilt Festival, there’s still time to sign up.

Happy Quilting!


3 thoughts on “Purchasing a new machine”

  1. Thanks for this post. I am a new quilter, quilting on my husbands Elna. I am trying to figure out what a decent quilting machine should have and your post helped a lot. Thanks. 🙂

  2. Well said! The most important thing after all the above, is that you and your machine can truly bond. When the machine becomes an extension of your hands and transforms thread and fabric into art, then you are in nirvana!

  3. Just wanted you to know, I wore my 1630, “Bernie,” out. . .her mother board only lasted about 18 years. I did buy a new Bernina. . .the 780. “Maxine” and I are just getting acquainted; but, I am loving her. Still have to do something with Bernie. . .once, I get to feeling better will work on her repair. I, too, am a Bernina girl.

Leave a Reply