New but old

When I was 16 my mum and dad bought me a sewing machine – a relatively simple Singer, which did straight stitches, zig-zag, buttonholes and about six other fancier stitches. I used it to make skirts, coats, curtains, toys, ballgowns and even the most amazing fully boned purple satin dress to wear for a friend’s wedding. It has been serviced regularly over the years, but in 2018 it became clear that it was struggling and no longer up to the jobs I wanted it to perform – most notably zig-zag stitches in jersey fabric. I dithered about getting a new one because I really didn’t want anything too complicated or that relied on electronics, and so I made do.

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A mechanical marvel

However, back in the summer we were discussing sewing machines at Knit Night and one of the ladies mentioned her old Bernina 830 and what fabulous machines they are. She explained that secondhand models were greatly sought after and worth looking out for, but, even so, relatively easy to find because they were so well built and so long-lived. I searched ebay and finally found what I wanted in a location where I could go and collect it. And so, on my way back from the Crochet Sanctuary weekend, I picked up my new (old) machine. Indeed, it is actually older than my Singer. The lady selling it told me it had belonged to her late mother, who bought it new… and for which there was the original paperwork. Not only that, but she had the original cabinet for it that she also offered me, and for which I made a donation to a charity she selected. The cabinet is brilliant, with a platform that allows the machine to drop down inside at the flick of a lever.

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Complete with cabinet

Having had the same machine for 35 years, it has taken me a while to get used to a different set-up. Nevertheless, it has turned out to be a great purchase. The first thing I made with it was Sam’s t-shirt, but I’ve progressed on to more complex things and am finding it a joy to use. It has needed no more than a quick clean and the application of oil to get it working smoothly. I haven’t tried sewing jersey fabric yet, but my current project involves lots of layers of fabric/interfacing and it’s turning out to be a breeze, so fingers crossed for future projects.

I’m so pleased to have avoided buying a brand new machine, and the lady I bought it off seemed delighted that it was going to a home where it would once again be cherished. Hurrah for well made tools that can last more than one lifetime.

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18 Comments

  1. Hurrah indeed! Long ago, when my original second hand sewing machine died of old age and incontinence I bought another second hand machine and was so disappointed I would never consider doing so again. My ‘new machine’, carefully chosen for its lack of bells and whistles and splendidly easy threading style is already ten plus years old and going great guns – I expect it will see me out 🙂

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    • I’m very much hoping that I never need to buy another. I originally was thinking about buying a new simple one, but when Annette was able to give me a specific model to look for and offered to help if I had problems (assuring me that it’s possible to do most of the maintenance at home) I decided to give it a go.

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  2. I’m glad to say that I’ve never thrown a sewing machine away. I’ve owned three in my life, and of those, two were already second hand, and I managed to re-home them successfully. I bought my current machine new 12 years ago, and though on occasion I eye other new machines with additional features wistfully, I wouldn’t dream of getting rid of this one; it’s working perfectly and it does 90% of the things I want it to do perfectly. Just because my sewing has become more ambitious, it doesn’t mean I have to retire an old friend. The overlocker I use belonged to the Husband’s grandmother, so is at least 20 years old, but is also working beautifully after a very extensive servicing. New isn’t necessarily better…

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    • My overlocker was new although on reflection I could almost certainly have got one secondhand, but my general sewing needs are simple so this Bernina seemed the ideal choice. I still have the old Singer as a back-up but maybe it will go to a new home one day.

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  3. Heartwarming!

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  4. Have fun with her 🙂

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  5. Jo

     /  January 2, 2019

    Fantastic! How nice to share this knowledge and find one too! I have written the model name down jic 😊🐸 Happy sewing 🧵

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  6. What a lucky find – Berninas seem to be the holy grail of sewing machines.

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  7. What a marvellous find! Happy continued sewing 😊

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  8. What a fabulous find – I simply love my Bernina! Have fun stitching in 2019.

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  9. Shirley

     /  January 2, 2019

    How lovely, enjoy

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  10. I had a second hand Bernina and it was wonderful till it ignited itself and died a death. Enjoy your new to you machine and I for one would love to know what you are sewing please.

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  11. Patricia Collins

     /  January 3, 2019

    Please don’t be tempted to use your Singer bobbins on your Bernina. It’s a false economy. Let them go with the Singer.

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    • When it arrived there was a Singer bobbin in it, but I bought some Bernina ones because I quickly discovered that it did not run smoothly. Interestingly in the box of accessories there were some Singer feet as well as the Bernina ones, so the lady who owned it must also have had a Singer too.

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  12. It was meant to be ~ the right machine within pick-up distance and the fabulous cabinet as well. There will be many miles of happy sewing in your future ☺️.

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