Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thoughts on Mechanical Machines?

So, as I've mentioned, I'm saving up for a new machine. I've been pretty sold on the Bernina Aurora 430, but I've been researching other options in the meantime. One of the things I find distasteful about high end machines is all the unnecessary features. (Don't get me started on all the various crappy alphabet stitches. It makes me crazy.) So I've been looking a bit at mechanical and industrial options. I went down to The City Quilter and had a delightful time trying out the Bernina 1008, a very basic mechanical machine.

It has the same lovely stitch and ease of use as the Bernina Auroras. I really enjoyed sewing on it - there's something about the basic quality of it that appeals to me. The lovely saleswoman helping me owns this machine and loves it. And I found I didn't miss any of the bells and whistles. Also: it's a whopping $1,049 cheaper than the Aurora 430. (Meaning that I have the money saved to buy it now.)

BUT. I have two concerns (neither of which are total deal breakers) that I wanted some input on. The first is that it doesn't have adjustable presser foot pressure. I've seen varying thoughts on this on Pattern Review and elsewhere. Some people think it's a necessity, others have no problem living without it. I have it on my current machine and hardly ever change the pressure.

Secondly, it's a multi-step buttonhole rather than a one-step deal. Now, I don't make a lot of buttonholes. I make bound buttonholes on my blouses and I take my jackets and coats to Johnathan Embroidery to have them professionally done. So I'm not sure if this would make a huge difference to me.

What do you all think? Do any of you have this machine? Do you think it's a wise choice? Thanks for your input!

98 comments:

  1. I never considered a Mechanical Machine! I have a machine collecting dust in my closet that I am terrified of for the same reasons you're not so keen on newer models.

    I would figure that, if you don't really use the adjustable pressure when you have it, it might not be a big difference for you. You would probably have a little trouble with adjusting right away just because it's lacking a feature you DID have (whether you used it or not -- principle of the thing you know) but you'd probably get used to it right quick.

    As for the button-holes, I'm not so familiar with those. How often do you make them specifically? Enough that you could just have someone else do the rest of them? Can you also adjust to the multi-step?

    Perhaps there's a way you can rent a machine so you can try it out more extensively.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I have a Kenmore from the early 70s and I love it. It doesn't do anything too fancy, but I've had it for about 15 years, and it's been in the shop 5 times. Not bad, really. I even dropped it and it was okay.

    For button holes I use one of these: http://cgi.ebay.com/Vintage-Singer-Slant-Needle-Buttonholer-Pink-Case_W0QQitemZ390149480992QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_DefaultDomain_0?hash=item5ad6b8a220 They are amazing. Way better than the multi-step button hole option on my machine. It had different gears for different lengths, and a crank on the side for different widths. Make really pretty button holes. I got mine off of ebay. I don't think there is a modern equivalent.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think you should go for it with such a crazy price difference! I find that generally if there is no concensus (re: the adjustable pressure)and you don't use it much anyway, you can live without it. Button-holes... are a pain. If you don't do them much anyways, it's probably not the end of the world to use the multi-step every once in a while. It sounds like a great machine. I need a new one too... hmm

    ReplyDelete
  4. As far as buttonholes go, I agree with Mirthfairy--the Singer buttonholer makes beautiful buttonholes ... I have the same buttonholer (but older; goes with the Featherweight my mom bought in '47). Did Mrs. Exeter come with one?

    Does the Bernina have a needle threader? You're young, but in 10 or 15 years, you may find (as I did, lol) that the needle threader is a must-have feature on a machine :-)

    I have a Featherweight and a computerized Babylock, a combination that works for me. I had a mechanical Babylock but it wasn't meeting all my needs--I do a lot of quilting, clothing repairs, and home dec, so if you're not into that kind of stuff, the mechanical machine would probably be fine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I would go with the mechanical one. I wish I had gone that route. I don't use the bells and whistles on my 230 Bernina and there's something sturdier about the mechancial varieties. I started sewing on a 1956 Singer. I loved it until I foolishly got rid of it during a lull in my sewing mojo. In my defense, it was a decade long lull, but still. I miss the sturdiness of that Singer.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Last year I saved up for a Bernina after exhausting the limits of an old Singer. I took a trip out to Sew Right Sewing Machines in Queens and had such a great experience learning about the different models and their capabilities (Mary Ann was very helpful, not pushy). I picked up the Activa 230-it has a multi step buttonhole stitch but with memory will reproduce exact matching buttonholes, and yes there is a lame alphabet stitch. I agree with Karyn's comments on sturdiness and I too do not use all the bells and whistles but I enjoy the simplicity in the complexity of this machine and do not regret the purchase one bit.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Pam from South AustraliaFebruary 4, 2010 at 2:47 PM

    Hi Gertie
    I much prefer the old mechanical button-hole. Because you manually turn the garment as you're stitching, the machine is always going forward, as opposed to the one-step buttonholes that go forward/backward automatically. To my mind, that stitching never looks the same when it goes backward. Also, it doesn't matter how many times I practice the one-step buttonhole before attempting it on my garment, it almost always goes pear-shaped when it matters! (Is is just me?). Debbie Cook has a great piece on her blog about the Singer Buttonhole Attachment that others have mentioned: http://stitchesandseams.blogspot.com/2009/07/resurrected.html
    As for the pressure foot adjustment......I've never used mine either so can't see that you would miss that feature. Does it have a walking foot? I'm sure that would take care of any pressure foot issues. I must say though, I couldn't live without the needle threader or needle up/down button on my machine, but if you haven't had these features on your current machine.....You don't miss what you haven't got! Good luck.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My mom sews on a Bernina that's very likely close to 40 years old by now. She swears by it (not at it). She takes it in for preventive maintenance occasionally, and that's all. It has a couple of features that turn me, the owner of a somewhat younger mechanical Kenmore, slightly green with envy. I also have a Singer 201K.... Apart from a pie in the sky wish for really good buttnholes, I've never felt the need for a new improved model.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Difficult decision.
    But if you already had adjustable pressure, even if you didn't use it much - it might feel weird to go back. I never had it before - now that I have it, I use it and it makes some things easier or solves some problems.
    I had a mechanical machine similar to the Bernina you're now looking at (it was a Pfaff) - and even though it served me well for 18 years, I'm glad I got the new one (an Aurora). The button holes on the old machine had to be done in four steps which was actually quite simple and making them didn't bother me at all. BUT they never looked as nice. And my old machine just didn't handle delicate material well, or I had problems if the material got to thick. An the speed was much more difficult to control.
    If I were you I would collect some different material, and try out everything that can be tried out. The most important things to me would be nice and even stiches, the ability to handle more difficult and thick fabric in several layers, and the reliability of the machine.
    I also liked the Bernina Activa, by the way - but I opted for the Aurora since it has some extras which I might want to use at some later stage. Or at least the option to "upgrade" it (for example BSR-foot).
    Maybe you want to take a look at the Activa as well, it's cheaper than the Aurora with some of the more modern extras ;) - not talking about the alphabet, here.
    Good Luck!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Gertie, what stitches do you need? Which do you really use?

    If it's just straight, zig zag and the occasional blind hem stitch, the way to go is vintage. For a few hundred dollars you could get yourself a marvelous vintage Viking (like the popular 6440) or even a vintage mechanical Bernina from some highly reputable sellers on eBay (with the feedback to prove it).

    I sew mainly on a Singer Spartan I picked up for about $30 -- it's a 3/4 size straight stitch that doesn't even come with its own light. I have some mechanical zigzaggers too: a Kenmore, a Necchi, a Singer Genie, a Viking -- all powerful, reliable, easy to maintain machines that get the job done and then some.

    There are so many orphaned machines out there that are PERFECT for a garment sewer. I am another Singer buttonholer fan. Those old contraptions make splendid buttonholes.

    If you are sold on a new machine (sob) I'd choose the less expensive of the two Berninas.

    Just my 2-cents.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Oh, the needle up/down button!!! I forgot! The best and most important, constantly used feature of my non-mechanical machine. I don't ever want to sew without it anymore.
    I find this more useful and time-saving than anything else.

    ReplyDelete
  12. My machine is from the 70s and has the multistep buttonhole feature...it is a pain, let me tell you. I have never used it to make a buttonhole on a finished garment--I can't get them to look nice! But if you won't use it then it doesn't matter, and I never use mine. :) Concerning the pressure foot pressure, I do change mine quite frequently. However, I work with stretch fabric frequently (which required less pressure to prevent fabric warping) and thick layers of material (such as multiple layers of fleece) so for me it's important. I guess it depends on what you will be using it for in the future, if you haven't changed the pressure much in the past.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I can't live without adjustable pressure on the presser foot, when I am sewing knits. I need to reduce it to have very little pressure, or it just stretches the fabric out terribly. Basically, you start a seam and everything is all lined up nice and even. As you sew, the bottom wants to go through faster and the top piece starts stretching out. by the end of the seam, you have to get out the seam ripper. If I only sewed wovens, I'd go with the 1008. I don't use the decorative stitches, but I do use a lot of the utility stitches (again- when I sew knits)

    ReplyDelete
  14. oh and more opinions here... (I have the Aurora 430) I think there are a few options on the 430 that are not on the 1008, like the leg lift and needle-up /needle-down. The leg lift raises the presser foot so you can use both hands to control the fabric. Using needle-down, the needle always stops in the down position which allows you to change direction without slipping even a teensy bit. I dunno, it's up to you ... and i know a thousand dollars is a lot. but I do feel I get a more precise sewing experience on the 430, and a more comfortable /convenient sewing experience. Having said that - if you fall in love with the 1008, you should buy it and take it home and carry on! I know a 1008 will make gorgeous clothing with a great seamstress at the helm.

    ReplyDelete
  15. um, I think what i am calling a leg-lift is really called a knee-lift.

    ReplyDelete
  16. If you want to get a stop gap machine, I would go for a Bernina 1130 or 1230 from ebay. I have an 1130 that I have had for almost 20 years. It is a workhorse. I occasionally lust after a new machine, but if I get one, I will still keep my 1130. It is a computerized machine but its stitch quality is legendary. It is a metal inner parts machine with Bernina's awesome rotary shuttle hook system.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The fancy stitches, I don't use them but I do use the adjustable foot pressure a lot. I do sew knits though, and that makes a difference. I also am saving up for the Aurora 430 for two reasons, the great straight stitch and the buttonholes. I have an equivalent Viking, price wise, and I hate the buttonholes and the straight stitch is shit, so those are what I am looking for in a machine. A decent needle threader would be nice too.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I have a tank of a machine that does little more than go foward backward and side to side. It is my first machine, purchased nearly 20 years ago and I still love it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm not positive, but I think that's the Bernina I always used in theatre costume shops. I've never owned one, but I probably have spent hundreds of hours on them at work, and I'd totally recommend them. I've made everything from bias-draped evening gowns to restoration corsets to vinyl crinolines on them.

    The multi-step buttonholes are actually really easy, and they're way sturdier. Also, personally, I'd never buy non-mechanical machine. Computerized ones make me twitchy.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm partial to mechanical sewing machines. They are sturdy, repairs are easier and cheaper than electronic models. My machines handle all fabrics with ease, from denim to silk.

    I have 2 Berninas (820 and 840), Kenmore 1060 and old pink Atlas with a buttonholer attachment. With the exception of the Kenmore, all of these were bought for bargains on craigslist or thrift shops.

    Also, Bernina feet are expensive but the feet/attachments for the older series are cheaper and are plentiful on craigslist and ebay.

    Consider your current and future needs but also the longterm cost of owning whatever machine you choose. BTW, The Slapdash Sewist owns the Bernina 1008.

    Angie R.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I have a very old elna, and I adore it. I have never actually had a modern machine, but I have used them many a time (in class etc) and I believe they don't really... feel the same. That could just be me though, haha

    ReplyDelete
  22. I don't really have any opinions (since all of my machines are 15+ years old, and hand-me-downs ;), but I would second the opinion to tally up what you really want in a machine. I know one of the reasons I haven't upgraded to a newer machine is because I really don't need the newer features. Even though I lust after things like automatic thread cutters, bobbins that wind themselves, or buttonholes that aren't a pain in the butt to make, I just can't give up my workhorse machines. ;) lol.

    Good luck on choosing one--I'm looking forward to reading about which one you pick!

    ♥ Casey
    blog | elegantmusings.com

    ReplyDelete
  23. I used this very machine for a six-week class I took and was very impressed. Didn't remember thinking it needed adjustable foot pressure but I was mainly making a shirt in that class so for fabric other than cotton possibly it might be necessary. I do think it would be a serious contender if I were looking to buy a new machine. I'm not though- I already have six mechanical sewing machines. But hey- there's a reason I collect them! Mechanicals are a lot more user-serviceable, and there's just less to go wrong in general.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have the Bernina 1008, and I love it. I've had it for about eight years, I think, and never had a problem with it, even though I have not had it in for a check-up for about six years. I like the fact that it's mechanical, and all the parts are metal, as you will discern when you pick it up--it is HEAVY.

    I don't know about the adjustable pressure, but the multi-step buttonholer is really no big deal, and the buttonholes I've made have all been fine, although I don't do as much garment sewing as you do. If you take them in to have them done, then it's probably not a sticking point.

    I have never had a problem with the tension, either. I do occasionally use the decorative stitches, and although I have an inexpensive serger, I will often use the overlock stitch to finish a quick seam, and it's always turned out fine.

    I would recommend the Bernina 1008; in my opinion, it's a durable and excellent machine.

    ReplyDelete
  25. oh btw, others have mentioned the vintage buttonhole attachments you can get- I would say run don't walk to ebay or etsy (um... a figurative walk) to pick one up, it will fit on Mrs Exeter and make you very very happy.
    I did a little video tutorial a year ago showing how they work if you are interested, it's here: http://thisisemilykate.blogspot.com/2009/02/get-yourself-buttonhole-attachment.html

    ReplyDelete
  26. Dear Gertie

    Even though I live in New Zealand we all face the same dilemas when deciding on a new machine. I tried them all but opted for Aurora. It is very solid and I consider needleup/down and needle side movement the most important thing in sewing garments. I don't do a lot of buttonholes but I sure do shift that needle around!
    Cheers from down under
    RobynK

    ReplyDelete
  27. don't you have a featherweight? Just use the button holer attachment on that. Check that the bernina does a reverse stitch when you command - have a pfaff and when put in reverse, it does one forward stitch before going backwards which drives me crazy.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I love a mechanical machine as well, but I have to say that I do use my deco stitches; I use a wing needle and the hemstitches to do fancy work from time to time, and I embellish a few things for my daughter and the doll's clothes I make. However, in terms of the ACTUAL stitches I use for clothing: straight stitch, with variable needle positioning; a range of overcasting stitches (I don't have a serger); blind hem and stretch blind hem (again, no serger); buttonhole (but I agree the vintage buttonholers rock). So on that basis, if you have a serger, and you don't plan to use your deco stitches, then a mechanical is plenty. Also you might be able to trade in later? you could ask your dealer.

    I use a lot of different feet also, and the cost of feet might make a difference to me. On a regular basis I use the ordinary foot; the blind-stitching foot; the overcasting foot; the buttonhole foot; the button foot; the zipper foot; the narrow hemmer foot; the pintucking foot (for invisible zippers mostly); the patchwork foot (for quarter and eighth inch topstitching; and probably some others. Your 1008 only has five feet included, and that's clearly NOT ENOUGH :-)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hey Gertie,

    I have a mechanical Bernina (boxy 80's number) and I swear by it. The multi-step buttonhole is no big deal at all, and I have never ever missed the adjustable presser foot pressure.

    The machine itself is so basic that I can fix most 'issues' with it myself even though I am not a mechanic at all. Just imagine, if the smallest thing goes wrong with your computerised machine, it's off to the shop!

    ReplyDelete
  30. Well, I have not tried my hand at an industrial machine, but I do happen to own a Bernina record 830 (I think that's the model). It's over 30 years old and a lovely shade of cream (not so lovely), but otherwise it looks VERY similar to the photo you've shown. Frankly, I love it. It doesn't have a thread cutter, or many of the bells and wistles as you say. But there's nothing that can quite beat it's metal exterior! :)

    I'm a huge fan of the multi-step button. It makes fixing one portion of the button far easier, and I just feel like I have more control over the buttonhole I'm making. In my opinion, the buttonholes are sturdier too.

    Just my thoughts on the matter! Good luck in your choice.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have an older model Bernina 1230 and a new TOL Bernina also. If I had to choose, I would take the 1230 in a heartbeat! She will take anything I give her and beg for more! I really don't think you can go wrong with a Bernina. The feet are to die for. I have most every foot available for my machines.

    ReplyDelete
  32. ejvc mentioned the paucity of feet that come with the machine, which I think is an excellent point. Thus far, I've purchased a patchwork foot, a darning foot, and a felling (lap seam) foot--they were about $30 or so (each). The walking foot, however, was terrifyingly expensive.

    But again, I don't do anything particularly fancy--e.g., I doubt I will ever need a cording/piping foot--and I only purchase new feet as the need arises, so it's not a huge annual (or even biannual) expenditure. These feet and whatever comes with the 1008 (I can't remember off the top of my head) have served me well.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I actually just bought the 1008 and love it! It is a solid machine (it is heavy!) and the stitches are lovely. I do alterations and hem lots of jeans and this machine really handles them well.

    I haven't had a chance yet to make a shirt on it (though I'm dying to). I had a four step buttonhole on my last machine though so I am used to the process and the couple I have tried on the Bernina are oh so much better than my other machine - without even practicing!

    It does not have needle up/down, but the needle can be put in 5 positions, left to right. I did not have this on my last machine and I just realized that if I had remembered this, a job I did last night would have been so much easier :).

    I did practice on a variety of fabrics from silk chiffon to denim and upholstery fabric and it handled all of them well without being too fussy.

    I agree that the Bernina feet are pricey, but they also have a great selection and alot of the stuff you can do with the basic feet with a little more effort.

    I know over on the blog The Last Stitch, she just asked about whether the Bernina walking foot was worth the money - you might be interested in reading the comments there.

    ReplyDelete
  34. My 2 cents: 1) an electronic machine gives the same "punch strength" to the needle at slow and fast speeds. When you slow down, say, hemming jeans, you want the needle to slam through those layers of denim. A mechanical machine will do that, but you'll have to really hit the gas on it, and as soon as it crosses the bumps, it'll take off running. I opt for the computer machine as I seem to always be doing something like repairing shoes or making mouse pads. 2) I have a Bernina with the multi-step buttonhole. You have to do trials to get the size just right, as opposed to the ones that hold your button to gauge the size, but it makes a MUCH nicer button! 3) MY "can't live withouts: include thread cutter, needle-up, needle-down button, and needle threader.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi there, I haven't read all the comments, so might just be repeating everyone else but had to add my bit as the 1008 is almost identical to the machine I was given for my 18th birthday and which I am still using happily and devotedly, um... 20 years later (that makes me feel very old). Mine has a regrettable eighties pattern printed on it that I'm glad to see they've ditched. Now, I am no WAY near as an exquisite seamstress as you, but I've loved its solidity over the years. It's sort of like the Saab of sewing machines. I've had it serviced twice (once after a loose connection made it start sewing when I was in another room. Yikes! I thought I had sewing poltergeist - but then if you have to have a ghost s/he might as well sew), and have always loved its lack of features - less to go wrong.

    The buttonholes though. Mine are... ok. I put this slightly down to my enthusiastic but erratic sewing. It's simple enough - you clunk round the dial and get there in the end - but my mother raves about the buttonhole on her new singer, in which you insert the button in question and away it goes. I've worked with it fine all these years, but this is a more laborious way of going about it.

    I've never had an issue with the lack of adjustable pressure. But then I'm of the foot down and go school of sewing (with much attendant cursing and unpicking)

    It's a lovely simple blameless machine.

    Am loving the blog, and your infectious enthusiasm (if not for girdles). Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Mechanical machines are great in the fact that they have less that can go wrong. I had Pfaff mechanical and upgraded to the Creative 2.0. Both had the IDT (dual walking foot) which is the nicest feature about all Pfaff's. I use it all the time and it really makes a big difference. I love having an automatic buttonhole available, for kids clothes especially. The multiple step buttonhole takes longer and can be a little tricky in my opinion. Price is really what it come down to. I don't know if your dealer offers a one year trade in program but that would be worth looking into. I got the cheaper model and was able to get every cent I paid transferred to my upgraded machine. That way you can figure out what you really need.

    ReplyDelete
  37. My friend has the 1008. She LOVES IT. I'm not sold on the computerized bells and whistles because in my mind they're more fragile (because I know I'll put my magnetic pin cushion on it without thinking or something equally thoughtless and end up with a dead machine!) but maybe that's just in my head. I think that if its just standard nuts and bolts then it can be fixed without a rocket scientist in some far away land... but again, this could be me fabricating something in my own head. She loves the machine so, so much though, and trust me, she's a hardcore type A personality who researches to no end before she buys anything. Also, there is the added bonus that the 1008 takes the older style presser feet which are usually cheaper!

    ReplyDelete
  38. can you get a compensating foot for domestic machines? i only really use a great big industrial (automatic cut-off, ahhh.... love it), and i have a compensating for for that. i dont know if you know about them, but basically the two prongs of the foot are seperate and can move individualy, and the whole shank is on a spring. theyre especially handy for sewing at 2 different levels, such as around a zip, so one foot-prong can run up on the zipper, and the other can run flat on the fabric around it.

    so i was wondering if it would be possible to use one of these to allow for sewing different thicknesses, seeing as the spring would adjust tension for you? just a thought...

    missalex

    ReplyDelete
  39. Gertie, the first Bernina I ever used on a regular basis was the 1008 and I found it to be a reliable, easy-to-use, very straightforward little workhorse. Back in the 80s I had a mechanical Kenmore that had a similar feel, and I wish now that I hadn’t sold it so I could use it as a back-up machine. However, I think you'll enjoy the features on the Aurora much more than you would a beginner's machine like the 1008. I really love my Activa 220, and consider it the best machine I've ever owned! It’s also just right for my current skill level. Your sewing skills are currently more advanced than mine...go with the intermediate Aurora. You won't be sorry!

    ReplyDelete
  40. Gertie, I just have to say "WOW". Look at all of these lovely comments! So detailed and really trying to give their opinion for you! It is clear that you have a really lovely and devoted following. I hope that this cheers you :)

    I wish that I knew more about sewing machines. I really want a nice new one because the one I have is a very old Kenmore and it doesn't even work anymore. I don't have the money right now to go out and get a new one so I just haven't spent any time looking into it at all. Lastly, I just love your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have 18 mechanical Berninas, all of the 1000 variety, and they're fabulous. Okay okay, I'm a textiles teacher but seriously, I couldn't think of a better, more reliable series of machines. I also have an Activa which I don't let the kids near and it's used almost exclusively for one-step buttonholes.

    I personally have a 20 year old Bernina Sport and even after years and years of use, it still sews like a dream. I have a walking foot attachment for it which was bought cheaply on ebay and that takes care of any knits I wish to sew as well as thick quilts.

    If you don't want the embroidery stitches and are happy to do without a one-step buttonhole, I'd go for the 1008 every time. With attachments, it's every bit as clever as a more expensive model. Mine even has a cut-and-sew serger attachment!

    ReplyDelete
  42. I work for a university theatre department costume shop and these are the machines we use. We use them to teach people who have never sewn (some of whom we soon learn should not be allowed near sewing machines), we make and alter hundreds of costumes a year on them - in short, they get a lot of wear. We have 7 of them, and each one runs so smoothly. I swear, I sound like an advertisement for them, but I really love them so much. As I've never had an adjustable presser foot, I wouldn't know what I was missing, but I am totally fine with the buttonhole process. I think I saw another comment about the one-step ones where it stitches back and forth and I agree that to me, the stitching always seems better when done manually (as long as I do a practice one first!). So, if it were me, I would go for the mechanical Bernina. I am hoping to convince my boss to sell me a used one from our shop for the price they pay for it (as an academic institution) and they can just buy a new one with my money. Seems like a win-win to me...

    ReplyDelete
  43. I have computerized machines (A Viking Designer 1 and a Bernina 1530. I find that the features make all the difference in the world in my sewing pleasure. The piercing power of the computerized machines is much better than mechanicals. If I had to settle for one machine the things that would be on my "must have" list would be: needle down position, knee lift, multiple needle positions (the more, the better), easily changing presser foot pressure and thread tension, a good and consistent buttonhole and a good straight stitch. The mechanical machines I've had all had thread tension problems (newer
    ones probably are better) and the more basic machines did not have available as many of the specialty feet which I find can often make a difficult job much easier. I'm assuming the Bernina 1008 would accept any of the Bernina feet but that would be important, too. Bernina is known for it's well-designed presser feet and they make all the difference in the world with precision sewing.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I learned to sew when I was nine with a good mechanical sewing machine--my mother's 1950s Singer.

    When I grew up I bought a Pfaff 1229, one of the great classics; I use it still. It is an electronic machine, neither mechanical nor computer. After that machine, I would simply never go back to a mechanical machine because I like to have the same amount of power going slowly as I do going quickly, and because I like to be able to stop exactly where I want to stop. In my opinion, the buttonholes on my Pfaff are far superior to the ones on my mother's Singer, but they are 4-step.

    So I bought a Pfaff computer machine ten years ago because I wanted the one step buttonhole. It's great except it has needle up or down that can't be turned off --which means I sometimes get an extra stitch. I don't use any decorative stitches, ever, but you sometimes have to get stuff you don't want to get stuff you do.

    Okay, that's me. if you very carefully tested the mechanical machine, and that's what you like, that's what you should get. Everyone's hands and the brain that goes with them are different.

    ReplyDelete
  45. i have a mechanical machine - an elna stella - and would never even consider owning anything else. it looks similar to the bernina 1008. she has everything i need and nothing i don't. she is cheap to service and i've never had any issues with her going on the 'fritz' or anything (i have seen this happen quite a lot with electronic machines).
    all her parts are metal too. i like that.

    ReplyDelete
  46. I have an old mechanical machine--a Pfaff 1222E. It does everything I need it to do, plus some decorative stitches that I rarely use. And honestly, I don't see the need to switch.

    ReplyDelete
  47. p.s i actually own an elna stella air electronic - i think the electronic bit just allows me to adjust the speed.

    ReplyDelete
  48. @Laura Your machine is the model before my Pfaff 1229. The "e" stands for electronic. That is not a mechanical machine. In my opinion, the old electronic machines have the main advantages of the computerized machines.

    ReplyDelete
  49. I have two mechanical machines and I love them both. Okay, so my old Singer was one of the cheap, plastic ones sold at Wal-Mart, but it always worked very well. I mostly use a Viking now and it is amazing. Great buttonholes (4-step), stitches through anything, came with quite a few feet and only a little loud. But, before I bought it, I did try a few others. You really just have to try and see which one feels right for you.

    ReplyDelete
  50. There are a lot of cents here, but I'll offer my two ones as well:
    - I support the mechanical machines camp. They feel sturdy and easier to fix should something happen.
    - I spent a year sewing on a 1008, and loved it (it was actually how I settled on my own machine, a vintage Bernina. I figured all their machines must be good!)
    - I've never known of adjustable pressure, so I can't say much of that. I didn't think their buttonholes were too bad, and if you don't make too many anyways, perhaps that shouldn't be a big deal.

    I'm not too familiar with the Aurora, but I'd feel confident with a 1008 on my side.

    ReplyDelete
  51. I had a mechanical machine with a four step buttonholer for 15 years and it served me well. After I got married, I finally had enough money to get a computerized machine with an automatic buttonholer. I love it!! Worth every cent I spent on it. 4 step buttonholers are a drag and require lots of measuring and are difficult to get buttonholes that all look the same. I have a Bernina 1630 and a 180 with all the bells and whistles you could ever want. I don't use everything, but I certainly get spoiled with all the stitch options that are available. It took my sewing to a whole new level. I guess there is a technology component to sewing where it either turns you on (like me) or off. I guess the sewing machines as well as fabric (Mmmmm faaaabric) really turn me on...

    ReplyDelete
  52. I have a 1985 Bernina 801 Sport (which is almost identical to the 1008--mechanical, but with fewer stitches and a metal exterior) as well as an Aurora 440, and I love them both. Full disclosure: I also work for a Bernina dealer! The Aurora series have a lot of special features for quilters and home embroiderers that I doubt you'd ever use.

    Have you looked into the Activa 240? It has fewer bells and whistles, but still does the automatic buttonhole (worth the money, I say) and has the needle up/down function, as well as a CFL light (like the Aurora, unlike the 1008) which gives much better lighting. The 240 does not have adjustable presser foot pressure, but that's something I mess with on the Aurora only when I am quilting.

    I love my mechanical machine, but seldom use it because I'm so spoiled on the Aurora's needle threader and needle down function! (Both of which the Activa has...) You may want to check on the 240 the next time you visit your Bernina dealer. It might be the perfect machine for you!

    Whichever you decide on, it'll last for decades. It helps to think about what kind of sewing you'd like to be doing in 20 years, and whether the machine you're looking at will suit you down the line!

    ReplyDelete
  53. I have a Bernina 1008 that I bought a few years ago, and I love it. It's pretty basic and very solid, which is what I wanted. I've never sewn with a machine that has adjustable pressure foot pressure, so I don't know what I might be missing. . .If you want to see what the buttonholes look like, I actually blogged about them here a couple months ago:
    http://birdsnorkel.blogspot.com/2009/11/more-saturday-sewing.html
    I think they are pretty nice and I don't mind the 4-step process, makes me feel like I have more control, maybe.

    ReplyDelete
  54. I have three Berninas and my mom has one. My most favorite by far is Mom's 950 Record. She bought it about 20 years ago and it has the needle up/down function but other than that is fairly straightforward.

    I have a Bernette from about the same era that was my grandma's and is a dream to sew on. And then I bought a 830 off Ebay that I also love.

    My husband bought me an Artista 650 that is lovely....but I could just as well do without it? Shhh! Don't tell him. The best parts of it are the buttonhole function that's computerized, and the cutting function.

    ReplyDelete
  55. Yes, Janet, the "E" does stand for electronic. But it's NOT one of the computerized models. It was state-of-the-art before I was born. I've taken it apart at various times and I'm telling you, E or no E, it's mechanical. I just finished fixing the tension assembly a few months ago in both machines, because they were slipping and giving us uneven stitching. Mom has a 1222 and the innards are the same. I know, I've taken that one apart, too.

    There isn't anyone around here that services old Pfaffs correctly, so we bought an old repair manual and do it ourselves. Eventually, I'm going to have to figure out how to replace the cam in Mom's, because it's cracked. Old plastic and all that.

    It took me a long time and a lot of buttonholes to get them correct on our machines. Sometimes I wish for one of the computerized models that allow ou to drop in the desired button and it makes the buttonhole without any effort on my part, but I love my old Pfaff. Sure, it's heavy and hard to take to my quilting class and it sometimes has a mind of its own, but properly cared for, it should last another fifty years...

    ReplyDelete
  56. Oh, yes... I should say... The 1222 and the 1222E were the last all-metal ones Pfaff made. I think that the cams and a tiny bit of the tension assembly are the only plastic bits in the machines! The instructions are kinda funny... "And it's light at 25 pounds!"

    Three years back, we took Mom's machine into our local sewing machine fix-it place because the tension was behaving funny. Charged us $75 to tell us that it was shot. They said that the drive belt was dying and the top tension assembly was shot. They LIED. The top tension assembly needed cleaned and a drop of superglue to fix. And the "cracked" belt was cracks in the sticker on it! The real problem was that the bobbin case (which is how the bottom tension is handled) was missing a screw. Got 2 new-to-us bobbin cases on Ebay for $25. The cam is still developing a crack, but it still does all the stitches, and we got a replacement for $60 for when it breaks.

    I already cleaned and oiled it, and now it works perfectly.

    My machine was having a few of the same problems--the uneven stitching. Pulled out the tension assembly, gave it a drop of superglue in the right place, reinstalled it, and it sews like a dream!

    ReplyDelete
  57. I have a mechanical Janome and I love it. Totally love it! I sew more than most people, so it does work hard but I love how straightforward and solid it is. There are just a few things I don't like about it and it might be worth looking at these on the Bernina. Firstly, it is slower than the electrical ones. Mostly this is fine, but on long straight sections it really annoys me that I can't get it to go faster. When I am quilting or making handles or belts etc it feels so so slow. I also wish I had bought the next model up which came with a press button for doing 3 stitches in one spot so you don't need to reverse at the start and end of each seam (wouldn't that be luxury? and so much neater!). On that model you could also set it to auto needle up or down when you stopped, another time saver I would have very much liked in retrospect! The multi step buttonholer doesn't frustrate me at all - I have always used multi step ones and they are no drama. Mine does have a needle threader and that is invaluable.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Gertie,
    Given that you love all things vintage, have you thought about one of those trusty old Bernina's? I got my first one in 1970 and traded it in for a free arm in about 1978 - an 830 I think. When I got a new one 10 years ago, I gave the 830 to my daughter and when I sew at her house, I yearn for that old mechanical machine. It's quiet, trustworthy, has a slow speed and a foot control for the pressure feet. Although there are a few things I love about my Virtuosa 150 it will never replace the 830.
    Annette
    http://fabricateandmira.wordpress.com/

    ReplyDelete
  59. My 1229 is NOT a computerized sewing machine.
    However, it handles power differently from non "electronic" machines, like my mother's old mechanical Singer.

    Sewing on the Singer, if I need to sew over a lump where seams intersect, I have to press the pedal hard to get enough power to go over it. With the 1229, I may have to put something under the back of the presser foot so the presser foot is level, but I don't need to press the pedal harder. Pressing the pedal harder makes the machine go faster, not stronger. It's always strong.

    If I am sewing quickly with the Singer and I take my foot off the pedal, it continues sewing. How long depends on how fast I was sewing. When I take my foot off the pedal with the 1229, it stops.

    Machines like mine include the Bernina 830 and 930. There are others but those two were the other machines I was considering when I got my first Pfaff.

    You could say that the 1229 type machines are really mechanical machines with the an electronic feature but it was marketed as a completely different category at the time. (The first computerized machine came out after this wonderful innovation and there was a grand total of one of them when the 1229 came out. )

    My impression was that they don't sell the mechanical machines with the electronic feature anymore and they make you buy an entry level computer machine to get the same control, but in thinking about it I realized I don't know if they do or not :)

    ReplyDelete
  60. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  61. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I'm sorry to keep deleting posts. I was trying to link to a tip on Pattern Review discussing how you can replace the foot pedal on vintage mechanical sewing machines with an electronic foot pedal and gain more control of your machine.

    ReplyDelete
  63. The 1008s are much used in the UK's schools and colleges because they're such great workhorses. I'm not a gizmos girl myself and I love my mechanical Elna. Three weeks ago I would have said I didn't need ajustable presser foot pressure. And then I tried sewing cotton interlock! Yeuch! The Elna does have it, fortunately, and now I'd take some persuading to buy a machine without it.

    ReplyDelete
  64. I used a 1008 when I took a year of garment construction at the local community college. It's a very good machine. The one thing I miss on it is that it doesn't have the knee bar for lifting the presser foot which is a feature I love on my 1090 and 1530.

    The advantage of a mechanical machine is that I think they will last a lot longer. The thing I worry about with my two machines is that if Bernina stops makimg the computer boards for them I'll be sunk if I need a repair.

    ReplyDelete
  65. Having read the other comments, I would also like to add that the 1008 never had any piercing problems with thick fabric or seams.

    Also the one disadvantage it had was that it had an inferior zipper foot -- but it may have been a purchase made by the school to save money. The 1008 certainly could use the regular zipper foot belonging to my other Berninas. I used to bring it from home to use in class. The good zipper foot was one piece. The not so good one, the bottom of the foot snapped into place.

    ReplyDelete
  66. I have a computerized Viking, similar to the Aurora you're looking at. I could not live without being able to change the presser foot pressure. I had a mechanical Elna before and using that when working on anything other than cotton was like doing a wrestling game. I also love love love the automatic needle threader. And needle up/down. I could never go back. I know you won't be sorry if you get the Aurora.

    ReplyDelete
  67. I am saving for a better machine too (i currently have a Janome) .. I am torn between the Bernina 1008 which was recommended to me by a sewing machine mechanic who said that they are fantastic machines which will a) last a lifetime and b) hold their value, and the sewing machine described in this blog post by Florence: http://flossieteacakes.blogspot.com/2009/06/sewing-machine-meme.html which is a Pfaff.

    I really can't decide, so will be interested to see what you pick.

    I agree with you that for dressmaking, an 'all bells an whistiles' machine isn't really necessary - alot of wasted functions and much more to malfunction which is in turn, much more expensive to mend!!

    x

    ReplyDelete
  68. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  69. I own the Aurora 430 and I love it. I rarely use the adjustable presser foot pressure and I use maybe 8 of the available stitches. But I would not trade the buttonhole feature for love nor money. This machine makes the best buttonholes of any machine I've ever owned.

    ReplyDelete
  70. When I saw the picture I thought it was my machine--a 20 yr. old Bernina 1030. It seems to have the same features as mine. So perhaps you would consider an older machine, could save even more, and have money leftover to buy more fabric!

    My Bernina came with a knee lift, 1/2 speed option, many feet (but no 1/4" quilt foot), and a table extension. I've never used any other machine to make buttonholes, but I am pleased with the ones I get from the Bernina. All you have to do is turn the knob for the different steps--not hard at all.

    In general, I am glad to have a mechanical machine with so many metal parts.

    ReplyDelete
  71. My machine is a Bernina 1210 (or something along those lines) that my mom passed down to me to replace my crappy Simplicity machine when she got one of the newer, more computerized Berninas (I think it was actually an Aurora). She's an avid quilter, and this may be why it's happened, but she has had to take her machine to the shop several times over the years for various issues, and I think she may actually be using a Virtuoso instead of the Aurora now. I've never had a breakdown on mine, though-- I should probably take it to the shop at some point for a tuneup, seeing as how it hasn't been there in oh, fifteen years or so, but other than difficulty with things like sewing buttonholes through five layers of stuff when I made a winter coat and skipping stitches on leather in my attempt to refashion a jacket into a bag, I've never had a major problem with it. So I'd go for the mechanical.

    ReplyDelete
  72. My goodness, thank you all SO MUCH for taking the time to write all this valuable feedback! I'm going to give myself some time to think on it, but I feel like I'm leaning toward the 1008. Sometimes I think it comes down to what machine just *feels* best when you use it.

    And good idea to get a buttonholer for Mrs. Exeter! (That's my vintage Featherweight, fyi!)

    ReplyDelete
  73. I had a Bernina 1020, traded it in on a Viking Quilt Designer. The reason was, that I couldn't mirror image the stitches on the Bernina. Other than that, I loved it. I don't regret getting the Viking, but I DID regret trading in the Bernina A year ago, I found a Bernina 1030 (same machine with a few more stitches) and snapped it up.

    The buttonholes on the 1020 were lovely, it had a buttonhole foot where you put the button into a slot and when the slider got to certain points, you stop and turn the knob. It was not difficult, and made beautiful buttonholes.

    As far as knits and no adjustable presser foot, a walking foot might fix that, it there is an issue. I don't remember if I had a problem with knits on the 1020. I got a low-shank adapter and the deluxe walking foot from Nancy's Notions(?) for about 1/2 of what a Bernina walking foot was. I'm glad I kept them, I wish I had kept some of the other Bernina presser feet I had bought, but then, I never thought I'd be getting another machine to use the same feet with.

    And yes, there is the longevity factor - electronics will wear out, might not be a factor if you keep up with getting newer machines. A lightning strike/power surge can wipe it out, but if that happens you may be replacing more than a sewing machine. I fully expect that unless my 1030 is dropped onto concrete, that it will outlast my Viking, and probably me.

    Also, if there is someone in your life that might want to learn to sew, the mechanical machine *may* be less intimidating. Sometimes the fewer buttons to push or options to use makes the sewing easier - fewer decisions to start with, and fewer "maybe I should have used"s during/after.

    I look forward to seeing what you decide on.

    ReplyDelete
  74. Oh! And just my two cents on used machines from eBay and such. I have no problems whatsoever with this route - in fact, that's how I got Mrs. Exeter! But for my primary machine, I just feel better knowing that I can test it at the store and have their customer service if anything should go wrong. Perhaps I'm a fuddy duddy that way. What do you all think?

    ReplyDelete
  75. I love my 1008. I would have liked to have the needle up/down feature and maybe the knee lift, but I just connected to the machine in the store and felt like it was a good fit for me and a good long-term investment. I like that it's sturdy with always-perfect tension and pressure (even on knits so far) and a really solid looking stitch. And I find it fun to have to turn all those knobs!
    And their special feet are amazing. I don't know how I sewed before without the edgestitch foot.

    If you go back to try the machine again, make sure you make the machine go at its full speed. It does vibrate a little bit, so you'd want to be aware of that before buying.

    I've only had mine a few months and I wish I'd seen a discussion like this before I bought mine. Such a helpful group of readers you have! It's clear we all feel strongly about our machines!

    Marlena

    ReplyDelete
  76. Are you going to keep your old machine which I guess has a buttonfoot? I know you live in brooklyn so it may be a space issue. I just rememember that my mother had so much trouble with her Kenmore (ca. 1974) that didnt' have a buttonhole option that we had snaps on everything! ;-) (She also had a cranky bobbin situation).

    ReplyDelete
  77. The best thing I ever did was go to my service man when I was ready for a new machine. I explained to him how much I sew and I gave him a list of things I needed the machine to do. I told him that I wanted his recommendation for a reliable machine because he sees broken sewing machines all the time, and he knows which models spend less time in his shop. He came back with a beautiful 1960's Singer 500A that he completely overhauled for me and gave me all kinds of cams and attachments.
    My pattern review:
    http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingMachine/Review/1/2088
    Now I try to convert all my friends and family to the old steel machines. My cousin just bought a beautiful Touch and Sew on Craig's List for $70 last week. So, I guess it goes without saying that my vote is for a vintage machine.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Most of everything has been said, and I too appreciate all the comments on this issue. I own a Bernina 1008, and I bought it over 10 years ago and I have never (*blush*) had it for service... I believe that's a good sign? Another thing is the fact that 1008 is Bernina's last mechanical option, and it has been for sale for ages! Undoubtedly, this has to be a sign of quality? I have to admit that feet are expensive (compared to i.e. Janome), but I've been sewing a lot and have only been missing the invisible zipper foot. I bought that some years ago, but now that one is giving me some trouble with YKK zips (not Opti, I think), and I just use the butto-hole foot. Oh, and button-holes, I think they are easy and controlled (but I was used with one without button-hole function at all).

    I've borrowed light-weighted machines sometimes (cheap, though) and it's impossible to speed-sew, because the machine starts jumping around! So I really enjoy the steadiness of 1008.

    And you do have an overlocker, and thus you shouldn't have any trouble with knits?

    ReplyDelete
  79. My husband bought my Pfaff Expression 2.0 at the local shop because I could try it out prior to purchasing, and have useful customer service if there were any issues afterward. This is something I would not feel comfortable purchasing online at all. Getting qualified help when needed is of utmost importance.

    Most people I know who sew, have multiple machines so try looking at this purchase as a way of building your future fashion house!

    SassyJen

    ReplyDelete
  80. Shannie,

    Oh, the Singer 500A (Rocketeer) is such a great machine! My mom had one when I was a kid so I had plenty of experience sewing on it. She still has it, and it's still running! I have the Singer 401A which is kind of like it, but not quite as Jetson looking.

    C.B.

    ReplyDelete
  81. Mechanical machines... what a strange term (are there sewing machines that are not mechanical?)

    Can't help with your actual quandary, so I guess this was an entirely useless comment. Sorry :)

    ReplyDelete
  82. I am pretty sure that 1008 is the same model we used in the college costume shop where I worked, and they were awesome. No bells and whistles, but everything we needed to make boned corsets to french seamed lightweight garments.
    However, I have my mom's hand-me-down Bernina 1530 and I plan on being buried with it. :)

    ReplyDelete
  83. Modern mechanical machines are not sturdier than their computerized counterparts. They are in fact less sturdy, and the motor has less "get up and go" which is important if you want to quilt or sew heavy fabrics or sew many layers of heavy fabrics. Buying a cheapie mechanical machine is false economy.

    I like to use my computerized machine for the same reason I like to use patterns- takes some of the grunt work out of sewing. Specifically, I can not do without:

    Needle Threader- I'm not an old lady but I can't see well to thread the needles. It allows you to thread your machine in two winks once you learn to use it properly.

    Needle Up/Down button- On a computerized machine, the needle automatically returns to the highest needle position. If you start off sewing with the needle in the down position, it automatically returns to the down position when you stop. That means when you're doing some tricky sewing you can control the needle stitch-by-stitch by tapping your foot.

    Start/stop button- This is like sewing cruise control. Granted, I use this more for quilting than dressmaking, but it is still fabulous. You unplug the pedal, press the button to start sewing, press it again to stop. Good when you have to maintain a constant speed for a long time.

    Automatic back stitch/lockstitch- Regular straight stitch that back stitches automatically at the beginning of the seam, perfect three stitches. When you reach the end of the seam, you tap the back stitch button again and it back stitches. I don't know about you, but when I'm doing tricky work it tends to slip toward the end of the seam if I have to take my fingers off. The lockstitch makes a little knot at the beginning and end of the seam.

    Serging stitch- I have a serger, but I use the serging stitch on my machine for light work or weird colors for which white, cream or black won't cut it. Obviously, the machine doesn't trim, but there are some really amazing seam finish stitches out there.

    Needle position- With a computerized machine you usually have A LOT more control over your needle position.

    Buttonholes. Seriously, buttonholes. If you have a good machine you won't be going to the tailor for them. You can do corded buttonholes, keyhole buttonholes, "handworked" style buttonholes.

    There are some other things I loove about my machine (Janome 4900) but those are sort of the basic great features. Look, vintage and simplicity etc are all well and fine but don't short-change yourself. When you have a very capable machine, it frees you to do more. I don't see why your choices are a cheapie p.o.s. with no features or a top of the line model. Everything I described can be found on a nice mid-range machine, the sort that might cost $500 here. So probably less than that. Janome 2101 comes to mind, also the Janome 4030. Husvarna Emerald 183 is a lovely machine. I'm sure Bernina or Elna have comparable machines.

    One last thing, you have GOT to make sure the shop you buy from does follow up care. If they don't offer free machine lessons with the purchase of your machine, they aren't worth spending your money. The lessons are what help you figure out how to reach your sewing potential with the machine, rather than leaving half the wonderful features unused.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Wow, Belleass, a cheapie p.o.s? Tell us how you really feel! :)

    Thanks again for your input, everyone! I actually just put a deposit down on the 1008, after a lot of thought. I'll have it at the end of next week!

    ReplyDelete
  85. Ok, so everything has pretty much been said so I'm not sure that I can add too much more. I have both a Bernina 1008 and an Aurora 440QE. I love them both, though after having automatic buttons, and well..all the other bells and whistles, I prefer to sew on the Aurora as my primary machine, and use the 1008 as back-up - it is so much faster and efficient at everything! My only real complaint is that the automatic button hole foot on the Aurora (and I"m assuming the Activa too) has to be taken into the shop for fine tuning about once every year or two, whereas the 1008 never needs to be taken in for anything. That can get annoying (and pricey) as the years go by...

    ReplyDelete
  86. You made a fine selection! Bernina's are def not cheap or POS's, LOL.

    Angie R.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Hi Gertie!
    I think you should go for the cheaper pared down version. Think of all the vintage patterns and beautiful fabric you could buy with the extra money! To be honest, I don't even know what adjustable foot pressure is, so I definately don't think that's an essential! I've used a staged button hole, and althought clearly a one-step is quicker, I don't think the former is a disability or is worth $1000 to avoid!

    Hope that helps?
    Zoe x

    ReplyDelete
  88. I know you've settled on the Bernina, but just a comment to the mechanical choice being false economy: 1008 is one of the sturdiest machines ever, and is not an 'economical' choice of the Bernina's (then you'd go for the Bernettes, and you don't...) or the mechanical machines in general. Compared to cheap mechanicals, I'd guess 1008 is not cheap...

    ReplyDelete
  89. I have an old Brother machine, and it does a lot of basic things relatively ok. But it will depend what else you want to sew in the future. You have had one foray into quilting so far.... I went to a machine quilting course (for domestic machines) and was told that although my machine was fine, it would struggle with some of the things required for quilting. And they are right.... some machines have nice functions which force the stitch length to be the same, which is fantastic when free hand machine quilting.... and only on electronic machines.

    ReplyDelete
  90. Gertie, you'll love your new machine! I have a computerized Bernina, but I almost bought a model close to yours. I ended up with the Activa 220. I seriously love that little machine. i have just the interesting decorative stitches (feather, pinstitch) and a 4-step buttonhole like yours. To get the auto buttonhole, it was a few hundred dollars more, and really if you can push the button/lever to switch sides, that's all there is to the 4-step. I kind of like it actually, I feel like I have more control over the buttonhole process. (And if I wanted too, I have another machine that does auto buttonholes too.)

    Oh, and I've had adjustable presser foot pressure for years. Never used it on any machine I've owned, haha!

    ReplyDelete
  91. I've owned Pfaff and Bernina and personally I highly prefer the Pfaff with the built in walking foot and their computerized features are waaaaaaay better. For example you can actually see a scallop stitch get wider and longer on the screen as you adjust it, but it is a guess with the Bernina.

    ReplyDelete
  92. I have a Bernina 1090 that I love, but would love to add a mechanical machine....can you tell me how much a 1008 is? I've looked online and can't find the info...thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  93. I have a mechanical (but electronic) Toyota 21-DES sewing machine and a computerised Brother XR6600. Neither have adjustable foot pressure so I don't really know what I'm missing.

    However, the one-step buttonholes on the Brother are tremendously easier than the 4-step on the Toyota chiefly because I never have to balance them. Before I got my Brother sewing machine, I used to have to make loads of buttonholes using trial and error to get them right, but the one-step on my Brother sewing machine saves all that - and they're all the right size which makes my sewing look much better! Plus, they're adjustable in stitch width and length so I can make lovely fine buttonholes for blouses!

    Also, my computerised machine goes through thick seams more easily than my mechanical one which used to get a little held up at the "speed bumps".

    The thing that baffles me about my Brother sewing machine is that the more complicated cross-stitch design never works out right and I don't know why. I've tried sewing with thin paper on both top and bottom of the fabric. I've even sewn the stitch on canvas and it still doesn't work out right. Absolutely baffled!

    I plan to one day get myself a top-of-the-range combination sewing-embroidery machine. If the Janome Horizon had embroidery capability it would be nearly perfect. (Hint, hint, Janome!)

    Great blog by the way. I love vintage sewing! :)

    Sabrina Wharton-Brown
    United Kingdom

    ReplyDelete
  94. I hope you went w/the 1008. I tried reading all the posts but they were so in favor, I quit. I own the 1008 ... exactly for the reasons you mentioned. Mechanical workhorse; and I can create what I need.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Jim in College Park Md would really like to sell his Bernina 1230 and his Old Bernina 830 . Both checked out by great technician. 301 706 6474 Jan 1 2012

    ReplyDelete
  96. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  97. Kudos to all who go for the new features. They are wonderful. However, basic mechanical sewing machines are here to stay! Many home sewers prefer to have a simple mechanical sewing machine and choose to live without all of those bells and whistles like hundreds of stitch options that they will never use or computerized gizmos that need special servicing.

    Isn't it wonderful? There truly is a sewing machine for everyone and every skill level.

    http://www.sewinginsight.com

    ReplyDelete
  98. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

© Gertie's Blog For Better Sewing. Powered by Cake