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Any advice for sewing machines in China?

Merryll | Posted in The Archives on

Hi, All!  I love the fact that this forum is international, and now I need some help.  I am moving to Shanghai, China, and they use 220 current.  The big problem?  My sewing machines.

My Bernina dealer has put me on to a dual-current model, the Virtuosa 153 QE.  The problem is my serger.  I had planned to purchase a transformer and take my electronic Bernina serger, but friends in Shanghai tell me the current there is not always steady and even with transformers, electronic equipment can be damaged.  Apparently Bernina does not have a dual-current serger.

Has anyone had experience with Western sewing machines/sergers in China?  I’d appreciate any advice.   When we lived in Japan I took my machines and had no problems, since their current is compatible with the US. What’s a sewer to do without her machines?




  1. SewNancy | | #1

    Even with a converter electircal appliances just don't work well converted. My hairdryer in India last year made funny noises. But, people seem to have forgotten that even here you should plug electronic and computer machines into surge protectors just like we do for a computer. And, lets face it our machines cost more than most computers!

    1. Merryll | | #3

      Nancy, thanks for the reminder about serge protectors. Everyone in Shanghai tells me they are a must.



  2. jyang949 | | #2

    Wow, Merryl, that's not your ordinary relocation! What sends you to Shanghai?

    I visited in Shanghai in August 1974 with my parents and sister. The government arranged for us to go on two factory tours a day, on of which was included textile machinery. There was a jacquard loom for making fabric with complex weaving patterns. I was fascinated by the way the pattern was controlled: There was a long strip of paper with holes punched in it, and the pattern of holes determined how which threads were used. I guess that was also the first time I saw a (rudimentary) computer!

    We also visited factories that turned out hand-made items like oriental rugs, two-sided embroideries, intricate carvings....

    I would love to take a crafts tour through China some day. Just not in August!


    1. Merryll | | #4

      Wow, Janet, you toured Chinese factories in '74?  I thought China wasn't even officially open to the West until '79.  How did you and your family gain entrance?

      My husband and I are corporate nomads, which is the reason for our move. When I visited Shanghai recently, I went to a home dec fabric market, and it was wild.  This is not the famous fabric market near the river, which sells garment fabric and features tailors who can turn out a garment in several days.

      Merryll, still brooding over her serger problem

  3. FitnessNut | | #5

    Merryll, you may have to consider purchasing a serger after your relocation, if yours doesn't work. We were supposed to move to Norway this summer (le sigh) and were told that our electronic equipment may work with a converter. They can explain it better than I can: "Any appliance you have which usses 110/220V, 50/60 Hertz should work fine. You will require transformers to operate North American appliances, unless they are convertible. There is no trouble converting 220V to 110V through a transformer, but it is not possible to convert 60 cylces to 50 cycles. If the appliance states 'suitable for 50 and 60 cycles', it will work. If it shows only 60 cycles, it may still be operated through a transformer, but the performance may be affected. Purely resistive appliances, such as frying pans and irons, are not affected by the cycle change." I don't know if this is the case for China, but you never know. FWIW, my sewing machine is dual voltage (a Bernina 180E) and, like you, I wasn't sure if my serger was going to work. I planned to take it with me and try it. If it didn't operate satisfactorily, I was simply going to buy an inexpensive model as we were going to be there only three years. Hope this helps.


    1. evanthiaemig | | #6

      I melted my curling iron one time in Rome.  The plug looked the same and it fit fine.

      I smelled plastic melting, and discovered it melted into the bathroom sink, where I placed it to be safe anyway. I was young......and couldn't do my hair the way I wanted it for the whole vacation.  That was depressing for a young American girl in Rome. But I still had a unforgettable time. In fact, the Italian guys didn't notice, only that my hair was blonde!  Tee..hee....

       Although, in the 80s I lived in London for a year, everyone told me here to just use adapters, I found it much easier to just buy the curling iron or blowdryer at the corner chemist, I then left them there with a friend to keep.


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