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Buying a Bernina 830

mgm | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hello everyone.  After quite a few years I have decided to get back into sewing!  Always remembered Threads as being a great magazine for the serious sewing buff and was pleased to find these forums.

About 10 years ago I had a mechanical Janome and three thread serger.  They were farmed out to relatives so now I am in the market for a good quality machine and serger.

I plan to do mostly interior work such as drapery, bed linen, cushion covers, etc.  Perhaps a little light upholstery.  I also have some ideas for customized t-shirts and sweatshirts so at a later point I will be looking for one of the newer generation sergers with cover stich and flatlock capabilities (as well as the features I am already familiar with).

First things first, a regular sewing machine.  I’ve spent some time looking at the machines that are available now and I can’t say that any of them have really grabbed me.  Even though I am quite a geek I just don’t find the computerized machines very appealing (probably because I wouldn’t use 90% of the features).  I guess I am what you would call an analogue/mechanical person.

Back in my early sewing days I always coveted a Bernina.  The few times I used one I just thought they were the best machines.  Unfortunately as a poor student I couldn’t afford one.  To cut this long story short, while investigating the newer Berninas I kept coming back to the older 830 (probably because I had used it previously).  I’ve seen that they pop up on eBay every now and then, but I’m not sure what I should set as my target price.

I’d be most interested in people’s opinions on what price you would put on one of these machines and also what to expect in terms of quality.  I fully expect that I would need to take it somewhere for a service.  Do Bernina dealers still service these machines?  How much would you expect that to cost?  If in the end if I don’t manage to get an 830, what machine would you recommend instead?

Looking forward to your input, and very glad to have find these forums.  Oh, I am in the Dallas area if that is relevant.




  1. ElonaM | | #1

    Michael, the 830, as you know, is a lovely old workhorse. The stitch quality is just superb, and the machine will probably never break down. My genius sewing machine mechanic loves them, and loves to work on them, since they are mechanical. He says if you can find one, there is an 830e which has a few electronic qualities, like the possibility of stitch by stitch action (very slow and precise, no turning of hand wheel needed). As to cost, they hold their value well. Myself, I wouldn't shrink from spending $400-$500 for a nice, old one. Maybe more.

    What to get if you don't go for an 830? I have a 930e, which is a jewel, a perfect jewel. It does have electronics, which means stitch by stitch ability, plus automatic needle stop, and (I have been told) slightly more piercing power than an 830, for working on heavier fabrics. I'm not sure this is true, because my old 830 went through denim just fine. On ebay, 930s have gone for $700+. I wouldn't hesitate to pay that.

    1. mgm | | #2

      Thanks for replying Elona.  I didn't know about the 830e or 930e.  I will certainly be keeping an eye out for those machines.  There are a couple of listings on ebay at the moment where the sellers want to start the bidding at $600, I'll wait for a while and see how the price moves over the next couple of days.

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