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Sewing Machine Back-up

kwbetty | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

I’ve never done a chat rm before, but I need HELP! And this site seems to reach a wide array of sewers with differing machine. I’ve been sewing off and on for 40 years now, have done costumes, home deco just for me, love children’s clothes and heirloom sewing, have just finished my first quilt (baby), and do occassional sewing on linen for a local high-end art-to-wear shop. I also live 4 hrs from the nearest big city and have no sewing machine dealers near me. My problem is that I have a Bernina 1230 which I LOVE, but it’s been acting up lately so I’m thinking of adding a back-up machine. I want something that has a knee-lift, makes a beautiful stitch, has a “button”-type selection for different stitches (I’m too impatient to fiddle with screens) and want an all-metal machine. I was thinking of getting another 1230 off e-bay, or possibly a 1260, buth the thought occurrs to me that their may be something better out there for me without having to enter a whole new world of “feet” with the next generation of Berninas. I do like the large sewing table of these older Berninas, but they don’t have a very good alphablet for the rare event when I want to add info to a Christening Gown. Other than creating a label, I’m not much interested in all the new embroidery stuff. Plus, so often the downloadable stuff is not in Mac format and my imac is not near enuf to my sewing space to connect them. Having said all that, anyone got any good ideas of machines I whould look at?


  1. cjtinkle | | #1

    If it's in your budget, seriously consider checking into the Bernina 430/440 Aurora's.  I have a 440, and it is just a wonderful machine!  I love the buttons on the front, and it has a knee lift.  It's very well made and sews like a dream!

    1. kwbetty | | #2

      Thanks for the input--I'll check them out for sure.

  2. jjgg | | #3

    If you are looking for another bernina, I would suggest sticking with the older models - the 1230 /1260 or even a 1530.
    If you go with the newer models you will have to buy all new feet as they are different now. If you have a wide assortment of the bernina feet for your 1230, you know how expensive they can get, why have to buy a whole new assortment?

    1. kwbetty | | #4

      Thanks, I know that Bernina changed the "shoe" size of it's feet and needele opening about 10 yrs ago--what a marketing coup!

      1. KarenW | | #5

        Actually the reason the feet were changed was twofold, neither having to do with marketing.....

        When a built in needle threader was added to newer models, the foot had to be modified (well, the shank area really) to accomodate the needle threader.  While I can see why you wouldn't want to buy all new feet, those needle threaders are invaluable!Other machines which use 9mm stitches vs. the 5mm ones the 1230 has have wider feed dogs/opening for the needle and have some feet that accomodate the wider stitches and cover the feed dogs.

        I'd say try some of the newer machines and if you love the way they "drive" enough to invest in some new feet (when I did this I found there were really only a handful I used on a regular basis and didn't reinvest in the entire foot inventory I had) then you can go that way... if you use  a huge variety of your existing feet and really like the way your machine handles, then adding another 1230/60 or 1530 (though I avoided those as I hated roller ball selection vs. push button... I did finally break down and use touch screen machines now) may be the best solution



        1. kwbetty | | #6

          Thank you so much for all your info. I still love my 1230 but worry that I may be missing out on some really good new stuff, though I'm not much thrilled by the touch screens--does this age me or what!!! Since i am 4 hrs from everywhere, I really can't get to a dealer readily tp test drive alot of machines, but I do have a gut feeling that Bernina is still the best of the line for the type of precision sewing I like to do. Do the 9mm feed dogs really work better for things like silk charmeuse (which I seem to be sewing alot lately)?

          1. ixs | | #7

            I would think that reliability would be very important for your purchase because of your distance to a dealer; I believe a metal machine means that all the parts are metal, and I don't know if such a machine exists anymore. 

            Probably the less gadgetry on a machine, the more reliable, but maybe someone can really answer that question better; however, I do have a Bernina 185E (E for embroidery), and I have had to have a computer board (I think there are 3 computer boards on a 185) replaced for $300 or so, but I still love the machine for its one-direction buttonholes AND all the gadgetry; modern machines are truly amazing.

          2. kwbetty | | #8

            Hmm... a one direction buttonhole sounds very interesting. Maybe I have missed a few things in the last 10 yrs! But, does it still stitch an even, accurate buttonhole at the neckline where it has to "ride" over multiple seams? I'm thinking here that I may have to drive to Miami after all and test drive some of the newer products. Thanks for your input!

          3. ixs | | #9

            I don't know if ANY machine can do a successful buttonhole when there are uneven seams.....My machine has several different ways to make that buttonhole, so I switch to another method when I think the material underneath could be a problem, and usually the material is a problem--uneven material underneath.  No perfect world, I'm afraid. 

          4. solosmocker | | #10

            Older machines can make a beautiful buttonhole, despite fabric uneveness. My old Kenmore from the 70's makes the most perfect buttonhole with the most minimal effort. Mechanical machines are much more able to deal with the thickness of fabric than computerized machines which deal in increments and count stitches to make a buttonhole. Love my fancy Pfaff, but when I need a buttonhole on a fabric with varying widths of thickness, off to the Kenmore I go.

          5. ixs | | #11

            I have an older mechanical Pfaff, and I didn't particularly care for the buttonhole; I believe it was done is 3 steps, but the machine is/was a real workhorse.  And I don't know how many different ways my newer machine makes a buttonhole, but it does it several ways.  And I still have the 60s Singer with the buttonhole attachment that one could really adjust, but I could never get a vertical buttonhole lined up with the previous one...........

            I'm hoping there won't be anything in a newer machine or serger that will be a just have to have machine, as I think I'm done buying sewing machines.  

  3. ctirish | | #12

    I have a Baby Lock but I find this discussion interesting. I had a 30 year old Singer and about 5 years ago, I decided I wanted a new machine. I contacted a friend who taught in the city to see if she had someone who was interested in having a machine. So, I gave it away pecan cabinet and all to encourage sewing.  There are days when I miss that machine, it too went over any fabric and the button holes were great. It had these cams to put in to do any sort of fancy stitiches.

    So,  don't get rid of your other machine. Keep it for the projects that are on heavier fabric. The new machines are wonderful. It isn't just the needle threader. It is the automatic back stitch when you start, and when you stop it cuts the thread for you. Depending on the machine you can do all sorts of stitches with the push of a button. It is a whole new way of sewing.  Enjoy.. 


    1. kwbetty | | #13

      Thanks. My old machine has finally shutdown after many threats, so I am biting the bullet and driving to Miami to scope out replacments...and to get the old workhorse repaired for my backup!

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