by Lesley Zampatti, who blogs here about her craftsy life in southern California; she's a transplanted Australian, so she doesn't have her much-loved Bernina with her at the moment -- she had to make a special trip down under to photograph it for this review!
Love it, hate it, or something in between? I love my Bernina SO much that at one stage I knew it would be the first thing — after husband, kids, and pets — that I'd rescue if my house was on fire.
When did you buy this sewing machine? 1971-72? My dad bought this for my mum soon after we moved to Australia from England, which was in 1970. My mum used to have it serviced regularly and I still have all the log books showing when she oiled it! Mum gave it to me when my two youngest kids were little, in the late 1980s.
When was it manufactured? It was a new model when Dad bought it, so very early 1970s.
Where did you buy it? Perth, Western Australia.
How much did you pay for it? My dad can't remember, but it was an extravagant present. I remember my mum was ecstatic. She'd never have been able to afford anything like this when we lived in England. This was one hell of a machine! Still is.
How many projects have you done on this machine? Too many to count. And the Bernina has never, ever, lost a beat.
Describe the kind of work you've done with it. The first thing I remember sewing on it, in mum's kitchen, was a leather shirt I made for my boyfriend (we were at university together in 1972), out of skins we bought from a tannery. It was like something a Native American would wear — with long fringes down the arm seams and natural edgings! I made him cheesecloth Indian-style shirts, and long skirts and flowing nighties for myself.
In the eighties and nineties, I sewed all the kids' clothes, in ordinary fabrics and stretch knits. I made their swimsuits and drama and ballet costumes. I made three quilts. I made slip covers for two settees and I re-upholstered a vintage armchair. I made Roman blinds for my family room. I mended shoes — re-attaching a strap to a leather sandal. Later, I discovered free-arm embroidery and made handbags and art pieces. I made an entire wardrobe of clothes for a neighbor going on holiday. My Bernina was my right arm!
What do you like and what do you hate about it? There's nothing about it that I hate. Its only slight flaw, to my eyes, is that it is very heavy. It comes in a big red plastic case the size of a sarcophagus. I'd be staggering in to quilting classes, huffing and puffing with it, while fellow quilters were skipping in with their little Elnas and Husqvarnas in their lightweight fabric cases!
This, though, is more than compensated for by the strength, endurance and sheer, non-complaining guts of this mighty piece of engineering. It's indestructible. It can handle anything. Seven thicknesses of denim? No worries. It just purrs along. Beautiful. It's easy to use, easy to maintain, and all its moving parts are steel (hence the weight) so I'll probably be handing it on to my daughter (she's making her first quilt right now — yay!).
While it is safely stored away in Australia, and because I simply cannot survive without a sewing machine, my darling husband has given me a Janome as a stop-gap. Not a top-of-the-range, but just a couple of rungs up from the basic model. It's okay, but when it stamps its little foot, I often tell this little Taiwanese-made show pony about my Immortal Swiss Warhorse. There's no comparison. I don't think I could afford this century's equivalent of my Bernina, so just as well I've looked after the one I do have. It will never die. I'll be unpacking it and getting it serviced for a longed-for reunion when we return to Australia next March.
PS: My foot pedal has broken in exactly the same way as Laurel's. I still have the piece that broke off, so I'll try fixing it, thanks to the comments Laurel received.