by Stephanie Newman, an Australian quilter and designer who blogs and posts gorgeous pictures of her work here
Love it, hate it, or something in between? Love it! Aaah my Nova 900 -- it is a sweet machine, with very groovy red trim on the handle, dials, and wheel; and the foot control is red and circular! It has Bernina's legendary precision and quality, and is a delight to sew with. I love how simple it is to use and love the sound of it as it sews -- it purrs like a kitten. It has functional stitches, straight stitch, zig zag, three step zig zag/serpentine, stretch overlock, blind hem, scallop decorative stitching, and buttohole -- all the basics. It does a wickedly good satin stitch. It has no bells and whistles, but you can get into the machine properly for thorough cleaning and oiling -- the whole free arm top is removeable, as is the central bobbin hook, so cleaning couldn't be easier. It's also fun to be able to see what goes on inside a sewing machine. It came with 7 or 8 presser feet, a darning hoop, an extension table, and accessories. The old style presser feet can still be ordered, too -- I've already ordered the 1/4-inch foot. Bonus for me, it takes the same bobbins as my Bernina Aurora 440QE, so they can share.
When did you buy this sewing machine? Early December 2009.
When was it manufactured? The records indicate they were made between 1982 and 1985 in Switzerland. I know they made them in the red trim (maybe the most common) as well as yellow and khaki trim versions. I don't know if different colors were released in different countries or not, but I've not seen the yellow or khaki version around my own state. I've only seen two others in 9 years of teaching, so unless there are many well hidden in people's homes, I think they're not very common here. My mechanic is sad they stopped making them -- he loves them for their reliability and says they can be easily fixed. Bernina parts are still available, so these machines can be kept sewing for a very long time. He tells me it will outlast several of my lovely electronic computerized machines.
Where did you buy it? Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.
How much did you pay for it? The sewing machine shop where I found it was asking for $399 AU, but I got it for $350 AU.How many projects have you done on this machine? It's fairly new to me, so I've only had time to piece around 50 reasonably complicated quilt blocks with multiple points and many layers of intersecting seams; and I've sewn a micropolarfleece jacket, and repaired a couple of garment hemlines. What it has shown me is that it can handle both thin and thick layers easily despite having no adjustable presser foot pressure, and the stitch quality is typical Bernina: outstanding. My children have named it Supernova (because it is super), and I believe it had a previous life in a clothing manufacturing business -- I found the business name and "machine number 5" written underneath the removable free arm cover. I suspect it was part of a fleet working in a small scale factory or business.
I purchased it as a backup for student use in classes. At other times, it will be used at home for piecing and sewing clothes. I like to sew some large projects with several machines threaded in different colors, or set up for different techniques (for efficient use of time). When the children are older they will graduate to the Nova from the hand crank. If I ever see another available in good condition, I wouldn't hesitate to add a second to my herd.
Describe the kind of work you've done with it. Patchwork. Lots of patchwork! Garment construction in stretch knit fine polar fleece. This machine is going to be used.
What do you like and what do you hate about it? I love its simplicity. I can set the needle position where I like and dial up specific combinations of stitch length and width. If I turn the machine off, the settings stay put. I like the stitch quality -- stitches look the same on the front and back. I like the all-metal construction with colorful plastic trim -- it's cheerful but solid. The handle is convenient for carrying, but it is not a lightweight machine -- I struggled to carry it down the street when I couldn't find a carpark close to the store. That's fine: I don't like flimsy machines! There is a separate light switch on the side of the machine so you can turn off the bulb if you have a sunlight area for sewing and save some energy -- just remember to pull the power cord out when you are done. Because I worry I might forget to do so, I leave my lightbulb turned on as reminder the machine is still plugged in, and check to make sure I've pulled the cord out when finished.
Because it's mechanical, if I have to go anywhere where electricity supply is erratic (which it can be even where I live) there is no mother board to fry and no electronic components that might be damaged by rough bumpy roads. The one circuit board in the machine can still blow, but it is not so expensive to replace. It is a robust machine.
Like many older machines, this one plugs directly into the wall socket and has a nice long power cord. It is wired directly into the machine so you will never run the risk of losing it. The foot pedal is removable. The hard case is hinged and articulated; it wraps around the machine and has a couple of positioning lugs and a latch to secure it around the machine. I have seen some hard cases with colored linings that have places to store presser feet and bobbins; mine has a bucket for accessoriesbut is missing the lining. The handle and the flywheel extend beyond the case and are visible once it is in place.
Bernina USA has downloadable manuals for a range of their old classics (under the website's support menu) -- a wealth of information is included in the manual. There really isn't anything not to love here. There is nothing I hate about it at all.
In summary, the Nova is cute and a serious machine that's capable of sewing consistent high quality stitches at speed. I'd say if you see one, grab it while you can!