Sewing machine trouble

I’m not sewing or posting, partly because I’ve been away for a few days and partly because my beloved 24yr old Bernina 1230 is sick with an intermittent fault. $720 quoted to hopefully effect a fix. The 1100 and 1200 series machines are known to have circuit board issues as they age. Mine has three boards apparently and the quote is only to replace one of them.

There are a bunch of options, some dependant on knowledge I don’t yet have. My brain has been spinning, making me feel ill and confused so I’m trying to capture thoughts here.

I’m starting to think the prognosis is not clear enough to spend the money on the 1230 fix attempt. So I might retrieve it. I could use it while I consider other options and retire it to back up status when I work out which way to go on a new machine. I was thinking lots of other options, but this seems to be where I’m landing. See, writing things down helps.

What I want is a quality plain sewing machine. I’m uninterested in embroidery or quilting functions.

I’ve been a Bernina fan for many years, mostly learned to sew on Mum’s 830, a renowned classic mechanical machine. I could try to buy one of those. There are a couple for sale right now. I think though that for me it would make a great backup machine, but I want more from my main workhorse. Just using Nan’s little mechanical Elna for a few minutes showed that having to spin the flywheel to position the needle causes complaint from my dodgy arm. “Stepping motor” functions are only available in electronic machines. So despite the risk of future circuit board problems, I think I do want an electronic. If an electronic, I suppose it’s probably better to buy new or near new to maximise the life.

Wish list (basically reproducing what I use now):
Quality, strong, reliable machine
Easy to use and clean
Smooth operation and good stitch formation
Reliable (adaptive?) tension that will cope with a variety of fabric weights.
Straight stitch
Zig zag
Buttonhole (auto and semi auto)
Needle position alterable left to right
One touch reverse that doesn’t interfere with other stitch settings
Knee lifter for presser foot
Needle up/down selection (this and the next are only available in electronic machines)
Tap stitch and half stitch via foot pedal
Seam width markings on throat plate
Twin needle capability
Feet for primary functions: plain, zipper, buttonhole, edgestitch, hemming
Plain business like design. No stupid pastels.

Nice to have improvements:
Thread cutting with the work in place
Differential feed
Faster machine
(I might think of more later)

New Bernina replacement?
I thought this might be the go, but the cheapest domestic machine with a presser foot knee lift is $3800rrp. Grrr (edit, the 350 has this at $2200). If I could live without that (but I’m so used to it, I’d miss it lots), there is a machine for $1300, or $1900 (either mechanical or electronic at this price point). I’m unconvinced. I’d certainly need to try them. Mum bought a new Bernina a few years ago but has never liked it.

Other brands? Juki?
Possibly an industrial?

There is a shop out east that sells both domestic and industrial machines. I think I’ll go talk to them on Monday before I decide on either repair or buying an 830. Which means I should try to let the churning thoughts go for the rest of the weekend.


3 thoughts on “Sewing machine trouble

  1. Good luck! I had similar issues some years ago. My old Bernina suddenly spewed loose parts – and I couldn’t find somewhere to fix it. I wanted a new Bernina, hubby nixed it because of price. So I got a Janome, and hated every second I used it. Seriously crap machine, terribly noisy and drop in spools is something I’ll never ever have again. After a year of struggles I bought a Bernina 780, with the plan of embroidering my own designs. Hah! All software is for Windows, and I have Mac. Obviously machine embroidery is what I call second hand creativity. Had I known I wouldn’t have bothered with the embroidery part. Now that I have it I am waiting for affordable Mac software. I still want to embrioder my own designs. The machine is lovely though, it purrs. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are supporting my Bernina preference. I like the front loading bobbin and pop open, easy clean carriage. I’ve also hated the the brief sews I’ve experienced on other people’s machines.


      1. Another thing with the Bernina is that it is a heavy beast, which it needs to be if it is going to stand still. The first sewing machine I bought was a Singer and it must’ve been 90% plastic. It jumped around on the table (only one of its many problems), and I became so angry with it I almost threw it into the wall. Instead I went and used a sizeable chunk of my student loan and bought a Bernina. I’ve yet to find any other modern machines of the same quality. Seems all the others have chosen cheaper production over quality. Many are even made in the same factory. Bernina is one of few who still operate their own factories.

        Liked by 1 person

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