May 17, 2008

Bernina girls

Tory and I have joined the Bernina club. These machines have been in our hands for a few months (photo is from our training class in February) and they have literally changed the way we sew. Good-bye imperfect buttonholes (Elise) and birds' nests (Tory). Hello perfect top-stitching, automatic buttonholes and decorative stitches.

To give you some perspective on the magnitude of this change, my previous machine was a mid-century Singer that I inherited from my Aunt Mabel. It saw me through high school (clothes and drama costumes), curtains and pillows for my first apartment and so much more. During the twenty or so years that I've owned it the only maintenance required has been regular oiling, needle replacement and occaisonal timing adjustment. Although undeniably a workhorse my antique Singer has its limitations: there are only two stitches (straight and zig-zag), one speed (crazy fast), finicky tension adjustment and, though I've put in plenty of both, buttonholes and zippers are painful. I was more than ready for an upgrade, as was Tory.

How did we decide on the Aurora 430? Well, we started on the web reading manufacturer's websites and FAQs from craft blog superstars and then moved on to visiting local sewing stores and asking for advice from other people who sew. It was surprising how quickly we focused our search on Husqvarna Viking and Bernina based on available features, reliability reports and whether or not there was a local dealer who we felt would provide us with support for years to come (very important to us). There happened to be a new Husqvarna dealer in Tory's neighborhood so we went in one afternoon to take a look. Unfortunately our first impression was negatively affected by the owner's unpleasant manner. She seemed more interested in when we might be making a purchase than whether or not we were getting the machine that was right for us. At one point she actually slapped Tory's hand out of the way while she was showing her how to do something. (Note to store owners: pushing, slapping, sighing loudly or indicating impatience in any way will earn you neither a sale nor a return visit.)

We moved on to Ann's Fabrics which was a little further away but sold both Husqvarna and Bernina (and is only 10 minutes from IKEA - an added bonus). What a different experience: our salesperson, Maxine, was incredibly helpful and patient, asking us what we wanted and then demonstrating each machine in our price range. Based on our specifications we quickly zeroed in on the Platinum 775 and the Aurora 430 and spent over two hours test-driving them. We even used some of the specialty feet that were available for each. Quite honestly it was hard to choose between them, they have very similar features, were fun to sew on and looked and felt well-built. If price was a deciding factor I think we both would have taken home the Platinum 775 and been completely satisfied. In the end, the Aurora 430 won our hearts with it's solid reputation, sturdy build and the ability to add on features such as BSR in the future. I'm planning on having my Bernina for a good long time (as is Tory) and hopefully passing it on to a future sewer one day.

While we are in love with our Berninas (our training class was even on Valentine's Day) and don't hesitate to endorse the Aurora 430, we don't recommend that you run out and buy one without exploring all your options like we did. Our research process was worth it just to learn about what else is out there, who is using them and for what. There are many good machines on offer, but like anything, they have to fit the user. Spend the time talking to vendors and test-driving machines, you won't regret it. Finally, we strongly recommend buying from a local sewing center that you trust and can provide you with training and repairs.


Jane said...

OMG, Ann's Fabrics? We must be neighbors, sort of! I live close to their old store in Southborough. Sigh. Wish that had never closed! Congratulations on your new Berninas. You will never be sorry. I have had my present one for almost 15 years and it still runs like the day I got it. I have added other machines, but still sew on that one every day!

Amy said...

You guys are soooooooo lucky! I just blew all my cash on a BabyLock serger, so my savings are depleted. This is next on my list though. Thanks for your input on models. I had decided Bernina was the way to go, but haven't started investigating specific models yet. All input is greatly appreciated.

yvette said...

Hi Elise, Yes, the Bernina is a great machine! I just got mine a couple of months back and I love it. I got the Aurora 440, mainly because of the BSR. I have not used it a lot yet, but it DEFINITELY made my free-motion quilting stitches look way better than on my old machine ;> And I love the way you can control the speed, the quality of the machine and it simply made sewing much easier for a lousy crafter like me :p

Have fun! :>

Marisa and Creative Thursday said...

oh this is inspiring me Tory....I've heard so much about Bernina's ~ thank you so much for sharing this post on my blog :)