Set the Berninas free

There is a startling situation across Australia (and I suspect across the developed world).  In cupboards around suburbia there are hundreds, no thousands of unused sewing machines.  I don’t mean the kind where the machine is appreciated, but under-utilised due to the oppression of other life activities, but the completely unused, unloved, unwanted machines.

When I was a teenager, my mother taught sewing at a technical college, and I was given a well-used mechanical Bernina.  I loved that machine – it did everything that was needed for garment sewing.  I really like my current machine, and now have two daughters who are champing at the bit,  wanting to use a sewing machine.  Not being so enthusiastic about them learning on my machine, I wanted to get another machine that I didn’t feel so precious about.  Indestructibility was also a desired characteristic.

So you may be wondering – how can you set a Bernina free?  You could waste your time bidding on them on Ebay, but that is an activity prone to frustration. Instead, I advertised for it.  I posted an ad on Gumtree (I imagine Craiglist might work similarly in the States) and actually received a few replies.  My (I mean the girls’) machine was sitting less than a kilometre from my house, and the owner had been wondering how to get rid of it.  I paid a reasonable price (you should take the likely cost of a service into account when negotiating the price), and dropped the machine off to be serviced.  By all accounts, sewing machines and overlockers need a thorough clean and oil after years of inaction.  I was surprised to find that one place charged $145 for a basic service, while the other charged only $85.

Apart from the Bernina 1000+ (made in Switzerland! mechanical!), I was lucky enough to get an overlocker in the same transaction.

They were both unwanted wedding presents, and had not been used for nearly 20 years.  The overlocker was still threaded with its factory thread, and the Bernina had been used once.  The only trouble now will be letting the girls actually use the new/old machine (at least I can save the overlocker for myself!).


Published by


I can be contacted at travellersyarn at

10 thoughts on “Set the Berninas free”

  1. wow what a great idea – I have been following machines on ebay and it is so frustrating but I am never sure what models are good – is the 1000 a good one? I would much prefer an older machine than a new one I’ve been looking at the 1130

  2. What a happy outcome, I was afraid the poor Bernina was going to be kept prisoner for another 20 years! I have a Pfaff I bought nearly 25 years ago. It came with a 25 year guarantee, which seemed like an unimaginably distant time to my 20 something self. It still works fine, and I taught several kids to sew with it. Bernina Liberation Front, rock on!

  3. Since I started sewing two years ago I’ve heard endless comments from people who own machines they have either never used or just stopped using a long time ago. You’re right – let them go to good homes. Good call!

  4. Good work! I haven’t used my machine for years – lent it to d-in-law’s mother who managed to break it – repaired $160 – lent to d-in-law – same thing – repair $160. I had it sitting on the table to use, but when I put it away, the metal case which was always very hard to do up, came undone and the machine fell on the floor and …. I decided that after 30 something years and much use I’d buy a lighter new one, base model. But can never quite bring myself to do it when I still love mine – an Elna – and it only needs another repair – I hope. I might try the Gumtree route, or Freecycle – who knows, I might be lucky.

  5. Such a good idea! And thanks for the tip about servicing, my machine is coming up for 5 years old and so probably could do with a service, I had no idea that the cost varied so much.

  6. I had a Bernina as a wedding present twenty years ago, and since that it has been in extensive use. Now my three daughters have started to use it enthusiastically. As I was googling to find information about how to get a new manual to replace the lost one (it simply disappeared over ten years ago), I was happy to find this site with a photo of the similar sewing machine as mine in Finland. I tried to find a manual from the Bernina importer, but they don’t have one for Bernina 1000 plus any more, because it is such an old model. Could someone please help me to find a copy of the manual, we desperately need one? A Finnish-language one would naturally be perfect, but an English version would do as well (my mother lives in Australia) :). Any kind of version will do, and I am naturally ready to pay for the expenses.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s