Thursday, January 27, 2011

Enough is enough.

visiting suburbia...

I've spent a solid 2 weeks scouring ebay and losing bidding wars on mechanical Berninas. I saw an 830 Record (that's a 30 year old machine) go for $1786. I'm out.

I took a vacation day today and drove out of the city, across the toll bridge and waaaaay out to suburbia. The fact that I would pay a toll to schlep to suburbia for a sewing machine should demonstrate how desperate I was. I haven't been out to Walnut Creek in probably 8 years. Maybe it's because the last time I went out there I got *the speeding ticket* that landed me in traffic school.

I was dead set on buying a mechanical Bernina. It's a damn good machine with a great quality stitch and it doesn't have a lot of bells & whistles. There were 5 key things I was looking for in a machine and fancy embroidery stitches was not one of them. I'm not a quilter. I sew clothes. I wanted the machine to sew a great straight stitch. The End. Also, the idea of a computerized machine did not sit well with me on a number of levels.

I went into the store, ready to test drive, with my bag 'o scrap fabric. I'd like to point out here that this was no ordinary bag 'o scrap fabric. This was a whole bag filled with 3 years of bad memories struggling with my 2 sewing machines and I was ready to see how other machines would handle it.

Possibly the only good thing to come out of sewing on bad or temperamental machines, is that you become painfully familiar with what you don't EVER want to see again in a sewing machine. You are looking for very specific things to happen (or not, as the case may be) and you are hyper aware. I test drove a pre-owned Bernina 1130 and a new Bernina 330. That's as far as I got with the Berninas. I spent about an hour going back & forth between the 2 and while the older 1130 was a better machine for me, I still wasn't feeling super excited.

Here are the 5 key things I was looking for:

  1. excellent quality stitch (Bernina 1130: great/Bernina 330: pretty good)
  2. quiet sewing.  No clackity clack or rattling (Bernina 1130: quiet/Bernina 330: suprisingly loud)
  3. solid feel when sewing (Bernina 1130: great/Bernina 330: so-so)
  4. great feed dogs for a smooth ride. I don't want to have to push or pull the fabric or, as is the case with Miss Burton, hang onto the fabric for dear life because the feed dogs are too floaty.  And I don't want want to see any bunching of the fabric, especially lightweight fabrics - lining fabric,  I'm looking at you.  (Bernina 1130: bunching with smaller stitch lengths on lining fabric/Bernina 330: major bunching with medium to smaller stitch lengths on lining fabric). 
  5.  Decent buttonhole feature (Bernina 1130: 5-step buttonhole difficult to work/Bernina 330: smoother than 1130, but still difficult to work)
That's basically it. I figured everything else would be workable and anything more or better than that would be a bonus.

Overall, the Berninas were just OK. Considering the prices and that there are very few extras included, I kind of felt like I should be gushing over them and I just wasn't.

How I ended up over by the Juki machines is that I was having problems with the Bernina buttonhole feature so I went over to the lady to get some help. She was sitting at a Juki HZL-F600 and next to it was a scrap of fabric with a beautiful keyhole buttonhole on it. I asked which machine made that buttonhole, she said it was the Juki (whose buttonhole feature is fully automated, fyi)

bought a Juki!

One of the very first things I noticed about the Juki was its MASSIVE workspace. I mean it's just huge. My projects aren't going to keep sliding off the back or the side. And the lighting is spectacular! There are 2 lights, 1 over the presser foot & one over the inside work space. Night sewing or sewing on grey foggy days will be no problem because the whole work area is lit up like a stadium. I never considered either of these 2 things but they'll be a huge help to me because I work in a very small space and I have to rig lamps up in strategic positions so I can see. No more of that and the extension table is just wow. I'll have wide flat space in the front/back and on both sides.

There's a lot more to love about this machine, like how it passed my 5 key points with flying colors. Great stitch, quiet sewing & no bunching, even on lining fabric. The price point ($999 + tax) was exactly the same as the Bernina 330 and cheaper than the pre-owned Bernina 1130 and it includes the knee lift for hands free presser foot up/down, hard case and a ton of presser feet, all extras on the Berninas.

The only bad news is that I have to go back out to Walnut Creek again because their supplier delivered F300s today instead of the F600s, so they had to call for a redelivery. I doubt they'll arrive in time for the weekend, but I'm happy to wait a week or so for this machine.

Pics from the store-