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Oct 31, 2019

OCTOBER SURPRISE: My vintage Bernina 830 Record!


Readers, just when you thought this month was going to be another run-of-mill October, look what recently landed in my life!

How I came to possess this beautiful vintage Seventies Bernina 830 Record is a bit of a story.  I invite my long-time readers to think back to December 2010, when I purchased a vintage Pfaff 30 from a New York City actress who had placed a Craigslist ad (for those who can't recall, the link is here.).  You may also remember what happened to that Pfaff 30: I ended up selling it to Kimberly, the cousin of my friend Amanda, who used to write the popular sewing blog "Sewin' in the Rain."  The only reason I sold the Pfaff was because, as beautiful as it was, it didn't do anything my multiple Singer straight-stitch machines couldn't do.  Also it was in a table and took up a lot of room.  I still miss it though.  But I digress.

Fast forward to roughly a week ago.  This same actress had a friend who'd moved cross country and decided to leave her Bernina behind.  The actress remembered me from all those many years ago, dug up my email address, and asked me if I was interested in taking it off her hands.  In her email she described it as Italian (she's not a sewer herself) so I assumed it was a Necchi.  It wasn't until I saw the red hard-plastic carrying case that I realized this was a Bernina 830, complete with pedal, extension table, knee lever, and a whole lot of extras.

Instead of dragging it home on foot (as I did the Pfaff 30, what was I thinking?), I took the bus.  Luckily I had brought a rolling cart.



It's always exciting to bring home a new sewing machine -- my first and only (so far) sewing machine acquisition in 2019.  It needed some oiling and the buttonhole function remains rather stiff, but otherwise it's in extremely good shape.  I might have it professionally serviced eventually, especially if it looks like I'm going to be sewing a lot with it.  It's a fairly straight-forward mechanical machine one can maintain on one's own, unlike some of the later Bernina models.

Among the extras is a Bernina walking foot.  I haven't tried using it yet.


It also came with a lot of different needles (including two double needles -- never tried those) and a variety of presser feet.  A few I owned already (which came with my Bernina 930) but many I did not.


On the left is the list of presser feet that came with my Bernina 830. 
It came with lots of different needles as well as a Jean-a-ma-Jig!
You may or may not know that the 830 has internal embroidery cams though, unlike the 930, it doesn't do reverse embroidery or stretch stitches; I can live with that.  Like the 930, it has a low gear for slower sewing, as well as a knee lever that lifts the presser foot so you don't have to lift it manually (and tire out those fingers).  Since my Elna Grasshopper powers up with a knee pedal, it can sometimes get confusing. I have to remind myself that on the Bernina I still have to use the foot pedal to power the machine.  I never did get comfortable using the knee pedal for my 930.

The Bernina 930 Record is a much chunkier-looking machine: it really doesn't look much like the 830 (below).


Something else I like about the 830 compared to the 930 is that it's much easier to get inside.  The top flips open easily so it's easier to add oil and/or grease when and where necessary.


A sample of some of the Bernina 830's embroidery stitches.

The Bernina is an all-metal machine, but it still has a few plastic gears -- pretty standard for the time period.  There must have been some benefit to making these gears out of plastic -- it couldn't have been solely to save money, right?  If you know, I'd love to hear!


Exploring inside...


I'm really thrilled to have another Bernina in my life: it's always exciting to experiment with something new.   And let's face it, everyone loves a gift -- especially one that comes as a total surprise.

Are you familiar with the Bernina 830 Record?  If so, how do you like it?  Any particular recommendations for maintenance or use?  (I already have PDF's of the manuals but need to read them more carefully.)

Have a great day, everybody! 

The straight stitches are pretty too!
 

42 comments:

  1. She knew she was giving this machine to a loving home who would appreciate it!!

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  2. You will love this machine, ten years ago I bought one at a garage sale for $100.00 I cant say enough good about the machine, the walking foot is great and I have a rolling foot I use and because it is metal and not plastic it is very steady and doesnt bounce like the plastic machines.

    The only change I wanted was to buy a single stitch throat plate because the zig zag throat plate is a bit wide if you are sewing sheer fabric and it catches in the throat plate after a very long search I learned that they did not make a straight stitch throat plate for this machine, so I am saving you the trouble of looking.

    These machines are very popular and sell on ebay for about 500, there are alot that come up that dont work that you can buy for parts they run about $75.00 it might be a good idea because sometimes parts are a bit tough to come by.

    I think the manual is great, you can also pick up A step by step guide to you Bernina Jan Saunders, not too much new in it but it is nice to have if you can pick it up cheap.

    Enjoy the machine you will love it

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    1. I bought a single stitch throat plate for my Bernina 830 from the Bernina dealer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. I found several on line but they are not the right ones, so beware. I love my Bernina 830!

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    2. Isn't the throat plate reversible, with a zigzag space on one side and a single straight-stitch hole on the other? I assumed you could just switch it out. Am I wrong?

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  3. As a fellow Bernina 830 owner, I too celebrate your serendipitous acquisition! I acquired mine 25 years ago from a little old lady in Englewood, FL (for $320). I've been sewing since I was in grade school, on my mom's old Singer, then a Kenmore. But at age 16 (in 1976) I bought my own Singer with my burger-flipping money. It was serviceable but nothing special. When I acquired the Bernina 830, though, it was going from a little Volkswagen to a Volvo - very smooth. It's been my workhorse ever since. I piece AND quilt quilts on it with an official Bernina walking foot. Love it. Can't wait to hear more from your experience. The Bernina 830 is one of the last really solid, non-plastic beauties out there.

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  4. Peter,

    A Bernina, BERNINA!, and a Jean-a-ma-jig! You've a quirky affinity for attracting hidden gems and flotsam of the highest order (machines and people alike).

    Those stitches are drool-worthy.

    If you didn't have a foot fetish yet, you do now. Bernina feet look like trinkets Tiffany's would feature in a window or two.

    The boomerang of the Broadway babe, the fortuitous outcome, and your inner-joy beaming through the ether - it's all quintessentially MPB.

    Is it time to cull the herd? As far as machines go, it sounds as if you have found your "other".

    One who will double-needle you some other day

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    1. I should probably cull my herd...I did part with my Kenmore in a table earlier in the year, so it kinda' sorta' balances out.

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  5. LOVE my Bernina 830!! Wouldn't trade it for anything else!!

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  6. Oh the walking foot could be a game changer for you, it was for me, I pretty much only use it as my standard fot now, and the #8 for applying fishing line and embroidery threads and cords to costumes. Quite niche but super fun!!! I'm sure you know that you can use the feet on both he 830 and 930 My machines are all 1120-1230 range so the next generation after the 930, and I love them so much. They also take the same feet!

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    1. I covet those models: I've used Kenneth King's and they're quite a treat!

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    2. Maryanne, the walking foot you now use, do you know the number on the foot? Will it fit the 830?

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  7. You are so lucky! I watched Craigslist like a hawk for one of these. Took me a year to find a good one for a reasonable price. Still had to drive 2 hours to get it. I love it. I changed out the old light with an LED light and everything else has been great.

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  8. I have a Bernina 801 from my gram that looks almost identical. It is a workhorse of a machine and I've been really happy with it!

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  9. I envy you, I've never owned a Bernina and it looks wonderful.

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  10. Enjoy your new machine! How many machines do you have now?

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    1. Nancy, I think it's up to 15 but I'm honestly not sure. It's in that ballpark though.

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  11. I wondered when you would encounter a Bernina. I've had a 2nd hand Bernina 1230 for 12 years or more. My mother liked it so much that she dashed out and found an 1130. I'm glad you love yours.

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  12. Oh, I have one of these! I love it so much. Congratulations on this addition to your machines. I know you will enjoy using it.

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  13. I have the Bernina 930 and I love it. You will love those twin needles for stitching hems in knits. Takes some practice and fiddling but then you will love them too....

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  14. I have HUGE love for my 830. Always perfect tension and sublime topstitching are two remarkable features. I, too, also love that iti s a machine I can maintain myself. The only issue I have had in the 15 years I've had my machine (which was a gift from a dear friend who had an 830 of her own already) is that if I am not mindful about maintenance, I can suddenly lose my zig zag stitching. Easy fix. Just needs Bernina Machine oil in all the right paces. I use it for everything woven from quilting to garment sewing. Beautiful stitches. Stress-free machine operation. OG replacement parts still available from the manufacturer=Sewing Machine Nirvana. Enjoy!

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  15. I got a bernia minimatic on ebay a few months ago and love it. I had been thinking on getting one for a while as I wanted a machine with drop feed. I love it. Sews beautifully.
    Mine came with the embroidery hoop and some feet so that was a bonus. It also came with the manual. The manual has stitch samples on fabric as part of the book (which I had not come across before) showing all the functions and variations on the decorative stitches at different settings (mine had 5 stitch variations straight, zig zag, blind hem, curvey darn stitch, and scallop) - it also has a fine tune button which I am still figuring a bit, i think your machine has similar underneath the 2 right hand dials?
    best of luck with your new machine

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    1. I found a Bernina Minimatic 707 in a local Goodwill. Saw a plastic case on a bottom shelf and thought Hmmmm. It came with a number of presser feet AND the original manual. $12! Gave it a good oiling and it works great. Strong little machine.

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  16. What a great acquisition. Your really going to be happy with that one. Want to see what you make first and your opoinions

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  17. "Isn't the throat plate reversible, with a zigzag space on one side and a single straight-stitch hole on the other? I assumed you could just switch it out."
    I have 2 of these models - one for sewing room, one to travel - and if the throat plate reverses? I may have learned something! I'll check it out.
    You're lucky to receive its walking foot - I paid a pretty penny for mine. Still worth it.

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  18. Congrats Lucky Man! I am an original 830 owner, 40 years ago I purchased for $3000 ($10K today) It was such a financial sacrifice at the time. Still in love, guess I am a lifer!

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  19. I purchased my Bernina Record in 1976 for about $1100 which is close to $5000 in today's dollars. I have yet to replace it because it works well and does pretty much what I need it to do. It sews through anything! My foot pedal died but my machine repair guy said nothing was wrong -- the thermal switch turns off when hot and happens when you stitch slowly. When you stitch fast, the AC is on. Wait 10 minutes and it'll work again. Also, the machine needle goes up and down even when the wheel is loosened but the machine is just built that way. He advised me to flip the lever every once in a while (the one with zig zag and 1-20) to make sure it continues to function. And to keep the machine on max all the time. I have a second Bernina 830, my mother's, that I had rebuilt for my daughter because it had not been used in such a long time. She gave it back to me and I keep it because the engines are no longer available although many of the other parts are. The only thing I would change about this machine is the buttonhole maker. It is convenient and works extremely well but I would love to have beautiful keyhole buttonholes. But that would entail getting another machine like the old Singer my mother had and I don't have space. Those buttonholes were to die for!

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  20. Still loving the Bernina 730 Record I bought new in 1967. My engineer husband tells me that the "plastic" gears you see are not plastic. They are nylon, chosen because they combine long-lasting wear (even better than metal in some applications) together with quiet running. Part of why I feel my 'Nina purrs, I guess. (BTW, my Nina has become NannaNina in her old age. LOL She's still going strong. Enjoy your new machine!

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  21. Peter, That stitch #5, set on the widest width and length about 1.5 makes a great stretch stitch seam...I have been using it for years on all kinds of knits with great success on both my 930 & 1008.....

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  22. Congratulations, Peter. I have a Bernina 830. It sews very well. They are easy to clean and maintain. Peter, try sewing with your left foot on the foot pedal and use your right knee on the knee lift. Once you get used to it, it will become your third hand. (sort of) Enjoy your new acquisition.

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  23. I use a 707 minimatic for my sewing, but would love an 830. I used to use them when I taught found and textiles and I swear you could throw them across the room and they'd still work.

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  24. Great find, Peter! The machine is in beautiful condition and the stitch quality is amazing. I think you found your new favorite!

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  25. This model was so popular that I believe Bernina has begun making replacement motors for them.

    The nylon gears are replaceable with generic copies when the originals wear out. I am not sure, though, that generic parts are ever of quite the same standard as the original authentic ones.

    I wonder if the two-speed control was an optional extra that could be fitted later if desired? Mine doesn't have the switch, only a place where it normally resides.

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  26. I bought a modern machine that went kaput. I went to the dealer and traded it in for a used 830. Still using it. Still loving it. I call her Ernie. She's earned her place in the sewing studio. I have had to trade out the foot pedal once. I would love to know what walking fit goes with it. I keep my eyes open for the old style feet and try to add more bling as I go. I just got a pintuck foot, which I adore. The double needles are a treat to hem knits with.

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  27. I suspect this is going to be the beginning of a love story for you. Just bought an 809, ironically from a shop which sells stupidly expensive machines for embroidery and long arm quilting. When I said what I wanted was something that would cope with upholstery and repairs as well as venturing into making clothes their response was unhesitatingly to say "Sounds like you need a second hand Bernina." They sold me one for £100 which compared to the silly prices that seem to be happening on ebay is a real bargain. I just love it not least because it is knocking spots off my late 70s Singer whose plastic cogs have a habit of falling apart.

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  28. Peter, I have a:
    Kenmore 158.[32]
    Kenmore 158.[52]
    Both Kenmore's are very similar and same color lavendar. No one ever complains about the very awful shiny plate on some of the Kenmore models that shines in my eyes especially when threading a needle - indeed they are work horses and the very first sewing machines I owned -- second hand. Love the sound of these 158 series Kenmores.

    Next is a Singer 1948, 201-2 - strong, solid, beautiful straight stitch, lovely comforting sound to this machine. Knee pedal. Uncomplicted.

    Lastly, a Bernina 830 Electric Record - same as yours. Only just inherited this very "in pristine condition" machine! Do you know where the "numbers" are to tell exactly what year it was built? I have the red case, red box accessories, -- the shelf blah blah blah. It's easy to operate and produces a beautiful stitch. For some reason I just took to this machine easily - I feel good operating it. I smile when I sew. Nice, comforting sound.

    One thing on the vintage cabinets - no one ever seems to comment about. I cannot stand the typical vintage sewing cabinets -- they're not user friendly and hamper motion. Every one of my macines came with this type ubiquitous cabinet, small narrow child-like opening for legs, small usless drawers, and somehow the machine always got scratched by the user either opening/closing it - bad design and engineering by men! I ultimately took my machines out of the cabinets, and my husband built two work benches with the room required for manovering and better lighting. Space for a comfy chair as well. What say you?

    Good luck with your Bernina 830 and please update us on your findings. Love this blog!

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  29. I love my Bernina 830 which was I purchased 47 years ago. I has been in constant use ever since and the only thing I've had to replace is the foot pedal. One of the things that impressed me the most about the machine is that it has an overlock stitch (5) so I have never bothered to purchase an overlocker. I purchased a second Bernina 830 a few years ago in case this one died but so far haven't had to use it!

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    1. Smart to have two KayC, if the opportunity presents itself, I'm doing same!

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  30. I have owned, rehabbed, used most of the standard collectibles, and they all have a special place in my heart, especially Italian Necchi's, as I learned to sew on my mother's. BUT, the Bernina 830 Record was my HS graduation gift in 1975, and it remains my GO-TO machine for most work. Keep it covered, DON'T use Coats&Clark or other crappy thread (they have coatings that gum up the machine.) Get every foot you possibly can for it! It is billed as being self oiling, whatever that is supposed to mean, but other than cleaning out the bobbin race and a drop of oil there, I really don't oil it - this is what I was taught when I had lessons at the dealer. I will NEVER part with my 830.

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  31. There is an organization in NJ that takes used sewing machines and bicycles, donating them globally, Pedals for Progress / Sewing Peace, http://www.p4p.org/ . The sewing machines are typically used to sew for a family or build a business in a distressed area. The founder was designated a CNN Hero a few years back.

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  32. I have my mum's 830, fondly named Bernie. She was born the same year I was and has been having a rest till recently when I pulled her out again (been using my modern Juki which I also love). Bernie is going to be used on my current selection of sewing for my sons and myself; she's lovely to use.

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  33. I work for a Bernina dealer and we have an 830 on display in the foyer of our shop. The machine is a gem. I own a 930 and what I know for sure is that Bernina was a much more generous manufacturer back in the day -- I got a pile of those steel feet when I purchased mine (around 1984). These days the machines are far more expensive and offer far fewer feet. And Bernina feet are pricey!
    One piece of advice -- oil it regularly and consider having it serviced at some point by a reputable dealer. Knowledgeable service techs are worth their weight in gold. Wishing you many happy hours of sewing on your 830!

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