A new one in the team

Every now and then I write about the little helpers without all the sewing projects I post here wouldn’t be possible. They do have their own tag and once in a while they even get a post all for themselves (some of these posts were deleted when my blog moved to the new url a year ago, at the moment there is only one post left online).

I am talking about my sewing machines. Whereas many bloggers sew after historical patterns most of them use more or less modern sewing machines and don’t talk about them a great deal. But antique mechanics fascinates me and despite the lack of space I can’t help allowing another machine to join my “collection” every now and then. Apart from having to be somehow interesting to me they do have to work. Apart from 1,5 exceptions all my machines can still sew and are still, more or less often, in use (1,5 because one is actually working but the wire needs to be replaced and without this being done I don’t dare to use it, the other may even be working but I never tried, it is even older than the other and I want my father to check the wires and change the plug before I try).

The age of my machines ranges from the early 1900s to the late 1960ies. The oldest two are handwheel-operated and not very handy to work with, these are the ones I use least. The two I use most are my 1948 Singer Featherweight and my foot pedal-operated Pfaff 30 from 1932.

Today I want to show you the newest addition to the family, but there is a little story behind. Last year in Spring my father and I were browsing ebay for fun, searching for special sewing machines and children’s ones (my father collects the latter). This all went via telephone and emails because we live 700km apart. Amongst all the other fun and/or interesting links he sent me the auction link to a General Electric Sewhandy. As it turned out, this model was copied by Singer with the well-known Featherweight.


As you can imagine this was an auction on ebay.com (I can’t imagine finding the GE on german ebay). My father knew he would fly to the US later that year so he won the auction and had it send to a friend of his. We already were a little confused when the link with the tracking number said something about a 40 pounds-package (the GE-machine was supposed to weight 12 pounds). But my father didn’t want to cause any extra work and decided to wait until he got to the United States himself in the summer, we couldn’t think of anything really going wrong.


Well…it did. When he finally came to open the package he did not find, as expected, a cute 30ies green GE sewing machine, but a massive beige 60ies Bernina. Bummer!

All attempts to contact the seller were ineffective and so he had to decide what to do with it. The GE would have fitted into his suitcase, the Bernina definitely was a piece of luggage on its own and the airline asked a ridiculously high price for it. But my father didn’t have the heart to dump it. So many accessories came with it, the manual, the case, everything was there and in pretty good condition and the machine itself was working.


On the spur of the moment he removed the needle, put all loose parts and his intended hand luggage in his suitcase and headed to the security check with the Bernina to board with him. Technically a small sewing machine as hand luggage shouldn’t be a problem, still it is advised to inform the security personnel beforehand because it is a rather unusual object to take with you. Well he didn’t have the time to do so and this machine was everything but small. And being 40 pounds it was just a tiny bit heavier than the 16 pounds allowed for hand luggage.

my right hand isn't even capable of holding the camera properly
my right hand isn’t even capable of holding the camera properly, please excuse the blurryness.

Well…it worked! Back in Germany he bought a power transformer to make it work with the 230 V  voltage here in Europe and when my brother came to help us with the move to our new apartment, he brought the Bernina with him.

My dear, welcome home!


It is a Bernina 730, a very strong and reliable machine built from 1963-1982, mine is the record variant. According to the serial number it was built in 1969.


What makes the 730 special is the then new knee lift. This is not, as with other machines I own, used instead of the foot pedal, but serves as a third hand to lift the sewing foot. Until today this system is available for most Bernina machines.


And another thing makes this machine special: To sew decorative stitches it was long necessary to insert little discs into a certain slot. The shape of the disc determined the stitch. That meant that you were able to use a vast variety of stitches, but that you had to store all discs in a separate box. The 730 has a dizzying mechanic inside that makes it possible to chose from a set of decorative stitches without changing any discs at all.

no wonder this country is also famous for its clockworks
no wonder this country is also famous for its clockworks

I already sewed a little bit with it and it really works great. I even sew knits and it feels ok (I hate sewing knits, but I need to reduce my storage)! What I haven’t tried out yet is how the decorative stitches look but I see no reason why they shouldn’t work.


And because all these machines get far too little attention on this blog (and maybe on others, too), I plan to introduce a little series related to them so stay curious!


See you soon, love,



21 thoughts on “A new one in the team

  1. Alte Maschinen sind so schön. Ein Schmuckstück. Witzig finde ich ja auch, dass man Münzen einstecken musste, um einen speziellen Stich nähen zu können. Ich habe eine einzige ganz alte Nähmaschine, die erste elektrische von Singer. Ein Prachtstück. Und auf Youtube gibt’s sogar Anleitungsfilmchen, wie der Unterfaden eingelegt wird usw (nicht einfach). Aber ich nähe immer mit der modernen Maschine, denn die hat wenigstens einen Zickzackstich. Ich finde es irre, dass du die unterschiedlichsten Maschinen ausprobierst. LG mila

  2. Uiuiui, die erste Elektro-Singer, ist das die von 1899 (da kam die erste elektrische auf den Markt und ich meine die war von Singer)? Ich habe noch eine elektrische Singer aus den 20ern, das ist eben besagtes Maschinchen was mein Vater sich erst anschauen soll, 90 Jahre alte Technik ist mir dann doch etwas unsicher.
    Ich muss zugeben ich bin unheimlich versäuberungsfaul. Bei dünnen Stoffen mach ich französische Nähte, sonst nehm ich die Zickzack-Schere, ich versäuber so gut wie nie, daher stört es mich kaum, dass meine das nicht können. Aber die Bernina macht einen sehr schönen Zickzack-Stich, deshalb benutze ich sie ja jetzt zum Jersey nähen.
    Für die Featherweight habe ich sogar einen Zickzack-Fuß, der ruckelt dann den Stoff immer hin und her, so dass auf dem Stoff eine Zickzack-Naht trotz Gradstich entsteht. Allerdings funktioniert das in der Praxis meist nicht so toll wie es sollte 🙂

  3. Wow, what a story! I think it’s kinda cool that it works, even if it’s not what you were hoping it would be. I have a suspiciously similar model given to me by my Grandma: a Lada T132 from late 1950s. It too has this funny knee lever! It doesn’t, however, sport the stylish decorative stitches dial (although it does sew all of them). Sadly, I can’t get it to work for some unknown reason. It seems to work without fabric but put a scrap of fabric under the foot and bummer, it won’t make a stitch. I only have a Russian instruction booklet for it and since my Russian isn’t very fluent, I’m having a hard time getting to the bottom of this… But there’s no urgent need for that, my trusty Singer 7110 is just fine and we’re getting to know each other better and better.

    I must also agree that sewing machines do feel like small helpers with their moods and caprices and some silly ideas… and sometimes smart ones, too ;).

  4. Das ist genau die Nähmaschine, auf der ich nähen gelernt habe! Leider ist sie meiner Mutter irgendwann kaputt gegangen und konnte wegen verzogenen Teilen und fehlenden Ersatzteilen nicht mehr repariert werden… Schön, dass ihre Zwillingsschwester bei dir einziehen durfte!

  5. Ja, genau, die ist uralt, von 1890irgendwas. Habe gerade versucht den Holzdeckel zu öffnen, um die Typenbezeichnung abzulesen, aber das Schloss hat sich verzogen. Ist jetzt geölt – und ich bin von dir inspiriert, das gute Stück auch mal herzuzeigen.
    Ich bin übrigens sehr auf deine Deko-Stiche gespannt. Der mit den kleinen Rechtecken sieht toll aus. LG mila

  6. Thank you Klara. Well, I have never met the one I wanted to have instead, so it doesn’t feel that bad.
    Very cool that you have a similar one. Especially high quality machines from the 50ies and 60ies are so reliable and very hard to break, so there is a great deal of them on the market and I would always prefer them to a cheap modern one.
    When you mean it doesn’t work: The needle does move but it doesn’t make a proper stitch? Maybe you have to thread the needle from the side. It took me very long to realize that the Featherweight is threaded from right to left and not from left to right. Modern machines mostly thread from the front, so maybe the needle should be turned around by 90°? When the thread comes from the wrong direction the loop can’t catch the bobbin thread and therefore doesn’t interlace the two threads.

  7. Ja, mein Vater hatte eigentlich eine andere in Amerika ersteigert. Der Verkäufer hat dummerweise die falsche geschickt und so brachte er diese Bernina mit nach Hause. Aber sie näht sehr gut und hat einen Haufen Zierstiche, also beschwer ich mich sicher nicht 🙂

  8. Das find ich ja lustig. Schade dass deine nicht repariert werden konnte, aber es gibt sie noch recht häufig, auch wenn sie nicht gerade billig sind.
    Und hätte ich auf so einer nähen lernen dürfen, hätte ich wohl einige frustrierende Momente weniger gehabt, meine erste war eine 70er Jahre Panoramic, ein absolutes Billig-Modell aus olivgrünem Plastik *schauder*

  9. How gorgeous! My father bought a “side” table off Ebay and it turned out to be a sewing table with a Singer treadle in working order included. I was over the moon and used it when I returned home over summer. Funny how our helpers become part of the family!

  10. Hahahah, that was quite the funny and exciting story, how you came to own your “newest” sewing machine! 😀 It’s great your dad went to all that trouble for you!

  11. Aloha Ette,
    zwar seeeehr spät, aber besser als nie;-), ich wollte dir nämlich unbedingt noch ein gutes, neues Jahr wünschen.
    Das mit der Kommentarpanik ist absolut kein Problem, wie du siehst bin ich ja auch jetzt gerade zum Veröffentlichen gekommen. Hatte jetzt meine erste Arbeitswoche nach dem Urlaub und bin einfach nur platt, du kannst mich echt vom Boden aufwischen. Gut das wir nun den wohlverdienten Freitag haben.
    Na das dein Männe deine schönen Bemühungen an Weihnachten einfach ignoriert hat, ist ja super -.-‘
    Gibts denn noch ein Foto von dem Pünktchenrock oder habe ich den Post sogar überlesen O.o? Das passiert mir wiederum in letzter Zeit sehr oft, da ich oft in der Pause die Blogs durchstöbere und mir dann auch nicht alle neuen Einträge angeziegt werden, was ich mehr als nervig finde.

  12. Wow, what a great surprise that must have been. And yes, somehow they do feel like family. At least I don’t give them names^^

  13. Then it has to be good, when it is your favourite. In fact it seems quite popular and is rather expensive in good condition, so this was really a lucky mix-up, could have ended up with something less useful.

  14. Yes, it was a fun story indeed. But to be exact, my dad bought the GE because he was curious, I never said I wanted to have it. But after all, I am very happy that he did buy this machine, kept it and gave it to me.

  15. Ach, es ist doch noch Januar 😉
    Dir auch ein frohes Neues! Und dass dein Jahr hoffentlich weniger anstrengend wird als die letzte Woche. Bei mir ist es genau anders herum, ich muss grad Überstunden abbauen, dafür weiss ich dass die nächsten Wochen schlimm werden.
    Und Weihnachten war schon ok, es war eigentlich sehr lustig, mit Jogginghose und Damasttischdecke zu feiern. Immerhin hat er ja mein Weihnachtsmenü akzeptiert, böse wär ich gewesen, wenn er Pizza bestellt hätte 🙂
    Nein, du hast keinen Post überlesen, ich schreibe ihn jetzt grad 😉

  16. Ette, I missed this post, but I think you will be very happy with that machine! There are some very good stitches for knits on there. Have fun with it!

  17. In fact I am not a big fan of knits, but with this sewing machine I even managed to sew a shirt, the first one in years. I am really happy with how it copes with knits, so even though they will never become a favourite of mine, I still might give some projects a try, finally.

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