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.
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.
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,