Resurrected sewing machine!
June 22, 2014 5:10 PM   Subscribe

I found my Bernette for Bernina 6800 which has been in storage of some kind since I last used it, over a decade ago. I would love to get it running again and get a lot of use out of it--what should be my next steps?

The machine was a gift when I was in my early teens; I used it a few times and then grew frustrated (probably not enough measuring before cutting). I think I remember it was always jamming up on me, but I'm again hoping that was user error and not a problem with the machine.

So, if you know about these things, where should I take the machine to make sure it's in good shape? Can I do this myself? Where can I get spare parts? Is this actually a terrible machine that I should get rid of and buy another?
posted by chaiminda to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not an expert - just an amateur sewer with a Bernina. Still, the older Berninas have a great reputation. I don't know whether yours is old enough to have all-metal parts (those are usually the best), but I'm sure that whatever it is will be fine. I'd take it to a sewing machine repair shop in your area (sometimes they are joined with vacuum repair places) and have it looked over, just to see if anything needs to be serviced before you use it. Once they give it the thumbs up, I think you're good to go. You may decide, if you get serious about sewing, that you want a snazzier sewing machine - maybe one of the computerized ones. But I'd give your Bernina a try first, especially if you're an amateur. The newer fancier computerized ones can produce great results, but my understanding is that they're harder to fix and generally get out of date with the software. You really can't go wrong with having a sturdy older one, and Bernina is one of the most reliable brands.
posted by ClaireBear at 5:18 PM on June 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Call around to local quilt stores...they will know where to take it to get it up and running smoothly. Since it sat so long I would definitely get it professionally tuned up.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 5:29 PM on June 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

Fellow Bernina owner. I wouldn't do it yourself; take it to a local sewing shop that deals specifically with Berninas if you can. They'll give it a full tune-up (not cheap, $80-100, but it'll get you back to great working order). From there, keep it oiled regularly and it'll will be fine for a good long time.

Oh wait. On preview just realized who/where you are. This place I think does Berninas, though their site doesn't say so. The place I bought mine and have had tune ups closed down or else I'd recommend that.

OH OH OH BETTER YET, The Haberdashery in Easthampton is doing a sewing machine maintenance class on July 12th. Half the price of what a tune up would cost.
posted by dayintoday at 5:49 PM on June 22, 2014 [3 favorites]

Do you have the manual? If not, do you remember how to operate it? If not, do you have a friend that's uses a sewing machine a lot.

I would pull it out, give it an oil, and see if you can wind the needle up and down by hand (I have no idea what this is called. My sewing machine has a big wheel on the right that I can turn forwards and manually sew). If that works, thread it up, stick some fabric under the foot and try to sew a few stitches by manually winding the wheel forward. If that works, plug it in, and try it with the foot pedal.

If it jams, get it serviced. Given it's age, it's worth servicing anyway. Sewing machines need to be serviced on a regular basis.
posted by kjs4 at 6:00 PM on June 22, 2014

If you can clear out the dust and oil it and see how it works yourself, I'd do that first. That may be all you need to do, especially if it's mostly mechanical rather than computerized.

It's not a bad idea to get it serviced, but note: It will likely be pricey. I couldn't find your specific model but I do know Berninas tend to be slightly higher-end (but the Bernette line may be the lower-end side? I can't tell) so it may be worth it to get it in good working order, especially if you like it (although the fact you said it was always jamming up on you tells me that's not the case).

However, it's worth noting you can get a decent basic sewing machine new for a couple hundred dollars ... and that's what it may cost you to get yours in working order.

I am a big fan of getting things fixed, but in this case, it may be better in the long run just to spend the money on a new machine

(Source: My mom who was a dressmaker for 20 years and still fusses with her sewing machine and serger.)
posted by darksong at 8:28 PM on June 22, 2014

I have my mother's 30 year old Kenmore that I has been fighting with (it jammed and was generally cranky). I took it to my local Sew & Vac and it works much better now! I think it was about $90.
posted by leahwrenn at 8:29 PM on June 22, 2014

I agree with dayintoday: it's absolutely worth getting it serviced by a certified Bernina technician. Cost IME is $80 - 100. Bernette is the lower-end branch of Bernina, and even so, a properly serviced Bernette will be way, way better than any sewing machine you could buy new for even twice the cost of servicing. The tech will take it apart, clean it, oil it, and readjust the tension. They'll make sure it's running like new. They'll probably also be happy to give you a refresher on threading it, winding and loading the bobbin, and oiling it yourself.
posted by a fair but frozen maid at 1:41 PM on June 23, 2014

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