Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sewing Machine Sundays: Bernina Record 730




Examining the Bernina Record 730 in the seller's garage, and watching him test it out. I had initially been interested in the other machine just out of the frame, a Bernina Minimatic 807, but he quickly convinced me that this was in far better condition and a better deal overall.


I have been using this almost daily since I brought it home almost two months ago, and it has lived up to its billing. Made in Switzerland circa 1969, the Record 730 was the top-of-the-line Bernina sewing machine and came with lots of fancy features - 20 embroidery stitches, automatic buttonholes, option of dropping feed dogs - that I have yet to use.


The free-arm is supplemented by a removable extension table for sewing larger surfaces - I use it like this most of the time. Not pictured are the foot pedal, original manual, and lots of presser feet and extra bobbins that came with the machine.


Aesthetically, I find it really quite nice to look at. A bit intimidating at first, of course, until you figure out what all the different knobs do and get used to it. Now we are good friends. The rounded curves remind me of the design aesthetic of typewriters from the same period (think curvy Hermes 3000) and in fact this is in sharp contrast to its boxier successors, the Bernina Record 830 or Bernina Record 930.


This machine has spoilt me for any others, really. It has worked so wonderfully well "out of the box" that I thought surely others must be the same and have tried my luck on a few more vintage machines, with mediocre results.

Part of it is surely that I bought it from a seller who has lots of experience with sewing machines and made sure this was in fantastic form - he was so confident, in fact, that he emailed me thirty days after the sale asking if I wanted to return it and get my money back. Not a chance!


A look under the hood - there is a lot of impressive engineering to see here, and the nice part is that virtually all of it is solid, durable metal. The red dots mark the oiling holes, and the stack of cams in the middle are for the different embroidery stitches.


I gave them a try when I first brought the machine home - an advanced typing sample, if you will. Works beautifully. Haven't had a chance to use them in an actual project yet, but perhaps one day.

And here you may be asking yourself - why the recent obsession with sewing machines, Adwoa? Are you actually making anything? Well, yes. There was that couch cover, of course, and the matching skirt. But, this weekend, when I headed off to Zurich for a wedding, I had the perfect opportunity to debut a dress I had recently completed using wax print fabric I brought back from Accra in April and working from a sewing pattern designed by a young Canadian lady:


Voila! Sewed entirely on my fabulous Bernina Record 730.


(Typecast courtesy of Scheidegger Princess-Matic)

17 comments:

  1. Well, your first fully sewing machine related post, but you included a typecast to appease the 'sphere. (:

    I can say you've put your sewing machines to good work - loved the couch & matching skirt, and your new dress looks very nice! (of course the big smile and the wonderful river background is an excellent setting for it!)

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  2. Great dress! Congratulations on your machine.

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  3. I love seeing the works inside. The cams are very interesting. Thanks for sharing. Maybe a video at some point too?
    Also, well done on the dress, I'm sure it was a hit.

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  4. A beautiful dress on a beautiful girl! I've got a collection of sewing machines to go with my typewriter collection. Mech Elnas and Berninas from the postwar period are just such mechanical perfection that one can't imagine them ever wearing out. I have 6 Bernies, but my machines from the age group of your 730 are all Elnas. Congratulations! Richard K/Texas

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  5. love your blog and I am from Malaysia, I am a vintage typewriter collector and love all your typewriters that you blogged here in this blog. Congrats on the sewing machine and nice dress to a beautiful lady. I wish I am your neighbour so that I can go vintage hunting for typewriter with you and thanks for sharing.

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    1. Nice to meet you, Blossominch! Let me know if you are ever near Geneva and we will definitely go typewriter hunting together :)

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  6. If I sewed, I'd probably collect old sewing machines as well. Vintage machinery of any kind is amazing.

    Wonderful dress there!
    May I ask: Does the cost of fabric make it more expensive or less expensive to sew your own clothes? My wife wanted to try making clothes, until she saw the cost of raw fabric. It's quite expensive in the states. About the only reason to rationalize the cost of sewing something oneself is if one wants something very specific that can't already be found, otherwise store bought clothing is less expensive. In the past, it was cheaper to make one's own clothes. Now it's the other way around. That's too bad, because there's something charming about doing things the old fashioned way.

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    1. Great question! I think cost is not the only reason some people choose to make their own clothes - personal satisfaction, creativity, customization, and just plain fun. It's nice not to have to wear the same H&M dresses everyone else is - which I found too thin, too short, too clingy, no linings, no pockets... now I can do something about that.

      There's a lot more to be said that I won't go into for fear of typing all night, but I will add that it can certainly be cheaper to make your own clothes than to purchase them. Many of us find raw fabric at thrift stores (another reason to go besides looking for typewriters, which is nice), or buy "used" on eBay or similar (the nice thing about buying raw fabric secondhand is the seller never used it either; they just sell because they never got around to using it/ found it at an estate sale). At least in Switzerland, I find fabric stores just as exhausting and expensive as the clothing stores I'm trying to avoid, so I steer clear and build up my stash in other ways. It has worked well... maybe too well; I almost have more fabric now than actual clothing! So, do tell your wife it's possible, and encourage her to start browsing for inspiration (sewweekly.com is a good place to start).

      Last thing - there is so much more to the cost of a garment than the price tag in the store, and I have found it fascinating to read about the consequences of having such ready access cheap clothing: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/fashion/2012/06/the_salvation_army_and_goodwill_inside_the_places_your_clothes_go_when_you_donate_them_.html

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  7. I just ordered a fully serviced/documented 1971 Record 730, I must say your blog inspired me! I have been researching endlessly for a week now on the internet, both new and old machines. I do not do tons of sewing, but I'd rather have a vintage gem than a new cheaper model any day. Hopefully it will inspire me :) Plus it's almost Halloween, time to get creative. My simple old Singer which I purchased about 20 years ago is on the blink (I will get it serviced eventually) My new sewing machine will be a year older than me, Lol.

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  8. nice dress!! love the machine as well and your beautiful smile! thanks for sharing God Bless, Ann from KY

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  9. Well, in my case, the kindly old lady you mention in your first blog, is my mother. I found the Bernina sitting in the sun room, much used in years gone by, but more recently, long ignored. My father gave it to my mother as a gift, and it has travelled from their home in Angola, to Cape Town, and then came with them to England in the early '70s. It is a treasure. Whenever I visit my mother, I get out the machine and set it up in the sitting room, where she can sit in her big chair and quietly watch me. It can do some amazing things. I am not much past decorative drawstring bags yet, but am surprised at how easy it is, and how attractive they look. Am still trying out the various presser feet, and find that the instruction booklet is not too helpful in distinguishing between them all. I have run into another problem you may be able to help me with. When you use the double needle, how do you prevent the two threads from twisting together? Have you found great sources on the Net to help you in mastering this beautiful machine?
    Thanks, Elizabeth (at the moment sewing away at my mother's, in England).

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  10. Congratulations on your find! Sounds like you're doing it proud.
    Are you certain you never met my mother? Your imagined story could have been dead on. And your machine is the same model as her workhorse that sewed many a Halloween, Christmas pageant or other costume and all of our clothing until we started grammar school. Oh, the memories! I first used it at the age of 6 to make a halter top (gotta love the 70's). I'm so jealous that I ever let my brother steal it away!

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  11. I'm actually looking to sell my my Bernina Record 730 if anyone is interested! It was my mum's and I love love it, but it needs a new home now.

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    1. I would like to buy it if it's still available.

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    2. I would like to buy it if it's still available.

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  12. I'm actually looking to sell my my Bernina Record 730 if anyone is interested! It was my mum's and I love love it, but it needs a new home now.

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