…the Bernina 830!
I spent six hours testing sewing machines yesterday, four on the (unfamiliar) Bernina 830 and two on the Bernette 740E. I tested on 10 fabrics: silk paj (a very lightweight habotai/china silk), silk chiffon, silk organza, muslin, a thick handwoven fabric, denim, heavy canvas duck, leather, velvet, and silk charmeuse. Both machines did fine on all 10 fabrics, including the 6 layers of denim and 6 layers of the duck! I was very impressed by this. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore!
I tested the following functions: plain seam, zigzag overcasting, overlock stitches, rolled hem, free-motion embroidery, twin needle and pintucking (for the heck of it), and bound buttonholes. Those are the things I use (or can see myself using) sewing machines for the most. I also noted things like bobbin winding, automatic needle threading, needle up/down, etc.
I concluded that, while the Bernette has more exotic “utility” stitches than the Bernina (which has 5 utility stitches plus a variety of embroidery stitches), they are mostly stitches I won’t use. The automatic needle threader and needle up/down were nice to haves, but it didn’t particularly bother me that the Bernina doesn’t have them. And since I can use the Bernette feet with the Bernina, there’s no need to repurchase feet.
So in the end it came down to the “feel” of both machines, and the Bernina 830 just “feels” nicer – it has smoother action and the foot pedal is better at providing fine control (the Bernette tends to start up too fast). It is also much faster than the Bernette, which doesn’t matter much most of the time but which might be handy if I’m doing embroidery. It also does rolled hems, which my Bernette hopelessly botches. (I suspect that is because the needle is very slightly off-center, but I’d have to get it adjusted to fix that, and since the Bernina comes out on top for other things, there doesn’t seem to be much point in doing so.)
I haven’t figured out what to do with the Bernette yet. Mike is suggesting that I store it on top of one of the closets, which I might do, but I really don’t like the idea of having an unused item sitting around gathering dust. I already have a serger (given to me by a friend and never used) occupying space – perhaps I’ll get rid of the serger and keep the Bernette. Or maybe I’ll stick with my initial resolution, and sell it.
Today I think I will head back to the DeYoung, and check out the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit, better camera in hand. But I haven’t decided yet. I might just head home and work on the Celtic Braid Coat!