Double Vision

A few weeks back my circa 1969 Bernina sewing machine started behaving a little, um…temperamental.

I LOVE my vintage Bernina – nothing fancy or flashy about it.  It’s just a brilliant, solid, reliable workhorse of a machine that has seen me through projects a-plenty.  This wee glitch in performance got me wondering what I would do if and when my machine decided to call it quits for reals.  Frankly I’m terrified of having to buy and work on a brand new, modern machine.

Ages ago one of my accountability partners – fabulous textile artist Lisa Call – confided that she owns 3 of the same machine that she prefers to work on.  It made complete sense to me: a primary machine, a secondary machine for when your primary’s in getting serviced, and a third – if for nothing other than parts.  I vowed that I would be smart like Lisa and keep my eyes open for a backup Bernina…and then I promptly filed it in the back of my mind under “things to do later”.

Turns out “later” is now.

On the eve of The Stoppening (#RefusalToSew, #OhDearGodsNo), I perused Vancouver craigslist.  To my surprise I found a Bernina – same model, same era – as the one I’ve been happily using for the past 22 years.  I was ecstatic. The ad claimed the machine was in good working order, so even though the location was an hour’s drive outside Vancouver I called and made an appointment to pick it up on the weekend.

“Good working order” turned out to be dubious, with the bobbin case not clicking into place properly causing the machine to seize and jam after an inch of rough-sounding sewing.  I took a risk and bought it anyway, betting that once I took the machine in for servicing it would run like a charm.

I wasn’t wrong.

A week and one tune-up later I am now the proud owner of a pair of smooth running Bernina 731s.


My original machine, “Bernie” is on the left. On the right is my new old machine, “Sussbauer” (named in honour of the original owner – yup, the 1970 certificate of ownership is still in the case).

The new old machine doesn’t run quite as smoothly as my original.  I suspect that this is because it has been a long while since Sussbauer has been regularly used and cared for.  I’m confident that if I trade off sewing tasks between the two, Sussbauer will soon achieve the level of smooth performance that I enjoy from Bernie.  Let me tell you, it is so-o-o-o nice not having to change thread colours back and forth when I’m switching up sewing tasks.

Now if only I could find another Jody MacDonald on craigslist I could double my workflow…

Do you work with “vintage” equipment that you’d be lost without?  Are you hoarding multiple copies of said equipment?  Don’t be shy – share your story in the comments!

One Response to “Double Vision”

  1. Lisa Call says:

    Congratulations! One can never have too many backups.



    (my sewing machine, a pfaff 1475 – now 20 years old, has a computer – hence I think I need at least 2 more as I fear they will not last forever – or at least another 50 years, which is how long I plan on sewing – my grandma made it to her early 90s. )