Thursday, December 21, 2006


I'm the proud owner of a Bernina 830, the best sewing machine on earth. In my mind, anyways. It's the same model (although not the same machine) that my grandma taught me to sew with when I was 5. So in addition to being a kick-ass machine, it also has some sentimental value. I bought it (used, of course - it's 30 years old) from a Bernina dealer in Nebraska 3 or 4 years ago. I LOVE IT. I take extra good care of it, I have it cleaned every year at a Bernina dealer and I clean and oil it regularly at home. It is one of my most prized possessions. I have never, ever had any problems with it. Until yesterday.

I was quilting a table runner and I could *not* get the tension right. One of the top reasons I bought the machine is because it's so good at automatically adjusting the tension that I hardly ever have to fuddle with the tension knob. And when I do, it is only slightly. This is such a big selling point for me because it was such a pain in the ass to adjust the tension on my mom's old sewing machine that I totally quit sewing for a couple years. If I have to adjust the tension knob every time I sit down to sew something I WILL NOT SEW. I hate tension knobs that much.

Yesterday there were GIGANTIC loops of thread on the back of the fabric, and they would NOT disappear no matter how I adjusted the tension. I ended up rethreading the machine three times, fuddling with the tension knob - testing it at every possible setting, and finally got it working with the tension set just to the left of the '+' sign. It was working awesome until the bobbin ran out and then I had the same problem all over again! I ended up rethreading and fuddling with the tension for another 20 minutes before it worked right again. Then it happened AGAIN with the third bobbin. And every time it would end up working with the tension knob set to the same spot, but only after 20 minutes of trial and error. What the hell!?! Of course this happens as I'm working on a Christmas present 2 days before it needs to be finished. And it happens when I'm doing free motion quilting... admittedly something that I am an amatuer at. I don't know what to do. Is this normal to have to adjust the tension when you're quilting, as opposed to sewing garments? Does anyone have any suggestions? I am just crossing my fingers and hoping that I can get the binding sewn on tonight before the bobbin runs out again. And I'm hoping that there's nothing seriously wrong with my machine! I would be totally crushed if it broke :*(


  1. So what happened to your sewing machine? I'm considering buying the same machine at my local sewing shop.

  2. UPDATE: I found out that when you're quilting you're supposed to thread your bobbin thread through a hole in the arm of the bobbin casing to help adjust the tension. I tried this, and it does work much, MUCH better. So my sewing machine is not broken, I just didn't know how to use it correctly. I would still recommend buying a Bernina 830 over any other model sewing machine!