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Sewing Machines and Overlockers...

Sewing Tools

...Have been in the market for a new overlocker and sewing machine recently.  I have done some research online, read reviews and looked at what others have said on their blogs and have made a list of what I am looking for.

What I want in an Overlocker and Sewing Machine:

  • need something semi industrial or at least very reliable and fast.
  • Not 100% sure what a walking foot is but I'm sure I need it!
  • With the sewing machine I don't need all the fancy stitches, and I probably won't be embroidering or quilting anytime soon.
  • Do need a good button hole, onestep if possible.
  • differential feed on the over locker, at least 4 thread.
  • Rolled hem option also with the overlocker.
  • Tension is always a problem with me so need machines that keep fairly easy tension or at least are easy to get good tension.
  • Both machines need to be able to sew all types of material.
  • And I can get lessons, phone support and servicing for both machines.
I don't know how much sewing I will be actually doing, whether just as a domestic/sample sewing, or whether I will sew more than just a few pieces of clothing a week.  I decided however to go for the non industrial versions and upgrade later on if necessary. The machines that kept cropping up the most in forums, blogs, etc., was Bernina, they said things such as 'reliable', 'workhorse', 'wouldn't part with it' etc. I narrowed my selections down to the following:

Sewing machines:

Bernina 1008 $1200-1599 or the 1031 (an older model similar to the 1008 I think(??) but slightly faster @ 1100 stitches/minute.) $600+ on Ebay

This is listed as a  semi industrial machine on the Bernina site.  I first read about the 1008 on Gertie's New Blog for Better Sewing, an emotive, well written review, especially from someone who loves their machine, gets me every time.  It does help, however that it:
  • sews a 1050 stitches per minute, (an average household sewing machine has approx700-900 stitches per minute),  it is robust, and reliable, and does not tangle up, which is good enough for me.
  • It is a mechanical machine, as opposed to a computerized one, this appeals because I am not 100% comfortable with computerized anything let alone what will become my dearest friend:)
  • It has only the basic set of 17 stitches, which includes 1 button hole,
  • Is made out of metal and not plastic.
The woman at Craft Depot today, let me know that the 1008 is used in schools, and rather a few reviews, said that it was an entry level machine, and good for beginners, having all the basics for fuss free sewing, is easy to use, and  is reliable and hardy.   However at $1200+ here in Australia, it may be out of reach of the average beginners. Found a great review here at for the 1031, not sure if you need to log in or not to read the review. PROS I like the fact that it is fuss free. Can sew really fast. Is reliable and will last hopefully a lifetime! It is not plastic!! CONS Doesn't have all the bells and whistles, (but I won't use them anyway, it would just be a waste of money for me.) Have read a couple of reviews that state, that they have had a few tension problems with the 1008.  But if buying new I would take classes to familiarise myself with all the machines quirks. It is heavy.

Bernina 950 (second hand) $450+ of Ebay

This is an industrial machine, but as it is listed as only $450 am not worried that it will cost too much.  I do have concerns that it will not be up to scratch and that I would need to have it at least serviced before I use it. But I think for the speed I can get out of it (2000 stitches per minute) then it would be worth consideration.

Bernina 350 $1299+

This is brand new from a local dealer, it was recommended when I bought my overlocker of her, and it does sound great on the website although it only has 900 stitches per minute.  (I know I keep on going on about speed, you might think that speed may not be an important part of this equation, but coming from a clothing factory background, with all the work done on industrial machines, ruins you for the run of the mill home machine hehe.) Off the Bernina Website Modern LCD Display Threader Stitch Length / Stitch Width Direct Stitch Selection Automatic Buttonhole Quick Reverse Button Start/Stop Button Speed Control Thread Tension Two Spool Holders Thread Cutter LED Sewing Light Extension Table

Bernina 830 Record (second hand) $350+ off Ebay also.

Also with great reviews, I like the idea that I can get a reliable machine for hopefully under $500.  This is a very old model, manufactured between 1975-1983 I think.  The one I had my eye on was a bit worse for wear, cosmetically.   Have found another listing, same price, but in much better condition.  The stitches per minute is a nice 1100 so no slow mo here.  Everyone makes it sound almost like a dream machine without the extras which I would never need.

The Decision

I'm just not sure, I have two 2nd hand ones at the moment, a really cheap brand and a Singer, exactly like my mum used to have.  Unfortunately both are very disappointing, so another 2nd hand machine is not my top priority, but those reviews on all the above models!!  


The overlocker was not too had a decision to make.  I only wanted something that was reliable, not too expensive, differential feed, four thread's+, those are all things that come pretty standard these days.  I decided on the Bernina 700D, which was not in stock, but got delivered earlier this week.  Overlocks beautifully straight out of the box, I am a very happpy chappy!  

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