Saturday, December 04, 2010

musings...mechanical vs. computerized

So, do you buy your own birthday gifts? It's sort of my favorite part of the year, buying my own birthday and Christmas gifts. I plot and plan and shop all year long. Today the mailman (woman, thankfully) honked as I was getting out of the shower, so I could run out in my bathrobe (and wet hair) and sign for this beautiful, SPECTACULAR birthday gift (from me, to me):

Yellow rose-cut diamond in sterling silver and gold:

The ring was handcrafted by 2TrickPony on Etsy, and Rachel was FABULOUS to deal with. Love her shop mucho!

Mailwoman might have also dropped off these, but that would make my birthday gift slightly over budget. (Who am I gonna tell though? Me? Shhh. I'm not paying attention.)

Then there's the issue of Christmas gift, which hasn't arrived but WAS paid for with birthday money from my parents (and a bit thrown in from me. Again.) It's this beauty:

Yes, a mechanical 1978 Bernina 830. Be still my heart.

I seem to be on a mechanical sewing machine kick, since earlier this year I bought a Singer 221 Featherweight. I find I'm craving more simplicity and am moving toward a "back to basics" mindset.

Is that old age? ;) Maybe it's wisdom. In any case, I don't find computerized everything is really doing it for me, and I fear the throwaway mentality that is taking over our universe (sewing universe included). Good grief, I've had to have a new iron every year or two it seems! Ditto toasters, computers, phones (land line and cell), printer, etc etc etc. What happened to craftsmanship that lasts and lasts?

Do you know I have a late 1950s hand mixer (turquoise, love!) that is still going strong? I love that thing and I search to this day for a replacement/backup in case she ever does die on me. My car is almost 6 years old and I just paid it off about a year ago, yet...its clanking and clinking and making an awful noise right now. Do I really want to fork over money on a new one that will likely need replacing in 5 years? Uh, no.

I am many of you currently sew on a mechanical sewing machine versus a computerized one? Or maybe you have both, but prefer/love your mechanical (or computerized) for ______ reason(s)?

I have been saving into my penny fund for this Bernina 830 and watching ebay and Craigslist for a gem, knowing my parents would give me moolah for my birthday this year to make up the difference. I'm pretty darn excited for it to get here so I can start playing!

I'll have to compile our mechanical versus computerized responses/thoughts and do another post later, when she gets here and I have more photos!

Off to work on my HP skirt! (Yes, I've decided to perservere. Especially since I now have new Colette patterns to ogle too.)


  1. I like, no LOVE, my computerized Viking for regular sewing. But for topstitching, I'm very much in love with my mechanical Vikings (yes, plural). They are tanks and stitch beautifully through anything. As I'm sure your new Bernina will too. Have fun!!

  2. I love my Babylock Espire for all her cool bells and whistles, but if I have a big heavy job to do, I bust out the mechanicals because in my experience the computerized machines choke. I have an abandoned Riccar that I snagged at the Recycle depot (the attendant was just glad to have someone take it out of there) that earned her spot sailing through a heavy weight vinyl upholstery project like it was muslin. I wouldn't even attempt something like that with a computerized machine! Like all machines...they have pros and cons. Congratulations on your new Bernie!

  3. 20 year old mechanical. Not even a brand name. Yet it works, and I'm hesitant to wish for something else. The great difference I presume is between having a sewing machine or not having one, not between having a great or basic model. Or so I hope.

  4. I have a Bernina 440QE. It is a nice machine but the love of my life is a mechanical Bernina 910 that is probably thirty years old. She is a beauty and I love her. No matter what I do or how many layers I sew, I have never knocked her out of time, she is like the energizer bunny just goes and goes. Also have a 50-60 year old Pfaff that runs great too.

  5. I love, love, love my computerized Babylock, and have not taken the cover off my old mechanical machine since I got the new one. But the mech. one was not a great machine. A tank, for sure, but with many irksome features I was glad to leave behind. I've known HOW to sew for decades, but only came to LOVE sewing after getting a computerized machine.

    My (pricey!) new toaster didn't even last a year of infrequent use. I am so annoyed I am living without toast rather than replace it.

    My grandmother's* c. 1950 blender kept going in my kitchen through the end of the century; I've gone through three new ones since 2000.

    * word verification: gramme

  6. I bet you are going to LOVE that Bernina! I have a Bernina Aurora 430 and it is computerized but not so much that it no longer resembles a mechanical. I am so in love with it.
    However, I like to think "what if"... and What if I were setting up a sewing lounge? What if money were no object, what would I buy for the lounge. My leading fantasy answer is a bunch of mechanical Berninas.
    I do have other fantasy answers. Kinda like fantasy football.

  7. Alison1:38 PM

    Like Marie, I have a mechanical Bernina 910 that I love. It was a gift from my parents in 1984 and still hums along as smoothly as ever. So solid! Enjoy your new Bernina!

  8. I have a mechanical Janome. I have it because it was second cheapest machine on the market at the time. (the cheapest wouldn't make a button hole.) Cost was a big consideration when I bought it. I am satisfied, but not in love.

    I'd like a fancier machine someday. But, at the moment, I have to admit that more experience and patience would improve my sewing more than a new machine would, LOL.

  9. Yay! We are officially sisters now- related through the original Bernina 830 family! I've only sewn with Bernina 830's. Got my first one as a college graduation present. I dabbled with a computerized machine once, and it didn't do anything for me. I've now got four original 830's as I want to give one to each of my daughters when they are ready, and I'm not sure how easy they are going to be to find in the future. Enjoy! Did yours come with a walking foot?

  10. I am sure you are already onto Gertie doing a Colette sew-along? If not ...

  11. I've been thinking about this same thing. My Janome 8000 computerised baby is on her last legs and I'm not sure I want to buy another machine with a limited shelf life. I have another Janome - mechanical - that I use for topstitching. I love it because when you turn it back on, you haven't lost all your settings!

    I have also just had my grandmother's 1950s Sunbeam mixmaster refurbished and it's going like a train. Love it, love it, love it!

  12. I've never even touched a computerized machine. Didn't know they were out there. I have a 1954 Singer that runs just fine, thank you. Pulled it out a few weeks ago to start sewing again after a 5 year hiatus and the stupid replacement belt disintegrated! It was about 10 years old. The previous belt was the original one.

    I didn't know thread had gone all polyester either, until a clerk told me. Then why are they still calling it Dual Duty? I hate it! It is hard to thread and sticks to my fingers.
    Catnip Hill (Etsy store)

  13. I've only sewed with mechanical machines and really have no interest in computerized. My old Brother is a very basic machine, but virtually trouble free. The two Janomes that I rescued from the trash are also mechanicals that work fine. Perhaps if I tried a computerized machine, I may like it, but honestly, it seems that like with amplifiers, cars and appliances, adding computers just adds the potential for more costly, complicated problems. Simple is best for me.

  14. I have a computerized machine and I'm loving it. It does have it's limitation - in that when it's not working right, I refuse to let my husband fix it.

    However, I am quite sick of living in a throw away society. It frustrates the heck out of me that my appliances don't work as well or as long as they used. My cars, well since my hubby is a mechanic, that's a different story in our house. We have more cars than arses - but they are all paid for and run great. g

  15. Digital. "Computerized" classes the machines with a usb drive. I think you can control your stitches better with a digital machine, and they usually have more stitches. (I use them all!)

  16. I was suppose to get that same sewing machine from my Grandmother when she died she wanted me to have it and my Aunt stole it from me. Still makes me mad 9 years later. I was going to sew all my quilts on it and keep it upstairs out of my sewing room. She had all the feet and accessories for it like the ruffler and walking foot.
    I really should be over it by now, I am still mad because my aunt doesn't even sew.

  17. I'm a Bernina girl, so very jealous of your new machine. I'm sure you will love her. I always feel nostalgic when I sew on my Featherweight.

  18. I like my Comp. Singer but will always have a soft spot for my mom's old Kenmore that I learned to sew on, and still have. I wish I had more space to leave it set up so I could use it.
    I'm with you on today's throwaway mentality. I just hate it and it makes me sick!

  19. I sew exclusively on mechanical machines. I have only one machine that is actually younger than me...and it's broken!! I also dislike mentality that everything is disposable, everything needs replaced regularly as well and as a result my house is not very technologically advanced. My TV is from about 1994, as is my DVD player. My car is 4 years old, but it replaced a 14 year old jeep that finally began to expire from old age...although the mechanic I sold it to has it all polished up and running fine! Even my house is old, old, old!

  20. I much prefer older mechanical machines. I have a 25 year old one, i bought the same machine in the modern version last year and I never use the newer one. It seems very plastic and lightweight, the older one is good and sturdy ( a bit like me!)

    btw - self bought gifts are always the best :)

  21. Self bought presents are the best!!!

    I have both, mechanical Janome 1600 P and Pfaff 2124. I love the speed and stitch the Janome produces, it could probably sew through wood!!! LOL. My Pfaff is a piece of crap compared to my original Pfaff which was actually made in Germany. I've had the presser foot lever take up lifter repaired five times this past year. The machine is only 5 yrs old. If that darn lever would work, I wouldn't hate machine so much. I never use the embroidery unit anymore. My dream machine these days is the Janome 6600. Hey maybe I'll buy that as a present for myself, LOL

  22. Mechanical...Singer...Cheapy...LOVE IT!!

  23. Do the computerized sewing machines run their course sooner than mechanical? I know of mechanicals that last for decades but my 15 year Janome MC1500 just went kapoot. I thought it would last decades. Guess I was wrong.

  24. I have a computerized machine, and it does the job for me... so far.

    I keep thinking I want a new iron, and then I think that the one I have is probably 8 years old and still behaves decently... do I risk giving up a reliable older item for a newer one that might die?


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