My semi-new Bernina 1008

When I started sewing, I only knew about Singer and Viking sewing machines. “Brother” made reliable printers and I looked quizzically at the other brands that came up during Amazon searches for “sewing machine.”

It was not until I took my first sewing class that I even heard the name “Bernina.” The way the mother and daughter spoke about the machine, I knew it was a brand that was (at the time) above me, financially. It was like I was driving a reliable late-1990s Honda Civic hatchback and they were talking about buying the daughter her first BMW.

My beloved Singer 1507WC is considered a “very basic machine” among Singer’s expansive product catalog. There is one dial to set the stitch, one for stitch length, and one for thread tension. I started out sewing to improve my environmental and social sustainability, and the 1507 was and is a very good machine to learn on. For 3.5 years this machine did almost everything I needed it to do. But recently my sewing needs have begun to eclipse the machine and the machine itself is acting up. I plan to have my machine serviced, but even after that expense, the limited stitch options would continue to challenge my knit projects.

It was time for this sewist to evaluate her sewing machine’s capabilities and take a leap of faith and finances. I first turned to Twitter and the #sewcialists, who recommended machines and offered tips for sewing machine shopping.

I knew what I wanted. I wanted a mechanical machine that see me through the next 40 years. (Computerized sewing machines are fantastic, but for as much of a tech-geek as I am, where sewing machines are concerned, I am a traditionalist.)

Sewing Machine Dust Cover

I wanted a Bernina 1008.

Bernina 1008

Experience has taught me that that more money does not strictly equal better quality. However, some reputations you shouldn’t ignore. Gertie wrote an informative post about her Bernina 1008 that helped me understand what I wanted in a machine. Seamstresses that I respect have had their Bernina 830s since the 1970s and those machines are still purring. They describe their Berninas as their favorite sewing machine. It is love.

Making this investment (hint, a new Bernina 1008 costs more than its model number) was not an easy overnight decision. For months I craigslist-stalked a few local Bernina 830s and 1006s, but couldn’t commit. The prices were great, but I did not trust myself to know if the machines were in good condition. After much internal debate, bolstered by wedding shower gifts intended to contribute to a new sewing machine, I visited the Renton, WA Bernina dealer where new and used Bernina sewing machines were available for purchase.

I hoped for a used Bernina 830, but I prepared myself to spend the full amount (plus tax) on a new 1008.

Detail of Bernina 1008 stitch options
Of the many features, I am excited about the two spool shafts and the overlock foot.

If you will permit me to use a Dungeons & Dragons/Game of Thrones mash-up analogy: I felt like a young squire walking into the master sword-smith’s shop and asking to look at the Valyrian Steel swords. I was convinced I needed a better machine for my future sewing adventures, had deep doubts about my worthiness. Much to the salesman’s credit, he never made me feel ignorant or out of place.

I asked to look at their mechanical machines, and he showed me the only two used models he had: a 530 (used in home-ec classes) and a 1008!

The stitches lined up for me that day. This was the sewing machine I truly wanted. It looked nearly new (though it is about 10 years old), was priced $500 less than a new 1008 model, included the manual and all but one of the standard feet, and it came with a walking foot (purchased by the previous owner for $190). When I sat down to give it a test-drive, I fell in love. I never knew a machine could sew that smoothly. I tried to maintain my composure and calmly ask a few more questions before officially announcing I would buy it.

Manual and accessories included with used Bernina 1008
Used Bernina was only missing the #3 (buttonhole) foot, but came with a walking foot!

Even used, I would not have been able to buy this machine without help from family members and friends. (Thank you, thank you!) This is part of their wedding gift to me and Greg. I will use it to make and mend garments for both of us for years to come. And the first project for this new sewing machine? My wedding dress.

What of my Singer machine? She will still have a home. Later in the year I will take her in to be serviced and keep her around for sewing parties or random paper crafts that require a simple sewing machine.


16 thoughts on “My semi-new Bernina 1008

  1. This is the model we use in class! It was chosen years ago for its reliability and even with year after year of beginning sewers these machines are excellent! Oh and the Bernina store in Renton is so great! I bought my serger there and have had things services at that location too. Congratulations! I’m so excited for you and the amazing things the two of you will create!

    1. Thank you so much! It is good to hear your good review of the machines. The Bernina store in Renton definitely made a loyal customer out of me.

  2. It sounds like you got a great machine and a great deal. Congratulations! My friend talked me into buying an entry-level Bernina as my first machine, and there’s been very little it can’t handle (especially when you add on a walking foot). I am curious about trying a mechanical Bernina, though – I’d love to hear more about your experiences with yours!

  3. Mechanical Berninas are definitely better than their computerized cousins. I’ve used the 1008 many times in many places – don’t skip regular tuneups or they are crap machines (I’ve never fallen for Bernina in general, but I know I’m the minority).

    Do yourself a favor and buy the front platform attachment for in front of the needle or you will find a lot of projects really frustrating with no front surface. I think it’s a crime they don’t automatically sell the front surface with their machines.

    1. I prefer a front platform as well. I was surprised that the accessory drawer was in the back. The sales guy is looking for an extension front platform in the shop. If he can’t find one for free, then I will definitely pick one up on my own. I need that extra surface for heavy fabrics (i.e. Most costumes).

  4. Congrats Meris! SMS in Renton is my dealer too – they are FANTASTIC! And I am a total Bernina gal. Pretty sure you are going to be happy with your machine for ages!

    And how crazy is it that our names are almost identical – just one letter different – and we are crazy, nutty sewists, too?;-)

    1. Hi Maris! When I was doing a search for sewing classes around Seattle I stumbled on your name and have been meaning to reach out, as one Meris to another Maris.

  5. Congratulations on a great machine! I’ve had mine for 10 years now, and it has never failed me. Since it didn’t come with a buttonhole foot I recomend getting the one with a slider, number 3B. It makes it much easier to get all the buttonholes the same size. And the extended surface is realy a must.

  6. I’ve been contemplating a new machine and/or a Serger for sometime now. Not sure I’m quite ready to take that pricey plunge, but you are definitely not the first to suggest a Bernina!

  7. I am betting you still love your 1008 I purchased mine in 2004 and still love it. I don’t agree with the comment telling you to take it in for service on a regular basis. You need to make sure you clean all the crooks and crannies of your machine after every project and oil where the book shows you or ask the dealer where. Off hand I can’t remember where you oil the 1008 or if it is one that you do not oil (I think I do) we just moved in October so I am just now getting back to sewing and my memory sucks. I keep my manual in the pocket of the dust cover on all my machines so I have easy access to look stuff up.

    The 1008 is my every day go to for sewing. I have two sewing embroidery machines that sew but I tend to use the 1008. Last year I took my 1008 in to be serviced at the dealer for the first time in the ten years I had it. He said it looked great and just keep cleaning it as I do now. If you search the Internet there are several places that sell the feet for it at great prices. The walking foot is the most exspensive one so you got lucky there. They also sell two different storage cases for the feet which are nice to have. My first sewing machine was a used Singer I bought for $50 in the summer of 1990 my husband kept saying if I bought one it would just sit in the closet. I ignored him and bought the cheap machine because I though he was right, but that Christmas he bought me a brand new machine and a love of sewing was born.

    I taped and watched all the sewing and quilting shows on PBS and still do which is how I taught myself to sew. If that dealer has classes or club you should go there is no better motivation than that.

    1. Thank you for sharing your sewing story and your experiences with the 1008. This weekend is the one-year anniversary of buying that machine. So I was planning to give it a celebratory cleaning in honor of the occasion. (I already do clean it and oil it after each project.)

  8. I read your story and my daughter and I could have been the two you spoke of. We feel the same way about our Berininas. I purchased mine 1984, a 931. It has been worked hard and it still hums quite today. My daughter has a 1008. I taught for years with 1006 and 1008 Berninas. When I retired as a Home Economic teacher I was allow to buy all of my machines. I gave each granddaughter and my niece one.
    I have afew left for sale. I couple of 1008 with the book, feet 1-6 and the box. I have them for sale at $500.00. I also have 6 1006 Berninas without extra feet for 400.00. Books for $25.00. They were only used a few years and only 10 weeks a year.They are truly a sewing machine to last a life time.

    1. Do you still have any of the 1008 Bernina’s for sale? Do these machines have the snap on feet or regular bernina feet? Where are you located, I’m in Alabama now, but also spend time in So. Cal.

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