I just purchased a Bernina Record 930 and am so excited that I can hardly think of anything else.
Until yesterday, I'd been sewing on a computerized Brother cs-6000 that I bought new (reconditioned) 3 years ago for $140. The Brother was okay for lightweight fabrics, but could not handle anything remotely heavy duty. It struggled with medium-weight linen and deerskin and cotton twill. Denim or cowhide were unthinkable. It often was unable to sew through the layers of pleats in the ring slings that I make. I've had to use my 1940s-era White Rotary machine when my Brother failed. The White is a powerhouse (I found it for $13 at an antique store, and it came with all the original accessories and carrying case), but it only does a straight stitch.
I wanted something mechanical and all metal. No computerization or complicated electronics. Something that could do, at minimum, straight stitch, zigzag, and a few decorative stitches. I wanted a machine that could handle heavy cowhide or denim without a hiccup. I wanted a machine that people raved about and that they were using decades years later without a single problem. I browsed two furniture consignment stores in town. Both had old sewing machines with cabinets for around $50, but one only did a straight stitch and the other only straight and zigzag.
I hopped on Craigslist and found numerous old Singers, starting at $10 and up. Then I saw an estate sale listing a Bernina Record 930 and my rader started beeping. I read several reviews of the 930 and became convinced that this was the machine meant for me. I inquired about the price and blinked a few times at the response. Let's just say that it cost the equivalent of what I earn sewing 20 slings. That's a lot of sewing.
Okay, so I guess I'll let you know the price: $500. Yikes! For a machine that was made from 1982-89, they still command a very high price. I did a nationwide search on Craigslist and found that the Bernina 930 usually sells between $600-1,000. And that's just for the machine and basic accessories. The one I was looking at had the machine, all original accessories, original owner's manual, Bernina sewing guide, a walking foot, a cut & edge foot, carrying case, wood sewing cabinet with lifting mechanism, and (unknown to me until I purchased it) at least $100 of sewing supplies. The only thing missing was the knee lift mechanism, which allows you to raise and lower the presser foot hands-free.
I headed out as soon as Eric was done with work and made the hour-long drive, hoping that no one else had bought it yet. Luck was with me. It was an estate sale for a woman who'd died. Judging from her house and belongings and sewing room in particular, she was meticulous and had very good taste. I almost bought some of her stylish 1940s-era hats and furs and nightgowns, but resisted the temptation...except for 2 pairs of cotton gloves that I just couldn't pass up.
It sews beautifully and has all the features I could ever need. Yet it's all mechanical, which means that (unlikely) repairs will be simple and easy. It purrs along like a...like a...well I don't know cars well, but if I did, I'd compare it to some high-performance sports car that is less about show and more about the essentials: craftsmanship, durability, extreme precision, and above all, power.
So here she is, in all of her vintage 1980s glory.
Gingher featherweight thread snips that I can wear around my neck when I'm sewing! No more searching for my scissors (which are usually on the other side of the room) when I need to snip threads.