Thursday, October 18, 2018

Bernina Industrial Investigation

I continue to be busy selling cabinet and desk model sewing machines and getting the garage clear for the coming cold and snow season but for every two steps forward I take one backwards. This week I sold the Viking 21 in the compact cabinet to a young family for their two daughters to sew with and later that same evening I had an industrial sewing machine delivered. WHAT? I need to empty the garage, not fill it back up! But this was a good deal and something I didn't even know I needed.

Bernina 217 industrial
While looking at sewing machines on Craigslist I spied a Bernina 217 industrial at what seems like a fair price so I start asking questions. In the meantime I also find one on Facebook Marketplace and ask for the model number and more photos. Come to find out, the Bernina 217 was not made for very long since their model 850 came along and was more popular but the 217 has something special. Some models have a "box" installed on the back for decorative stitches with cams. Of course, the cams are no longer available but I understand someone makes plastic substitutes, probably from a 3D printer, so there is hope. While involved in this little foray into industrials another one comes up at an even better price and this one comes with the cam box. I kid you not, so I go over to see what was up.

It wasn't working. That's not exactly true, it needed to be retimed so the owner and I had a nice talk and he was going to either fix it or send in to have it fixed. Since this was not an emergency I could wait for the repair. To make a long story short, he did not have the money for the repair and did need the money from the sale so we settled on an agreeable amount and he delivered the monster to me. That was certainly worth something since those machines are so heavy and the clutch motors are just as heavy. But here she is in my garage:
Bernina 217 in her temporary garage home: it's cold out there!

What happened? Oh, now I'm going to see if I can retime the machine and know I can also send it out if I find it is too complex for me. This one is different with the bobbin facing the back of the machine so it's a little trickier to work on. It came with one cam on the back, a great table, decent lamp (previous owner was a lighting guy), and a ton of cones of thread. There are a dozen bobbins and many packages of needles, too, although the numbering has me wondering if they are the correct ones. I tell myself if I can get this running again without sending it to another repair shop I will spring for a servo motor, about the same cost as the repair. Am I going to like this model? You just never know until you sew with it, but it has a decent reputation, can sew heavy to light weight fabrics, a wide zigzag stitch, reverse, and known for the best stitch quality as all of the other Bernina's. Yes, my hopes are high. Take a look at Ashley's review of the Bernina 217 and you might want one yourself!
Cam box on the back with one cam attached
a few days later:
I got it timed! The widest of zigzags still might be quite right but I got it to stitch and it did so beautifully. Then it started to break thread so I'm back trying to figure out what's going on. Even with a clutch motor it isn't very loud so I might have to think again about adding a servo motor.
Bernina 217
 a few more days later:
I've had a chance to sew on the Bernina 217 and find it's just a bit fussy about thread, that was all. It sews like a dream, sewing through 2 layers of cotton and then thick layers of toweling as I make up hand towel with handles. There was no hesitation at all, just smooth and straight. There was a knee lever for lifting the presser foot that I got adjusted and working again, too. I went ahead and ordered the servo motor and can't wait to see how nice it is to work with when it's very quiet. A little confession here: I measured the space in the sewing room and she's gonna fit! Some other things are going to have to go but that's okay: she's a keeper!

Monday, October 8, 2018

Continuing to Learn How to Sew

It was another big sewing weekend with First Quilters on Saturday morning and our granddaughter Sarina staying overnight for a sewing marathon. What fun! Let's do this in chronological order:

I was invited to come back to make a presentation about how to clean your sewing machine and they said I should bring my sewing machines, too. That's a bit of a loaded invitation since I have way too many to bring so I selected about six to show off and possibly interest someone in a sale:
So many models and all for sale
There was quite a bit of interest in a fun Viking 21 model in a compact cabinet:
Viking compact cabinet
but it came home with me. I love those compact tables that fold up so nicely and this one is really nice because you do not have to bolt the machine in but just put it down on a lower shelf.
On lower shelf for storage

On upper shelf for sewing
It's still very portable but with the machine lifted out the cabinet is lightweight enough to move around.

There was a nice group of women in a semi-circle of chairs who looked on while I explained how to clean the interior, exterior, oil, and maintain a sewing machine. I had a nice Kenmore that I used for demonstration but asked if someone had one they wanted me to demo with and Cathy said she also had a used Kenmore she would love to have cleaned. She was a very good sport when I revealed the packed link under the needle plate. Everyone admitted their machine probably also needed cleaning like that so she was in good company until she asked if we could remove the bottom plate. Under the bobbin area we removed the free arm cover to reveal a whole mess of lint. At this point everyone gasped and someone even got up to throw out the linty globs that had fallen through. I reassured Cathy that what we were seeing was not at all unusual and most machines even look worse that this. Nevertheless, she was quite embarrassed until she remembered she was not the original owner but it was bought at a garage sale and just maybe this was from the previous owner. I liked that idea, too, and Cathy stayed on and continued to clean it out and we put it all back together again. The next morning I sent her a pdf of the manual so she could figure out anything she hadn't already discovered on her own:
Cleaning up the Kenmore 385-18630890
The afternoon was spent with family at Skylar's 6th birthday party and afterwards we asked if Sarina could come home with us so we could spend more time sewing together. Boy, did we sew! She wanted to make a top for her shorts made in August but we couldn't find an easy pattern so we switched things up. How about using knits and a serger? Yes, we bit off more than we could chew but it was still fun and it turned out well:
Sarina in her raglan sleeved shirt she made
Finding a free raglan shirt pattern, she chose two different fabrics. It was quick and easy to put together mostly by herself once she got the speed on the serger down to a slower pace. Then I added the neckline band and wrecked it! So as a way to disguise my mess we added the flower trim and she liked it even better. I made up leggings but we had to do the elastic on the waistband over again to get them to fit better. It wasn't too hard and I can adjust the pattern for the next pair. That's right, there's another pair coming up:
Sarina's extra pair of leggings
Since all of this was done without her Brother sewing machine we got it out to make her own hot mitt. She did all of the sewing up to putting the bias trim on. For that we went out to the industrial Singer 78 in the garage and I sewed through all of the 11 layers. It went home with her to finish hand sewing the bias edge but we all knew how much her mom would love it. It was a great weekend even if I didn't sell any sewing machines or get any of my own sewing done: it was grandkids time!