the jig is up

This is really just a blog about sewing machines and fabric at this point.  I went to two sewing machine dealers today and had two wildly different experiences.  There is a round-up post on the horizon, complete with a table detailing prices, pros, and cons.  Look at that, something to which you can look forward.  (Prepositions can kiss my grits.)

City Sewing was really not a fantastic life experience.  They have a repair shop across the street from Mood’s 38th Street entrance, so I just walked in.  Everything about it screams, “You won’t come out with both kidneys.”  Whatever, man.  I’m a New Yorker.  I’m a tough broad.  I can do this.

I can’t do this.  Ain’t no test-driving at City Sewing (whose retail location is separate from its murder-and-organ-harvest location).  I maybe spent ten minutes in there just marvelling at the plastic-sheathed machines and cramped quarters.  My favorite part was when the shopkeep told me that the Berninas had a five-year warranty.  When I asked about the standard twenty years?  He launched into a schpiel about what your warranty really means twenty years from now (short story: bupkes).

Then, I hoofed it to Queens (QUEENS!) to go to Sew Right.  I proceeded to have a religious experience which totally compensated for the two-trains-and-a-bus situation.  I should probably open by letting you know that I was there for two hours.  Yes.  I was planning on forty-five minutes, tops.  I spoke with Harvey, the presumed owner or maybe just a dude with bossman vibes.  He was awesome.  He has a mustache, though.  I think that may have somehow colored my assessment.  As I’m buying my dealer more than I am buying my machine, it must be said that the whole mustache-patience-expertise combination is winning.

They answered all of my questions and then some.  I actually walked out feeling like I knew something about bobbin cages and feet.  For example: There are new feet and old feet but the snap-on feet exist independent of this equation.  SAY WHAT?  I could have probably found that out by trolling Pattern Review boards, but I always leave more confused than enlightened.  Y’all.  I know so much about presser feet now and the adjustable pressure business that everybody keeps carping about.  Harvey even clarified some not-so-accurate information I got elsewhere.  Win.

However, there is a problem.  Sew Right introducted two more sewing machines into this equation.  Aretha can’t handle this.  (I am Aretha, in case you were wondering.  It’s like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce.  Doesn’t everybody have an alter ego?  No?  You need to get on that.)

I inquired after the Aurora because that seems to be the full-sized machine of choice amongst my sewing friends.  Apparently that’s a sucky idea.  However, the Bernina 530 is a full-sized machine that is perfect for the garment sewer.

Bernina 530

 There wasn’t one on the floor, so I have no idea how it rides or sews or whatever.  It’s about $2000, less than the Aurora but more than my beloved 1008.  Also, it’s pretty.  Apparently, people who are great garment sewers will eventually need a computerized machine.  Something about the customization of functions, I think.  Oy.

Bernina 380

Then he showed me the 380 and explained the difference between 3/4 and full size.  Point: Negligible if you sew garments.  Other point: One of their frequent customers purchased it as a class machine then returned it.  Her used machine on sale for $1199.  New it’s $1799.  Well, then.  Multiple buttonholes, knee lift, other stuff, I don’t know.

Their trade-in policy is phenomenal.  Within a year you get back 100% of your purchase price to apply towards the sale price of a machine of at least double its value.  Does that makes sense?  Sale price not MSRP, and no you can’t exchange an Activa for a 330.

With that said, it looks like I’ve actually made a decision.  The 1008 it is.  If after a few months I find that I’m aching for fancy buttonholes and those damn snowflakes, I’ll trade it in for the 530.  May I just give one nitpick about the higher-end Berninas?  I hate that effing natural light.  It’s apparently good, but I’m not one for the forfeiture of control.  I find it distracting as all hell.  I want darkness or an Ottlite, for the love!

My Mama Told Me. . .

Bernina 1008

I went to the City Quilter to test drive Berninas a few weeks ago.  I knew I’d probably fall in love with the 1008 as I am a huge fan of big, metal, clunky beasts.  I did, all was well, but I decided I should shop around.  After all, there are about six Bernina dealers in the area, why not see who has what?  Apparently, shopping for your dealer is as important as shopping for your actual machine.  More on that in a later post.  I had my heart set on either the 1008 or the Aurora 450 (big jump), but both salespeople threw other machines into the mix.  Now, obviously, I’m totally confused.

Bernina 215

 At the City Quilter, the (lovely) salesperson had me try out an Activa.  I think it was because I was also considering Bernettes at the time (hey, don’t judge; I’ll be in an itsy dorm room pretty soon).  I tried it.  It was fine.  The 1008 took my breath away, though.  This one was nicer than the Bernette and than my current machine, but nothing to write home about.  It seems rather. . .dinky.  I think I’d grow out of it pretty soon, just sizewise.  It didn’t feel like a real machine, if that makes any sense.  However!  I’ll be moving into a dorm pretty soon, and will probably not have enough space for a big old Aurora.  It also doesn’t take the old-style feet without an adapter.  However!  It is really reasonably priced.  $799 at Hartsdale Fabrics and $850 at the City Quilter.  Plus, Hartsdale has 20% off sales at least twice a year.  Have I mentioned my love of a bargain?


Bernina 330

At Hartsdale Fabrics the (also lovely) salesperson recommended that I try the 330 because they no longer stock the Aurora 450.  It’s a 3/4 size machine.  I didn’t get to test drive it, so I have no idea if the shell is metal or plastic.  I don’t know how it runs.  Nada.  Even if the 330 were to suit all of my needs just fine, I think I’d still kind of want more, you know?  The fact that it’s 3/4 sized will still be in my head.  I don’t necessarily need a separate motor for winding bobbins or visual pressure foot control or any of that, but what if I want it at some point?  If I’m going to leap from mechanical to computerized, I’d rather like more than one type of buttonhole.  I suppose that’s why this seems to be a second sewing machine for a lot of people.

I mentioned that I had no interest in decorative stitches or the alphabet or any of that mishigas, and the sales associate said, “Wait until your friends start having babies.”  That never quite occurred to me.  It is $900 at Hartsdale and I-forget-what-price ($1000+, if I recall correctly) at City Quilter.

I’m still crinkling my nose in the direction of these machines and their dealers.  I feel all sorts of awful when I go in to check out dealers—they’re people, not machines!  Yet, it’s a big commitment. These people will service your machine forever and ever.  I’m galled by the fact that prices aren’t readily available (which is why I shamelessly post them here).  Also, you’re apparently supposed to negotiate prices and extras?!  Have we met?  That’ll go swimmingly, I’m sure.