July 2, 2007
After two decades of faithful service, my Singer 6268 has been retired from active duty and this new Bernina 440 QE (for Quilter’s Edition) has stepped in. I’ve been coveting this machine for at least two years and talking about actually buying it for several months, but it wasn’t until a week ago Saturday (the Saturday before the one we just had) that I finally got over my hesitation at spending so much money all at once on a hobby and went to the store. Happily, I found they were having an anniversary sale, and I didn’t need to spend quite as much as I’d prepared myself to part with. Unhappily, I found they were out of stock, so I had to wait an entire week to bring home my own 440. I was Ms. Pouty on Friday night, thinking it hadn’t come in and I’d have to wait even longer, but Saturday morning I got the call and Saturday afternoon I went in an got some basic instruction and then brought my new baby home.
My Singer was fancy for its time, but as it aged it got crankier and crankier, so sewing on this new machine is such a treat. It’s so quiet and so smooth and has so many nifty features, like the needle threader, which got the hard to deal with monofilament through on the first try. It’s also got a knee lift, which lets me pick up the presser foot while keeping both hands on my project to pivot it; I’m sure that will be very convenient once I a) remember it’s there before I reach around back to raise the foot and b) learn how to push the lever without inadvertently also pressing the foot pedal and causing the machine to sew in a direction I never intended. But the feature I’m most excited about, the one that dazzled me and blinded me to all other sewing machine brands on the market, is the Bernina Stitch Regulator, or BSR. This little piece of technology takes care of keeping stitches a consistent length when free motion quilting, something I’ve always struggled with. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a Bernina Direction Regulator, so I still need to work on my wobbly lines, but that should be easier now that I don’t have to think about the stitch length at the same time.
I’ve already spent several hours quilting with it. I’m enjoying being able to set it to stop with the needle down; no more reaching up for the hand wheel every time I want to pivot. I did run into some trouble and even broke a needle once, but I put all the blame for that on the spool of thread I was using–the thread snagged on the top of the spool and stopped unwinding, and I can sew so fast with this machine that I didn’t notice it binding up right away. My Singer lately had taken to snapping the thread inside the machine, which is a much harder problem to resolve. Now, I can just get a smoother spool and I should be all set. I think. Eight hours of classes were included as part of my purchase, so later this month I’ll start on those and maybe learn some new tricks about old thread, among other things.