My Machines

My Workhorse: Bernina Activa 130

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Bernina Activa 130

I will never, never, ever give up this machine.  I bought it new in 1998 and haven’t looked back.  Today’s entry level Bernina Activas are smaller and seem way less solidly built.  I have really put this one through its paces, but it always forgives me and continues to sew neat even stitches all the same.  I would seriously consider buying a used one if anything ever happened to it.

I use pretty much all of the specialty feet that came with it plus a few more. It’s only the high price of Bernina hardware that keeps me from getting one of each.  If I had to find a flaw it is that the once lovely white plastic parts have yellowed with age. That seems to be a common problem, but pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s a great link written by heycotton in New Zealand all about her Bernina Activa 130.


My Combination Serger and Coverstitch Machine: Singer 14T968DC

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Singer 14T968DC

If my old serger hadn’t given me quite such a thorough education, I never would have dared to get this machine. I bought mine in April 2017 and have been sewing along with no problems since. I was on the fence over whether I should buy a combination machine, since I read a lot of reviews from people who don’t use the coverstitch functions because re-threading the machine is so time consuming. There is something to that, but practice makes perfect. The first time I changed from serger to cover it took me an hour. Now I can do it in 5 minutes. I like that it comes with a box full of specialized presser feet, although I have only tried a few so far. I’ll check back in on the anniversary date to see if I still love it.


My Old Serger: Simplicity Easy Lock 850D

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Simplicity Easy Lock 850D with Differential Feed

This was a secondhand machine that had all of its parts and worked perfectly.  Or not.  We had a long and complicated relationship, my serger and I.  I have spent much, much more time getting it to do what I want than actually serging.  One thing about those complicated relationships though – you learn your machine backwards and forwards.

When I started using the serger, the quality of my sewing increased dramatically.  Not only are my seams finished and durable, but knitwear and stretchy fabrics are a lot easier.

Even though I maintained it, time took its toll on the old Simplicity.  It died a sad, grinding death and finally powered off for good in April 2017. RIP


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Singer Quantum XL-5000

My embroidery machine: Singer Quantum XL-5000

This one was a very generous long term loan from my Mom. I believe it dates to about Y2K. It is on hiatus for a bit while I figure out how to configure it to accept embroidery instructions from current technology. I’ve used it to make embroidered items in the past and they have turned out beautifully. Other than the old/new tech compatibility issue, it works very well. I only wish it came with larger hoops – the maximum is about 140x240mm (about 5×9 inches).


My monster: Sailrite Ultra-Feed LSZ-1

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Sailrite LSZ-1

I have used the big blue Sailrite for many outdoor and heavy duty projects over the past 12 years. It’s a fantastic heavy-duty workhorse that can be operated with a foot pedal or completely manually with a hand-crank. This machine really taught me how sewing machines work. I have taken it apart for maintenance and to replace parts I damaged (user error) so many times, I felt like a private taking apart and putting together a rifle. It will sew through anything. I don’t have a lot of heavy duty sewing these days, so it has been sitting idle. But the next time I want to sew my own tent, I’ll be ready!