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First Machine

I learned to sew on my mom’s 1949 Singer. It’s beautiful, sleek, black finish and mid-century modern cabinet bring back fond memories. I named her Bess after my dad’s sister. Aunt Bess taught me how to sew an invisible zipper when I was seven; a game changing skill for my sewing. So, I named it after her. Bess hasn’t been used in years and can only sew a straight stitch. My plan is to get her back in working order so I can use her for long straight seams like borders and backings. She also has a binding foot and that means the old girl could have a future.

I also have my grandma’s treadle sewing machine (Nana). The belt is missing and one of the treadle posts is disconnected – likely occurred in one of my moves. She graces my entry way and I use the cabinet for mittens, hats and dog accessories.

I’m a Bernina Girl


My main machine is a Bernina 350 Cotton and Steel Special Edition named Stella. I hadn’t planned on getting a new machine. Bernina machines can last forever when well maintained. I purchased her to replace my Bernina Virtuosa 150 (Nina). Nina was damaged one Fourth of July when I discovered my new house is across the highway from the firework park. Kona decided hiding in the foot area of my sewing desk was a safe place. When I found her, she darted out, entangled in the foot pedal and cords. I lunged to protect her from the falling machine. (Believe it or not, vet bills can be higher than the cost of a high-quality sewing machine.) Kona was fine. Nina, not so much.


I did have Nina repaired and now she is my back up machine. She still works hard. However, with the volume of sewing I do, she tends to lose her balance and needs frequent tune-ups. (A little like me.) We still get together regularly to sew a backing or attach a binding. We even practice a little ruler work on small projects. That is our newest challenge, ruler work. It will take some practice to get really good at it. Fortunately, we have several small projects waiting to give it a try. Mostly though, we attend classes and have the occasional sewing session at the dining room table.



Bernie is my embroidery machine. He spends most of the time working on my Hoop-Sister project or rather hoping I’ll work on it. He’s a Bernina Artista 200. An older model yet still a work horse. I have a couple embroidery WIPs (works in progress). Probably the most challenging is the Hoop Sister project. We’ll get back to that Hoop Sister quilt soon. Really Bernie, we will.

Long Arm

My Gammill long arm is an Optimum with a Statler. I purchased her used with the name Suzie Q. I don’t have the heart to change it. Kona came to me with the name “Kona”. All the dogs at the shelter that month were given coffee names. She seemed to like it and knew it was her name. So why try to change it? Besides, I think I lucked out. I don’t have to call out, “come Macchiato” when I want her to come to me.

Susie Q

Susie Q is a great addition to my sewing tools. I’m learning so many new skills and raising the level of my game with every project.



I also have a Pfaff Overlock 4852 serger named Phil. There was a time when I sewed nearly all my clothing and a serger is great to have. Seams finish so nice and trim up perfectly. These days I’m mostly quilting or using the long arm so Phil doesn’t get out much anymore.

What machine(s) do you have?

Note: This post is part of the 31 Day Blog Writing Challenge hosted by Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.com.

Comments (2)

  1. Hi Mary, I enjoyed reading about your machines, and more about you! For one, I didn’t know they all had names, and that one of your machines is a fella! :o) I only own two machines. I currently sew on a Viking Quilt Designer II. I have had her for about 14 years, and she’s still going strong for the most part. The other machine is my mother’s Bernina 810 from many years ago. My mom was a prolific seamstress and was a Bernina gal through and through. My current plan is to take the 810 up to our lake cottage where she will enjoy a revitalization. She’s pretty basic, so I’ll have to re-learn how to manually lift the presser foot. HA!

    Debbie Simatic
    Dec 3, 2019
    • Thanks for sharing about your machines. Those old Bernina’s are work horses and can handle anything. And, they never give up. I think it us because they are still mechanical and not plastic like some of the other machines today. Glad you can give the old girl new life. Enjoy!

      Dec 3, 2019