Oct 17, 2013

Sewing machine review: Bernina Minimatic 807

As inspired by Sew Mama Sew and using their set questions.

Sewing Machine Review

What brand and model do you have?
Bernina minimatic 807

How long have you had it?
My mother bought it from a local high school in the 70s (think they got it 2nd hand too). I acquired it from her after I left home, soon after 2001 (4th hand?).
How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
These days? Not much. Less than $300 AUD at a guess.
What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Clothes, softies, mending, home deco projects, some quilting
How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I sew maybe 5-10 hours a month.
Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I love my machine for its longevity and nostalgia.  I love that the daggy clothes my mum made me come from this machine.  I love the look and the tone it gives the room.
I like the simplicity of the diagrams and layout, as well as the ruler on the front and little things like the way that bobbin winding is done, and the little thread cutter on the foot lever.
What features does your machine have that work well for you?
It's simplicity, it's sturdiness and that I can generally work out what's wrong if it goes wrong.  It's mechanical nature is comforting - I can have we go at gently fixing it and servicing it myself.  It's not very mysterious.
Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
It's a bit noisy, so it's hard to share a room with others. It does tend to shuffle itself when the right frequency is reached, adding to the noise.  
It's almost too simplistic - if it had 2 or 3 decorative stitches, I'd never consider replacing it.
It does have it's limits with thicknesses, so I haven't attempted bags.  It also seems to munch fine fabrics, no mater how sharp the needle.  It's as though the feed is too coarse.
It's heavy - about 12kg.
Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Yes, it's a great starter machine and it lasts.  There's nothing cryptic about it. It's like a beta model they got right.
What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
It's cost to benefit ratio, which is hard to predict this when a new machine might bring about a new range of projects.  If I were to have done my last 18months of projects on a new machine I imagine it would've been worthwhile, and would continue to be. It may be even more valuable if I continue with that frequency and add trickier projects such as ones that need a walking foot, or use stretch or fine fabrics, or decorative stitches.  
Any score given for a new machine would be x1.5 if it were quiet!
Do you have a dream machine?
Bernina 830! Or, if I was on a budget, the Bernina 740 QE.

Bonus: Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
Well, it's my only story, though I'm not sure it's a great story ...
A few years ago I was working in the city (Melbourne, Aust.).  My partner and I were without a car those days, and my heavy Bernina Minimatic 807 had died beyond my surgical skills.  I asked a colleague who drove past my home if he would be so kind as to give me a lift to work one day, via a sewing service centre, so I didn't have to pay for a taxi or haul the machine around town.
My colleague was pretty old school and rather sexist but generally well meaning and harmless.  It seemed to take and lot of conversation for him to wrap his head around the idea that I needed my machine serviced and that it wasn't easily portable.  "What do you mean, it's heavy?" he asked, about three times. "It's heavy, like, 12 kilos. I can't do 12 kilos on public transport." 
"And what's wrong with it?" he asked again.
"I think the compressor's gone."
"What do you mean?"
"I mean it has a compressor and it's stopped working."
"On a sewing machine?"
"Yep. It's old, and sometimes the compressor cacks it."
"That's what's wrong with it?"
Good grief, I thought, which bit is confusing him?  Last try: "The hamster died."  
Of course, on the day, he was very gentlemanly and offered to take the machine out of the car during the drop off.  But he put it on the footpath for me to take into the store, saying "Gee, it's heavy isn't it!" 
"Yes. Yes it is." 


  1. I love my bernina 807 too! Best machine ever, i inherited it from my grandmother who used it to sew clothes and toys to send to Africa for children. It was also the first machine i learned to sew on. All in all a special machine.

    1. Yes! Isn't it amazing how much affection can be generated for such a thing?!. I may be beginning to sympathise with car people!
      What a great history your machine has! Much better stories than mine ;)