If I were to start a sewing machine hall of fame, early inductees might include the Singer 221 Featherweight and maybe a Singer 201, but… I would definitely include a bernina 830.
This industry and sewing proven machine has a dedicated following…and more and more seamstresses want to join the 830 club. As a result, although it was only produced between 1972 and 1977, it is probably more in demand today than ever.
Unfortunately, the prices reflect this: there is not a great supply, but there is a great demand. Expect to pay between $350 and $800 for a good used machine! The Bernina 830 is one of those rare mechanically happy occurrences where the manufacturer just got everything right (sort of like a 1957 Chevrolet!). These metal and mechanical wonders purr as softly today as when they first rolled off the dealer showroom floor.
The manuals are long out of print, although copies are easy to find on the Internet. There are also online support groups (like I said, there’s a dedicated Following!)
The 830 is a robust mechanical machine, with no computers or chips. It offers 21 stitches, of which 15 are decorative. It has 5 different needle positions and you can vary the width and length of the stitch up to 4mm. you also have a five step buttonhole; this is the same as a four-step buttonhole, with a fifth straight safety stitch on one side of the buttonhole seam.
The controls manage stitch length (including reverse), stitch width, and stitch selection (straight/zig-zag mode or decorative stitch mode). There’s a dial for the 5-step eyelet, as well as selections to drop the feed dogs and go into a “slow speed/high torque” mode for extra punch!
Finally, there is a socket that accepts the Bernina presser foot lift arm. Push it with your right knee to raise the sewing foot (you can also manually raise it with the standard lift arm behind the sewing head). To really use the knee lift properly, you need to use your left foot for foot control! This takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s good once you get the hang of it.
The 830 is a free arm machine, although there is a sewing “table” that slides and locks into the free arm, which uses old style Bernina feet. These are bayonet-mounted feet that come on and off incredibly easily (that’s what sold me on my first Bernina). Tea old style The foot is a little shorter than the new style.
Once you join the Bernina family, you will find yourself constantly football takeover Fashion! There are dozens and dozens of feet, but you can get by with just a few. Standard feet on an original 830 include zigzag, embroidery, overlock, blind stitch, buttonhole, small darn, custom baste, 4mm hem, pleats (7 grooves), flap hem, zipper, and the low shank adapter.
Bernina “Old Style” feet are readily available. List price tends to be $20 to $30 per foot; Used feet can only cost a few dollars on Ebay.
I occasionally had coil issues on the Bernina models, but never on the 830 series. It just works every time.
The Bernina 830 is a simple machine, but there’s something special about being simple. If you are simple and easy to use… then you have to be very, very good! The Bernina 830 passes this test easily, as the legion of hobbyists attest to. If you get the chance to start your own Hall of Fame, you couldn’t go wrong by including the Bernina 830 as one of the first inductees!