Beth the Bernina


Beth the Bernina was my first sewing machine, bought for me by my mother in 1999 while I was in college. Although we were a Bernina family, my aunt and cousins quilted extensively on Bernina machines for many years, my mother couldn’t afford a new machine for herself, instead she bought a new Bernina for me and continued to use an old beast of a Kenmore for many years. My little Activa 130 started me out sewing pillows and curtains for my first apartment in graduate school and started me off on my first quilt top. It waited for me while I was overseas for several years, and then picked right back up on the same quilt top. When my aunt came from overseas and made my wedding dress, Beth the Bernina showed me in the hands of a skilled operator, she could make the most wonderful things. I moved five times in six years, and Beth the Bernina moved right along with me. Then I settled down in a house and started to try my hand at more dressmaking. My little Bernina has chugged through denim topstitching for my first pair of me-made jeans, tried her hand at twin-needle stitching of knits, made leather baby moccasins and has sewn through many a pink floral lawn for little girl dresses. Beth even finished piecing squares for that first quilt top I started 17 years ago. Today Beth the Bernina sits alongside her younger and bigger sister, Betty the Bernina, happily sewing when I don’t want to change threads, and waiting for my girls to be a little older and she can be their gateway into sewing. I can look back on my family history through the machines they worked and treasured; the Singer treadle machines that my great-grandmother used and passed to my grandmother has worn in places from many a feed-sack dress that passed under the needle.

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