My First Bernina 830 With the Red Case is Now 36 Years Old


For as long as I can remember, sewing has been a part of my life.  My maternal grandmother sewed and taught my mother to sew, and my mother taught me to sew.  My mother was a perfectionist seamstress, so I truly learned from the best. After my husband and I married, we moved to Stuttgart, Arkansas, and it was there I began to hear about this fancy sewing machine called a Bernina that was sold downtown at a fabric store.  I wanted that Bernina 830 in the red case so badly, but it was expensive.  For our 10th wedding anniversary in July 1982, my husband bought me that pricey Bernina. I still have the machine and the original receipt showing the total cost of the machine was $978.50. I remember the patience of the store owner, Jannette Martin, as she gave me lessons on how to use my machine.  We went through the My Bernina Guide and Jannette showed me how every presser foot worked; I even stapled how-to samples inside the guidebook.  To this day they are all still there. Many creations came from that Bernina 830.  Most of our three daughters’ dresses and many of mine were created on that machine.  I vividly remember staying up until the wee hours of Easter Sunday morning in 1984 to finish their dresses.  The material was neon striped and I did not particularly care for it, but the girls loved their dresses and proudly wore them to church that day.  In 1986 I made my first quilt, a Dresden Plate, again using my Bernina 830.  Through the years, I made curtains and draperies, Halloween costumes, and even tried making a man’s shirt.  In the fall of 1988, I tackled making a blue sequined and chiffon gown for one daughter to wear in a school pageant. Later when she was in college, her sorority wanted matching appliqued sweatshirts, and my Bernina 830 help me create about 70 of them.  Many hours were spent at that machine; sometimes I was filled with tears when the sewing did not go well, or anger when I was ripping out a seam, but the sweetest times were filled with excitement when a project turned out particularly well. In the intervening years, I have become the proud owner of a Bernina B560 and a Bernina 790 Plus, and I’ve even won a Bernette London Sublime, but I still have my trusty 36 year old Bernina 830 and it still sews like a champ.  Once when I had it serviced, the dealer said, “I can tell you have done some kind of sewing on this machine.”  He was correct.  There is no way to count the happy times, sad times, and late night hours spent beside my machine.  There is no way to surpass the big grins, hugs, and kisses my girls gave me when they loved a project that came from my Bernina 830.  There is no way I’d ever have anything other than a Bernina because truly nothing can celebrate your creativity like a Bernina.  Thank you, Bernina, and happy anniversary!

19 comments on “My First Bernina 830 With the Red Case is Now 36 Years Old”

  • That was my first Bernina too. My husband spent our tax return that year to buy the machine. I LOVED it and regret ever letting it go. I now have a 730 and a 350 and love them but miss my 830.

    • Faith,
      Thank you for the kind words. I loved that about the tax return. I remember how PROUD i was of that pretty machine and I felt like I could sew anything on it – and just about did! Everybody has told me never to let my Bernina 830 go, and I am not. I’ve had too many friends tell me the same thing you said!

      Jane Slocum

  • Wonderful. I’ve sewn since I was 5. First on a Singer Treadle machine, then a Singer until I purchased my first Bernina 130 in 1995. Then I purchased a Bernina 180 with embroidary. I’ve sewn until my eyes no longer allow it (just 2 years ago). My machines are being saved for my 16-year old Granddaughter when she wants them. I gave my Bernina 5-thread zig zag machine back to the dealer in Plano who is using it for their African ladies who need the zig zag machines. Jan Pritchett-Litvin

    • Jan,
      Thank you for your wonderful thoughts. I’m saving my Bernette for one of my granddaughters who likes to sew – she just doesn’t know it yet! How generous of you to donate to other ladies who will enjoy using your 5-thread zip-zag machine. We need more folks like you in the world. Thank you again.

      Jane Slocum

  • I too still have my first Bernina – the 830 workhorse. And I too learned from a grandmother, although it was my paternal grandmother, and from my mother, how to sew. I had my grandmother’s old Singer to sew my skirts and shirtwaist dresses in high school and bell bottoms and those paisley-bedspread tunics in college. My husband bought me my Bernina 830 when I worked for IBM and I sewed most of my tailored suits and silk blouses on that machine. I also sewed all the drapes and valences for a number of houses and recovered furniture with that machine. I started quilting a few years ago and just a few months ago I treated myself to a Bernina 770. I still find myself reaching to raise the presser foot by hand sometimes but I do love this new Bernina. I still have my 830 and will never give it up! My sewing machine service person told me to never let go of this 830 as he thought it was one of the finest machines he had ever worked on. Here’s to even more creativity Bernina!

    • agilebeth,

      We do have similar stories and I thank you for sharing yours. I totally understand about the presser foot! I’m doing the same thing on my new 790 Plus, but everyone says I will get used to it. Wishing you great sewing and no ripping of seams!

      Jane Slocum

  • I bought my 830 on 6 May 1976. It has sewn faithfully for me over the last 42 years. A couple years ago I had to buy a new bobbin case for it. Thank you, Bernina, for still manufacturing parts for my dear, dear machine. It’s made clothes and quilts, mostly. It is the machine I take with me when I take classes or go to a friend’s house for a quilt-along. I now also own a Janome 8900 and a Bernina 820, both fancy, up-to-date computerized machines, and my Mom’s 1949 Singer. If you required that I give up all but one machine, the machine I would keep without question is my old, faithful Bernina 830 Record. And I agree: Nothing sews like a Bernina, NOTHING!! Thank you, Bernina, and Happy Anniversary from me too! Linda from Maine

    • Koala,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I love hearing how much other ladies enjoy their machines as much as I do mine. You are right – I will never give up my faithful Bernina 830 – red case and all!

      Jane Slocum

  • I so enjoyed reading this. I too have an oldie but a goodie, Bernina, an 801, I received this as a gift for my high school graduation in 1983. I still have the original box it came in as well as the original owners manual complete with the swatches where I learned how the various stitches worked. This is my primary sewing machine, to this day. I love it and use it regularly. I have since added a Bernina 1150 MDA serger and a Bernetta 340 Deco embroidery machine. I cannot say enough about the quality and durability of these machines. I would not ever think about buying any other brand of sewing machines

    • Holly Ann,

      I love that you still have your guidebook, too! I think that is so fun. You are right – you just cannot surpass the quality of a Bernina – no way. Thank you for sharing your sweet thoughts!

      Jane Slocum

  • I love hearing these Bernina stories. My mom got a Bernina 730 record model in 1968. I was 6 & just getting into sewing. She wouldn’t let me use it but bought me an old machine at a garage sale. When I was 27 & just had my twins, she finally gave me that coveted machine. Two years ago, my hubby bought me a Bernina 770QE & I gave my old one to my daughter who happened to be 27 then too. I took my old one to my Bernina dealer to give it a cleaning before I gave it to her, he said it was in excellent shape! These are great machines!

    • Donna,

      Thank you for sharing your kind thoughts and I completely agree; these are great machines. When I think of how few things I have in my home that have lasted 36 years, it’s amazing. There is nothing like a Bernina for sure!

      Jane Slocum

  • I have had Bernina machines for decades. I currently have the 770 Quilters Edition as well as a 200E. Computerized sewing machines can certainly do some incredible things but there is something to be said about the older models that are fail-proof and uniquely reliable. A couple of years ago, I finally found a 730 Record (with red case) for sale that was in excellent condition. Honestly, it has become my very favourite machine for all my basic sewing needs. It’s sews as smooth as butter, quiet, and with top quality stitching. I’ll never part with this one!

    • Glitzgal,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Those old machines are just as steady as can be and I guess that is why we love them so much. Happy sewing to you!

      Jane Slocum

  • I love reading about all the ladies who love their Bernina – just like me! My 830 has been my mainstay for many years (wish I only knew how many miles I have sewed on it since I bought it in 1984!)) I have added two other Berninas, but the 830 us still my favorite machine, and I use it almost every day. I’m also a quilter, mostly I love to do the piecing, Then later I have used my 153 QE Alex Anderson for all my bindings and machine quilting. Bernina just can’t be beat by any other brand!

    • Carol,
      I love hearing these great stories from you and all the other ladies. Thank you so much for sharing and happy sewing!
      You are so right – Berninas are the best!

      Jane Slocum

  • Wish I still had my Bernina 830 that my mother gave to me as a welcome home gift in February 1976 when she brought me home from the hospital to recover from open heart surgery. I had many wonderful sewing adventures with the machine. Made most of my clothing.
    I replaced the 830 with a Bernina 180E embroidery machine in 1998. I still have and use the Bernina180E and added a Bernina 830 Embroidery machine, Bernina 350 and a Bernina serger to my sewing room. Yes you can say I love Bernina products.

    • Hi sedmondson,
      I know you do wish you still had that sentimental gift of the Bernina 830 your Mom gave to you, but you do have all the wonderful memories associated with it. You and I both love Bernina products!

      All the best,
      Jane Slocum

  • I see this discussion string is a few years old but I felt the need to post to it. I just pulled out my 830 Bernina purchase in 1978 in its red case, set it up, cleaned and oiled, new needle inserted and tested and still runs great. Giving it to my daughter to So she can try her hand at sewing. I’m amazed to this day how well those machines are made and easy to use. Hopefully my daughter will enjoy sewing as much as I do.

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