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Sewing Machine Update…The Bernina 1130

My “New” Bernina 1130

 I’m in love with a chunky little nugget, a toyboy really as he is nearly 20 years my junior!  Let me tell you my story 🙂

 The Backstory

I didn’t win the Bernina 1030 which went for $750 in the end, I was disappointed, but there were a few other similar models going  also so I just waited and Googled a few more reviews.  It appears absolutely no-one is willing to part with their 1008 so no luck there.  To tell you the truth, after watching all these auctions for 20+old machines, expecially the 830’s and 1030, etc., going for $350-1200 dollars a piece, I thought someone’s having a great laugh out there and just raking it in.  I have sort of been reading all the reviews with hesitation, you know when someone gushes about something and sometimes in your head your thinking, “yeah right, can’t be all good tell me the truth!”  (I’m a glass half empty kind of girl, hehe).

Well, I ended up winning a Bernina 1130 also on Ebay on Friday.  This morning the lovely man selling it emails at 6.40am, and lets me know that he was coming past my way so would be able to drop it off, I was awake and of course I accepted.  By 10.00am this morning I was the proud new owner of a 20+ year old Bernina 1130!  The man selling it was lovely, apparently he’s called the Sewing Doctor, or Dr. Sew, here in Sydney, which is lucky for me, because he has completely reconditioned the machine.  Plus he does house calls to service sewing machines, and sells industrial machines as well as domestic, so my future supply in good working sewing machines is safe.  I just wanted to get the machine upstairs, but he was determined that I was happy and understood the machine first, these salesmen, always trying to make the customer happy!


According to the Bernina entry in Wikipedia, the 1130 was manufactured between 1986-89, the “First computerized BERNINA with fully automatic one-step buttonholes and stitch memory.”  (reference: Bernina Wiki ).

The Big Reveal

Of course I went straight upstairs to where I had prepared a spot for my new chunky nugget, and got unpacking.  Honestly, I was like a kid opening her presents on Christmas day, I was so excited.  When I turned it on for the first time and all the lights came on I was ecstatic hehe!  I’ve never owned a sewing machine before with so many lights.

It did not come complete, which I already knew, for a collector like me that only means one thing, more looking.  The presser feet that did come with it were the 1, 2, 3, 3A, 4, 5, 6,8 and 9, see below, the only two that didn’t come with the machine, was the 0 for straight stitching/zigzag, (you know what?   I’m good with that, No. 1 does the job so will not need it at all) and the No. 7 the Tailor tacking foot, also not fussed but will pickup if I find one.

It does not have the accessory case (or any of the accessories except the brush) that attaches to the back of the baseplate or the container for all the feet.  It only had one bobbin, so purchase No. 2 will be to pick up more bobbins.  It did however come with the “My Bernina guide”, instruction book, plus the presser foot knee lifter lever, so yay!  After the auction last night, I bought a pdf of the user guide online, thinking that there was no instruction book with this auction, however I also found out that there are in fact two user manuals, Vol 1 which came with the machine, and Vol 2 which is with the pdf I bought, so win win.

9 Presser feet all in a row.

  Set Up and Sewing

It is alot different to a Janome, or Singer, or even a Brother, all of which I have had varying degrees of experience.   I was a bit worried because when I took the foot control out of the storage area, it only had one retractable cord (what the heck, bonus!) that plugs into the sewing machine and no power cord, until I realised that the power cord also retracts but into the machine, (double bonus!!).  The setup was very foreign to me, so it took a while, plus I read the instructions first (after not being able to find the power cord).   The front loading bobbin was familiar, but the bobbin filler was not, so had to work my way through the instructions for that one.  Threading was straight forward, nothing too difficult.

Then came the sewing, I wanted to see if a 2nd hand Bernina could still sew well, straight out of the box, and you know what it did!   I used a piece of poplin, which was probably a bit thin to use, without changing the tension, and it performed beautifully just a small amount of gathering, probably could be fixed by changing the tension.  When I tried the decorative stitches, I used a thicker material and they, also, were easy, as well as little works of computerized art.  Not sure how fast this thing sews, but it is a good speed, and QUIET, I know all those with newer, bigger, quieter computerised machines are skeptical.  However, this is a breakthrough for me and very welcomed as the 1130 will live upstairs, and to be able to sew at night without rocking the house and disturbing others is great.



A feature I thought was handy is the ability to sew at 1/2 speed instead of full speed.  Not sure if this is a common thing on newer machines, but is great as the girls are learning to sew and it will be much safer using it at a slower speed.



  • I suppose I will find out if there are any other downsides to the machine, so will update cons when necessary.
  • It doesn’t have all the bells n whistles the newer machines have, but as I’ve said before I really don’t need them, if I want a quilt I will find a beautiful one on Etsy or from a local quilter 🙂
  • Very limited embroidery range, and memory storage, but I’m not that interested in embroidery on my clothes, (I could change who knows).
  • When I say chunky little nugget, that’s exactly what he is, I’d say about 15kgs, so alot to lug around if I start going to classes.


My Conclusion

The Bernina 1130 is very easy to use, especially if reading the instructions first, it feels good to use, is very stable when sewing even at top speed. This is a beautiful piece of machinery, that will stay in my family and probably be passed down to my youngest, design orientated daughter, I know gushing again.  I will probably get another older Bernina if the price and condition is right, and very soon, probably the 830 or 1008, the thing I hate more than broken thread, or a machine jamming, is having to rethread for different projects one has running concurrently, all the time.


If you are just beginning and have only a certain amount to purchase a machine, I would definitely recommend an older Bernina, if in good condition, even an 830 which is even older than this one (early 80s), the reviews are not lying to you.  You really can’t go wrong.  I have not sewed anything significant yet, will let you know when I do, but to have a sewing machine that sews effortlessly, without any problems straight up, is the first step in continuing to sew all the time.

The cheap, not well made machines are sometimes not worth the hassle to even get out of the box, and really the other good machines I have tried have not stood the test of time.  I know there are other machines out there and others have their own dream machines, I am not by any stretch of the imagination, an expert, and have not used a lot of sewing machines, but this is really a dream machine for me.  May be one day I might invest in a top of the line embroidery/quilting type machine, but until I have a spare $5,000-13,000 lying around, I won’t even consider it.


Of to finish my daughter’s jersey.  Bye.

28 thoughts on “Sewing Machine Update…The Bernina 1130

  1. Hi, I know you will LOVE your 1130. It has been my workhorse since I purchased it as a store model many years ago. I love it so much that I have managed to purchase and need to purchase one more for my Granddaughters. Ebay has some great sales especially if you check often…This is a hard machine to find because like me, no one wants to get rid of it. Have fun!!! Kate

    1. I do love it! I am supposed to be studying but I am on it nearly every day sewing something hehe. You don’t really know how much fun sewing can be until you have a great sewing machine, I don’t get frustrated from bad tension and breaking threads. I also have Bernina on my ebay watch list, not sure what model I want now, I think i would still like a 1008 just for boring stuff like straight sewing. Sewing meters of frills is so much more fun when you can get through it quickly!

  2. Thank you so much for this post! I have my mother’s 1130 which she bought new and handed down to me and it’s actually the only machine I’ve ever needed or wanted (besides my serger;)

    Echoing the other comments, you will not be dissapointed.

    I stumbled on your blog through a google photo result– I was on the phone with my local Bernina dealer and couldn’t remember the model number offhand to order the right #50 walking foot. Now I’m excited to follow you and see what you’re able to create on your wonderful new machine!!

    The walking foot is a nice chunk of change. If you wish, I’ll try to report back as to whether or not it truly is life changing;)

    Good luck with your sewing!

  3. Hi Caddy I actually picked up a walking foot for $5 + postage, I felt bad and gave the lady another $5 as I know how much they go for on Ebay hehe.

    How lucky to get your mum’s machine how long have you had it, and how much do you use it? I am interested in how long I can expect mine to last without major problems before I might have to buy another one?

    I have been sewing quite a bit recently, but haven’t blogged about it, but it gets that way at the beginning of the year 🙂

  4. I have had my 1130 for over 23 years – and I bought it used! I sew about 4 hours a day so I give it a good overhaul once a year! Runs like a champ. Have had one tiny repair on it in the last 23 years. I will never give it up.

    1. Wow I wish I sewed 4 hours a day! It is good to know that the machine will last a long time even with all the work you do on it. I am loving it no tension issues, can get on a sew almost any fabric without having to adjust anything. Love it!

  5. Four hours a day is pretty easy when your husband is a “sports junkie” and you aren’t. His TV time is my sewing time – plus an hour or so after he has gone off to bed.

    1. lol, before I know it these days, it’s bedtime and I’m to tired to even pull out a pattern. I think I just have to put the time aside each day. Was doing well at the beginning of the year, but then my semester started and the kids always need something hehe.

      Do you have a blog where I could see all your creations? Would love to see what you’ve made!

  6. Turina, I’ve given mine a lot of exercise! my mother used it to make a great deal of our clothing as children and I’m currently making leather handbags on it (hopefully to sell) so i can attest both to it’s longevity and flexibility.

    so sorry for the slow response! i must have been busy sewing, hehe;)

    1. lol another lucky person who gets lots of sewing time, I am very jealous! I did buy the machine to use it to make clothing to sell, just haven’t motivated my self yet. Good luck with the handbags, would love to see what you make, let me know when your website is up and running, love hand bags!!

  7. Hello Turina,
    I share you passion for Bernina. I have just bought the 1130 on ebay. What I didn’t consider (when I purchased it from German seller) was that the manual came in German. Ooops! I searched for PDF online and can only find the 1260 (which they say is same except for having ABCs embroidery stitches. I don’t suppose you can give us a link to where you bought yours? (If it is original 1130 and not 1260).

    Also, my retractable cable isn’t retracting…..
    I pulled it out to test the machine and it stayed out. I was very gentle!

    Anyone’s advice would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you and kind regards

  8. Hi Deborah,
    My poor machine is out of action for a bit, it is broken, my service man is on holiday and I am not trusting it to someone else hehe.

    I purchased the manual from here: for $10 NZD approx $7.88 USD if your in the US, which I thought was pretty good. You just purchase it off their site and you get an email with the PDF attatched. Note there are two manuals Volume 1 and Volume 2 so bonus!

    I found my cable getting a little stuck at times, no real advice, may be try and gently pull it out and push the button at the same time then let it go in, I usually guide it and not let it just retract by itself, but I do that with the vacuum also, so might just be me.

    Anyway hopes this all helps, let me know how you go, especially when you start sewing with it, I really do love the ease of using my machine and am missing using it at the moment.

  9. Hi again Turina,
    Thanks for the response.
    I am in the UK (Wales).
    I very much appreciate the link, I will have a look and buy them.
    I’ve been playing with the 1130. I love it already but think it might have had quite a bit of use (intuition) it’s working ok, just seems a little tired (like me).
    I also have another Bernina, the 801 sport. It is wonderful. I probably don’t need them both but I’m not parting with either of them. I learned to sew in school on an 801!
    Hope you get your beloved machine fixed soon. 😉
    Kind regards

    1. I am hoping for a 801 or 830 next, and you always need more that one machine! However the Berninas are extremely expensive here in Australia, mine was $500 but I’ve seen them go up to $800+!! I won’t pay more than $350 for an 800 Bernina, I refuse hehe.

      I was lucky that my machine was bought from a service person because it ran beautifully out of the box. The only reason it broke was because I was topstitching denim and trying to rush, not a good mix, I hope I get it fixed soon also!

      Well happy sewing, and hope the 1130 can get a new lease on life 🙂


  10. Hello, I’m in Sydney too and really need someone to look at my 1120…… Have searched for the sewing Dr but can’t find him. I wonder would you be able to share
    His information. Thanks

  11. Hi, I got a Bernina 1130 but something doesn’t work and I was wondering if you have any details of Dr. Sew. I’m based in Sydney as well.

    1. Hi Petra,
      Dr Sew’s name is Jack Diwa and his mobile number is 0408257383. I think he is in the Campletown area, although don’t quote me on that. He always comes out to my house to fix the machine. Just got it fixed too and it is working great 🙂
      Good luck!

  12. I enjoyed your comments about the 1130. I am sure you are having a marvelous time with it. I just won a Bernina 1130 on eBay. I had one once before that I traded for my sister’s 1120 and then sold her 1120. At different times, I have actually had the 730, the 802, the 830, the 930, the 1008, the 1120, the 1130, the 1230, the 1630, and the newer collection patchwork edition (but I don’t remember that model). I have fixed and cleaned the machines and either sold them to family members or put them back on the market. I never kept any because I loved my original 830 so much and felt that it was sufficient for all of my needs. I will never part with that one. And always, after a few months of having a second machine, I would realize that the 830 was quite good enough.

    I bought my first Bernina 830 brand new as a college graduation present to myself in 1977. I used it so much that I wore out the bobbin winder and the feed dog, but both parts were easy to fix myself. I sewed clothes for myself and my children, nieces and nephews, quilts, baby blankets and burp cloths, costumes, curtains, even greeting cards, and mended and altered items galore. I still have the original foam packaging material in the case.

    Now I have another 1130. I sewed with it last night. It was amazing, so smooth and effortless! I am torn as to whether to keep it, or to sell it to a niece who wants a Bernina. The stitches I am using are also on the 830. Am I amazed because the machine is better than my 830, or just because my 830 has been packed away since before Halloween when I made my granddaughter’s “Hello Kitty” bunny costume and I have missed sewing? I really think it is the latter. My niece may have a chance at this 1130 after all. She needs it more that I do as I barely find time to sew anymore. Maybe there will be time when I retire, but probably I will just spend more time with grand kids. 🙂

    And the 830 still does a wonderful job with all the basic sewing projects I throw at it when I do sew. My serger hasn’t been used for several years other than to test it out to make sure it still works, but it is available if I need it. I really think I have made up my mind. (But the 1130 was so much fun last night that I think I will play with it some more just to be sure.)

    1. Hi Audrey, That’s alot of Berninas! So you would have a good idea on how they all compare to each other. I still want a 830 but I think I only want it to collect rather than really need another machine. Which one feels more solid and reliable? I also am thinking of the 1008, but really I think any of Bernina’s mechanical machines would be worth getting.

      I do a little bit of sewing, quite a bit now and then, but I have two machines an old Singer and this one, oop sorry I lie, I just bought another very old Singer (won’t use it for sewing though, just decoration), so that is 3 and an overlocker/serger. I do well on the machines I have, I only want things, now, like coverstich machines and maybe an industrial Juki and the such.

      And yes don’t make your decision lightly to give the machine another home, have a week playing on the machine and see what you think at the end of the week hehe.

  13. Hi , I bought a Bernina off eBay. The seller does not know about sewing machines. And I think the power cord has to be changed. It looks real bad.Is it OK to ask for the Sew Doctor’s email address. I live in Dubai and not many people know about old Berninas. Regards ,

    1. Hi Vidya, sorry have been away on holiday.

      I only have the Sew doctor’s phone number. 0408257383 I will give him a ring in the morning and see if he has an email address and if it is alright for me to forward it to you.

      Good choice with the Bernina, what model did you get? I will have a look at my links I gathered on Berninas and see if there is anything helpful and I will post them here or I can email them.



    1. Hi Joyce, Dr Sew is in Sydney, he can come to your house in the Sydney area. Phone number is 0408257383.

  15. i have the 1130 Bernina- almost 30 years/ It works slowly. I would like to make a trade in to Bernina Rome 3. any advice?

    1. Absolutely none I’m afraid. I do not own any machines older than 30 years old, and have not tried any of the newer Berninas at all! It would be valuable for you to go to a Bernina store and try out their machines for yourself. They would be able to advise you on the machine that will suit you the best. But really sit down and try out the machines, take you own project so you can see if it suits you type of sewing.

      In saying that, finding a great service technician is invaluable. I am not looking to replace any of my machines for the next 10 year at least, (Except may be purchase an embroidery machine and a coverstich machine when I have a spare $5000!)

  16. I just found one for sale for 800.00 just serviced. Is that a good price for one? I didn’t know they cost so much money!!!! I just saw your post and now I am seriously thinking of buying one! Thank you for sharing your experience with us…The article is older, so I hope you can respond to your latest replies…

    1. Hi Diane,Sorry for the delay!

      Yes the machines are really quite expensive, especially being so old haha! Not sure where you are but in Australia and New Zealand $800 may be a little steep for a 1130. I paid $500, but I really got a bargain, as most of the other machines I saw at the same time were going for alot more. I probably would not of bought it if it was $800, but I had a budget at the time.

      I can say that the 1130 is still going strong, although the Bernina is used only for dress weight fabrics and sewing, such as clothing, cushions etc. not denim or anything heavier. I have an older singer that I do most of my heavier duty work on.

  17. I am new to the Bernina 1130 and when a friend mentioned the wanted to gift me with one I had to look it up. I am NOT disappointed and am grateful for such a gift. It is definitely a gem and dream machine. I have had a Janome for year and it is nice and I can’t help but compare the two. I am so pleased with the dream machine it is now my favorite! I plan to get it serviced and appreciate this blog for valued information.

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