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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.