My Modern Domestic Life: Sisterhood of the Traveling 820

One of the biggest perks of working at the best little sewing studio in the world is being able to get my hands on all kinds of awesome tools and machines that I’ve never used before. When we became a full-fledged BERNINA dealership we got a bunch of new and exciting machines in the store, the most awe-inspiring for me is the BERNINA 820.

I squealed like a little girl when I found out that I would be the first in the shop to get to take the 820 home with me for 6 glorious weeks in order to get to know it better. Look how perfectly it fits on my sewing table. Like it was meant to be.

I’ve been doing such a good job of pretending the 820 is mine-all-mine that when Meredith’s turn to take it home comes at the end of July she will probably have to come into my house and pry it out of my hands in order to get it away from me.  So what’s all the fuss about? Well for me, sewing on the 820 makes me realize just how far I’ve come since first learning how to sew.

Like a lot of people, my mom taught me some sewing basics when I was a girl, but once I lost interest in making little skirts for my dolls I stopped sewing altogether. In my twenties I decided I wanted to learn how to make my own clothes, so I bought my first sewing-related book and talked my mom into buying me a sewing machine for Christmas. My little Husky Star was nothing special as far as sewing machines go, but it got me through so many beginner projects, and traveled with me to PCC when I started taking sewing classes there.

My first machine. Basic, mechanical, with the added bonus of having a name you can sing to the tune of Madonna's Lucky Star.

When I finally upgraded to my beautiful hand-painted Limited Edition BERNINA White Pearl, I thought my sewing-machine-coveting days were over. I plopped my Husky Star in a corner of my closet and never looked back.

The hand-painted graphic was a big part of what sold me on this machine over other models. I am a sucker for pretty.

I’ve been a proud BERNINA owner for about three years now, and I love my White Pearl to pieces, but the 820 does so many awesome things that now I am back in the throes of sewing machine envy.

Look how teeny my White Pearl looks next to the big bad 820.

The extra-big bobbins are awesome. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been about 2 inches from finishing a seam and my bobbin runs out. On this machine I can wind a new bobbin without having to unthread the rest of the machine, but I haven’t even had to do that yet, because the bobbin can hold so much thread that it seems like it might be magically never-ending.

On the left, the 820's giant bobbin. On the right, my White Pearl's regular-sized bobbin.

I’m also addicted to the thread cutter. When I finish stitching I press the button with the cute little pair of scissors on it, and the machine does 4 locking stitches, cuts the thread and lifts the presser foot on its own. I know it probably doesn’t seem that hard to backstitch, lift the presser foot by hand and trim the thread tails yourself, but seriously, this way is so much better. Yes, I am that lazy.

Another new-to-me feature on the 820 is the Free Hand System. In the short time I’ve been using it it has come to feel so essential that I’ve decided to have it installed on my White Pearl because I can’t imagine sewing without it once the 820 leaves me. I love being able to lift and lower the presser foot without taking my hands off my project. I can position and reposition and get everything perfectly exactly where I want it using the handy-dandy knee bar.

As the 820 makes its rounds among the ladies of Modern Domestic over the coming months, I’m sure you’ll hear many more stories of covetous 820 love, but for now, I’m going to keep pretending it will be mine forever. A girl can dream, right?

2 Responses to “My Modern Domestic Life: Sisterhood of the Traveling 820”

  1. Susan Elder

    Now I feel guilty. I got my very own 820 last spring. But the thing scares me to death. I am finally going to take a 2-day 10:00-5:00 marathon lesson on it. I don’t think it is difficult to use, but there are little things you need to know or it will send you some pretty frightening messages and images. The most scary is the “Gears are Stuck” logo. When it doesn’t like what I am or am not doing I don’t know what to do and it freezes until I figure it out. But I am persevering. I am a quilter so I love the stitch regulator. Soon I’ll be sewing up a storm on it.

  2. michelle

    We say “Jump in and go for it.” Sure there’s stuff to learn but once you start, you’ll never go back!

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