The Importance of a Good Sewing Machine Dealer

good sewing machine dealerAll too often we hear about what machine is good and what machine is bad but few really realize that part of the journey of owning and using sophisticated sewing machine lies in having a good and honest sewing machine dealer.

My love for Bernina started when I was very young.  In my small hometown of Volcan, Panama, there was a very old lady who sometimes would sit in her porch stitching away.  I would see her there every time I would come back from my grandpa's coffee plantation.  I would stop and say hello and stick around to watch her sew.  She would make the most amazing dresses with her Bernina Record 830.  The name stuck and while I was a starving student in school I could only but admire these machines from afar.

In the summer of 2017,  I took a trip to Switzerland and had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Bernina factory outside Zurich.  After touring the factory, I decided this is it –I want this machine!

good sewing machine dealer

A slightly larger version of my dream sewing machine..

My Bernina Sewing Machine Factory Tour In Switzerland

I wrote the article and got more involved with the people who purchased Berninas and were fans of Bernina sewing machines. Then…

The saga with my Bernina B880 Plus started a couple of months after I got it.  It was a birthday present from my husband.  At that time we were living in Singapore and the machine was purchased in Australia at Thorpe and Co in Newcastle, Australia.  My husband brought it back with him on the plane if you can believe it.  I was so excited!

If we were living anywhere near the Thorpe store, I know that the machine would have come with extensive training and hands-on support.  Unfortunately, we were living far away so I just couldn't take advantage of this valuable aspect of the sewing machine dealer value proposition.

The first project I made with the machine was the Pinch Grip Mitt Pattern.  I was so happy to see how the machine handled the many layers.

Pinch Grip Oven Mitt Pattern or Puppet Show?

I was in the middle of working with some fur on my next project when my troubles started.  The bobbin door kept opening and closing, seemingly at random.  I just couldn't figure out the problem and not for lack of trying.

At the same time, I got an invitation to meet the owner of Bernina, Hanspeter Ueltschi, and his family when they were in Singapore and I was asked to write more about Bernina and get involved in the creativity side.  But, how could I?  My own machine was not working..

good sewing machine dealer

With Hanspeter Ueltschi in Singapore

I called Marteen at Thorpe and Co and he immediately put me in contact with a registered repairman in Singapore who came to my house and changed the bobbin sensor for me.  The machine was still under warranty so I paid nothing, of course.  Fantastic service!

A couple of years later, luck, life, and personal choice found us living in Santiago, Chile and moving all our things across the world from Singapore.  I found that almost 1/2 the container was sewing supplies (I wish I was kidding) 159 boxes in total said sewing room on them.  My husband and son got stuck packing it all up, so yes, I'm sure it was 159 boxes.  They made sure to count each and every one…

All my machines including my beloved Bernina B880 Plus went into the shipping container.  Red-tape, corruption, mediocracy –who knows– got our things stuck in Customs for almost 10 months.  We found ourselves living out of a suitcase for almost the whole year of 2018.  Finally, we got our things delivered to our house and I was able to once again open my Bernina box like it was Christmas again.  However, the saga continued sadly.  After a couple more projects the bobbin sensor went bad again.

Once more, I contacted Marteen at Thorpe and sent him a video through Messenger.  He sent me the replacement circuit board and special screwdrivers along with detailed video instructions on how to do the repair myself.  The package never arrived sadly.

Three months passed and I still had no idea what had happened.  Marteen sent another package with my husband who was on a business trip in Australia so no mail was involved this time thankfully.  I got the replacement board, but I had no screwdrivers.  They are a very special size and shape required to change this part I learned.  Finally, I had to buy them through Amazon from the US because people just did not understand what I was talking about here in Santiago.  The Bernina machine I have is not even sold in Chile and it appears that I am the only one in this country with a Bernina B880;)

More than two years have passed since I got my sewing machine, and today is the first time I can actually sit down and sew with it.  Happy days!

If you're ever in the market for a Bernina sewing machine but don't have a good dealer in your town, I would recommend using SewingMachinesPlus.com.  They'll give you more personalized service than you might find on Amazon and are real specialists.  But if you're fortunate enough to have a good sewing machine dealer in your town, I'd certainly recommend using them and supporting their business.  You'll be glad you did.

If you have any similar experiences with a good sewing machine dealer.  Please feel free to give them a shout out in the comments below!

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14 Responses to The Importance of a Good Sewing Machine Dealer

  1. Esther Paris says:

    I ABSOLUTELY recommend Blaine’s Sewing in Cranston, RI. I have been their customer for years. They even found and fixed up a hand crank machine for me, which I love.

  2. glorybquilts says:

    I live in Ontario, Canada and love my Bernina machines, yes plural! I am fortunate to have Triangle Sewing Centre in Guelph as the dealer and they are wonderful! Growing up, my mother had a Bernina as well, so that is what I learned to sew on.

  3. Donna M Budzinski says:

    I am a Husqvarna Viking person. After 20 years with Bernina, we purchased a lemon! It is important to have a dealer that sticks up for you and will handle your problems. I would never buy a machine on line. At $15,000 for the top of the line, you are asking for trouble. Also, most machine dealers are small businesses. You are important to them, like the store in Australia!

  4. Kath Chalmers says:

    I am a lifelong sewer and spent 15 years in the garment industry. Long story but I have had Janome’s for years but the serger was driving me nuts. I knew about the baby lock serger and found a Janome/BabyLock dealer closer than my old one (they had moved an hour away from original store. Not within popping in distance!) I talked to the new dealer and he gave me a fantastic deal on a demo for the top of the line BabyLock serger/coverstitch machine. I replaced two mediocre machines with one excellent one. While taking classes there I saw the new BabyLock Solaris. I was left drooling but it was out of my price range, especially as I would have to replace everything; hoops, clothsetter and all. Couple of years passed and we downsized and i realized i might be able to buy it as it was likely to be my last sewing machine purchase and i had received a small inheritance. I contacted them and they gave me a good deal, so I went for it. What I didn’t expect was the email from them that said another of their customers also wanted to buy a Solaris and their dealer would give them a better price so if I could put half down this week, the price would be $1000 less! They could have put that money in their pocket and I would have been none the wiser and just as happy. This company is Tom’ Sewing in Surrey, British Columbia. They will not steer you wrong, over sell or cheat you. They are wonderful people. My Solaris will arrive in three weeks and I can hardly wait!!

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Hi Kath Thank you for your comment, I have added a link to the comment so people can link to it. I will add your comment to the article as well.

  5. Rue says:

    I’m a Huqavarna Girl. But my advice to anyone when they ask me about buying a good machine is buy one from a place that is close to where you live. Then you won’t have to go far for lessons, help & repair. And always buy the service agreement! It is worth it because it should cover routine maintenance because you should send your machine in at least once a year for a “spa treatment“!

  6. Mea Cadwell says:

    All the sewing dealers in Eau Claire, WI are way too expensive for my budget.

    I’d ordered a sewing machine from Ken’s Sewing Center before Thanksgiving last year but had major problems within 5 days – would turn on, take a few stitches and then stop with an error message. Emailed Ken’s for help but received no reply within a week. Sent another email and waited a couple more weeks, still no reply. Becoming more and more angry I decided a refund was in order and emailed about that. I received a reply very quickly to my refund request.

    Ken’s said they wouldn’t refund anything because I’d had the machine for too long. Not good enough, especially when their website specifically says “30 day money back guarantee” and I’d started contacting them only 5 days after receiving the machine. I had to bring in the company I used for my online payment. Af first Ken’s said they’d give a partial refund. Still not good enough for the expensive paper weight they sent me.

    It took a hair over 2 months but I finally received a full refund. By then I was leary of using online for sewing machines. Actually went to some local sewing machine dealers and couldn’t afford any of those machines. Then SewingMachinesPlus had a sale and I purchased a Juki HZL-5300 from them (right before COVID-19 showed up and sewing machines became a highly prized commodity).

    So, I have a Juki and an older Brother and got both online. I now use SewingMachinesPlus because they have great sale prices, a lot of product to choose from, knowledgeable staff, are kind and patient, and quick to message you back with any questions.

  7. sewhappy says:

    I need to mention my sewing machine shop that is an old-order Mennonite Bernina dealer also. If you live anywhere close to Penn Yan NY, you know Penn Yan Sewing Machine. A dealer in Bernina machines but services all machines.

  8. Rhonda says:

    I bought my 930 Record from a dealer in 1984. While I enjoyed the buying process and the one class I went to with his wife to show me how to run it, I never took my machine back in. Not because of the dealer. I never had any issues! It has been the very best machine I could hope for with no problems. I will not ever let it go!!

  9. Mary says:

    Bernina Sewing Center, in Temple Terrace, Florida (Tampa Bay Area) is owned by Gregor Sidler and his wife, Deborah. He is from Switzerland, and worked in the Bernina factory for years. In fact, the first electronic machine was born on his desk! This guy KNOWS machines. Although I didn’t buy my machine from him, I drive from Orlando to have him service it, ask him any questions, and have purchased additional feet from him. I say this because he actually showed me the correct way to use a foot before I left the store! In addition, I own a Bernina that is over 30 years old, and took it to Vermont to sew with my daughter. On the way the foot pedal broke, and after trying to get a replacement from several dealers, I called Gregor and he over-nighted it to me. He works on other brands, as well. Gregor is my “go to guy” for anything related to sewing!

    • Mayra Cecilia says:

      Thank you Mary for sharing your experience I hope this Bernina Center remains for many years to come.

  10. Liz says:

    I don’t own a Bernina, I have an old Singer and a Brother. The Singer was purchased from the same company that services both machines, the Brother I bought through a company that takes payments, I am so lucky they service both as if I purchased them both from them and as if they were their own. I did just end up purchasing a long arm from them and will continue to use the same company for as long as they are in business. The company is Parsons Sewing Connection, in West Springfield Massachusetts when I started with them originally it was owned by a different person and the name was slightly different, but it still started out with Parsons, and that was over 30 years ago.

  11. Cheryl Lincoln says:

    I want to give a shout out to Mae Bernina in Lawrence, Kansas, USA! I had lusted for a serger for a number of years, so I went to Mae’s, just to LOOK! I bought my first serger about 2 years ago, and I love it. I really enjoy taking my completed projects to share with them, and I also enjoy the classes! I have become a big fan of Baby Lock products, so I upgraded my sewing machine as well! I was having issues with the bobbin, but to be honest, they were really USER issues. The folks a Mae’s were very helpful and instructive. I’m a visual learner, and Liz is very patient with me! I have learned more about sewing machines in the past 2 years than all my experience sewing over the past 50+ years.

    If you are ever in Lawrence, Kansas, be sure to stop by Mae’s Bernina, and tell them Cheryl sent you!

  12. Frances Leiter says:

    Here in Central PA, we have several old-order Mennonite Bernina dealers who are the BEST! They are sincere, honest, know their product in and out, and are personable and remember your face and name even after months have gone by since they saw you! Their prices are often lower than traditional shops since they are mostly a family business and have lower overhead than other stores. Their service is meticulous so repairs are done right the first time.

What do you think?