All 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!
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.
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..
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!