Free Motion Quilting Class (part 2).


Here is what I wanted. The holy grail of quilters. Swiss made, stainless steel innards, guaranteed never to let you down… (just like the perfect man!) With trembling hands I turned the thin yellow pages until I found THE yellow page. The Bernina stockists page.

The nearest was in Camberwell. About 20 minutes away. At first they tried to put me off… “Second hand Berninas are very expensive, you know…” They must get sick of people ringing, expecting ultra cheap prices.

“I know. I’m coming in to you.” I got there with 10 minutes to spare. No mean feat considering it was peak hour on a Friday and I was driving down Burke Road. They met me with a lavendar coloured machine that looked pretty. It had all the right things going for it; until they couldn’t make the memory work. I rapidly went off it. If the experts couldn’t make it work, then what chance did I have? (I can’t even make my imac paragraph properly on my blog…)

Then the lady in the shop got all excited. She told her husband to bring out the Bernina in the box. When he was a bit bewildered, she sniped at him and he scurried off to do her bidding. (There was a very uncomfortable vibe between those two. They were obviously married, but his charming vague demeanor had obviously worn very thin over the years.)

They took out a red and white machine. Apparently a little old lady drove it to church every Sunday a woman bought it, then took it to a sewing class where everyone had an Aurora (around 4K worth) and she felt outclassed so she brought it straight back and traded it in.(I knew just how she must have felt.) The closest thing possible to being a brand new machine.

The lady was excited about it. She kept saying how this was ‘meant to be’… a brand new machine for the perfect person. Well, maybe she didn’t use the word ‘perfect’ but I’m sure that’s what she meant…

It had automatic needle threading. (Imagine the swearing that would save.) It had needle down thing. It had a memory that worked. It was red and white. It was shiny and new. It was $1400. I bought it. Here it is:



I brought it home and left it in the box. I was in a state of shock, I think. I ate Red Rooster, drank red wine and had an early night. It was all a bit much…

The next morning I arrived at class bright and early. I carried in the heavy box with ‘Bernina’ emblazoned on the side. The women in the room all fell over.

“What have you done?” they cried.

“The Lord helps those who help themselves,” I said as I started unpacking it.

“What are you going to name it?” someone asked.

I said that I’ll wait; that a name would come to me in time.

The teacher came over to help. She showed me how to thread it, thread the bobbin, use the needle up/down thingamy, change the feet, (it comes with half a dozen different feet. I don’t know what they’re for. But they’re all lined up in a little cabinet. I have a collection! But naturally it didn’t come with a walking foot. THAT was $100 extra),and generally got me up to speed for the day’s lesson. There was slight trouble getting the bobbin case in again after we threaded it but that was soon fixed and I was ready to go. I was psyched! I felt like a Grand Prix driver. Just eat my dust, other Bernina owners in the class!!! You may have far more talent and experience, but I have a new machine!

My sewing machine was still the poor relation of the others in the class, but at least now I was in the same century, and I knew that it could do all that I needed it to do. Deborah cleared her throat and began the lesson. I sat there expectantly, looking at what we had to do with the darning foot and free motion quilting. I couldn’t wait to put it into practice. 


As you can see, free motion quilting is basically learning how to draw with the needle. By lowering the feed dogs that push the fabric through the machine, you can move the fabric under the needle any which way you like, creating all sorts of shapes and designs. We started with variations of the number 6. This would be easier if I had any talent with art, because you have to visualise the design on the fabric and then make it happen. My hand/eye co-ordination needs some work, but I was going with the flow. A happy half hour followed where my machine and I worked in perfect harmony. I wasn’t altogether happy with my wonky 6s but I was very happy with my Bernina. I was living the dream.

Until the machine stopped suddenly.

(To be continued…)


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20 Responses to Free Motion Quilting Class (part 2).

  1. Widget says:

    Ah come on! What happened next? This living by installments is something I can’t cope with!

    Last night I read about you being embarrassed by your machine – today you have purchased a newer machine AND IT STOPPED! Why??????

    How did you cope? What happened to the 6’s?

    When will you finish the story? I need to know…..

  2. andi says:

    Oh you tease!!

  3. Eleanor says:

    You’re killing me….

    While I wait for the next episode I’ll sit here and make a list of the sewing phrases I love:

    Free motion quilting
    Bobbin case
    Darning foot
    Variations of the number six
    Feed dog
    Bernina & Aurora

  4. docwitch says:

    Oh no! What a rollercoaster of a read. I had palpitations reading about your buying the Precioussss…(dilation of the pupils etc), and then… noooooo!!

    …It cannot be. Please tell us it started again.

  5. Sanna says:

    Oh, I was so excited. Planning on how to phrase my excitement of this beauty. Then this, stoppage.

    Of course, I know nothing about sewing or machines, but I’m sort of following the thread of your story…

  6. Michelle says:

    I’m almost crying here. I bought a Bernina a couple of years back. It was my drream to own one – finally a grown up machine to cope with my serious quilting addiction!

    It turned out to be a complete lemon. I named it Odette and everything. They couldn’t fix it – it was even taken to Sydney and they didn’t know what to do with it. I was beside myself.

    Until the day my sewing room flooded and my machine got soaked … and it’s worked perfectly ever since. Bastard. I was hoping the flood would allow me to replace the horrid thing.

    I still have very bitter memories of my dud Bernina though. And I get very sad and upset when I head of other people who’s dreams are being shattered …

    Please let this story have a happy ending!!

  7. persiflage says:

    This tale is really being spun out. I hope that the Great Sewer/Quilter in the sky has disentangled it all for you. You will have to rename yourself Penelope if you keep undoing the completion of your work every night..
    What happened next? Remember we like HAPPY endings.

  8. paige says:


  9. Melanie says:

    Arghhh! You big tease! I hope it has a happy ending too.

  10. Allie says:

    I like husqvarna, although I haven’t been able to use my moms since I moved to Texas and she is in California… its a fabulous device! Although I just sew, no quilting here:D

  11. Jo says:

    Oh my goddess…the SUSPENSE!!!!!!!

  12. Frogdancer I was very excited for you until I got to the end of the post.

    My machine is 20 years plus (Husqy) but I was lucky enough to be able to purchase a walking foot, and a free-motion/darning foot.

    I envy anyone with an extension table that allows them to quilt anything larger than a dolly quilt though. Does yours have one of those extension thingys?

    I am hoping there is a very happy ending.

  13. river says:

    Again with the “to be continued”. Damn you woman! Don’t you realise I’m holding my breath here??

  14. janet says:

    oh no! but what happened next? waiting with baited breath…. hope it’s a happy ending!

  15. Courtney says:

    I am so jealous of your quilting skills – soooo cool!

    I can’t wait to hear the finale. . . you have me on the edge of my seat!

  16. nicole says:

    You know, we, and I do think I’m speaking for all of us, don’t like those cliff hanger endings 😉

    Seriously, ever since you mentioned being able to buy feet for the machines separately I’ve been trying to figure out how to get a darning foot for my machine, never thought I’d be able to purchase one separately (duh).

    Ok, the end of your tale will probably that you went back to that shop and they refused to exchange/repair the machine and then you hit one of the two owners over the head with the heavy box, OR, you had the bobbin in the wrong way round or something and that’s why it stopped.

    Oh, and editing to add: OMG, that machine is beautiful. With buttons! And a screen! I can understand why you bought it. I really hope you got it to work again, OR you got it exchanged into an even hipper model, with more buttons and an even bigger screen.

  17. Oh, no! Don’t tell us it is broke already! I can’t wait till the next installment. Your blogs make me want to start sewing again. Maybe I will clean out my back room and pull out the treadle machine that I know will always work and start practicing again. Then hubby will want me to sew a shirt, maybe I should think again. LOL.

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