Sunday, 26 February 2012

One week in - Bernina 820 update

So, I've been sewing on the 820 for a week now, and I'm definitely happy - althugh there are additions to the dislike list! The main one is that I had a lengthy battle one evening trying to get the top thread sensor to stop telling me I was out of thread and allow me to keep sewing more than a few inches at a time. I eventually resorted to googling it, and discovered that a recent update has an over-ride feature for this, so I disabled it and have been happily sewing ever since.

This is going to be a fairly text-heavy post, so I'm going to try and find some interesting, but probably unrelated images to break it up. I'm not taking anything outside to photograph in today's awful heat - our overnight minimum was 28C at 5.30 this morning, and we got within a fraction of 40C about an hour ago. The photos are from Christmas morning.

Eleanor sees her Christmas present; the Orginal Funky Monkey Bars

I got very used to piecing with a clear foot on my Pfaff, and the 820 doesn't come with one, so I've been using the 1/4in patchwork foot. I like several of its features, but it doesn't cope well over any seams without the dual feed engaged. However, once the dual feet is in operation it sews beautifully. It does concern me that with this foot, the right-hand lower feed dogs don't come in contact with the fabric at all - but as yet that hasn't actually caused a problem, so maybe it's not an issue.

Without the dual-feed in operation, the 820 really objects to even small seams (possibly a factor of the point above, now I think about it), but once I remembered and engaged the dual-feed foot, it sews across them beautifully. It'll be interesting to challenge it with some bulky seams at some point.

A point I touched on in my first post is that it takes a while for the presser foot to raise to the hover position. I have it set so that when I stop sewing, the needle remains down and the presser foot hovers; this is ideal for a lot of things, and I used it all the time on my last machine. Then when you start sewing, it lowers automatically - but both features on this machine have a few seconds' pause whileyou hear it whirring in preparation - not a lot, but enough to be frustrating. I think that because this really is a computer, it wants to think a little about everything first (it seriously takes between 20 and 30 seconds after switching it on to be ready to do anything at all - that's a LONG time; my last machine was fully computerised, and took took 1/10 of that). I've tried using the knee-lift, but don't like it so far (again, possibly that's just because it works differently from what I'm used to, and so far doesn't do as I expect) - and it didn't make a shred of difference with this issue.

Eleanor climbing on her new monkey bars

Some adivce for anyone buying a new sewing machine - don't just test it thoroughly before makig your decision, have a go at doing for yourself all the things you would normally want to do (threading, changing feet, personalising settings, etc...) before you take it home - especially if it's a make you're not used to! I thought I remembered, but have been wasting time trying to figure out some of the basics. For example, I'm pretty sure there's a way to set the default stitch length shorter on a specific stitch, but I haven't been able to figure out how, so I have to do it maually each time I turn it on. Just watching someone else do it isn't enough - actually try yourself.

Someone did ask me whether the 820 is the next step from the 440QE. I can't really answer that, having only very briefly used the latter once several years ago. Logically the answer would be yes, given the features and increase in space, but I really have no idea what the two have in common or what has improved/changed between them. From my perspective (as someone who really only makes quilts) any other Bernina is not a consideration, as the space is one of my key requirements. I'm also one of those who don't see the BSR as a selling point personally - I have promised myself I'll try it out, but I really don't intend to use it. It's hard to say this without appearing both big-headed and critical of the BSR, but put simply, with the years of experience I have quilting, I think it's more likely to hamper rather than help me. However, it does seem to work nicely, and I can see how some quilters could find it of enormous benefit, especially while learning to FMQ.

James testing Eleanor's present

I've stuck carefully to piecing this week, giving myself the chance to familiarise myself with the 820 before moving to free motion quilting. This is really what I've bought it for (if it were just the piecing and applique, the Pfaff was perfect) and I'm hoping it will live up to the test and my expectations in the coming days (and years!). I'll share my thoughts on its FMQ abilities next week.


The Humming Cat said...

The BSR feature was one of the main reasons I chose the Bernina Aurora, others who also have this model in the quilt world seam to of selected for this purpose too, its a very popular machine. But models above it have many other features and if I was looking at upgrading the BSR is not something I would be looking at as a need as hopefully my quilting has evolved. KWIM?

Joan said...

Interesting post Emma, as you know I too have the Brenina 820, and love it. It allows large quilts to be quilted so easily. I mostly use mine for quilting. I have not got used to sewing mine for piecing...I find my Pffaf is easire for I use the two machines. For quilting I decrease the pressure foot...on my WCQ at present the pressure foot is set at 0 as I am using 2 battings. On a single batting I may go down to 10. There is a way to save your setting for what you are goes to memory. Unfortunately I dont get it and need to remember to set it each time I use the machine. I also dont use the BSR - I find its a distraction and find it easier to 'feel' my way with my hands,

Frances Arnold said...

I don't have a Bernina but spent a couple of hours trying one with a BSR. I found that I was always having to wait for it to catch up with me.

My machine is fairly simple and I am reminded of my 85 year old M-I-L who went to the car dealer and asked to look at a car that was "dumber than she was"!!!