Thursday, 5 February 2015

Introducing Daisy, vintage Bernina 707 Minimatic

The longer I sew, the more I realise that one sewing machine will not fulfil all my needs.  I am a varied sewer- clothes sewing requires a free arm, top quality straight stitch and the ability to do manual neat buttonholes.  Quilting makes me long for space and power: a generous surface to sew on, dual feed to cope with the bulk and an accurate quarter inch foot.  My Janome Horizon was a frighteningly large investment at the time, but its size and ability to sew through bulk with ease is unmatched by anything else that I have ever used and it is a great machine for sewing jersey- lightning stitch and variable foot pressure are both a bonus on stretch fabrics.  However, it struggles with lightweight fabrics or sewing at the very edge of flimsy materials.  The buttonholes are unreliable, it is a beast and when sewing something smaller and lighter, I long for a machine that I can feel more connected to.  I also have a smaller Janome Jem from my pre sewing room days when equipment had to be portable and quick to tidy away. It is lightweight and useful for travelling to meet ups or classes.  To add to my collection, I have a Singer Featherweight, bought for a bargain price a few years ago and it has beautiful straight stitch and I particularly like the general sewing foot.  I can't deny that it is vintage eye candy and I enjoy it on an aesthetic level perhaps above everything else!  It doesn't have a free arm though so sleeves and cuffs can be fiddly and buttonholes need me to master the separate attachment each time.  I love them all, but none can do everything.  I have had a yearning throughout all this time to have a good mechanical machine which will do a beautiful straight stitch with perfect tension and sew a buttonhole in four stages, each manually controlled.  I've found it.  In her hey day, she was quite the poster girl:


A Bernina 707 Minimatic, produced from 1967 -1971.  She is likely to be a very similar age to myself.  Relatively small, but very heavy.  I bought her locally through eBay,with a lot of questions and from a genuine seller .  I knew I had to allow for the cost of a service and I was right- she was clean but the mechanics were dry and a few drops of oil from me, even following the manual and the red dotted oil points were not going to do the trick. The bobbin winder was stuck fast too and that has been sorted, the machine is oiled and tweaked and she really does purr.  I've tested her with a  blouse sewn with a silky lawn- the sort of thing that my Janome doesn't do its finest work on and it was a total and utter pleasure.  I really enjoy the connecting that I feel with a mechanical machine, it is a more intimate sewing experience and I would go as far to say meditative.  I feel calm sewing on her- although that may be the pattern that I was sewing which was hassle free and has fitted with hardly a modification (more on that soon).


She came with her original paper work and a wonderful selection of promo fold-outs for related models- you can imagine how happy all that made me.  Her vintage charm is a little different from Minty the Featherweight.  Daisy reminds me of avocado bathroom suites and shag pile carpets but that's no bad thing, both those things have a happy place in my 1970s aesthetic.


Sewing is my main interest outside my family.  I don't really spend money on much else so I feel I can indulge myself with my four machines (and an overlocker).  It does feel a little like the equivalent male cliche of a mid life adult buying an excess of Bose stereo equipment or lots of cycling equipment.  Sure does make me happy though!

sib blog

23 comments:

  1. Well done! Your machine is very similar to my old lady. My mum bought her 2nd hand from Goldhawk rd in the 80s. She is a very rare 727, which is almost identical to your model, except she ihas a flat bed, maybe the ordinal owner only made curtains or kept it in a sewing table? I've never figured out how to do buttonholes, I tend to use a very tight zig zag satin stitch but should you have other any questions, I may be able to help.

    Hubby offered to buy me a new machine but I think I would be disappointed with a new-fangled plastic computerised model so I declined.

    Have fun!

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  2. Love your new machine. I have just put in a bid for a Singer Featherweight on Ebay so keep your fingers crossed for me! I also have a Janome Horizon which I love.

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  3. Produced between 1967 and 1971, relatively small and very heavy - sounds just like me!

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  4. My machines make me happy too. Each one has her strengths.

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  5. She is a beauty for sure! I am glad she came into your life :)

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  6. gorgeous machine! I *love* those posters - they are hilarious! Makes me want to drape myself seductively over my featherweight ;-)

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  7. heavens, what a stunning machine! Has she got a name? What a gorgeous vintage gal :)

    http://asaucystitch.blogspot.co.uk/

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  8. Oh, what a lovely machine! And, I know what you mean ~ at the moment I have 4 machines ~ my big Bernina, my traveling Bernina, a Featherweight and an old Singer in a wooden case (I mean to sell it sometime or other). All in working order too.

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  9. Seeing your Bernina brought back lots of happy memories. That's the machine my mum had! The one I learnt to sew on and used until I was 21. On my birthday my parents bought me my brand new Elna, which I still own. Those old machines are so solid and will sew through anything. They were made so well! Have fun.

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  10. Beautiful! I connect with my machines too - I have more than one...and because they were second hand or vintage, all up not a lot of $. I always have them looked at by a mechanic I trust. It's such a pleasure to sew on machines that purr!!!

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  11. That looks like a little workhorse! I occasionally use 'the old machine' (also known as 'the big machine') for heavy duty sewing - it was bought for my mam's 21st birthday and is so heavy I can barely lift it onto the table! Sews through four or six layers of heavy denim like it's going through butter, though!

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  12. My 707 is still going strong. It was a 21st birthday present and has sewn my life together,. My daughters clothes were all stitched on it , the instruction book is full of their first scribbles! .It has stitched my home furnishings and never grumbled. It takes more of a back seat now as I have used a 1230 for the past 25 years but my 14 year old granddaughter is now going to be stitching on it for her GCSE textiles course. It all comes full circle.
    Incidentally , is yours in a green fold- out case or a cream plastic one? Mine is green from 1968

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    1. I have green grey suitcase style case, doesn't totally fasten up but it will do for when she is not out!

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    2. Same as mine then. That makes it an earlier one rather than 70s.Thought I recognised those brochures!

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  13. What a lovely addition - I'm sure you will be very happy together.

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  14. Nothing sews like a Bernina. Nothing.

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  15. At 44 I think I'm around your age and I was given a Bernina for my 18th birthday. It was 'basic' but still cost a fortune, however she was worth every penny and is still going strong. I also now have a Bernina 440QE but would love a Treadle Singer Machine like my granny had, even if only for its pure beauty!

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  16. I have just oiled up my 707, that I bought secondhand around 30 years ago! When I asked my mechanic about perhaps replacing her with something new, he looked at me in horror and said "You will never buy another machine that is the quality of this one!" I'm not sure if he was 100% right, as I haven't sewn on anything else, but I do love my sturdy little retro baby. I enjoyed reading about Daisy, thanks!

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  17. I have very recently bought an exact same maschine as yours, and I'm so excited! I do have some problems with the stretch seam, though. When I'm sewing in jersey the seam gets quite "wavy". How do you prevent this? How do you exactly set the buttons on your maschine? I'm totally New in this world, so I hope you Can help me with this :)

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    1. In a later model's (830 Record) it shows how to avoid this when using a zig zag for a hem by zig zagging over a taut piece of thread and then pulling the thread out when finished. I hope that helps.

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  18. I have one of these too and it has been fantastic for many, many years. However, it seems to have ceased up!! Can't get her to sew any more. I've oiled all the red bits, but she still won't budge. Any suggestions?

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    1. I usually lug my sewing machine to my local repairs shop at any sign of trouble but there is a very helpful Yahoo group called Bernina Thirty Somethings which includes engineers and lots of advice for older Berninas- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BerninaThirtySomethings

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