1995 BERNINA 1080
Meet my little 1995 BERNINA 1080. This certainly isn't my first-ever sewing machine, but it was the first BERNINA machine I ever purchased! It's hard to believe this little guy is now officially vintage, which means I've had it for a long time.
I bought this machine back when I was in art school. I was doing so much sewing that I literally burned-up a basic sewing machine, and knew that I needed something heavy duty to help me finish out my Fiber Arts degree. We had a couple of older BERNINA machines in the Fiber Arts classroom, and our professor M. Joan Lintault said they were the ONLY machines that could take the repeated beating from students (she also told me that BERNINA headquarters was near my parent's home in Chicagoland and that I should go work there 😉).
The closest BERNINA store was about a 45-minute drive, so I visited Chuck's Calico Country (original location now closed, but there are a few other Calico Country stores still out there) and got a great deal on a floor model 1080. This machine was made to be portable, featuring a large retractable handle on the top, a nice accessory box that snaps on the rear of the free-arm, and an option slide-on table (pictured). The original control pedal is larger than today's pedals, and features a retractable power cord. I sometimes wish they still made foot controls like these!
At the time this machine was like a luxury for me, it is smooth and extremely quiet, and has a nice selection of decorative and utility stitches built-in. Computerized technology adds awesome features like needle up/down, and the stitches are absolutely precise. I had to put the machine on lay-away (again, showing my age here) and make payments for several months, but it was definitely worth it. I sewed through all kinds of crazy stuff with this machine, from several layers of vinyl to tin foil and super thick army-surplus canvas - all without a hiccup from the machine.
When I did actually get a job working for BERNINA corporate headquarters in 2005, I was able to pick up a lot of extra feet and accessories for this model because BERNINA changed the design of the feet with the new generation of machines. I also went on to purchase a BERNINA 440 QE, have been lucky enough to sew with many different models (like the 350 PE, 590, 790, 770), and recently purchased a 570 QE.
The 1080 machines are getting harder to find as there aren't any replacement parts when the computer components go bad, which can happen with the age of the machines. I still use my 1080 occasionally for sewing crafts or garments, and am still amazed at how smooth and quiet this little guy sews. I'll never get rid of it!
Tell me, do you have a sewing machine that's so special that you'll never give it up? 🤔