September 22, 2016

Why I Now Unplug My Sewing Machine {The True, Terribly Sad Tale of Mrs.Bernina's Demise}

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This is a very scary tale, so please clear the room of all children of tender age before reading this post.  They can be easily scarred.

A few weeks ago I took a break from sewing and went to the kitchen, which is not an uncommon occurrence, unfortunately.  I heard a noise from down the hallway, which I thought was the printer beginning to print.  Being that I had not printed anything, and no one else was around to be printing anything, I went to check it out.  

The printer was silent.  

The noise continued.  

On down the hallway I went in search of this odd sound, heading toward my bedroom, a.k.a., my sewing room.  As I round the corner into the room, I gasp with despair as Mrs.Bernina is puffing out smoke and squealing at the top of her lungs!!  GASP!!  WHAT!?!  

I quickly unplug her, and she collapses with relief.  

I collapse with grief.  

My faithful friend has suffered, and it might be a fatal wound.  Turning the handwheel is impossible; it's stuck tight.  The foot pedal is very warm to the touch.  

I carry her to the operating table in the dining room, unsure of what to do to help her out.  Removing the huge tangle of threads in the bobbin case relieves the tension on the handwheel, and it turns again, albeit with a bit of sticking, as though it's sore.  

The doctor is called and does a thorough examination which includes surgically opening the foot pedal.  The doctor determines it must be the foot pedal since one spring is found sprung in it, and there is evidence of a fever.  Consulting physician Google also verifies that pedals of this type sometimes go haywire and take off sewing randomly even without the provocation of a foot.  I order a new pedal from the surgical supplyhouse, eBay.

The replacement pedal arrives, and I surgically install it without the doctor's assistance.  I lovingly remove Mrs.Bernina from the surgical table and carry her back to her honored place on the sewing table.  I think she giggles at this point, so happy to be back, she is.  I rejoice as Mrs.Bernina begins sewing in her sweet, dependable way.  

And then she dies.  

Yes, she dies.  Right there on the sewing table.   

Not even a sputter or gasp for breath.

And she does not appear to be resurrectable.  

It's true.

It's sad.

But I did learn something.

NEVER leave a sewing machine plugged in when not in use.  

If this had happened when I was not home, our home most likely would have caught fire, beginning with my fabric stash, my sewing tables, my passion, my entire business!  

Okay, the horrific details are past, and the children of tender age can come back into the room.

I am not sure this incident was entirely preventable, however, because I was out of the room for mere minutes when I heard the noise, and by then the damage had already been done.  My backup machine, a Brother cs6000i, is now my main machine and is plugged into a power strip.  I know I will not unplug the machine (or turn off the power strip) each time I leave the room, because I am almost always coming right back, but you can bet I will turn the power strip off when I plan to leave the house or go to bed.  The power strip has a light on it, indicating the power is on, which is super helpful in a dark room at the end of the day.  

I am in the market to replace one of my sweetest friends, Mrs.Bernina.  Mrs.Brother, as I suppose I should call my current machine, has been a lovely addition to my sewing room over the last few months with her amazing walking foot that has opened wide modern quilting for me.  But she simply does not sew fast enough.  I sew to earn money, so  I need a faster machine.

It's a bittersweet time.

If you are grieving the loss of a human loved one, please do not think I am belittling your experience; this is merely an anecdotal story of my sewing machine going kaput and needing to be replaced.

ETA:  A reader pointed out that the original foot that came with the Bernina 830s in the 1970s had been recalled.  Mrs.Bernina's foot pedal had been replaced with an appropriate foot that had the temperature safety override on it, so it likely, hopefully, should have turned off if it had reached 100 degrees Celsius which is 212 degrees Fahrenheit which is the boiling point of water.  That's hot.  I don't know if it would have caught fire or not.  The fire hazard isn't just the foot pedal combusting; it's also the friction of the belts sliding over the gears inside the machine, and it was already smoking.

Unplug your machines!

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Gale Bulkley said...

Oh no.

Heide said...

That is kind of scary....I Always worry about the iron and forgetting to unplug it....going to start unplugging my machine now too! TFS. Glad you were home when this happened.

Shannon said...

I am sooo sorry for your loss. (But I did love your telling of the story!) I sew with a Janome 6500 and I just love her! I think she sews fast too. My favorite part of her is the scissor button. She does all the cutting for me. I hope you find an adequate replacement soon. Rest in peace, Mrs. Bernina.

Rhonda Snider said...

Oh No! I have a Bernina exactly like yours and I love to sew on her. I bought her new back in 1971 and she still chugs along like she is brand new. I will now turn off the power strip that provides her each night. I would be devastated if this happened to mine. Rhonda Snider

Preeti said...

Sad and Funny at the same time. Life must go on...

Tanya Quilts in CO said...

I have my grandma's Bernina 830. She bought it the same month I was born. I have replaced the pedal once, the motor twice, and other things countless times. The Bernina mechanic convinced me 5+ years ago it was time to retire her and I did. Unfortunately, I could not afford to replace her with another Bernina. I settled for a Pfaff Ambition 1.5 that was within my budget. Every now and again, I do get her out and use her, but she definitely cannot be sewn with on a daily basis. Sorry for her demise!

Angie in SoCal said...

So sorry for your loss. Get a Juki - they are fast!

Laura said...

I'm so sorry to hear this! Foot pedals for Bernina 830s were recalled in the 1970s for just this problem.

Jen said...

Oh no! That must have been a little scary. On occasion my dog will lay down right on my foot pedal. Luckily I have always been right there to turn off the machine or shoo him away, but I didn't think about the consequences if it kept going while tangled. Eeek.

Christine Slaughter said...

Oh no! I am so sorry to read this. I will have to be diligent about unplugging my machine!

Jocelyn said...

Such a sad tale. I unplug my Bernina after use every single time. The reason being, we live in Florida. The lightening capital. We have had numerous power outages during (and sometimes not during) storms. Power usually returns pretty quickly. BUT I'm always concerned that a lightening strike would blow out my little Miss and my laptop. We lost a TV once due to a strike. So for that reason, I unplug them, just to be on the safe side.

GranthamLynn said...

Wow that could have been scary. Or scarier! I have never heard of this before but makes perfect sense. Crazy thing I have a Bernina which I love. It is sick and I am not using it. Can't afford repair. But it has a problem with the switch that has been fixed a few times. Which I decided not to fix AGAIN so I kept it plugged in. Wow now I don't know what to do! I've been wanting to take it for repair. I'm glad you shared this! I'm glad you caught the problem before it caused real damage!
Enjoy your shopping!

Jasmine said...

Thanks for the reminder to unplug. Good luck finding the right machine for you.

barbara woods said...

i have a brother 1500 that does 1500 stitches per. i love it for quilting

Kim said...

Oh no! Maybe a Juki would be a nice replacement. I'm looking into it because it sews fast and is supposed a workhorse.

Needled Mom said...

That is scary. Glad the stash (and the house) survived. Thanks for the heads up.

Julianne said...

If you want to sew fast, you need a Singer 301a, 1300 stitches a minute! I have three and I love them all....sturdy straight stitching machine!

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

Wow. That's scary.

Randee Erickson said...

RIP, Mrs. Bernina. My beloved Viking 6690 (circa 1979) had a similar demise when trying to make my grandbaby's crib bedding. It got stuck in reverse and may not be able to be fixed because it's linked to the electronics in the cam (this was the FIRST electronic sewing machine on the market.) In typical man-fashion, the Cowboy wanted me to complete the project sewing in reverse instead of replacing the machine!

thuy said...

All electrical equipments should be turned off when not in use. For a portable sewing machine, the anti-interference capacitor in its foot control unit may age and get short circuited. That turns the motor on.