Sewing Machine Review (Finally)

Thank you for all of the support and encouragement you've offered on my decision to return to college. I am looking forward to sharing the experience here and continuing to read your thoughtful insights. Moving on.

I went with the Viking Sapphire 830.

Isn't she lovely?

She was a fortieth birthday gift from my incredibly generous mother and I picked her up last week. (The photo is of my February Sew Connected block for Stefanie.)

I think I've sewn enough over the past week to report that I love the machine. Love it.

Before I tell you more about the machine I just want to note that while it was time for a new machine I bear no ill will towards my workhorse of a Bernina. I love that machine but I've outgrown it. I tried really hard to go with a higher end model of Berninas out of loyalty, but in the end I was sweet talked by the Sweedish engineering. Old Bernie isn't finished yet however. She will live out her golden years at my mom's house where I hope to be able to use her when I visit and my mother says she's interested in taking up sewing again! (I'll believe that when I see it.)

On to the details.

I did quite a lot of research before buying it — including sitting down and actually testing out four different machines. Many factors went into my decision. The one feature that kept me coming back to this machine was the bed size. There are a full ten inches from base to needle. My old entry-model Bernina had close to six inches and no new Bernina had more than seven. Sure, I did okay squeezing my quilts into Old Bernie but I expect this will be much less cramped. This machine was also less expensive then any comparable Bernina. The other determining factor for me was having a knowledgeable dealer nearby who could offer support and properly train me on all of the machine's features. I bought it at The Quilter's Alley in Ridgefield and I highly recommend that if you ever find yourself in Southwestern Connecticut you stop in and say hi to Roxanne and Stuart. Aside from having a spectacular fabric selection, they are just plain nice.

First off, the machine hums. It's remarkably quiet in comparison to Old Bernie and it just has a nice smooth feel to it. There is a feature which programs the presser foot to raise up just slightly when you stop in the needle down position (you can turn this feature off) which I find to be really helpful while quilting. I also really like the built-in quarter-inch stitch so that I don't have to change my foot when I'm piecing quarter-inch seams. There are two lights which make for much easier work and a needle threader which I haven't gotten used to yet. On the more expensive model there is a thread cutter which I'm told is fantastic but I couldn't justify it.

On the disappointing side so far I've only come up with one thing. The sewing surface that comes with the machine (i.e. the free arm) is woefully inadequate. Maybe it's fine for garment sewing but for any sort of quilting or piecing at all, it's ridiculously short in front. Of course, Viking offers an optional extended work-space table that will more than solve this problem but come on — for this price they should have included some sort of extension in front of the machine.

That said, I'm really happy with it and if you're in the market for a new machine and have either a generous benefactor or a bunch of cash laying around, I highly recommend checking into the Viking Sapphire line.

Thanks for visiting.