Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Bernina 731 and a New Flannel Shirt

I didn't realize it had been so long since I last blogged. It is not that I have been busy, it is that I haven't done anything I thought was blog worthy.

I did get a Bernina 731. This is the same as the famous 730, except it has 4 fancy stitches instead of 8. Once I became familiar with the controls, I found it not only easy to operate, but quiet and smooth. Now I see why sewists love their Berninas.

Of course I needed to use my Bernina for a project to see how it would perform. I chose my old reliable Simplicity 7330 shirt pattern for this task. A long-sleeve flannel shirt for Joe seemed perfect since I had some material in my stash.

I have been reading David Coffin's Shirtmaking book. So I implemented some of his techniques. The rolled seam foot makes a perfect hem on the shirt. I will say I tried this hem before with no luck. It wasn't so much me as the rolled hem foot supplied with every sewing machine except my Bernina. The Bernina made a 1/4" hem as compared to an 1/8" hem. In other words, unless you are putting a rolled hem on really light material, it won't do it with the standard rolled hem foot. Bernina got this right when no one else has.

I also used the flat-fell foot to finish the seams. However, I made beautiful French Seams because I did not fold the material properly on the second pass.. Maybe next time.

I am not sure of making the button holes with the Bernina. For those of you who don't know about older Berninas, they do have a built in manual-buttonholer. However, it is several steps and the sewist is responsible for making the proper length. I thought to be on the safe side, I used my Memory Craft 6000 so I would be sure they would come out properly.

One other little extra on this shirt is a label. This came about because when people comment on my clothes and I respond I made them, they are in disbelief. So, a label should remedy that.  This is where yet another machine came into use.  My Singer 6268.  It sews wonderful letters.  My Memory Craft does letters, but I like these better.

Originally, I said I wasn't busy.  I guess now that I think about it, I have been busy oiling and learning how to use my new machines.

Thanks for stopping.


  1. The most comfortable shirt yet! The fabric is a super soft flannel. I love the length as can wear it tucked in and it stays, or un-tucked. Excellent craftsmanship once again.

  2. You really convince me on buying that rolled hem foot (was not provided with my Bernina neither). Love the shirt and your label looks great! That reminds me that I want to do one for myself!

  3. Congratulations on your "new" Bernina! The 731 is one of my all-time favorite Berninas - I don't need the additional stitches of the 730 for my sewing projects. And you've discovered another wonderful feature of Berninas - their specialty feet are the absolute best for any task. Expensive, but nothing works better!

    Has the Delrin (special nylon-like plastic) camstack gear been replaced yet? It's the large gear nested along the steel cams on the top left-of-center when you open the lid. These gears always blow up, even on machines that are never used - it's the nature of plastic. There are two other Delrin gears, but they seldom go bad because of their smaller size, unless the machine is abused. The repair isn't cheap, but it's well worth it to keep this amazing machine running. As they say, "Nothing sews like a Bernina, Nothing!"

    As you've already discovered, good quality tools make for good quality work and makes the process even more enjoyable and fun. Enjoy it!

    1. Does the shaft that is connected to the darning/zigzag/sewing knob rotate in any way?

  4. I really need to learn how to use some of the feet and more advanced techniques on my machine. I have them (such as flat-fell foot) but then I forget how they are supposed to work…

    The label is a cool idea - I was thinking about doing that too, like if I ever make clothes for another person besides myself. It is good advertising.

  5. Nice shirt. Don't shy away from the manual buttonholes on the bernina. I have continued to make the buttonholes on my bernina 930 though other machines have been bought. I just use scraps of embroidery stabilizer and mark the line with a pencil. I keep meaning to try the vintage buttonholers but haven't taken the time to practice. I have a huge distrust of the button holes on the newer machines. I just can't trust a finished garment to a button hole disaster and sometimes that happens on computerized machines. My bernina manual bh is always perfection. The older berninas are really great machines.

  6. Very nice job on Joe's shirt! I'm glad to hear you are reading David Coffin's book. Isn't it great? Are you happy with your Janome Memory Craft 6000 button holes? We have the 6600 model and are not happy with how the automatic buttonholes turn out. They are either too skimpy or if we change setting/tensions to make them thicker the buttonhole foot skips, ruining the buttonhole.

    1. It took a little adjusting of the stitch length and width to get them the way I like.
      The old Greist buttonholers make the best in my opinion, but I like to try the different ones.