Sunday, September 25, 2011

Making Button Holes with the Bernina 730

This is a very specific post, but I hope is helpful to those who own a Bernina 730 Record.  It's not the new Bernina730E but still has it's charms.  This 1969 avocado darling was top of the line in her day and still is tops in my sewing room.  It is my best all around sewing machine.  It has sewn for miles and years with no repairs at all.  It produces stitches of the best quality.  That said, it does have a weird semi automatic buttonhole set up.  If you find yourself confused, you are not alone.  Here is a step by step tutorial:

*Before you begin, get your manual out.  I still refer to it, after 25 years.
*Check to see if the buttonhole lever is movable.  It is very common for this lever to be frozen in place.  If so, try Tri-flow and a blow drier to loosen it. Below is a photo of the lever in the correct position for buttonholes.  You should be able to pull down to engage it.

*Prepare the bobbin by threading through the "finger".  This gives a little more tension to give a good stitch.  *Attach the buttonhole foot, as in this picture.

Threaded Bobbin and buttonhole foot
Making the Buttonholes
 
1.  Set the knobs on the machine as shown the manual.   Side lever up, stitch length to the top.

2.  Set zig zag by moving the lever to the right until it hits the stop gently.  That moves the zig zag gears into alignment.  Move the needle position lever to match up white lines on zig zag control.  It's a bit off here, but until I have another photo this gives an idea.  Thanks to a reader for helping.
Move to the right, these are the correct zig zag settings it should have set for you.
3.  Buttonholes start by going away from you.   Make sure your needle is in the center.  If you need ot , turn hand wheel to get it in place (it usually already is).

Begin making your buttonhole starting at your marker to your other mark.  I use pins but remove them when the presser foot is in the right position.
First side, backwards.
4.  With needle up, push lever to the left stop.  This makes the bar tack.  Hold fabric tightly for this.
Left stop position
 5.  Needle up,  move lever to the right stop.  This will start it forwards.   Below is the right stop position.
Right side stop position

Note:  it is very tempting to pull or move the fabric.  My best advice is to resist - it does better when you just let it go no matter how scary that is!
6.  With needle up, push lever to the left stop.  Make another bar tack, hold fabric tightly.
7.  To secure the tack:  Move the lever over the right stop - way over -  past the screw.  It should look like this:

It will stay in place, locking the zig zag and going up the side slightly in tiny stitches.

This all sounds terribly complicated but after a few times it should take only a few minutes.  Basically, here is the procedure in shorthand:
Always have needle up to move lever, hold fabric on tacks.
Stitch back
Left stop
Right stop
Left stop
Far right stop, 3 stitches.


The drawback to this system is that, as like with all manual buttonholes, you have to measure each one perfectly.  Another is that you can't do a second pass.   
They turn out OK but if you spend a little more time the corded ones are the best.  The Bernina buttonhole foot has a hook at the end to allow for string to go under the foot and under the stitches for a raised effect.  I use this when using heavier fabrics mostly.

On a related topic, the Singer Buttonholer cannot be used on the Bernina 730.  Finally got around to trying it out and alas, it was not very good.  It did fit the Buttonholer's cloth plate, and with an low shank adapter fit the needle clamp.  The machine's extension bed was in place for support.  The problem is the bar that holds the Bernina presser feet secure is not positioned well for the buttonholer to fit under it.  I did get a buttonhole made, but it came loose a few times causing the adapter to fall away.


Very close, but it was enough to break my needle and come apart  a few times.  If there was a buttonholer with a lower profile then it would work fine.  Mystery solved.

29 comments:

  1. Great minds think alike! I just put up a post about buttonholers today too.

    I've heard that, just like every other brand, the vintage Berninas are much better than the new ones. Do you have an opinion? I did test drive a couple of new Bs back in 2005, but I was underwhelmed by the machines and overwhelmed by the prices.

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  2. I am not sure about the new Berninas in regards to how good they are, quality wise. It is not looking good in regards to me ever being able to afford one so I have not tried any.

    As for the older ones, my 730 is the best of my machines. It lacks modern things that would be cool to have but when you have a garment to make that is hard and complex it sure is nice to just sew it and not fight with snags, breaks, beeping and repair hassles.

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  3. I love your Bernina; I have an 1130 and wish I had bought an older model. I now realize once the electronics go, I'll probably be up a creek without a paddle! I had never heard of a 730 until now!!

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  4. I have heard good things about the 1130 too. I hope you have a long time before any paddling!

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  5. Just got a lovely old 730 as a gift...I was, looking for a sturdy no nonsense machine, and my mum tracked this beauty down. (she has a 40year old Bernina, and swears by it!) I have never seen that kind of buttonhole set up, so I really appreciate your tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Congratulations on you "new" Bernina 730.

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  6. I am in the market for a new machine. I am torn between the 730 and the 830. Do you have an opinion. I am so tired of thinking about it - I just want someone to say - get THIS one.

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  7. Sorry, I can't do it. I do not have an 830 to compare! Love my 730 though. Perhaps if you have a chance to get an 830, get it - if you do not have enough money or there are none around then the 730 would work well too.

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  8. Thank you SO much for your tips. Yesterday the buttonhole lever on my wonderful Bernina 730 unexpectedly froze - the first time in 47 years that I have ever had a problem with this machine. I rang our local bike shop, which fortunately stocked Tri-Flow; a few minutes with the straw and a hair dryer and the lever is working perfectly again. The semi-automatic mechanism may be a bit weird, but as I have just discovered, it certainly beats trying to sew 'free form' buttonholes.

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    1. how and where did you pyt the triflow and use the hair dryer thank you

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    2. I dripped it on the pull out knob, from the top to let it go inside. The knob that should pull out/down is not related to any gears inside the machine itself. I turned the blow drier towards the knob to warm it up and let the Tri Flow work it's way in. Do this a few times and even wait and hour between if necessary. Mine worked right away but others have more trouble.

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  9. Great news. Also, Tri Flow is an excellent lubricant. I use it for all my machines.

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  10. Thanks for your post I have just bought a 730, though very familiar with Bernina machines. This is a different buttonhole set up. Great post thanks!

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  11. Great information, thank you! I have a 730, and the bh knob is frozen solid. I am in the UK and haven't got access to Triflow, but I'm using WD40 and the hairdryer. Any other suggestions? I'm afraid of breaking it....

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    1. I still recommend TriFlow, and as far as I know it is available in the UK. Bicycle riders and motorcyclists use it, so possible a shop may carry it or try mail order. My second recommendation is sewing machine oil, lots and lots. WD 40 will leave residue behind and cause trouble later so after using it coat the area with sewing machine oil to protect it.
      With really stuck things sometimes a few days makes a difference. Soak it then then heat several times over the course of 2-3 days. If it is still stuck you may need help from a shop, but even they will be doing what you are my guess.

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  12. I'm dealing with the stuck lever too (in addition to other stuck parts)- have soaked in Liquid Wrench and will apply the hair dryer too. Will also soak in Tri-Flow afterwards if I ever get this thing unstuck!

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    1. Good luck. Let me know if it works.

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  13. Great post! I have the same machine an I love it. It works perfectly, except for that the needle positioner is stuck. The button hole lever works, but that does not help much since I can not change the needle position. Do you have any Idea if I can use Triflow for this as well? What is Triflow? Is it some kind of bicycle oil? I live in Norway and I don`t know if I can get it here....
    Ingunn

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    1. I would try to loosen the needle position knob if you can. That way you will see if your problem is the knob or the mechanism behind it. This is such a handy feature it will be worth any trouble or cost to repair. TriFlow is a oil with teflon added.

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    2. I am not able to see if TRIFLOW is available in Norway but if not there may be a decent substitute. I get mine at a bicycle repair shop, perhaps that can work for you also. Sewing machine oil is a good second choice, just a little slower in getting results.

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  14. I was given a bernina 830 record from my grandma with no manual and I'm also learning to sew for the first time through videos. Where is the back stitch our reverse button/switch? Help! Thanks!

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  15. Lucky you Nicole, the 830 is a great machine. The reverse is done by flipping the stitch length lever all the way up. The stitch length lever is seen on my machine in picture 4, from the top. Bernina USA's website has a section with manuals to download for free. Get one, they really help and I still refer to mine on occasion even after all these years.

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  16. You forgot to mention that after you push the lever to the right, you need to set the stitch position knob so that it matches the white line on the stitch length knob.

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    1. Thanks for catching that. I edited this but will do another image when I can. The manual shows this step as part of the initial set up and I showed a picture but not a very good one. Thanks again.

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  17. Thank you so much for this information, especially the Tri Flow. I inherited my mum's Bernina 730 (that made everything from my baby clothes to my wedding dress) and I'm just getting into sewing. So glad she kept everything, including the manual!

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    1. You're welcome. You will love this machine it is simple enough for beginners yet has versatility to keep up with the most advanced seamstresses and seamsters.

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  18. Thanks for this. I am using my mum's machine and I couldn't find the manual. Your tutorial brought it all back. Our family has 2, 730 Records and they are both still going strong after more than 45 years.

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    1. Good to hear. I have many machines both home and industrial and this one is my favorite.

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