A new Betsy – welcoming Bernard to the Stitching Kitchen

A big decision, a big purchase, a big excitement. At the end of March I was frantically stitching, finishing my boundaries quilt for the 1st April deadline. Then I made my first visit to ……the Bramble Patch. https://www.bramblepatchonline.com/ That is kind of how this story starts.

I make this sound like it all happened by chance but this was a pre-meditated purchase. February and March have been tough emotionally for me, my depression was back, days with no energy, having to rest so I have enough left to look after the kids – not much left for me.

betsy the 1971 Bernina

The vicious cycle of not getting to the gym therefore lacking energy and increasing depression symptoms was well ingrained. I found some solace in chocolate (as usual) but also in spending money – not so usual.

tarzan on bob

So when it took me all three of my machines and many broken needles, re-threading, swearing – frustration to complete the boundaries quilt I knew it was time…. I either need to spend a lot getting Betsy (my vintage 1972 Bernina Favorit 740) back to full fitness or purchase a new machine. Fixing Betsy would include replacing cracked gear, sort out the timing, sorting the foot pedal as all variable speed has been lost in the mists of time and also a damn good clean and service. Betsy runs at full tilt or not at all, which is very un-nerving when trying to free machine. Normally working in free motion is fabulous using her as the stitching is soooo smooth – she is my go to girl when it comes to creative machine stitch the Toyota just doesn’t do it for me and the cheap and cheerful brother – well enough said.

boundaries quilt
machine embroidery

While at the NEC in March at Sewing for Pleasure I had stopped by Frank Nutt and gazed lovingly at the range of beautiful modern Bernina machines, I picked up a brochure and a price list but obviously looked like I was as poor as a church mouse or was about to steal something as no one spoke to me. I have wanted a Bernina since I got back to stitching in 2015… it was the preferred brand amongst my embroiderers guild friends and the quality of stitching on Betsy made me confident that this is the right brand match for me.

My mind was coming around to the fact that if Stitching Kitchen is ever going to have any profitable stitching work done (which doesn’t include me undertaking running maintenance during paid commissions) I am going to need a more reliable machine. Aside from that ‘I am worth it’ I told myself with a flick of my head channelling Jennifer Aniston in those adverts.

So I stitch, a lot…. Which of these beautiful machines would work for me….. they will tell you to buy more capability than you need now as then the machine will grow with you. This seems like good advice. I make clothes, sometimes…..lots of soft furnishing. I do quilting, I love to create textile art so free machining is an essential…. The new 570QE it is then. https://www.bernina.com/en-GB/Products-GB/BERNINA-products/Sewing-Quilting-and-Embroidery/BERNINA-5-...

I went to Bramble Patch, they are my closest dealer and as I had an appointment in Daventry I was driving past – well almost. I browsed the wonderful stock of quilting fabrics, patterns, books took a few calming breaths as I gazed upon the exhibition of quilts by Hilary Beattie and Jenny Rolfe – inspiring and plenty of good quilting technique for me to focus in on and aspire to. I bought Mum a birthday present and voucher – a grand excuse for a return visit and to sample the cakes in the café. I asked if there was anyone who could show me around the Berninas BUT the bramble babe who knows all about machines was not there, I was invited to return the next day…actually that kind of worked as a cooling off period, this was going to be an investment, the biggest purchase since buying the house.


I returned next day – Wendy spend time with me, we played with different functions, exploring the range of button hole stitches that I may never use – and she showed me the most amazing Bernina BSR Stitch regulator. This box of tricks allows you to free machine with a standard stitch length and though some sort of magic (infrared sensor) you can stitch along with no foot pedal – you simply move the cloth, it stitches by itself!!! OK that will be useful – but also there is more programmed stitches than I will ever use, plenty of presser feet, the huge bobbin, computerised setting but also reassuring knobs so you can pretend you are in control too.

Yes my mind was made up – credit and debit cards at the ready, the deed was done. Wendy explained that they don’t have these beauties in stock and it typically take a week for them to come to the shop, they would call me after the bank holiday to confirm when I can collect my new toy…. I have decided he will be called Bernard!

Bramble patch did call….no 570QE in stock in the UK right now, I will need to wait for the next shipment from Switzerland – which should me in early May. I thought this terrible news would tip me back into that pit of despair but not one bit, I am full of creativity and excitement, I am making the most of what my older machines do for me – perhaps limitation is the path to a more creative output.. or perhaps the process of choosing and finding the right machine for me has been cathartic in some way, the cost is painful and I will need to undertake a lot of commissions this year and sell some art but that it isn’t all about that – I am worth it!

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