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Bernina 732

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Bernina's "30-something" series (530, 730, 830, 930, etc) are famous for their reliability and usability. Pretty much everyone who's ever had one of these models either still enjoys using it or is kicking themselves for ever trading it in!

These machines are all-metal, all-mechanical sewing standards. Your mom probably enjoyed using them -- you'll enjoy them -- and your children and grandchildren will also enjoy using them. These machines will last pretty much forever as long as you keep them lubricated and happy.

The 730 is a curious beast -- it actually has more functionality (as in number of controls) than the model that replaced it (the 830)! I have a 730 that I'll be posting a bit later -- it needs a little cleaning and a small repair (poor packing when it was shipped -- snapped off the take-up lever). Like many Bernina models, there is a "top of the line" free-arm model -- usually the "x30" -- and there are also lower-cost "student" or portable models. The 730 came in three flavors -- the free arm top-end 730, the 731 with fewer stitches, and a lower-end model with straight and zig-zag stitches, the 732. I've heard there was a flat-bed model as well.

Lower-end doesn't mean lower quality -- as you'll see in the next two photos, the only difference is the lack of embellishment stitches in the 732. Everything else is pretty much identical.

The manuals are long out of print -- although copies are easily found on the Internet. Berinina posts a PDF file of the 730 series manual (covering the 730, 731, and 732 models) -- just go to Bernina (select Sewing Studio, then Bernina Generations).

Look for Bernina's and peripherals here
Bernina's Record 730 provides the same stitches as the 830 -- straight/zig-zag, plus about 20 embellishment stitches. The 732 is a "stripped down" 730 -- it doesn't have the embellishment stitches, only straight and zig-zag. This doesn't bother me too much -- I don't use the embellishment stitches all that much. Straight and ZZ is fine for a back-up or a beginner machine.

Compare these two photos to see the difference between the Bernina Record 730 and the model 732. Physically, the machines are pretty much identical from the outside. When you pop the tops, though, you see where the difference lies!

The 732 is a straight-stitch/zig-zag only machine. No embroidery or embellishment stitches. This means no inner cam workings (for the embellishment stitches) on the 732! Note how clean and open the gearworks are on the 732 (top photo).

Now check out the inner works of the 730 (bottom photo). Note the camstack workings in the 730 where there's an empty space on the 732!

If the 732 innards looke cleaner, they are. The inside of my 730 is a little dirty and I haven't finished cleaning it up yet!
Let's check out the front side of the machine. Starting on the left hand side, let's flip open the bobbin door -- and here's a familiar sight! The bobbin case and setting works pretty much the same as every other Bernina. This is an oscillating bobbin -- it rotates back and forth as you're sewing.
Moving on to the right-hand tower side, we have the 732's controls. These are the same as found on the 730 model. Stitch width and stitch length (including reverse), a lever you pull down for buttonholes, plus a darning setting to drop the feed dogs. When you pull the buttonhole lever down, it falls between the two silver buttons underneath the stitch width knob.

There's also a knob to help you with satin stitching. I haven't quite figured that one out yet. I just set the stitch length to very small for satin stitching. Curiously, the later model 830 does not have this feature.

There's a filled-in hole where the knee-bar would go. The knee-bar is used for a needle lift, not a replacement for a foot control pedal. I don't know if the 732 models offered the knee-bar option.
When we move to the "handwheel" side of the machine, we see a couple of levers. These are used to signal a "stop" to the buttonhole setting and also to the satin stitch setting. I haven't used these yet -- but I'm assuming these will kick the machine out of satin stitch and buttonhole mode.

There's also a slide switch under the power cord connector. This sets the machine to "half speed" mode to give you extra control. I can't tell if it's high-torque (for extra power) as well. The manual doesn't mention that it does.
I have to confess -- I looked all over trying to figure out how to wind a bobbin. I finally gave up and looked it up in the manual!

Here's the mechanism. The trick is to pull up on the top of the case from the right hand side only! If you pull from the middle, the entire lid will flip up. If you pull only on the right side, you'll unveil the bobbin winder.

Pretty neat workings -- follow the thread path to thread and prime the bobbin. Hold the handwheel secure and turn the inner handwheel counter-clockwise (top towards the front). It'll go about half a turn; this will disconnect the needlebar. Flip the "auto stop" lever to meet the bobbin ... and press the foot control to start winding.

In theory, the full bobbin will press the auto-stop lever and automatically stop winding. I've never waited quite that long, though; I've always stopped it manually when I felt it was full enough.
You can see the threading instructions for the 730 series right here. Pretty straightforward stuff.

One thing I learned from reading the manual I downloaded from Bernina was regarding the tension disk. You can barely see a little silver disk in the thread slot crossing the top of the machine in this photo. That's the tension disk. When you pull the thread across this slot, you can slip in on either side of the tension disk.

I was always worried that I was setting the thread on the wrong side of the disk (why? If there's a wrong way to do it, I'll do it.) Problem was, it always seemed to work no matter what side I used. Turns out that's what's supposed to happen! It doesn't matter which side of the tension disk you slip the thread along -- they'll both work!

Just a quick word regarding tension. I normally set my bobbin case tension using a "yo-yo" approach -- if I dangle the bobbin case by the thread, it should just hang there. If I jerk the thread and let it drop down like a yo-yo, the thread should slip down a few inches.

I found I had to set the bobbin-case tension a little bit tighter than this to get my stitching to work just right. Could be the thread I was using, but it was the standard Guttermann I always use. Just my experience -- your's may be different.

That's about it for the machine info -- if you'd like to see the sewing project (A fleece tendonitis sleeve) just click here!

Tendonitis Sleeve Project

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