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The Bernina 930 was the Swiss company’s top-of-the-line offering between 1978 and 1989. It was the successor to the wildly popular (then and now) Bernina 830. The 730, 830, and 930 just may be the finest successive series of sewing machines ever made. All are still highly desired today — thirty or fourty years after they were last made — a testiment to their longevity and sewing quality.

While there are obvious cosmetic differences, the machines are somewhat similar. They offer similar stitches and apparently have similar innards — but there were differences and improvements over the years. The 930 offered the most stitches — 26 total (14 practical, 12 decorative); from 1984 on this machine also offered a needle up/down mechanism controlled through heel taps. There’s a 4mm maximum for both stitch width and stitch length — although the 930 does have a basting stitch control knob for super long stitches. (that’s the basting swith control knob near the takeup lever)

The 930 does have the most modern appearance — but it’s also the heaviest, weighing in at 26 pounds (32 with the case). You could bring it to classes or group meetings if you really wanted to, but you probably won’t want to for long! This sweetie is meant to sit permanently on your sewing table — where it’s heavy all-metal construction will keep it (no wandering around while the motor’s running for this machine!)

I found this beauty on Ebay — 930’s are extremely desirable and are priced accordingly. I’ve seen them go from $600 or so up to $1500! I lucked into this one for only $400. Curious about what 930’s are available on Ebay right now? Just click the line below to find out!

The 930 has a very attractive case. It’s a sturdy resin clamshell case with sliding locks on the left and right sides.

The case is “double hulled” — this will protect your machine much more than the red 830 single hull case or the fabric 730 suitcase. Actually, the design improvements in the case are one of the big improvements for the 930 over the 830!

Open the sliding locks to open the clamshell. There’s a slot for everything — yes, I know, the foot control is just kind of thrown in there. There’s actually a partition for the foot control just behind the head of the machine.

There’s also a partition for a flat accessories case behind the machine. Note the flad-bed attachment on the front side of the clamshell.

The 930 is a free-arm machine; you can convert it to flat-bed by attaching the slide-on flat bed table. I didn’t do so — I normally just leave things free-arm.

The 930 often has control knobs doing double duty — by using both an inner and and outer knob. For instance, the “Stitch Width” control on the top of this tower portion has both an inner and an outer knob. One controls the stitch width, the other sets the needle to one of five different positions!

This is a completely mechanical machine — no 1 step automatic buttonholes! What you get instead are absolutely the best looking 5 step manual buttonholes you will ever see. I know people who use computerized machines, but keep their 930 around just to do buttonholes!

The stitch length control lever also kicks into reverse when you tip the lever all the way to the top.

There’s a lower control you can’t quite see that will drop the feed dogs for darning or free-hand sewing.

Popping the stitch lever up for reverse. You can “lock” the stitch length in by tightening the outer ring of the lever.

By the way, I mentioned this is an all-metal machine. That’s mostly true — it is an all-metal machine … BUT the control knobs are plastic. Some folks have pointed this out. I don’t mind it so much because I figure the control knobs aren’t going to get enough usage to wear out like a plastic gear might. In any case, parts for the 930 are readily available.

I don’t have a good macro on my camera, so it’s hard to see the stitches. You’ve got all the basics, though. I’ve seen incredible things done with the embroidery stitches but haven’t done them myself.

The 930 splits the stitches a little differently than the 830 and 730. The older 830 model has a “switchover” lever — you’re either in straight/zig mode, or you’re in fancy stitch mode. The 930 has the same setup — but it uses an additional “switchover” mechanism that activates a second column of stitches.

The top fancy stitch columns are called “Red” and “Green” stitches (you can see the “Red” and “Green” indicators on the columns). You activate the shorter “Red” column by using an outer control ring on the feed dog/darning control knob! These red stitches mostly are not offered on the 830 (There’s a towel/blankety stitch that I’m not 100% sure isn’t on an 830)

A quick peek at the handwheel side. The off-on switch is the large control knob on the right.

There are three positions on the off-on switch: 1) Off (well, that’s kinda obvious), 2) Half-on — this is on, but at a half-speed setting to give you greater control during tight or tricky sections, and 3) Full-Tilt Boogie on.

The foot pedal plugs into the bottom of the handwheel side. There’s a separate power cord that plugs into the back of the machine. This is pretty much the only piece of engineering I didn’t like. I don’t know why they separate power cables and foot pedals — it means an extra thing I need to manage. (Well, I guess I do know why they do it — costs, plus ease of maintenance. I’d rather have convenience personally — but that’s just me!)

Moving back to the front side! Here’re the bobbin works — pretty much like every other Bernina I’ve seen.

Seeing the presser foot reminds me — the 930 uses standard “old style” Bernina bayonet mount feet. I share my feet with my 730 and 830.

You may want to oil the hook every now and then. Oiling and threading directions are here. The remainder of the machine uses the standard “red hole means oil” convention.

By the way, you can download the entire Bernina 930 instruction manual here. It’s a zipped PDF file, about 7 meg.

There’s a hinged flap on the right-hand side of the top of the case. Flip it up and you’ll find the bobbin winding mechanism.

This is an auto-stop mechanism (stops when the bobbin is full). It also has a thread cutter — I like that!

I’ve got a couple of more pics showing a bobbin being wound — I think I’ll leave them out. It just looks like a bobbin being wound!

Another view of the 930. (You can see the slot for the knee-control foot lifter on the bottom of the right-hand tower)

Before I get to the project, I’d like to address the question “I want an old mechanical Bernina. Should I get the 830 or the 930?”

Good question. Frankly, if all you care about is stitch quality and machine quality, you probably should get the 730! The price will be much better! True, Bernina recently stopped maintenance on the 730 (meaning they’ll no longer supply parts). That could be a problem — for your grandchildren, maybe? Treat them right and these machines last and last and last.

Having said that, most of the consumer desire is for the 830 and the 930. You know what that means, right? Consumer demand drives the price up. No way around it. The demand is high for both the 830 and the 930 — but people will pay more for a 930.

. The 930 does have some features unavailable on the 830 — but you’ve got to decide if those few features are worh the extra cost (maybe twice the cost of an 830!)

If, however, rational thought has left the building (as it does whenever I look at vintage machines), then the answer to “730, 830, or 930?” is a resounding “YES — All three!!!!” The 930 is really the tip of the Bernina mechanical iceberg … if that’s where you want to be, then that’s what you’ll need to be satisfied!

I was saving this project for when I reviewed another straight-stitch only machine (because it only needs a straight stitch), but decided to go ahead since it’s coming up on holiday gift time.

This “Crayon Roll” holds 16 crayons and is a great stocking stuffer for a child. It’s simple and quick to complete.

To see this project completed with the Bernina 930, click on Crayon Roll .