Mom’s Old Green Bernina

I used to always look at this picture and wonder what gifts came in those really big boxes. When I finally asked my mom a few years ago she said, "Those big boxes? Those were all fake gifts, just for looks, to show people where to put the real ones." I still like to imagine that the biggest box has the Bernina sewing machine in it!

My mom has this puke-green Bernina that she got as a wedding present from my dad’s parents in 1967. It was, according to my mom, “the top-of-the-line sewing machine back then!” She was right; it really was. It was a Bernina 730 Record! It had this collapsible, fold out stand with shiny tubular metal legs and two particle-board-covered-with-brown-wood-grain-laminate countertops. One countertop was on the bottom that the machine sat on, and the other was a bit higher and had a bunch of hinges at the back and underneath it. These hinges enabled it to fold down flat around the free arm of the sewing machine and make a nice, large sewing surface. To the right of the machine and tethered to it somehow, there was this thing — in the same lovely shade of oxidized avocado flesh as all the knobs and levers — that had pegs to store spools of thread and bobbins on the top. On the bottom there were three plastic trays which swung out on a hinge to reveal a myriad of what looked like (at best) surgical tools and (at worst) hunting traps for small animals. These were the specialty presser feet: a roll-hemmer, a button-holer, and an edge-stitcher, etc. Though they scared me when I was very young and didn’t know what they were, they became some of my best friends as I grew up.

Whenever I go home to visit my parents, I always take a trip into the laundry room, where the Old Green Bernina has a permanent perch atop a custom-built counter. (After renovating 15 years ago they threw out that awesome retro wood-grain stand, dang-it!) I open the little drawers to see if all the little specialty feet are still there. I check to see which hideous colors of thread are still wound around the bobbins and what old spools of thread — you know, the ones that are actually made of wood — are still in the sewing box. And I look for any scraps of fabric that I would remember from my childhood in the drawers under the counter.

Without that Old Green Bernina my life would have probably taken a whole different course… I’m very grateful for it.

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